November 18, 2020 5 min read
Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.
Creating a business is a lot like knocking on someone’s door for Halloween.
You walk up the steps, adjust your superhero mask, and expect something in return when you reach out your hand. This type of exchange is a normative understanding of give-and-take. It’s an A + B = C scenario. Millennials still don their costume, extend their hand, and expect a transaction, but they’re not impressed with the King-size Snickers bar anymore. They prefer the organic kale and dairy-free chocolate substitute.
Millennials have been in the news more than the Kardashians have been on reality TV, and they’re changing the rules of business. They still value transactional leadership and want their Amazon package to arrive on time. But, they want more than a prompt delivery and an acceptable return policy if they’re going to proceed to checkout.
Since the early aughts, entrepreneurs have been bombarded with articles, books, and podcasts posing the same question: What do we do about the Millennials? Even Simon Sinek made headlines when he was asked this question during an interview with Tom Bilyeu. Sinek wasn’t the biggest fan of Generation Y. And he’s not alone.
Connecting with Millennial customers can sometimes feel like trying to figure out an Escape Room without any clues –– exhausting and frustrating. Their values, beliefs, and perspectives are vastly different from previous generations. This generational shift within the business sector might feel like the biggest headache for entrepreneurs. But, it’s actually one of the most significant opportunities.
Millennials might be unlike previous generations. But, that’s not necessarily a bad thing –– especially for business. Here are three foolproof ways to reach your millennial customers:
Let millennials lead the conversation
I get it. There’s something intrinsically comforting about a formulaic structure that guarantees success. But, that entity doesn’t exist anymore. Yes. Every entrepreneur should have some assemblage of a plan to leverage curiosity. However, if you’re hoping to bring millennials from point A to point B, don’t be surprised when they want to stop and smell the roses before moving forward.
Generation Y needs more time than previous generations because they don’t have the same trust level in institutional systems. They grew up seeing hypocrisy in every sector around the world. Millennials didn’t have to seek out a disappointment. All they had to do was scroll through their social media feed to gain a more pessimistic viewpoint. In turn, this lack of trust created a generation swayed by facts more than commercialism.
If you want to engage millennial buyers, then you need to build trust. If you’re willing to allow millennials to lead the conversation, you’ll gain a brand ambassador that supports your products because they feel supported by your company.
Showcase your employees more than your brand
Millennials are not concerned with keeping up with the Jones’. If anything, they place ultimate value on whether the company that clothed the Jones’ treats their workers ethically. If entrepreneurs want to gain millennials as customers, they need to peel back the curtain and reveal the voice behind the Great and Powerful Wizard of Oz.
Buyers are looking for authenticity. So, give them what they want. Take them on tour via Instagram stories and show them the reality behind your development team. You can also theme out your content to showcase all of your employees, organizational mission, and ethical design. Millennials want to resonate with the reality of your business, not your promotional branding.
So, instead of hitting the bottom of your budget with one commercial, spend time developing content that bridges the gap and gives potential customers a behind-the-scenes look at your mission. If you want millennial buyers, you have to invite them to know you and your employees. They invest in people, not products.
Lead from a place of empathy
If you want to reach millennial customers, you must first understand their values and how they think. Let me assure you; this is not as easy as it sounds. This generation is not looking for fairweather friends when it comes to business. They want to invest in companies that take the time to develop a symbiotic relationship.
For entrepreneurs to sell millennials, they must first settle into their shoes and see life from varied perspectives. When companies take the time to understand generational dissonance, gain a taste for organic tofu, and carve out time in their schedules to learn, they develop organizations that resonate with millennial customers.
Right now, millennials overtake Baby Boomers as the largest generation in America and are also the most educated. When entrepreneurs prioritize the importance of learning, they resonate with their millennial buyers because they understand the importance of being teachable.
Entrepreneurs can resonate with their millennial employees, but they might need to reconstruct some of their gameplans. Gaining approval with this generation takes more than transactional behavior. It requires a restructuring of operations. If entrepreneurs want to attract millennial customers, they need to remember three things: Create space for education, engage in meaningful conversation, and showcase the ethics behind their mission.