To start out, millennials are smart. There are no quick tricks and gimmicks to instantly capturing their attention or business. They’ve been raised in an environment filled with false promises, flashy advertisements, and unsavory tactics, and they can sniff out a dishonest offer quickly.
A 2014 study showed that 84% of millennials do not trust advertising. What do you typically see at events and booths? Lots of signs, posters, and ads, backed by salesmen; the definition of traditional advertising.
Instead, millennials look to friends, websites and social media for trusted information and news. To properly attract them as customers, this is where your marketing focus needs to be, including how you approach events.
Utilizing Social Media and Tech
Millennials use social media, technology, and the internet very differently from previous generations. They are more focused on socializing and connecting with people online, use smartphones more often than desktops and are more likely to interact with brands online. Social media is often their main source of news and a place to share their thoughts. It’s also incredibly important to their social lives, being a main tool of communication with friends and family.
While at events, a major focus should be connecting and engaging with visitors online. If you are just handing out brochures and flyers to millennials, you aren’t connecting with them, you’re simply giving them something to toss in a bag to be forgotten. No connection between them and your brand/company is made.
If you can connect on social media with them though, you become a normal part of their life. You have access to spread your message anytime you want. So don’t abuse it.
82% of millennials interact with brands and 49% follow their favorite brands on social media. The trick is becoming a brand worth following. Being at the event shows that you are related to something they are interested in, so start there. Use the event as the way to first connect and then become a brand worth following.
Preparing for the Event
First off, tell people you are going to the event. Get the word out and connect it with whatever hashtags and social media platforms the event is supporting. That way, when people are getting excited for the event and look for more information about it, you’ll pop up. Give people a reason to stop by your booth and be excited about the event itself.
Connect with the event’s influencers. This can be other businesses attending, keynote speakers, and the people putting on the event. Working together to promote the event will lead to more attendees, meaning you’ll be in front of more people. This also gives you more social credibility when millennials look you up on social media. If you are connected to a brand or person they already follow, you become more trustworthy and easier to follow.
Engaging During the Event
Live tweeting is a growing trend among millennials during large events, be it the latest Game of Thrones episode, the Superbowl, or the next big conference. It gives them the chance to voice their thoughts, reactions, photos, and disagreements in conjunction with an experience others are having.
Participating in live tweeting helps attendees notice you and sets you up as a valuable thought leader. Especially if, while live tweeting, you can provide extra content or resources that can support what somebody is saying or further the conversation.
Be prepared though. Live tweeting is extremely fast and you only have a few seconds to get noticed, so make everything short, sweet, and entertaining. Also, you must know the relevant hashtags, both about the topic and the event itself. Be part of the conversation by replying to what others are saying, include meaningful images and say more than “Agreed” or “That was a good point.”
If you have something meaningful to say, you’ll attract followers who want to hear more. This will build trust in your brand, so later you can market to them and convert them into customers over time.
What To Do With Your Booth?
Remember the physical side at events. Social media is important, but if you can connect with millennials face to face, it’s even better. This gives the faceless branding on social media personality and, well, a face. But, as stated above, millennials don’t trust traditional advertising, and that includes the normal ways to advertise at a booth.
The first thing your booth needs is proper bait. If you’re fishing for millennials, you need something more than a flyer, a bowl of candy, and a polo wearing employee on the other end of the fishing pole. Picking the right bait can transform your booth into a hotspot on the showfloor.
Here are a few things to consider when picking what freebies you’ll give out
- Be unique. Everybody else is going to give out pens, candy, and water bottles.
- Millennials are suckers for nostalgia. Give out toys and freebies that remind them of their childhood.
- A nice bag to hold all their freebies can give you tons of extra exposure
- Everybody loves free food, as long as it’s unique. Think more appetizers and finger food than candy.
- Keep it small and light
- Provide things people might forget if they traveled (like phone chargers and umbrellas)
Once attendees have approached your booth, don’t have your salesman jump directly for their throat. That will only turn them off and they’ll abandon your booth after grabbing your freebies. Many probably aren’t ready to buy anything, especially because millennials prefer to do extra research online before making big purchases.
Instead of focusing on just getting a sale, you should focus on making connections. Your salesmen should be having meaningful conversations and finding out what is going on with each attendee. Then, before they leave the booth, they invite them to connect on social media (whatever is the desired platform) and give them a reason why.
Reach Out, Personalize and Be Friendly
The journey doesn’t stop when they connect with you. In fact, that’s just the start. From there, you need to ease your followers into a marketing funnel that works for them, ending with them becoming a customer. If you take the extra time to send out personalized messages to them or finding the right content for them goes a long way with millennials.
Working hand in hand with your salesmen at the event, find content that will answer concerns and questions different individuals had. Then, reach out and give them that helpful information, more like a friend looking to help rather than a business looking for a sale.
From there, you can continue to provide great content and start conversations with them, always helping them through your marketing funnel until they are ready to buy. Not only does this build brand loyalty, but also creates a very friendly sales experience. Combine all of this with a strong social media campaign and you’ll be able to retain millennials’ attention and convert them into customers.
Author bio: Ben Allen is a freelance content creator and digital marketer. He believes in helping small businesses succeed in their marketing efforts. When he isn't working, he also writes about education, technology, and video games.Twitter: https://twitter.com/Allen24Ben LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/ben-allen-5428618a