Mmmmm . . . Millennials.
If you haven’t already heard (about a million times), this generation is taking over the workforce and becoming more responsible for making purchasing decisions on the job.
Whether or not you believe the projections that most of the US labor force will be run by Millennials by 2025, many studies (like this one) indicate that the numbers will be darn close.* If you are a marketer who has been getting by producing content focused primarily on your offerings and capabilities, plan to be in even bigger trouble when these folks become the majority of your prospective buyers.
In research published last week (subscription required), Forrester shows that Millennials are summarily unimpressed with the content they get from their vendors: 69% say that the material they get is extraneous (because they get most of their information from other sources), and 57% say much of it is useless.
Unimpressed Millennials can put a serious chunk of revenue at risk. We did the math and found that a theoretical $10 billion firm can risk losing $1.9 billion of that because its content marketing messages, format choices, and spending miss the mark.
The solution is not simple: You need to become more customer-obsessed. You need to give these digital natives the content experience they want. Without revealing all the findings (I want you to read the research, after all), here are some of the things you must do to engage those independent, digitally adept Millennials:
- Share a compelling vision: Four out of five said that technology vendors must have a unique or distinct point of view on the future of their market. Those vendors also need to share the Millennial vision of what success looks like.
- Curate their content experience: Four (or more) out of five want to work with vendors that understand their business or industry, know what’s important to doing their job, and customize any business justification or ROI analysis to represent an organization similar to theirs.
- Let them hear from other buyers like them: 83% find it important that vendors have a credible story about how they help customers succeed. They also say it’s important that vendors have customers who will actively advocate for them in an authentic way.
Oh, and we published these results as an infographic, just to make sure the study appeals to those Millennials!
The bottom line: Business case analysis, long-format white papers, and brief reports, case studies, and guides are still important methods of delivering content that buyers prefer. But you need to ramp up your social, community-contributed content and create short, timely articles (like blog posts) if you want to engage the new generation of business buyers.
* Full disclosure: I have two Millennial children in the workforce today. Both are gainfully employed as marketers (one digital, one content). Their skills, understanding of tools and technology, and ability to operate in an agile manner far exceed mine on any given day. (Luckily, I’m still smarter at strategy, diagnosing issues, and problem solving.) Firsthand experience shows me this generation wants information, lots of it, and they want it right now. And the first place they’ll go is to their phone. All the stereotypes are true, folks. If you haven’t started your marketing digital transformation by now, you might be too late already.