NBJ Column Submission | Art Haws | April 17, 2015
The professional service industry’s dilemma du jour seems to be how to reach this elusive new breed of prospects known as “millennials.” Whether you sell insurance, health care, legal representation or financial services, all you hear is how this increasingly relevant demographic is impervious to solicitation, marketing and guidance from established professionals.
What is not being discussed is that youth — regardless of its generational label — has always maintained a skeptical distance from the establishment, and their hesitation to readily accept the “norms” of today’s business environment is no different.
While millennials may be much more savvy when it comes to the technology world, their needs and their ambitions are essentially no different than any other generation that has proceeded them. They value quality. They value authenticity. They value efficiency. And they value results.
As a professional service provider, these should not be foreign objectives when it comes to client service, and therefore should not be so terribly difficult to communicate just because the audience reached young adulthood around the year 2000.
Invest in the millennial mindset.
Millennials tend (or want) to be self-sufficient in their endeavors; hence the migration toward startups and entrepreneurial initiatives. What they don’t necessarily have are the tools to make their ventures sustainable. This is where a smart professional service provider, such as a fiduciary, can help a budding professional to build a solid platform from which a business, career or investment strategy can be launched.
Essentially you are investing your time, energy and expertise into an individual whom you believe will develop and ultimately require more sophisticated advice and guidance. Having made the investment on the front end — when they were not necessarily the ideal client — will likely generate a sense of loyalty and trust that they are not going to derive from a generic marketing pitch. It requires personal involvement that will ultimately net opportunities for both parties.
Advise through experience, sell through relationships.
If your company is serious about reaching millennials, hire one. This individual will speak a modern marketing language and can push your service offering into circulation while also avoiding those messages that younger professionals find to be contrived and outdated. The decades of experience your senior partners and employees bring to the table mean next to nothing in a millennial sales environment. They want to discuss professional development and planning for their future with someone who is going through it at the same time they are.
Priorities change. Value does not.
Remember telling yourself that you would never turn out like your parents and then you figured out that your parents were not so uninformed as you might have thought? Same holds true when it comes to reaching the Millennial generation on a meaningful topic like securing their future.
Professional service providers need to develop and invest in the tools necessary for Millennials to take charge of their business and financial needs. They should give consideration to bringing on younger talent who have a natural correlation with their peers, and they should utilize their skills and expertise to bring authentic value to their Millennial relationships in the interest of growing sustainable partnerships that will last for generations to come.