B2B marketing isn’t what it used to be. Technology has obviously caused a dramatic shift in the tactics marketers use to reach their audiences, but that audience has also undergone the most significant change in history. For the first time in decades, baby boomers are taking a back seat when it comes to purchasing decisions in the workplace.
According to a Google and Millward Brown Digital study: As of 2014, 46 percent of all B2B buyers were between the ages of 18-34, compared to just 27 percent in 2012.
That’s right. Millennials (born 1983-99) now make up the largest segment of buyers within the global workforce. Don’t worry, not all is lost. There’s no reason to throw up your hands in hopeless despair. You don’t need to re-learn everything you thought you knew about B2B marketing.
You already know the key to connecting with any audience lies in understanding them beyond a generational label. Every generation is a product of the society they were born into, and millennials were born into the internet era. Before you bemoan a generation raised by technology, it’s important to remember that most of modern technology learned to walk and talk beside them.
So, what do you need to know about the millennial B2B buyer?
That shouldn’t come as a surprise. In fact, 94 percent of all B2B buyers, not just millennials, look to the web when researching products and services. But, instead of dismissing this as “kids and their electronics,” you should know millennials have the knowledge and the skills to raid, pillage, and plunder every corner of the internet to find the information they need before making a purchasing decision.
So, if your marketing strategies aren’t geared toward digital content (web, email, social, apps, etc.), you won’t be able to capitalize on the most connected and tech-savvy generation in history. Millennials will find what they’re looking for one way or another. Now it’s just a question of whether or not they get it from you or your competitor.
Keep in mind, while millennials are quick to seek out information and recommendations from their social groups, and to share their own personal experiences across social networks and review sites, they respond well to organizations that join the conversation to address questions or complaints in a genuine way.
Their Loyalty is Still Up for Grabs
There’s a good chance millennial B2B buyers are either still in the early stages of their career and haven’t developed deep-rooted relationships with vendors or agencies yet, or they’re looking to re-evaluate those relationships and processes at their organization in order to help transition into the future.
This new generation of buyers presents the opportunity for your organization to establish a relationship that could last for decades to come, which is just as enticing to them as it is to you.
They Covet Video Content
YouTube data shows that in 2014, nearly 900,000 hours of B2B video content from brands and organizations was consumed. Half of the viewers watched an average of 30 minutes of B2B video content.
Most viewers will watch videos for explanations of features or detailed how-to instructions, but there’s also an intangible effect that can’t quite be measured. Professional video content adds an element of credibility to your content and your organization because it demonstrates that you are committed to supporting your product and your customers.
Show Them, Don’t Tell Them
Millennial buyers don’t like being sold to. They prefer to do their research, gather information, and make decisions on their own.
Millennial buyers don’t like being sold to. They prefer to do their research, gather information, and make decisions on their own. So, instead of barking at them from your digital storefront, provide them with engaging content that welcomes them into your marketing funnel and allows them to navigate it at their own pace.
You might notice much of what appeals to the B2B millennial buyer can be addressed through inbound marketing. So, regardless of how you go about reaching this audience, know you can start by leveraging your digital channels to create an environment that feels personalized both to their needs and the way they want to make buying decisions.