Less than one-third of milliennials planned to sign up for health care under the Affordable Care Act, a recent Harvard University poll found. When Obamacare ads targeting millennials flopped, it opened up a wider cultural debate about what works when selling to millennials. The lessons learned can help all service providers better connect with their newest customer base.
What millennials seek from service providers
Having grown up in the age of the Internet, millennial shoppers know how to comparison shop. Millenials are much more immune to print, television and radio ads than service buyers of previous generations and tend toward a self-serve approach toward what they need. When looking for a new auto body shop or a quote for insurance, they’re likely to head online and check general-review sites like Yelp. They may ask friends for referrals, as millennials place a high value on social sharing. Like their Gen-X cohorts, millennials place a high value on individuality. Strategies that you developed to reach out to gen X-ers may need subtle tweaks to appeal to millennials, but the two share a similar mindset.
Do’s and Dont’s of selling to millennials
- DO keep it short and sweet. In the era of tweets, millennials prefer their info in quick bites. While some have criticized their short attention span, it’s no use fighting it when trying to market your services. A long advertisement will lose their attention.
- DO maintain a comprehensive online presence and use this as your base camp. If your ads discuss ways to buy insurance leads, a millennial will find the QuoteWizard website and begin reviewing the information presented there. If your website’s not ready, don’t launch your campaign. If the website states something very different from the advertisement, millennials will become suspicious.
- DO cultivate a laid back presence. If you’re launching a new service, take a laid back attitude. In Forbes, Micah Solomon recommends underpromising rather than overstating your services. Steer clear of declarative, overhyped statements like “the best ever,” “incredible” or “10-minute oil change.” Instead, use more laid-back language like “great”, “pretty quick” or “fast oil changes, free Wi-Fi.” Study examples of service providers around you to identify a balance that expresses what you do well. Then make sure you don’t overhype it like you’re writing copy for BuzzFeed or Upworthy. This can feel weird to marketers, because it’s not a hard sell. Millennials are naturally skeptical and react negatively toward a hard sell.
- DON’T try to be someone or something you aren’t. The Obamacare ads captured negative attention because they tried too hard to appeal to millennials in ways that were young, fresh and hipster-y. However, most millennials aren’t hipsters and they didn’t appreciate being babied.
- DON’T play the know it all. Many millennials are looking for service providers for the first time. Positioning yourself as the only expert will backfire. If you offer online resources millennials can use — via blog, Facebook page, YouTube channel or other social forum — millennials will use these resources to become informed consumers and will trust you. If you hoard information for yourself and avoid transparency, you’ll instantly alienate these potential customers.
Ryan comes from an ad and marketing background, and is now focused on the healthcare niche. He travels around the U.S. and speaks at conferences on healthcare marketing and management.0