(Because They’re Today’s B2B Buyers)
If you think the day when Millennials (born 1980-1993) begin making B2B purchasing decisions is far off, I have news for you: it’s already here. Not only are they making important B2B decisions, but they have strong preferences about what type of information is most useful to them when making these decisions. And I have even more news for you: They differ from their Gen X (born 1965-1979) and Baby Boomer (born 1954-1964) predecessors.
Throughout my career, I’ve heard many clients talk about how certain marketing tactics aren’t useful for their audience(s). Sometimes, this is true. Other times, it’s an excuse to spend dollars on the same tactics rather than experiment with new ones. That’s why as B2B marketers, it’s going to become more and more important for us to prepare for a time when one generation begins to leave the workforce and another begins receiving more direct purchasing power. In other words? What you’re doing today won’t necessarily work tomorrow—unless, of course, you’re already taking steps to prepare for it.
A recent article from Marketing Profs analyzed the data from an IBM report focused on the the B2B buying habits of Millennials vs. their Gen X and Baby Boomer counterparts. One notable finding is that they much prefer communicating directly with a vendor’s representative than do Gen X or Baby Boomers when researching products and services.
This is surprising, especially given how much we hear and read about Millennials’ Internet habits; specifically, that all of their research is conducted over the Internet. And while it is true that 69% prefer digital communications (email) and only 24% prefer in-person meetings, when it comes to doing research, they’re not opposed to going direct to the source. In fact, Millennials rely most heavily on content provided by vendors when researching products and services. This is a stark contrast to Gen X buyers, who rely on third party articles/blogs/reviews to research vendors, and Baby Boomers, who prefer tradeshows for product research.
Is this an experience gap? Do Millennials rely on information straight from the source out of naiveté and this will change as they get older, or do manufacturers and vendors have a real untapped opportunity to create trustworthy, valuable content for tomorrow’s (and today’s) B2B buyers? For B2B marketers that aren’t yet engaging in consistent and relevant content marketing, this is your opportunity to miss. If it’s already trending towards this today, you can bet on it impacting your strategies tomorrow. Get ahead, or get behind. That’s the choice B2B marketers need to make—ASAP.
There are even more great insights in the article (like the importance of testimonials, referrals, and recommendations for Millennial B2B buyers), so read the whole thing here.