When first starting up a business, excitement is around every corner, and the will to go above and beyond is a must in order to attract and retain customers and lifelong employees. But what happens when you’ve achieved all of this?
“I think all business owners get tired of their business at some point,” says Warren Wright, founder and CEO of Second Wave Learning.
What Wright means is that after a while, business owners start to lose sight of the big picture and focus on the day-to-day tasks at hand. And for Wright, a way to reignite that passion for your business is by appealing to the younger generations: millennials and Generation Z.
“A fresh way to view your business is through the eyes of younger customers,” he says. “They could be a catalyst to reenergizing how owners operate their business.”
Baby boomers in particular, and in some sense Generation X, according to Wright, are very consistent and fall in love with brands easily. If you have baby boomer customers, you have customers for life. Younger generations might fall in love with a brand at first, but it’s unlikely to last, and Wright says it’s hard to continuously establish a brand that can attract them. Overall, while you may be looking for ways to be enthusiastic about your business again, it’s also essential to keep up with the next generations. If businesses don’t have the ability to keep up with what the generational trends are, Wright says they will be out of business. With over 100 million millennial and Gen Zers out there, you can’t afford to ignore that big of a customer base.
So, start up your entrepreneurial engines. Here are some ways to get back in the game and revamp your practices.
As Told to Abby Patterson
If you are a business owner, have a conversation with these generations. They are the customer you are looking for, why not go straight to the source? Simply ask these customers, how would we energize this business? They will have all of these crazy ideas for you.
You can even do a little contest with it. Throughout my career, I’ve done consulting for MTV, VH1 and Nickelodeon. When we hired on new millennial staff, we had what we called a Hackathon. We got them a case of beer and order in pizzas, and starting at midnight, they had to come up with a solution to whatever task was at hand by 6 a.m. Now, it doesn’t have to be that extreme. You could hold it over a lunch, even. The point is that you are tasking these Millennial and Gen Zers with helping you find ways to appeal more to their demographic.
Associate your shop with fun. The best way to do this is through social media. For Millennials and Gen Z, the biggest platforms to focus on are Instagram, YouTube, and now TikTok.
For example, you could shoot a quick, four-second TikTok completing an oil change service and add fun effects. If I had a lube place, I would hire people, or even use my young staff, and pay them to shoot TikTok videos. If you associate your shop with a fun place, it will be very effective.
Show them a day in the life. It’s not about a written message anymore like it was back in the day. It’s all about pictures and video. It’s like showcasing your shop on a reality TV show. If you want to sell more stuff and make it interesting, you have to show what you do.
I did consulting for a company that makes RVs in Indiana, and its largest manufacturer in the world. One of the biggest things that have worked for them is using Instagram to show their product, aka an RV, but show them at the Grand Canyon or driving across the plains of the Midwest, for example. They’re not just selling the RV, they are selling the experience. Millennials and Gen Z buy experience, not products.
Let’s say you’re selling custom tires, for example. Get a high-resolution photo of a vehicle driving around with the tire tow, showing the customer that they can have this experience, too. It’s important to stand apart from competitors and advertise in a way that’s unique and compelling to these younger generations.
Provide an authentic experience. Millennials and Gen Z are attracted to authentic brands. The brand is what it says it is and the experience is exactly what they say it is. This is perhaps the biggest difference between Gen X and these younger generations. Marketing campaigns were huge back in the day, but younger generations are more in tune with a company’s overall message. It’s how they identify an organization. Authenticity is essential in buying products and services. Younger generations expect this. Gen X goes by the transaction. They just want the best deal. But millennials and Gen Zers are looking for purpose.