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How To Influence Millennials – The New Corporate Decision Makers

There was once a time when the underlying wisdom for the corporate environment read something like: the older heads have experience and hence should hold the power. But I say was because times aren’t changing, they already have and in order to get your product and business noticed by potential clients you’ve got to set your sights on the new powerbrokers – the millennials.

In 2012 it was predicted that by this year, 2015, the majority of the workforce would be in their twenties. Some would have undoubtedly scoffed at that notion but in May the contentious forecast became a reality with figures emerging that more than a third of all workers were now aged between 18 and 34, outnumbering both Generation X and the Baby Boomers.

You might be one to not think too much of that statistic because surely the older crowd are still the ones making the big decisions, right? Unfortunately your line of thinking is a tad archaic because the business landscape has now shifted into a ballpark where those calling the shots have grown up in a world where the Internet has always existed.

And it’s particularly evident in the B2B space.

According to a recent study by Google and Millward Brown Digital, which examined the makeup, purchase habits and (most importantly) the ages of B2B researchers, several key findings were uncovered:

  • Nearly half of all B2B researchers are millennials, a 70 percent increase from 2012.
  • Almost a quarter of non-C-suiters have final sign off on purchase decisions and, perhaps more tellingly, 81% of non-C-suiters have a say in those decisions.

The buyer persona is vastly different than what it used to be. It’s now no longer a question of “will millennials become a major cog in the innerworkings of a company?” but “how can I make this new playing field work for my company?” 

Here’s how you influence the new corporate decision makers:

Go Mobile

Remember my comment about millennials growing up in a world where there’s always been that magical entity called the Internet? Well, they’ve subsequently become experts in understanding the thing and as its use has shifted into the mobile realm they have followed en masse.

Millennials are big believers in the “always connected” mentality and by tapping into that with mobile-enhanced content like apps or just mobile-friendly websites you’re putting your best foot forward in the intense competition for clients. Mobile devices are now used by more than half of millennials to research purchases and with 7 billion mobile-enabled devices now in existence, there’s never been a greater opportunity to connect with the mobile generation and sway their decisions.

Show, Don’t Tell

The Google/Millward Brown Digital study revealed that 70 percent of B2B buyers are now watching videos throughout their path to purchase – an increase of more than 50 percent since 2012. For millennial buyers, having a pain-free buying experience rates highly in terms of what they most want and using video is a highly effective way to showcase features and comparisons of a product without subjecting customers to hefty, jargon-filled sales documents. 

Open Up the Discussion

Millennials are a social breed thanks largely to that hunger for constant connectedness and they expect companies to be just as open to communication as their peers. Positive endorsements are a marketing goldmine when it comes to attracting this group and it helps that they are also the most likely to sing your praises should they be satisfied customers. You want to make it as easy as possible for them to tell people about their experiences and this can be done through social media, blogs, videos or a “success stories” page on your website.

Of course, there can be a bit of apprehension when it comes to opening yourself up for engagement, with more than enough past examples out there on how not to connect with your audience, but it seems those fears can be dispelled when interacting with the digital natives as those from Generation X and the Baby Boomers are actually twice as likely to post negative comments than Millennials.

The game has changed and the power has shifted. The B2B influencers you now need to be focusing your marketing efforts on are the ones who see and interact with the world in vastly different ways to previous generations. It’s critical then that you develop engaging mobile, video and social content, centred on providing a pain-free path to purchase, to reach out to them and give them exactly what they’re looking for. Only then will you hold the keys to open the corporate gates being closely guarded by the millennials.

Thomas Patterson

When he’s not writing and strategising you might struggle to track him down, as he’s likely to be roaming new destinations both in New Zealand and abroad.