Marketing to Millennials: How Local Businesses Can Get Inside Their Minds


The most tech savvy generation. Often called narcissistic and entitled. “Millennial” is the name attributed to the generation born between the early ‘80s and ‘00s. These teens and young adults are frequent customers of your local businesses, and have abundant purchasing power—they spend more than $600 billion per year, and are 65% more likely to eat out with friends than any other generation.

This is more than just a fact to brush off. Why? Because Millennials are dominating as consumers and taking over the marketspace and it’s imperative that local businesses learn how to properly market to them. Their generation is revolutionizing quite a few marketing tenets previously set in stone—things that used to work 10 years ago don’t work now, and your local business could be suffering because of it.

Before we dive into the main points of you can master the art of marketing to millennials, it’s important to note a few things that make Millennials unique.

  • They are highly engaged online. They write reviews, connect with strangers, play games, contribute in comment threads, blog, post videos and pictures of themselves, participate in contests, etc. They often consult more than one source before making purchasing decisions and are meticulous in their searching efforts.
  • 4263193267_fb5cee0c57_zMillennials are more likely to click on offers and ads. According to a survey by Harris Interactive for The Search Agency, Millennials were much more likely than older respondents to click on search engine ads — 30% vs. 18%.

Time is of the essence:

Millennials access more information than ever before, and do so at lightspeed—whether it be on their mobile devices, or the internet. They are ultra-connected, and for this reason, both urgency and brevity are points to capitalize upon in your local business’ online marketing. In the age of instant gratification—where any desired piece of information is at their fingertips—urgency is a must.

Marketing to them is in “real time”. All of their mobile and digital platforms are rapidly updating quicker than one could imagine. It’s not enough to tweet once a day— even a tweet 2 hours old will get lost in the cyber vacuum and the never-ending newsfeed.

Crowdtap, a social-influence marketing platform conducted research which showed that Millennials spend an average of 17.8 hours a day with different types of media. That’s an colossal amount, and it means that the stakes are higher to get their attention.

Moreover, consuming information doesn’t necessarily mean all of it will be retained. Even with the influx of productivity and calendar apps, this customer base will forget—or worse, deem you unimportant unless you strongly urge them to take action, and make it easy for them to share the results.

Run special or limited time offers. Use compelling language in your copy to get them to act now. Another great tactic is to “gamify” your content. In other words—create contests, raffles, or any other material that appeals to their competitive instincts.

Gamification marketing works because it’s social, instantaneous, and rewarding. Millennials have short attention spans and desire fast, satisfying results—which makes sense because they spend so much time online. Gamification flourishes among Millennials because it tackles the trifecta: initial attraction, retention, and loyalty.

Initially, Millennials are attracted to this kind of marketing because it incites feelings of competition. Once they’re hooked, they keep coming back for more—the prospect of winning is as endless. Also, winning games leaves Millennials with feelings of authorship and pride, making them much more likely to engage with your local business in the future.

And while moving at super speed is instrumental for succeeding with Millennials, so is authenticity. Millennials can spot inauthenticity from a mile away.

How can you avoid this?

There are several things you can do. If you make a mistake, own up to it. Contact the customer directly—be authentic and sincere. Make your connections personal. In the bubble of social media, every Millennial is the center of his or her online universe. They can sense when a local business is trying to cheat them and rarely ever engage with local businesses that offer little value beyond a general service.

Adroit Digital conducted a survey on Millennials and brand loyalty, and what local businesses can do to win with them:

  • 52% said “be willing to change based on feedback”
  • 33 % said “publicize eco-friendly practices”
  • 28% said “become more active in local communities”
  • 25% said “become more charitable”

recycling-254312_640Now, no one is expecting you to donate all your earnings to the nearest animal shelter. However, what the survey results make clear is that this generation makes purchasing decisions based on more than just the price—they care about your brand and what you stand for. For this reason, embracing “green” practices and being more charitable online and offline will likely bolster your brand and secure customer loyalty.

Which brings us to the next point—social media.

You’ve heard it before—social media is important. Many local businesses have Facebook pages and have probably at least heard of Twitter and Instagram. Many of them also don’t know why they should be focusing on social media—they’ve just been told they should.

Millennials really, really care about social media. 19 out of 20 Millennials own smart phones, and check them—on average—43 times per day. They’re more inclined to engage with trusted brands, and a great way to ramp up your social credibility is to board the social media train to reach them where they are.

Here are a couple excellent and informative posts to help you get started:

Facebook 101: How to Boost a Facebook Post

How to Post on Twitter (With Images)

29% of Millennials said that brand exposure through social media was a major criterion when making the decision to try a new brand. Don’t lose a potential one in three customers to the Super-Active-On-Facebook Spa down the street.

Online reviews and recommendations from friends are also incredibly important to Millennials in their online searches for local businesses.

However, simply drawing them in isn’t enough. You may have succeeded in getting them through the door, but what can you do to keep them there? How can local businesses circumvent the neighboring competition and make sure their marketing sticks enough to convince customers to come back again?

1. Pervade their social networks with viral content.

Think about what’s popular and emphasize content that is trending. Get on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest—sometimes even being a little bit controversial doesn’t hurt.

2. Initiate and include them in a conversation:

In comparing past marketing truths with current truths of online marketing, there has been a major change in how we talk to our customers, or rather, how we should talk to our customers. Just a little over a decade ago, basic advertising worked. People actually looked at billboard advertisements, took action from TV commercials, and perused through coupon clip books.

Times have changed. First of all, your customers are all online. Secondly, their search for the best spa or restaurant or restaurant or salon includes needs that scope far beyond price. They value aesthetic, professionalism, and authenticity. And thirdly, they want to be a part of it. They want their voices heard, and faces seen. While many describe the Millennial generation as goal driven, independent and hopeful, they are equally described as self-obsessed and overly confident. Why do you think selfies exist?

Fortunately, you can leverage this by empowering them to be become brand ambassadors for your local business.

  1. 59% of Millennials buy brands that reflect their style and personality.
  2. 40% of Millennials are willing to pay extra for a brand that reflects the image they wish to convey about themselves. (Compared to 25% of non-Millennials.)
  3. 22% of Millennials said that brands must “stand behind” their product. (Compared to 42% of Boomers.)

Related: How Your Own Fans Can Become Your Content Marketers

3. Solidify your online presence.

No relationship is more intimate than the one between Millennials and their phones—in particular, the apps on their phones. Yelp, Foursquare, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram—Millennials consult them before making any steps and count on them to help them make the safest, smartest purchasing decisions. What that means is that if their phone considers your local business unprofessional, they will too, and will probably not engage with your local business.

Knowing this, make sure your online look is pristine. Include your contact info. Include a picture. Make sure your website has an “about me” section that includes your mission statement and what your local business does. Everything is quick now, and your local business needs to catch up.

This is both good and bad news.

The bad news is that it’s no longer enough to have a pretty sign on your store’s window and call it a day—you have to perfect how you appear online and be mindful of how your local business is regarded on the internet.

The good news is that this allows you to differentiate yourself from the sea of competition and embrace creativity in your marketing material and branding. Millennials do care about what you do, what you stand for, and what makes your local business the best. They’re looking for something more than just a $5 haircut. They’re looking for an personal experience, and it’s in your power to convince them they’ll have one at your store.

urlThe Millennial generation cannot be ignored any longer. They are ready to spend and make up a large portion of your customer base. Fully understanding how they operate is nothing short of a feat, but the closer you get will ensure great results for your local business.

Your local business needs them; they have incredible power over the future of the internet and branding. Learning how to market with them in mind will boost your online power, garner loyalty for your local business, and greatly increase your sales.

Locbox helps local businesses grow. We’re your go-to for all things marketing. 

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