It’s time to key all of you B2B marketers into something that B2C marketers already know: Generation Z has left the (university) building.
That’s right – they’re here, and they aren’t just hitting legal drinking age; they’re graduating from college, moving to new cities and taking their experiences and skills into a changing workforce. If you believe you still have time to adapt to their needs, consider this: Many Gen-Z’ers (also known as post-millennials) will forego college entirely, meaning they’re hitting the ground running as you’re reading this.
B2C marketing professionals have been aiming messages and leveraging influencers to this tech-savvy group for years now. However, B2B marketers have, naturally, been less concerned, focusing instead on catching up to the millennial generation – and for good reason: Nearly three-quarters of millennials are involved in modern B2B purchasing decisions, according to a recent report by Forrester. Further research by SnapApp confirms that nearly one-third of those millennial B2B buyers heavily influence purchasing decisions. Some are even the final decision-maker on B2B buying decisions.
But the rise of the post-millennials will soon present new challenges for marketers, and it’s important to stay ahead of the generational curve. Here’s how:
1) Start creating the right video content.
For a few years now, visual content has been an important component of any marketing strategy. On your website and social pages, video allows you to speak your brand messaging and brand story in an engaging way, and it is more attention-grabbing than text or still images. This trend will likely only grow with Generation Z, but it’s important to understand what makes the right video content.
In a 2016 Sacunas survey to millennials, 29 percent of target respondents noted a preference to video content when looking for B2B vendor information. But post-millennials don’t consume online videos in the exact same ways millennials do; they count video content equally important for both entertainment and as an educational resource, as it allows them to grab easily digestible, bite-sized takeaways.
Tip #1: Don’t stuff your content with 5-10 minutes of information. Attention spans are shrinking, and the fight for attention is turning into a war. Make video pieces that get to the point and highlight a call to action.
Tip #2: Video is a prime avenue for viral marketing, and one good example is the trend for live video, which is on the rise, according to the Social Media Examiner 2017 Social Media Marketing Report. Leverage live video by promoting events ahead of time or capturing activities live, such as trade shows or new product launches in the heat of the moment.
2) Don’t market the “what.” Market the “why.”
Post-millennials are both cause-driven and entrepreneurial, which means they likely want to tie their personal beliefs and passions into their work and honestly care about third-party brand values. More than that, they want to connect how your values both reflect and affect society. While the idea of tying your business to public consciousness may seem too consumer-driven for the likes of your B2B brand, consider that your engagement with a Gen-Z B2B buyer will still be a relationship-driven process influenced by his expectations of how a business could – and should – exist within a larger societal context.
Slack is one example of a B2B brand with a targeted and emotional marketing approach. The company’s thoughtful messaging using testimonials from teams around the world helped to rapidly boost the brand’s reputation. Slack CMO Bill Macaitis is a believer in the trend of B2C driving B2B decision-making even noting, “Customers, regardless if they are the consumer in ‘B2C’ or the business in ‘B2B,’ are ultimately regular people who want to have a great experience with your brand.”
Tip #1: For B2B marketing success, treat all contacts less as faceless entities with generational labels, and more as regular people with individually held passions.
Tip #2: Create and sustain strong relationships with Generation Z buyers by showing them what drives your brand, and tie your values to issues they care about.
3) Embrace emerging forms of technology.
This last point is crucial and simple. If your brand is lacking on the technology front, post-millennials will offer you no sympathy. In fact, they’ll just pack up their interest and settle on a competitor that has the technology edge. Whereas millennials might have appreciated (or tolerated) more rudimentary or “seasoned” approaches, this new group has established that now is the time to finally go mobile, app-friendly and tech-forward.
Tip #1: Leverage social media platforms – and not just the old standbys. Facebook is in a mess of trouble over data privacy regulations and Twitter continues to soak up bad press. To impress Gen-Z buyers, market your brand on numerous emerging platforms to diversify your digital representation and be a thought leader in your space.
Tip #2: Clean up your online presence. If your site, product or testimonial pages look like they were created in 2002 (because they were…), it’s time to refresh. A simple UI/UX rework might be enough to woo potential post-millennial buyers.
And remember: as you prepare for marketing success with this generation, think outside of the B2B box. Consider the emotional values of your brand, and focus on strategies that illustrate how you’re differentiated in the market. With a renewed push, fresh coat of paint and some new content, you’ll be building exciting modern relationships in no time.