By MJ Plaster
Traders live and die by the trend. “The trend is your friend,” they say. Amateur traders who become emotionally attached to a stock hang on too long, just as stubborn business owners hang on to something “they’ve always done” instead of reading the tea leaves and adjusting to meet emerging business conditions.
No one likes change, especially the disruptive variety, but in business, you adapt or die. Business owners who watch trends and adapt to a change early in the life cycle can start to capitalize on gains before a trend peaks and begins to roll over.
For decades, the money has flowed from the Baby Boomers. Now, the Millennials have come of age, both in the workplace and as the target demographic market. It seems like an overnight move because the shift has been occurring quietly and incrementally over years. We’ve reached the point where it can no longer be denied. The new generation will force many of the changes below, so it’s time to recognize the shift and get on board.
What does “added value” really mean? No one seems to know. It’s a throwaway phrase—”marketingspeak.” Instead of adding value, let’s turn the concept on its head and look at removing obstacles. Revert to the KISS Method—keep it simple stupid. Make it easy for your customers to interact and do business with you. There is nothing more frustrating to customers than to call a support line, receive a recorded message that instructs them to send an email, only to receive an email reply that says, “We’ll get back to you in 48 hours.” That’s unacceptable.
Last week, I needed to buy a specific, specialized book for a gift. Amazon wanted $65—a non-starter. I discovered the author sells the book for a one-quarter the price, but he’s not set up for online sales. I had to email my order to him, wait for him to create a PayPal invoice, keep checking my email for notification and then send the payment. The process took two full days, and because I needed the book yesterday, I had to add Priority shipping fees. I never would have bought the book as an impulse buy because, like your customers, I’m busy. If you don’t make it easy for me to buy what I want right now, you will usually lose the sale.
Focus on quality over quantity. People don’t have time to read articles that don’t offer practical advice. Pepper your content with real stories because they bring content to life. People relate to stories. They say to themselves, “Wow, do I understand that! I’ve been there, done that and I’ve got the T-shirt. This company speaks to me.”
Every morning I receive an email from Dr. Mercola. He summarizes his daily articles and provides a link to each of them as illustrated below. I know immediately if I want to visit the site and read them. He makes interaction simple.
I read his site religiously for years before purchasing the first item. Now I’m a VIP customer, and I order from him once a month without fail, spending four figures a year. But the company developed a relationship with me first, and I trust his products. He does everything with his customers in mind. When something goes wrong, it’s immediately remedied.
In short, connect first and sell second. Develop the relationship before issuing a call to action. And use technology to simplify your workload.
Use Effective Social Media
This is the one area that could bring pushback from the Millennials. LinkedIn is the go-to social media for B2B marketing, not Facebook. They live and die by Facebook, but B2B interactions don’t.
The External Referral Traffic to Parse.ly’s Customers graph shows a severe drop-off in users clicking external links from within Facebook. Businesses do not troll Facebook, Twitter or Instagram for services and products or to stay current on business happenings. Those social media sites are geared more toward educating target B2C markets, according to Entrepreneur.com.
LinkedIn’s content, however, it geared strictly to the business user. It covers myriad business topics, and you can submit your own content. If you are a B2B marketer, LinkedIn is the place to be. Media companies, even small ones, rely on Twitter to push news to their audiences.
Begin the Move to Cryptocurrencies
You don’t understand bitcoin and cryptocurrencies? Neither do I, so I can’t help you get started—yet. But after seeing more than a few large and small companies moving to accept bitcoin, it’s high time you and I took a second look at them. Now that the target demographic has switched, you’re dealing with a group that doesn’t have a dime of fiat money in their wallets. They make payment electronically, and increasingly, they transact in bitcoin, Ethereum and other cryptocurrencies.
When Jamie Dimon, Chairman and CEO of JP Morgan changes his tune from “Bitcoin is a fraud” to “ “the blockchain is real,” and admits the change to CNBC, you know the shift has started, and it’s time to get with the program.
Search the internet to familiarize yourself with “cryptocurrencies,” “blockchain” and “Bitcoin.” Corner your Millennial employees and pick their brains. They’re a goldmine of information on emerging technologies, and they love to share their knowledge.
Acknowledge Employee Worth
Ever since the first MBAs came online in the 1980s, employees have been treated as commodities. So, it came as a surprise when employers began to share the fruits of tax reform in the manner they have—even before they benefited from what’s to come. Many have given bonuses ranging from $500–$3,000 to employees, and some have also given them raises. This did not happen the last time companies were enticed to bring money back from offshore. Why is this time different? Businesses have reasons to be optimistic, and the monetary windfalls are an expression of that optimism.
However, money is not everything. In fact; it doesn’t rank at the top of the employee wish list. Recognition is even more important than money, but everyone is thrilled when they receive a bonus, especially an unexpected one.
Engage Your Employees
Repeated turnover in a small business is deadly. Remaining employees wonder if they should float their resumes, and they aren’t happy about taking on extra work until a suitable replacement is found. It’s easier and more cost-effective to engage your employees. Give them kudos for a job well done. For a job that falls short of your expectations, tell them you are sure they will learn from the experience, and you look forward to seeing their next project completed.
Millennials want to feel they are a valued part of the company. They want to feel that they’re doing good through their work. Successful businesses realize this and accommodate these attitudes. They engage their employees and treat them well. Engaged employees are happy employees, and customers pick up on it.
Millennials bring fresh air to a stale atmosphere. Mine their knowledge, experiences and views. The winds of change are blowing and getting swept up in the trend is better for you and your company than fighting it tooth and nail. If you do, you’re handing your edge to the competition.