Is Your Business Millennial-Friendly?

Americans born between 1980 and 2000 are considered to be millennials, making up about a quarter of the US population.

The good news is that millennials are more likely to shop at small businesses than any other generation, so make sure you're ready. Here are a few tips to get you a little more millennial-friendly.

Find a way to get their feedback

Millennials want their opinions to be heard. They enjoy the chance to collaborate with you when you're developing products or services. Get their feedback any way you can—use focus groups, conduct surveys, ask them to participate in beta test groups, etc.

When you invite this generation to be a part of your product and service development, you'll be amazed at what you'll learn, and they'll be incredibly loyal to your business (and tell their friends about it as well).

Get social

If you're not on social media, it's easy to get started. You don't have to be on every platform—but you should consider being on more than one. Using social media, you can easily connect with this target audience. Post videos or insightful information about who you are and what you do. Stay engaged with any social media account you have and respond to posts or comments quickly.

Use diverse marketing tactics

When you're marketing to millennials, you need to get the point quickly. While they want to be informed prior to buying something, they really don't like to spend a lot of time doing so. This means you need to be smart with the marketing tools you use and when you use them. Consider using videos (but keep it under a minute), podcasts, infographics, short blog posts, and unique Tweets or Instagram posts. If you don't have a mobile app, now may be the time to develop one. Be sure your website is interactive and easy to navigate. No matter what type of marketing tool you use, though, the message must be direct, consistent, and even a little humorous or clever.

Keep up with technology

If you use technology for any part of your customer experience, be sure it works—and works well. This generation has grown up shopping, learning, communicating and being entertained digitally. They want that experience wherever they shop. So, you need to find ways to simplify the buying process and keep things as intuitive as possible.

For example, if you own a local smoothie store, offer a free app that will allow your customers to order a smoothie online (customized to their needs). They can pick up the smoothie upon arrival at your store, and then earn points for every smoothie purchased. You'll likely have a customer for life.

Be a good citizen in your community

Most millennials care about the environment, and particularly their community. And, they prefer to do business with those that feel the same way. So, consider how you can be more socially responsible in your community. Maybe that means you sponsor a toy or food drive, or make more eco-friendly choices as a business. The key is to find ways you can positively contribute to your community and then let people know about it—and encourage them to do the same.

Share your reputation

Millennials care about whether or not a business has a good reputation. And, more critically, they care what others think about you. So, it's important you highlight good reviews on social media, your website, or even using a flyer or poster in your store. If you receive testimonials, positive ratings, or even awards, post them. Be as transparent as possible.

Be authentic

Most millennials care about whether or not your business does exactly what it says it does. Don't overpromise and under deliver—that will drive away customers quicker than you can imagine. Give customers a "behind the scenes" look at your business, or share some of your processes with them. Get to know your customers in person or through video—let them see the face behind your business. Guarantee your service and really mean it.

By following these strategies, your business will be on the road to a brighter future. But, this is just a start. As you continue to learn more about this generation and get their feedback, you'll find your business may grow organically in ways you hadn't anticipated.

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The information provided is not intended to be legal, tax, or financial advice. BB&T hopes you find this information useful but we cannot guarantee that it is accurate, up to date, or appropriate for your situation. You should consult with a qualified attorney or financial advisor to understand how the law applies to your particular circumstances or for financial information specific to your personal or business situation.

Branch Banking and Trust Company, Member FDIC.