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Engaging Generation Z: 8 tips for B2B marketers

They don’t know a world without the internet or mobile phones. They’re the first true digital natives.

They have the world at their fingertips. They know where to find information so they’re sceptical about things they hear.

They’re constantly flipping between one app or another, so it seems impossible to get their attention.

They treasure experiences over things.

Just when you thought you’d got a handle on Millennials, this new generation comes along with a brand-new list of stereotypes.

Yes, Generation Z is here.

With those born in the year 2000 entering the workforce, many in Generation Z are going to become B2B buyers. Marketers need to start paying attention.

Here are a few tips to help B2B marketers turn the heads of Generation Z.

Be authentic

Generation Z cares about social issues, and they’re more likely to be engaged by brands that care about those same issues. But they’ll suss you out if you’re not the real deal. Your corporate social responsibility needs to be based on something the brand actually believes in, not just something you say or do to look good.

Don’t sell to them

Do you think Millennials are doing their research about you and your competitors online? Generation Z was practically born searching for information online, so don’t think you’ll wow them with a sales pitch.

Give them a two-way, mutually beneficial conversation instead. For Generation Z, there’s no better place than social media. Use social listening to see where your target audience hangs out and what they’re talking about.

Turn their heads

Used to receiving constant updates from multiple apps, Generation Z isn’t exactly known for having long attention spans. And you’d expect that with Generation Z has grown up surrounded by technology, ignoring ads would be second nature to them.

But that’s not the case. According to research by Cassandra, 55% of Generation Z say they’ll pay attention to an ad if it’s humorous, and 45% will pay attention if an ad has great music.

So now it’s more important than ever that your creative stands out.

It’s time to throw the idea of B2B being boring out the window. Your B2B marketing needs to be bold and brave. Don’t be afraid to stand out. Go above and beyond to make it happen.

Use social influencer marketing

Cassandra’s report also shows that Generation Z is nearly twice as likely as Millennials to want to see normal people rather than celebrities endorse a product. While B2B marketing isn’t exactly known for its use of celebrities, it gives a strong indication that Generation Z is open to social influencer marketing [Link to David’s influencer blog post].

Use video

The same research found that 85% of Generation Z prefer YouTube over any other social media platform, and 40% said it’s their preferred place to interact with brands.

With more and more people now watching videos online, you can’t really afford to not make them, but especially not with Generation Z. And make sure it’s as easy as possible to consume.

Personalise your marketing

44% of Generation Z say they’re not averse to advertising if it’s relevant to them.

While they share a lot through social media, they’re far more likely to choose privacy-focussed platforms such as Snapchat over the more open Facebook. They want their personal communications to be private. However, they’re less wary about sharing their customer preferences because they understand that it’s a requirement for the personalised brand experiences they desire.

Account-based marketing is already growing rapidly in B2B, but I think using it to provide personalised experiences will be the key to effectively marketing to Generation Z. If you don’t, they’ll likely avoid you altogether.

Be inspiring

While Millennials have a reputation of expecting to immediately land themselves with fulfilling jobs, Generation Z is willing to work hard, but only if they’re rewarded for it. They understand the importance of developing their skills to remain relevant.

33% will value an ad if it’s inspiring. If your marketing isn’t already focussed on helping people rather than selling to them, you need to start now. Show your audience how your brand can really help them to develop.

We’re past “digitally-savvy”

Generation Z won’t care if you’re “digitally-savvy”. Yes, they’ll avoid you if you aren’t, but being digitally-savvy is now the bare minimum, something that’s part of everything you do.

Focus instead on being customer-obsessed.

Of course, just like Millennials, not every person of Generation Z will fit the stereotypes, but I think following the above will put you in good stead for where marketing is generally heading.

You’ll need to evolve your marketing strategy for this new generation, but at least it’ll give you a little break from constantly hearing about Millennials.

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