Marketing to Millennials: How to Reach This Influential Generation
Millennials are set to reshape the economy. Now outnumbering Baby Boomers and representing more than one-quarter of the US population (according to the US Census), Millennials are moving into their prime spending years. The result of this dramatic growth in buying power and influence is forcing practices to examine how they do business and how to reach these important—but sometimes elusive—customers.
While all generations have experienced technological advancements, the quantity and quality of information that is readily available to Millennials since childhood is unmatched. To capitalize on this technologically savvy generation, proactive and perceptive practice leaders need to take their marketing efforts to the next level. Traditional outbound marketing efforts (print/television/radio ads, direct mail, unsolicited emails, etc.), where companies initiate the conversation and send their message out to an audience, are trending down, while inbound marketing, where the customers find you (mostly through paid or organic search engine results) is swelling in success. To effectively reach Millennials, content needs to make them feel that it was tailor-made for them.
Below are several tips on how to effectively market to this growing-in-buying-power group:
Create a strong online presence. To appeal to Millennials, it is all about online engagement and convenience. This generation is tech-savvy, having grown up with computers, cellphones, tablets, and the internet. They are used to being connected, often carrying multiple devices on them that enable them to instantly interact with others, including businesses. To reach them, practices need to be active online, with an appealing, interactive website and a strong presence on social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube.
Offer engaging feature options. It’s not surprising that the generation that lives online wants to interact online. Whether it is the ability to schedule an appointment, participate in an online consultation, use a makeover tool, or make a purchase, features that bring products and services to life on the web can engage Millennials and make their experience less time-consuming, easier, and more convenient. Be on the lookout for such features and incorporate them into your website when possible to make any consumer’s online experience more enjoyable and interactive.
Be mobile-friendly. Millennials love their mobile devices (cellphones, tablets, etc.), often conducting extensive research on them. To effectively reach Millennials, practices need their online presence to be mobile-friendly. However, just because your website displays on a mobile device doesn’t mean that it’s mobile-friendly. It needs to be easily accessible and viewed on these small devices. Search engine providers are acutely aware of this “mobile” trend. For example, Google and Bing recently announced they have changed their search ranking algorithm by boosting the rankings of mobile-friendly websites, making it more important than ever to optimize your site to be mobile-friendly.
Embrace online directory listings. Closely managing your online directory listings—(and reviews, see below)—is a must to attract this age group. You want your online directory information/presence to be uniform, current, and accurate no matter where a potential customer finds you (i.e., Yelp, Yellow Pages, Google). Make sure all your directory listings are informative and consistent across the internet. It should be noted that directory listings are becoming more important to other generations, too.
Solicit and manage reviews. Millennials tend to seek others’ opinions before making purchases. As a result, they likely will read online customer reviews and look at before-and-after photos prior to deciding on a provider or procedure. For this this reason, encourage clients to leave (positive) online reviews and testimonials. Then be sure to regularly monitor online reviews, responding to those that pose a question, provide inaccurate information, or are complimentary or negative. This will show that the practice is engaged with and responsive to its clients.
Collaborate with online influencers. Traditional marketing (print ad campaigns, mailers, and radio spots) is not as effective on Millennials as it is with previous generations. Instead, Millennials respond to and trust the opinion of “influencers” (trusted friends, fellow customers, bloggers, subject matter experts, and thought leaders). These influencers can have a large following and virtually everything they share on social media is viewed with dependability and trust. Primarily, you can find these influential individuals by conducting an internet search on your practice, noting who is already talking or reviewing you online. Once you find these influencers, you need to interact and engage them. Details on how to do so is mentioned in the paragraph above. It’s important that these influencers have a favorable view of you, as they have the power to promote you and reach/influence potential customers.
Focus on quality and health benefits. With the prevalence of selfies and celebrities promoting beauty enhancements, Millennials are much more open to aesthetic improvements than previous generations. To set the stage for a quality experience and outcome for Millennial customers, have your practice influencers focus on how taking care of their appearance with your products and services helps with confidence and makes them feel better about themselves. One way to grab the attention of Millennials is to highlight your before-and-after pictures, especially those that feature someone from their generation. Accompanying these pictures should be an accurate description of what was done and how much it cost.
Provide incentives. Saddled by student loan debt and making on average less income than previous generations, Millennials have fewer discretionary dollars. This does not mean they won’t splurge on a quality product or experience. They will, but they will be more selective and take action only after conducting a thorough, comprehensive search and comparison. The good news is that today’s technology—which, remember, Millennials are proficient and comfortable navigating—means the search-and-comparison process can be done quickly. To be a contender in this competitive field, provide discounts or refer a friend coupons of your own or from your suppliers to increase your odds of attracting Millennials (who are interested in aesthetic improvements) and their business.
Reward and recognize. Millennials like to be acknowledged and rewarded. Recognizing and rewarding behavior such as referring friends, having repeat services, and/or converting to new products or services is our bread and butter in the aesthetic industry. Special offerings or cost savings insures us the chance they will become lifelong ambassadors and referral sources. Tap into this tendency by compensating client behavior with refer-a-friend discounts, elevation to VIP status, and customer reward programs. These incentives are ways practices can keep Millennials feeling special and appreciated.
As more Millennials enter the workforce and increase their purchasing power, their technology and media use habits will drive change and customer reach in this market. Learn how Millennials respond to specific marketing stimuli and techniques and act accordingly. By adapting to the times, you’ll set your practice up for future ongoing success.
Wendy Collins is a management consultant with the Allergan Practice Consulting Group of Allergan plc, a global pharmaceutical company headquartered in Dublin, Ireland.
Ms. Collins consults with medical aesthetic practices in the areas of financial analysis and procedure values, human resource issues, internal and external marketing, leadership training and team building, sales training, compensation, and aesthetic practice development.
Ms. Collins has more than 19 years of diversified sales management, consulting, analytic, supply chain, and eBusiness experience. Before becoming a practice consultant, she served Allergan as a senior facial aesthetics business development manager and as a regional sales trainer for New England. Prior to joining Allergan, Ms. Collins worked for GE Plastics for 14 years, filling a variety of roles, including global account manager, where she was responsible for a $23 million territory covering medical and optical accounts; global eBusiness project leader; and Lexan production leader responsible for five plant sites. She also held global sales roles managing Motorola and 3M plastic businesses.