So You Hired a Millennial

While you were sleeping last night the millennial generation grew up around you. You probably have a vision of a lazy teenager who wants to tell you how to improve your business on their first day on the job. Well, that may be true, but even the youngest of millennials are now full-fledged adults. The youngest of millennials are headed to college and the oldest are pushing 40. A quarter of all millennials are now parents themselves and over 50% have children in their household. Like it or not they are probably a large chunk of your customer base and a large portion of the available workforce.

We often hear the millennial generation referred to as the “Me” generation. It isn’t so much that they are narcissists, but rather they have grown up in a world where social media has stroked their desire to be recognized on a daily basis. Digital marketing has asked for their opinion on every purchase that they can remember. With all this attention thrust at them from the social power of the collective, of course as an employee they think you want their great wisdom.  The fact is you are stuck with them, unless you are going to run every aspect of your business from here on out, you should get comfortable with hiring from this group. So here are a couple of tips to keep you and your new millennial employee working well together.

First you need to start by looking inward. What is your mission? Why does your company exist? Before you give me the knee-jerk “to make money” reaction, you need to realize something about the millennial. For the idealistic millennial, working for a company is akin to death. In fact when the average millennial hears the word company it brings to mind something along the lines of the white hats eating their cheese from the movie Box Trolls. Elitist money hungry corporations feeding off the little people.

They will however join your cause and work for it tirelessly without thought of a time clock because your cause is something that gives purpose and value to the world. Millennials work for a cause not a company. Let me give you an example. Your company doesn’t sell shoes. Instead you are on a mission to put quality shoes on everyone in your community. You do that by selling shoes to those who come through your door, but you also donate shoes each month to the local homeless shelter to ensure those in need have the most basic of needs met. It can’t just be something that you say, it must be something you really are passionate about. Most businesses I speak with already do things like this in one way or another. Now it is time to articulate it and make it the heart of your business. Your social mission is something that motivates the millennial to not only work, but to shop as well. 

Secondly, the millennial requires validation. I’m not talking about the participation trophy-for-all kind of validation. I’m talking about the acknowledging a job well done kind of validation. In days past the employee/employer relationship was viewed by both parties as a contract. From the perspective of the employee, I will put in a week’s work, in exchange you’ll give me a week of agreed upon wages. Remember, the millennial is not so much working for you, but has joined your cause. They want to know their time hasn’t been wasted, they’ve made a difference and you are appreciative of those efforts. After all there are many causes they could have joined, but they joined yours.

Lastly, the old trope is that a millennial comes to work and tells you how to run your business on the first day. There may be some truth to that, however, it may also be possible they have unique insights as to how to reach the 21 percent of the market represented by millennials. What you don’t want is a non-stop stream of how you can do something better while you would like them to be working. Instead of telling them how you aren’t paying them as a consultant, set a time for them to share those ideas with you. Tell them you’d be happy to hear about some of the changes they believe would be helpful, but you’ll need them to put those ideas together into a presentation with costs, benefits, and all possible negative impacts. Let them know that you aren’t promising to implement anything, but that you are interested in hearing those ideas once they are fully fleshed out. Then actually set time aside outside of their typical work day and listen. They might never bring you those ideas, but you might just find they have a few ideas that work.

By 2020 it is estimated that millennials will make up 46 percent of the workforce. I hope you are ready.

Positive Work Environment

Creating a positive working environment must be intentional. In my business we are required to work some weekends. While we all know this going in, it can still be a difficult pill to swallow when there is short notice and you had plans.

This was exactly the case this past weekend for one of our employees who needed to work 6 hours on Saturday. This was unplanned and last-minute, but it was important. The employee rearranged her schedule, and did so without complaint.

Monday morning along with a sincere “thank you”, we presented the employee with a $25 gift card to a local business. Soon after the employee posted on social media, “The feeling you get when you’re appreciated for all you do at work. I love my job!”

That is $25 dollars well spent. We don’t do this all the time, but on occasion a small simple gesture of appreciation is all it takes to keep your employees loving their jobs. We don’t always get this right, but when we do it pays dividends.

 

3 Tips for Geo-fencing

One of the hottest digital products right now is geo-fencing. This is one of the products that receive a ton of attention from the people I talk to in the digital space. There seems to be a bunch of confusion, but it really isn’t that hard to understand. In simple terms geo-fencing is showing your display advertising to people on their mobile phones when they are at a pre-defined location. That location might be a local concert, rodeo, or even your competition.

The idea here is that by virtue of being at a specific location those individuals are a likely target for your product or service. As with all marketing there are things you can do to make your advertising more effective. Here are a couple pieces of advice to use when you are doing geo-fencing.

First, don’t just target those people when they are at the location. Couple geo-fencing with retargeting. As with all marketing you must achieve frequency with a prospective customer and it is likely going to be difficult to do that in the short amount of time they are at your specific location, unless it is a multiple day festival or vendor show. With retargeting you’ll be able to not only reach those people at the location, but you’ll be able to follow them for days with ads showing on the websites and apps they use most.

Second, don’t use geo-fencing as a stand-alone product. While geo-fencing your competition is a sneaky fun thing to do, it isn’t likely to produce enough reach to have much effect on its own. Think about how many people visit your office each day. It isn’t likely to be a number reaches into the thousands. For many people that number is stretching to make it into the double digits, and even if it does, it will have little impact on the overall scheme of things. If you are doing geo-fencing make it part of a larger over-all mobile advertising campaign. This way you can focus on the key targeting demographics in your service area and have enough reach to have an impact on market share.

Third, make sure whoever you are using for geo-fencing gives you reports to ensure your campaign is working. Key data to review would of course be the impressions that were served, but also the Click through Rate and Creative Performance. You should be able to tell at the end of each month not only if the overall campaign is working, but if you have underperforming creative it should be switched out as well. There are even some providers who can reverse the geo-fencing process to show you how many people visited your store after seeing one of your ads. Remember the great thing about digital advertising is the ability to see how your ads are performing. Don’t let your provider get away with anything less than transparency when it comes to your digital advertising.

There are a bunch of fun, scary and sophisticated products when it comes to digital, and geo-fencing is a great one. Follow these simple rules and you’ll be on your way to digital guru status.

Is there a digital product you would like to know more about? Tell us below and we’ll focus on it in the near future.

3 Common Mistakes

CR Photo 2015-038Often I am asked, “What are the most common mistakes business owners make in their marketing?” It’s tough to break it down to just a few, but for the sake of time, I have dwindled my list down to three that I believe are most common. Avoid these mistakes and you’ll have a leg up on your competition.

  1. Doing Too Much

You mean you can market yourself too much? Yes, if that means you don’t do anything with enough frequency to grow your market share. Though many marketers will complicate the issue with all sorts of analytics, basic marketing always boils down to frequency and reach. If you reach lots of people in lots of mediums, but are unable to speak to those people often enough, your dollars are losing their effectiveness. You are much better off in almost all situations to choose one medium and reach a saturation frequency before you add another medium. While there may be a best medium for your product or service, you can’t go wrong with any of them when you have the proper reach and frequency.

2. Doing Nothing

You are inundated everyday with salespeople. Each of them promising to have the magic marketing elixir that will solve all that ails you. With that many people coming through your door it is easy to become skeptical of everyone and everything. Likely you have come up with some phrase that seems to keep the sales snakes at bay. A common phrase to accomplish this is, “I rely on word of mouth.” Don’t fool yourself. If you rely on word of mouth alone, you are doing nothing to grow your business. Don’t get me wrong, a great reputation is important, and many times a referral from a satisfied customer is absolute gold. The problem is that unless you truly have a monopoly in your market (or very bad competition) you are not growing market share. Since your competition has word of mouth and referrals too, you aren’t actually gaining any ground. Imagine you are a smaller operation. You service fewer people per day, which means they have more word of mouth and more referrals. You’ll never gain ground with word of mouth alone. Surely there is at least one salesperson with whom you have bonded. Give advertising a chance and instead, use word of mouth in the form of testimonials. That is word of mouth on steroids.

3. The Start and Stop

Proper marketing takes time. Without marketing dollars specifically written into your budget each year, many businesses are never consistent enough with their marketing. They “try” a marketing approach for a couple of months, then abandon it for something else. Soon, that too grows stale in their mind, and they cancel in favor of something new. Marketing properly can be fun as you create funny or exciting ways to tell people about your business, but it can also be one of the most boring endeavors you undertake as a business owner. That is because getting traction with your advertising can take 6 months to a year. Sound like a long time, it is, and if you change the messaging dramatically in that period, plan on restarting the stopwatch. That is why you still see Flow from Progressive, and why McDonald’s is still “Lovin’ It”. When you are making your plan commit yourself to a marketing budget that you can afford every month. A smaller budget may mean a longer horizon to gain top of mind awareness, but the most expensive thing you can do is reset the stopwatch.

Commit yourself to avoiding these three mistakes and you’ll be ahead of the pack in your marketing. Thanks for reading. If you found this helpful in any way, please consider sharing to your favorite social media.

Increase Product Knowledge

Increasing the product knowledge of your employees has never been more important. In this article from Retail Dive we learn that 50% of employees in one surveyed business feel that often times their customers know more about the product than they do. That is a scary number.

Worse yet, in another survey, 83% of customers felt they knew more than the retail sales associate. Often times we want to blame the attitude of the customer who may or may not really understand the product, but perception is reality for that customer. Furthermore, if half of the employees agree with them, we have a real problem on our hands.

Granted, this is a survey of one company, but with today’s smart phone culture it isn’t a stretch to say that most customers are very prepared and have researched the product they are after.

I suggest you adopt at least one of these methods to ensure your employees are prepared for today’s buyer.

  1. Hold daily product briefs where you highlight the features and benefits of a specific product. This puts you in control and allows you to focus on the products that make the most sense for your bottom line.
  2. Place the same value on product knowledge as you do maintaining the cleanliness of your store. 44% of employees say they are spending too much time arranging products and stocking shelves. While these are important tasks, understanding the product we sell is just as important. You might even combine this with option 1, and have different employees present the products each day. That way everyone gets the benefit of what each other are learning.
  3. Consult the experts, your customers. Ask them when they make a purchase, why they chose that particular item over the others. You’ll never have a better selling point than the one that already worked.

With all the competition for your customers dollars, make sure you do everything in your power to provide a service they can’t find on-line. Your knowledge about your products should be an easy value builder.

Things That Matter

I don’t like giving blood. It isn’t fun. I don’t react well. Usually it is my own fault. I fail to eat a hearty breakfast as I know I should. Last time, I got the sweats, and thought for sure I was going to pass out. Honestly, how embarrassing. There I sit, a grown man, barely able to keep himself conscious. Meanwhile, the frail little lady next to me is looking at me as though I’m pathetic. I’m sure she is thinking that back in her day men were made of stronger stuff.

To make matters worse two co-workers of mine there at the time. One started before me, and the other, after. While the questionnaire is done in private, the actual blood draw is done in a couple of semi-circles giving each phlebotomist access to numerous patients quickly. I didn’t really think about them at the time. I was pretty preoccupied with my own situation, but as it wrapped up I was pretty sure there would be a rash of taunting awaiting my arrival back at the office.

This event took place nearly a month ago. So what made me think of it today? I got a text from the blood bank saying that my donation had been sent to the hospital. It was currently being used by a patient. Nice move blood bank.

Today, consumers have more options than ever before when choosing where to spend their money. Often we think due to the internet and “show rooming” that shoppers care about one thing. Price. I assure you that isn’t the case. While consumers may not feel loyalty to brick and mortar buildings down the street, they do feel a deep desire to do business with companies who are seen as socially conscious.

Many consumers now believe business owners have a responsibility to give back to the world at large as well as the communities that made them successful. Social consciousness can come in many forms. It can be a company commitment to green energy, recycling, homelessness, childhood hunger, poverty, veterans, mental health issues, beating cancer, childhood obesity, etc.The list of needs in this world is seemingly endless, and most likely you are already doing something that shows just how much you care.

Perhaps you’ve donated items to the local sports team for their raffle. Perhaps you have done a free dental day for the needy in your community, or you pay your employees for a day of their time to work at a local soup kitchen. Whatever you are doing. Don’t be afraid to shout about it in your marketing. Let people know that when they do business with you, those dollars continue to good across the community.

For some of you it may feel as though you shouldn’t be singing your own praises. You are wrong. The next time I’m sitting in the chair of a blood drive, I’ll remember that text reminding me of all the good my donation did, and it might just make it worthwhile. The next time your customer is digging into their wallet to purchase your product or service, they will remember the local little league team that was able to play ball this year due to the donation made possible by purchases like this one.

A $28,000 Mistake

While on a motorcycle ride with some friends I watched a salesman miss out on a $28,000 sale. The reason why is a lesson for anyone running or managing a business.

[Transcript]

Each year I take a motorcycle ride with a few of my friends. The route changes slightly, but the destination is always the same. We visit a one of my friends family cemetery where the solar lights around his father’s grave are replaced.

It is a beautiful area here in North Dakota right near the Cross Ranch State Park. The site of his families homestead is there along with the family cemetery that has been there since the 1800’s.

But I digress, back to the $28,000 mistake. As you can see, I’m riding a concours. Kawasaki’s sport touring bike. Most of my friends prefer cruisers, and a couple are die hard Harley folks. During one of our last stops, Russ, who is leading this group of misfits told us that he had spoken to his wife over the phone and was planning on buying a brand new Harley in the next town if they could make him a deal.

It’s not really my cup of tea, but I could see why he liked the bike. It had everything! Cruise control, sound system, navigation, rider/passenger communication system, and tons of comfort.

But he isn’t on the bike right now, and it isn’t because they wouldn’t make him a deal. THEY DIDN’T EVEN TALK TO HIM.

Russ even told the lady at the check-out counter that he was interested in talking to a salesman about a bike. Her response was that the salesman were over there. Sure he could have approached them, but Russ felt that if he was going to spend $28,000 on a new motorcycle, he shouldn’t have to beg a salesperson to talk to him.

There were three salesman on the showroom floor that I could count, and it was pretty easy. They were standing around talking to each other.

Russ waited in the showroom, exhibiting all the buying signs in the world. He was touching the bike, examining the price sticker, sitting on it, even calling his friends over to admire, and give reassurance that this was indeed a fine specimen of a motorcycle. But as time went on Russ’s frustration grew, and finally he simply left. Unsatisfied, and ready to tell everyone about his negative experience.

Now Harley guys are Harley guys and 3 weeks later he did buy his bike. At a different dealer, in a different town, with a different salesperson collecting the commission and different owner raking in the profit.

I can see at least 3 lessons to learn from this encounter.

  1. When someone tells you they want to speak to a salesman, you get up and you walk them directly to the person they need to speak with and you introduce them. Don’t leave this to chance.
  2. When you have someone on your showroom floor. Never, Never, Never assume you know what is happening there. Sure, 5 out of the 6 of us were looky-loos, but one of us had the green light from our spouse to spend $28,000. All you had to do was hang out with us long enough to figure out which. Pre-qualifying is rampant in every company that sells anything, and costs us more than probably anything else.
  3. When someone is heading for the door, you have one final chance to ensure that they were well cared for in your business, and if not NOW is the time to fix it. No one stopped him, not even the person he had told he was looking to buy a bike.

We all make mistakes in our businesses, I just hope it doesn’t cost $28,000 to learn my lesson.