Another day, another article about millennials, right? We get it. You’re sick of hearing about them. However, we ask you to bear with us this time—because this is directly related to your small business’s marketing efforts. Millennials are the largest living generation today. According to the 2015 U.S. Census, our country has more than 83 million millennials right now, compared to 75.4 million baby boomers. That’s a lot of purchasing power! And thanks to rapid changes in technology, we’re seeing a sharp difference in the way they prefer doing business. This means you’re going to have to adapt to millennial preferences soon, if you haven’t already. They’re becoming the next generation of homeowners, and therefore your target customers for things like electrical work, plumbing, home remodeling, appliance repair, and the like. So, if you’re a local service provider specializing in any of these services, you have no choice but to get on board with how millennials operate. That’s just reality. Obviously, this begs the question: How, exactly, do millennials operate? And what will you need to change in order to accommodate them? Keep reading to find out!
How Millennials Approach Local Businesses
A recent Goldman Sachs report calls millennials “the first digital natives.” That’s a fitting description, to say the least. Millennials spend a lot of their time online. Like, a lot. Here’s what you need to know about their digital habits and how they deal with businesses online:
- They browse the web on their smartphones and tablets daily. Consumer Barometer (a Google partner) reports that 75% of millennials go online via smartphone at least as much as via computer. Moreover, roughly 33% access the internet on smartphones more often than on computers.
- They Google *everything*: 55% of millennials use search engines to research products they’re interested in buying. More than 40% do this research on a smartphone. They demand and expect information on the spot.
- Once they’ve heard about a local business, they typically look for its Facebook page to check out reviews, posts, photos, and more details.
- They rely on customer reviews and recommendations more than other generations. They use social networks to get advice twice as often as Gen-Xers and baby boomers.
- They don’t like making phone calls. In many cases, they’ll go out of their way not to talk to someone on the phone, even if that means working with a different company.
- Their preferred methods of communication are text, email, and IM/chat. According to Forbes, 68% of millennials say they text “a lot” throughout the day. Compare this to just 47% of Gen-Xers.
The gist? Millennials love using their phones for everything except talking. Go figure.
How You Can Appeal to Millennials
Taking all of the above into account, you get a strong sense of what appeals to millennials. So, in your own marketing efforts for your local business, apply these three rules: 1.) Look good on their smartphones. The majority of millennials are glued to their smartphones. They search Google, watch videos, go on social media, and text. If you want to appeal to millennials, your business has to be easily discoverable and accessible on their smartphones. This means having a strong Google Maps listing and an attractive, mobile-optimized website. 2.) Meet them on social media. Social media is where millennials are spending their time. It’s how they connect and interact with the world. They rely on social media for recommendations, advice, and general information. If you don’t have an active page that millennials can check out, you’ll miss out on tons of business. 3.) Think beyond phone calls. This one is huge in terms of closing jobs. Even if you have an attractive mobile site and engaging Facebook page, you could lose a millennial’s business simply by not having an email form or messaging option. You must provide a way to contact you that doesn’t require a phone call. And if you DO have an email form set up, make sure it actually works! We can’t tell you how many businesses have an email address on their website and just never check their inbox. It’s as if all their prospective jobs jump straight into a black hole. Along those same lines, if you do have a Facebook page with Messenger enabled, make sure you’re receiving notifications so you don’t miss any messages. Pro tip: Always respond in kind. In other words, if someone messages or texts you, use that same mode of communication when you reply. Do not return a text with a phone call, unless the customer specifies otherwise.
Resistance Is Futile
There’s nothing easy about upending the way you’ve done things for years. However, if you want your local business to continue to grow, rather than shrink, you must adapt to the youngest generation with the strongest purchasing power. That means you have to make it easier for millennials to find your business, learn about your services and reviews, and contact you—all from the smartphone in the palm of their hand. By following our recommendations in this post, you’ll be well equipped to meet the expectations of millennials and turn them into your newest customers. Good luck!