Last article in a two-part series
By Carissa Gingras
They’re technologically-dependent, ethnically diverse, and socially responsible. They are also skeptical, independent, and harder to reach with mass marketing. For example, more than 40 percent of Millennials — individuals born between 1977 and 1995 — don’t have landline phones, making traditional methods such as Yellow Pages advertising that may have worked with past generations an ineffective tactic with this digital-dependent group. If marketing to these individuals sounds challenging, consider this: By 2030, Millennials will own more than one-third of all the single-family homes in the United States. That’s probably a group you want as a customer.
So how exactly do you reach this new, younger generation of outdoor power equipment buyers? In my previous article in March 2013 OPE, I provided three sales strategies to sell outdoor power equipment to Millennials. In this article, I will share with you tips on finding this new customer because marketing to this group comes with its own set of guidelines.
Refresh your website — and go mobile
Millennials are the most online generation of all time. They research online, they keep in touch online, they shop online, they pay bills online, and many even “watch TV” online. With 95 percent of all Millennials “online,” your website becomes the virtual storefront of your business.
Before these individuals even step foot in your dealership, they have visited your website. So, make sure your website is accurate and showcases the latest products, as well as includes product reviews. According to a 2012 study by BazaarVoice, 51 percent of Gen-Yers rely on anonymous product reviews as their primary purchase driver (compared with the 49 percent who rely on recommendations from friends and family).
Also, be certain your website is mobile-enabled. Roughly three-quarters of this younger audience is accessing your website through mobile devices. Focus on making sure critical information, like that listed below, is easily read via a handheld mobile device:
Updated hours of operation
Location, including a connection to Google Maps
Who you are and how you’re different from competitors
A detailed list of services
Show up at the top of the Search list
While in-store merchandising is still a strong sales tool, more than 56 percent of outdoor power equipment buyers use the Internet to research information. That is an increase from 43 percent of buyers just three years ago. Therefore, it is more critical than ever to ensure that your website is optimized for search. While it can be costly to ensure placement at the top of the search results, following are some simple and cost-effective ways to increase your rankings, without blowing your budget.
* Use language your consumers use: Make sure you use terminology on your website that fits with the way people think about your products, and your business. If you use too much “industry lingo,” you risk not being found when consumers search using their own common terms.
* Refresh content often: Search engines scan, or “crawl,” sites at regular intervals. If there is new content on your site when these “crawls” take place, you increase your chances of having your site listed in the search results. Relevant content could include “how-to” articles on lawnmower repair or a reminder on your home page in the spring to “tune up your mower.” If developing content is a resource challenge, turn to your manufacturing partners for help.
* Share links: One of the best ways to improve your search ranking is to increase the number of “inbound” links to your site from other websites. Search engines recognize inbound links as third-party endorsements of your site and your content, and your rankings can improve with the more inbound links available on your site.
* Utilize public relations: Whether you’re launching a new service offering or perhaps expanding your team with new talent, sharing and leveraging company news that’s both relevant and timely with media outlets on a regular basis will likely increase the frequency of your company’s name in the media and garner positive attention for your company.
* Google it: More than two-thirds of all Internet searches are still conducted on Google, so work with Search Engine Optimization (SEO) partners that stay on top of new Google algorithms, which change frequently.
Twitter. Facebook. Pinterest. Instagram. There’s a great deal of buzz around Social Media these days, so it can be hard to understand where you should focus your efforts.
If you haven’t jumped on the Social Media bandwagon yet, start with one site to test the waters. Facebook still remains one of the primary Social Media outlets for Millennials, so it might be a good starting point to consider. Begin driving traffic to your Social Media site through other marketing methods such as your website. As you get to know your audience and find your “Social Media voice,” post one piece of content daily that will be valuable, relevant and “shareable.” This will help you create a loyal following, and it will help build your “database.” And don’t forget to listen. Use Facebook to actually listen and respond to customer inquiries and posts. Chances are you’ll hear more feedback here than you would through more traditional methods such as online surveys.
The final, critical step to successfully marketing to Millennials? Deliver a message that resonates with this audience. Gen-Yers are known as “doers.” Make sure you deliver a message about the products you sell that enables them to become better — better at taking care of their lawn, their home, and their family. A marketing-savvy manufacturing partner also will know how to best sell its products to this new homeowner audience. And while you’re at it, don’t forget to market to Gen-Yer parents — the Baby Boomer generation. Gen-Yers are close to their parents, and Baby Boomer parents often buy things for their kids, even after those kids have moved away.
Carissa Gingras is marketing director of consumer engine and service with Briggs & Stratton Corporation. In her current role, she focuses on developing communications for dealers and consumers in the outdoor power equipment industry. She has more than 20 years of marketing experience working with both national and global companies, including General Electric, Honeywell, Ashley Furniture Homestores, Bridgestone/Firestone and Bon-Ton Department Stores.