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Understanding Y

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I am a Millennial, a card-carrying member of Generation Y.

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If you were to Google “Millennials,” a multitude of negative, positive, educated and uneducated views about the generation will appear. And, for each of these positive or negative stereotypes, I can find a friend who fits that mold.

Hundreds of journalists, bloggers and scholars have been trying to figure out what makes Millennials tick and what the generation’s impact will be on the country and the future.

I’m not here to debate or defend the merits of my generation. Nor am I here to over analyze Millennials. I want to help you understand us in a way that’ll help your business.

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Writing March’s cover story – Millennials: the New Agents of Change – I touched on several different ways to reach Gen Yers and how to keep them as your employee.

There are a couple points about Millennial consumers I want to reiterate.

Technology is key.

As mentioned in the story, Millennials are in the here and now. If my friends or I want to find something, we go online.  Immediately.

I am constantly Googling my zip code and such-and-such service to find places to go in my area. Businesses with a website and a positive review get my first consideration.

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If you do have a website (which is half the battle) please fill it with useful information:

  • Good: Your store info, hours, services, etc. should be easy to locate.
  • Better:  Provide consumers with education on your services/products.
  • Best: Have features that make my life easier (online scheduling and online quotes, yes please).

A social media presence is always a plus for a business, but you have to give me true incentive to like or follow you. Millennials might look at your social media pages, but won’t necessarily follow you just because. You need to engage them.facebook

Try to offer a weekly deal in exchange for following you or a contest in which sharing posts could win your followers something. The opportunities are limited only by your imagination and each social network’s rules.

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Another point I want to touch on is the fact that Millennials WILL promote your business if they’ve had a positive experience. Millennials are sometimes called “over sharers,” but think about that potential word-of-mouth marketing.

I see frequently on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram my friends praising businesses for amazing services they’ve performed. I’ve also seen people bash businesses that have provided horrible customer service.

Millennials are like all consumers who value good customer service. Where we vary is our willingness to share our experiences online with others. We are not at all bashful about that, so our word-of-mouth spreads much farther than to just a few friends. One negative comment spreads to literally hundreds of people simply because we like to over share.

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Think I’m making a generalization or that this doesn’t apply to tire stores?

As I contemplated what I’d write for this blog post, I came across the perfect example of how we will sell your tire business (see photo). A friend of mine posted a thank you to her local tire store (Gerald’s Tire & Auto Service in South Carolina) for their help with her flat tire.

The photo received more than 63 likes and four comments within a day. The four comments (which I cut from the picture due to privacy) were also positive raves for the dealership.

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Even if a fraction of those likes reside in the area, that could be a substantial number of potential customers reached for free.  When those people need someone to work on their car or somewhere to purchase new tires, they’ll save themselves time looking online and take their friend’s advice and head to Gerald’s.

This is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to reaching/selling to Millennials, but remembering these fundamental things will help. If you want to learn more, read March’s cover story or one of the hundreds of books or articles written about Millennials.

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Love us, hate us or love to hate us, it’s important for your business to address your new Millennial consumer. In the end the effort will pay for itself.


If you have comments or questions about Millennials or the cover story, let me know. What is your favorite part of the generation’s personality? What do you like least about Millennials?

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