By Matt Koop
Ding!!! rings the microwave. You see, this is the sound that millennials grew up with, from hot pockets to macaroni and cheese, no “baking” required.
How does this apply to procurement, you might ask? Simple. If you can’t relate to your customers, then how are you going to get them to trust you?
The landscape of homeowners looking for home service businesses to help them has begun to change. While the majority of the customer base continues to be 40+, millennials buy homes every day and account for 40% of the rapidly growing market. When it comes to marketing to these people, in addition to getting them to entrust their homes to you, techies and business owners can struggle to understand what the younger generation is looking for.
Today, most home service providers are almost 60 years old, so there is a generational gap between the people who solve the problems and those who are the customers. There needs to be a shift in focus when it comes to marketing to millennials because they see things differently than Gen X or Gen Y. Also, they control a large amount of money when it comes to revenue. Understanding how they make decisions will be paramount to ensuring the future growth of your home services business.
With the aging of the older customer base in the home buying market, millennials will quickly become the majority of customers in the industry. Capturing their attention and communicating effectively with them is key to keeping business flowing in your direction.
The elevator pitch
With many marketing methods in the industry being taught for 20 or 30 years now, one wonders if the effects are as good as they should be. If you go back in time, you might find that a lot of the people who teach entrepreneurs how to market to their local and online communities still teach the same way they did years ago. These methods nowadays tend to focus on the business and less on the customers they are trying to acquire. This leaves many advertisements geared towards establishing an image for the company, instead of relating to new generations. Sometimes it’s hard to believe that this style of marketing will give us the results we want on millennials.
Millennials have grown up in a microwave society where they want things done quickly so they can move on to the next exciting adventure. If we’re going to market ourselves to this generation, we’ll need to grab their attention quickly and in interesting ways. We should consider going back to the elevator pitch world.
As entrepreneurs, we have about 5-15 seconds to make an impression that grabs their attention. We live in a fast-paced world, and paying Facebook or Google just to market to these people doesn’t guarantee the results you need. Focusing our message on the elevator method, where you take them one step at a time, should help you have a better chance of capturing the attention of millennials on a regular basis.
Social media connection
I think entrepreneurs need to be on social media today because millennials are looking for businesses that allow them to be part of their community or family. Social media can provide us with the platform to do this. For example, at The New Flat Rate, we’ve helped our members run a “Smile of the Day” program on Facebook and other social sites. It allowed them to connect with prospects on a non-resilient level because we’re not trying to “sell” them anything. We just help them feel like they’re part of a community that cares about them, instead of being just another ATM.
Previously, when we were marketing to Gen X or above, it was a little easier. These people were constantly busy, so putting an ad saying “buy now” would get the message across, and they would most likely have bought the item then. Millennials seem to get upset when they see an advertisement because they constantly see them on social media. So we’re emphasizing social media drops that aren’t ad-based, allowing you to swipe an ad very often in front of an audience that now feels like part of the family!
For marketing to millennials, we believe up to 80% of the focus should be on building a social media community that provides you with family-like relationships that not only become your customers, but also who fight for you in their area of influence, sharing your name to every corner of your market.
One of the biggest mistakes entrepreneurs make when trying to reach the younger generation is assuming the customer knows and understands everything the entrepreneur does. It’s the number one relationship killer between these generation gaps. We need to understand that millennials grew up in a different era and may have focused on other activities that didn’t include understanding how a water heater works.
If we start talking in technical terms that the customer doesn’t understand, they will end up searching the internet. This could lead them to find information that is not true or counterproductive to the work the contractor has to do.
So the bigger question remains, how do we bridge that communication gap while we’re at home? The answer to this question simplifies the discussion. Most millennials don’t care about technical terminology. They want to know that the contractor understands what the problem is and knows how to deal with it. They are less concerned about what will be done technically.
We need to stop the information overload when talking with millennials. We need to get better at answering questions in fewer words and as simple as possible. If you don’t provide enough information to answer their question, they’ll ask another one. It’s that simple.
Matt Koop is vice president of training and implementation for The New Flat Rate, a home service menu selling system designed to put profits directly into the hands of plumbing, electrical and HVAC contractors. For more information visit www.thenewflatrate.com or email [email protected]