Why Millennials Need to be In Your Business Plans Already

By Matthew Harvey

Millennials (and younger generations as a whole) probably receive more attention than you think they deserve. People talk about how Millennials are awesome; people talk about how Millennials suck. Some think we’re doomed because of them; others think they’ll save the world.

The truth is neither here nor there, but somewhere in between. Regardless of whether or not Millennials are a world-beating generation, however, more business owners need to give them more thought and attention.

The facts are there: Millennials are the largest generation by the numbers. Soon that will be reflected in the workforce, and the numbers are already starting to show. More important than sheer numbers, however, is that millennials are going to be increasingly given more important roles.

They’re starting businesses, hiring employees, making millions, and getting themselves in trouble.

Soon, you may find yourself at the other end of the negotiating table with a fresh-faced youngin’, beaming with energy. And it’s best not to underestimate them.

“Millennials have regularly upended businesses and industries, either by doing it better themselves, or by creating something new to solve the same problem.”

Some important qualities of the younger generations that people tend to overlook are:

·        They grew up with the internet, and make up about 52% of overall internet users

·        They’re sharing creatures, and value sharing experiences more than previous generations

·        Millennials are more brand-loyal then their parents

·        They have the tools, potential, and time to learn and do it themselves

Here’s what all this means for you:

The Internet is power, and Millennials know it best.

The internet gives everyone with an electronic device and a connection access to a public trove of information never before seen in human history. More than the library at Alexandria, the internet changed everything.

What this means is that people can learn about topics and options never before accessible to anyone without money or a college education. Even some of the world’s most respected universities offer their entire courses online for free to review.

If knowledge is power, the internet’s an entire power plant.

Younger generations have a special place in the internet’s history: they grew up with it, developed its culture, made it a regular part of their lives, invented memes, and make up most of its users. Millennials also spend more time and money on the internet than any other generation.

Most savvy business owners will be quick to recognize the potential there, and likely already have millennials on their payroll. For those who haven’t quite figured it out, however: Millennials can give you the power of the internet.

“Don’t assume that just because someone is young, that they can’t be your next business opportunity.”

Whether it’s website design, social media, or even regular IT maintenance, younger generations have special skills and knowledge that can be very valuable to companies — especially with the right guidance.

From my experience:

I am the Marketing Coordinator for a successful business law firm in Woodland Hills. I provide the entire office with regular IT support, maintain & update the firm’s website, manage Stone | Dean’s social media pages, create content and design advertisements, edit & manage both newsletters, create attorney presentations, and more. The list of specialized skills, knowledge, and experience I have makes “Call Matt” regularly heard around the office.

For the most part, I can attribute these skills to something I learned on the internet, and I routinely use this tool to troubleshoot, find alternative routes, market the company, and learn about anything I might need to know. But I wouldn’t be so good at it had I not been born a Millennial.

Experiences shape Millennials… and their friends.

Social Media best exemplifies the social aspect of human nature; and no generation embodies that better than millennials, by and large the highest proportionate users of social media sites.

Younger generations tend to shy away from the privacy maintained by their parents: they love to share their experiences, live vicariously through others, and make new connections. Fortunately for them, the internet gives everyone a treasure trove of new ways to share with each other, whether in pictureswritingsmall moments, or reviews.

“You don’t have to be on Snapchat to get along with Millennials, but you do have to relate, understand, and connect with them.”

Once again, the savvy business owner will have likely recognized the powerful trend here: give a millennial a great experience, and their friends just might want to join in. Just as most things, however, this goes the other way as well: give millennials a bad experience, and they just might tell everyone about it.

The takeaway here is to shape your business around making experiences, from the way your employees treat customers, to memorable things your visitors can document or photograph. Experiences also relate closely to customer retention and repeat business; and as we all should know, millennials are more brand-loyal than previous generations. They appreciate experiences on-offer, and will be willing to stick to something based on more than just dollars-and-figures.

From my experience:

Sharing is powerful for businesses. I can’t tell you the amount of times a picture online has resulted in a bevy of questions like “Where is that?” or “Where can I get one?” Black charcoal ice creampicture-perfect displays, and “raindrop cakes” have all seen their days in the social media sun. “Going viral” is on every brand’s mind, but it can’t happen without sharing; and sharing simply won’t happen without an experience that’s memorable.

Beyond fun, picturesque products however, the customer interaction with your company will always be paramount. Businesses who have put my experience first have seen many of my referrals come through the door. I’m happy to refer my friends to my mechanic because I know they will get the same, great experience I always have. However, I’ve witnessed many companies not put my experience first, and that earned them a negative review online (sometimes in more than one place) and ultimately the loss of my business — either in favor of another company I researched, or through doing it myself.

Which brings me to my next point:

If Millennials don’t join you, they’ll beat you.

Much talk is given to how Artificial Intelligence will shape businesses in the future, and what this means for many professionals who may have their jobs become obsolete.

But what if I said the greatest threat to your job was not AI, but Millennials?

You might call it crazy, think that your job or product is irreplaceable, or too large to compete with, but it’s true:

Millennials have regularly upended businesses and industries, either by doing it better themselves, or by creating something new to solve the same problem.

·        Brian Chesky, founder of AirBnB, completely disrupted the hotel & tourism industry. AirBnB is now valued at over $31 billion.

·        Michelle Phan, of YouTube Makeup Tutorials fame, used her massive fan base to start up her own subscription makeup brand, Ipsy, which now has 1.5 million subscribers.

·        Matthew Mullenweg, creator of website builder WordPress, built the most used software for creating websites today, and made it easy enough that everyone can do it.

The internet opened endless possibilities for millennials to learn and create, and the most savvy businesses of them all have taken notice: The median age of employees at Facebook and Google is 28 & 31 respectively. These companies understand that the key to innovation is new ideas, and they know that Millennials are full of them.

What should my business do about Millennials, then?

Here are some ways you and your business can push to become more modern, successful, and mindful of younger generations:

·        Hire a Millennial or two on staff. Guide them, but give them freedom to express themselves, be creative and contribute.

·        Talk to a younger person as though they’re human too. You won’t have to take a selfie with them, and you may find they have something to connect over.

·        Understand Millennials are becoming increasingly more important in the workplace: don’t assume that just because someone is young, that they can’t be your next business opportunity.

·        Put more emphasis and thought in to the experience your company gives its customers & visitors. From employee-interactions and physical location, to the virality (think “shareableness”) of your product and brand, positive experiences can shape your success.

You don’t have to be on Snapchat to get along with Millennials (although you might want to try), but you do have to relate, understand, and connect with them.

If you do want some help with this, however, reach out to me or give your local Millennial a call. You might find success in what us Millennials have to share. 

Matthew Harvey is a Marketing Consultant & Brand Adviser to attorneys, businesses, and big personalities. You can reach out to him by connecting with him on LinkedIn or by sending him an email.

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