The millennial generation, born between 1980 and 2000, will make up 50 percent of the global workforce by 2020. Why does this matter to you?
Over the next six years, this generation will slowly climb the income ladder, purchase homes, and even start their own businesses. Your biggest customer base is coming up the pipe quickly, and it’s time to learn how to appeal to and communicate with this group — or else your business could be headed for trouble.
For such a young generation, they have seen a lot. From war to economic turmoil, they have learned the old ways of doing things need to be changed. So they are forcing change into the world — whether you’re ready for it or not.
Millennials really only request two things: authenticity and efficiency. With that in mind, here are some ways to begin cultivating and successfully acquiring this new customer base.
1. Find Your Voice on Social Media
When starting out on social media, focus on a select few channels until you’re able to develop a strategy that enables you to manage more. Facebook, Twitter, and Google+are great places to start. Facebook and Twitter are commonly used business-to-consumer (B2C) and business-to-business (B2B) marketing platforms, and Google+ can increase your search ranking in Google.
The heating and cooling business is not sexy or glamorous, so it can be hard to fulfill the more conversational and image-centric requirements of social media. However, there are ways for you to engage and attract these younger customers:
• Add fun and interesting visuals. Encourage your technicians to snap some photos (with the customer’s consent) of the more unique things they see on the job. You can also share your fun office culture with photos of events and gatherings.
• Offer fan-only incentives.Set aside at least one incentive each month that only your followers can receive. It’s as simple as sharing a unique promo code to redeem.
• Share relevant company news. Post any news coverage or content your company generates to increase your credibility and demonstrate your expertise to potential and current customers.
• Highlight positive reviews. A 2013 survey by BrightLocalfound that 79 percent of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations. Invite customers to utilize this feature on social media as much as possible.
It is important that, with any social media profile you activate, you complete the profile and maintain it on a regular basis. If you start a profile and leave it incomplete, younger customers will find it and view your business as less professional. You run the risk of losing their interest — and business — in a matter of seconds.
2. Offer Cost-Saving Options
Millennials are price conscious and deal savvy. However, they’re not clipping coupons from the Sunday paper, but rather using mobile apps to seek out the best deals and promotions. Groupon, LivingSocial, and AmazonLocalare just a few coupon options to use to obtain immediate customer acquisition — but proceed with caution.
When I was in the local HVAC business, my company ran multiple campaigns for everything from seasonal tune-ups to energy audits. A valuable lesson was to realistically prepare your business for the number of responses you’ll receive and be prepared to turn one-time coupon customers into long-term profitable customers.
Everyone must understand the coupon campaign is just a way to open doors to new customers — a “loss leader.” On average, we heard from around 150 to 250 people during each coupon promotion. However, many of them never purchased anything beyond the initial deal. We learned to equip our technicians with training and a script to upsell other products and services while they interacted with customers.
When everyone understands the coupon campaign is just a way to open doors to new millennial customers, they will be ready to turn them into ongoing and profitable customers.
3. Embrace Authentic Causes
After bearing witness to 9/11, the collapse of a number of corrupt financial institutions, and an ongoing war, millennials have come to appreciate and require authenticity and transparency from the brands with which they do business. If they suspect your company isn’t being authentic or honest, they will not hesitate to take their business elsewhere.
They also believe in causes and “doing well by doing good,” and will often support companies that are trying to do that. At HVAC.com, we work to transform the lives of orphans through our partnership with Back2Back Ministries. We are completely transparent and clear in how we are contributing to this cause and have found it to be a great way to connect on a more personal level with our customers.
Authenticity in this area is crucial. If your only reason for promoting a cause is to make a profit, these younger customers will see right through it and your business will suffer as a result. Remain transparent and authentic by keeping everyone updated on what you’ve done so far, how you will continue to help, and how others can get involved
4. Integrate Technology into Your Business
According to Nielsen, more than 74 percent of the millennial generation feel that new technology makes their lives easier. The integration of technology in all areas of your business is critical to become more efficient and connect with this generation.
Consider utilizing mobile technology with real-time updates on a technician’s anticipated arrival and reminders for an upcoming appointment via text. Help customers easily schedule services through your website and facilitate communication with your staff through email and social media.
In the coming years, millennials will likely account for half of the available customers in your market. Bringing an enhanced and streamlined experience to your younger customer base is critical for the ongoing success of your business. Begin executing on a plan to evolve your business strategies and position yourself to succeed by serving the millennial generation.
Publication date: 11/3/2014