Millennials Are Changing the Face of Business-to-Business Copywriting and How Those Changes Impact Your Success


Will Newman

Let’s imagine you’ve decided to build your writer’s life around Business-to-Business copywriting.

(A great decision, by the way.)

You’ve read what I’ve written about the importance of “know your prospect.” So you figure you should do that for your Business-to-Business (B2B) prospect.

Who do you see for your B2B prospect?

Many people imagine a gray-haired man or woman — a high-ranking exec, maybe even the CEO.

The Reality: In B2B, top-tier execs seldom make the buying decision.

And the gray-haired part?

Forget that!

Your B2B prospects — people making the buying decisions — mirror the workforce. In the American workforce, more than one in three workers is a millennial … 18 to 35 years old (give or take a few years).

But are these “youngsters” making B2B buying decisions?

According to a study by Google and Millward Brown Digital, millennials account for nearly half of all B2B researchers — employees assigned to find product providers. This dramatic 70% shift over just two years means that successful Business-to-Business copywriters must understand how millennials tick.

The Reality: Millennials don’t respond to marketing the same as Gen Xers and Baby Boomers.

Here’s what Mike Neumeier of the Arketi Group says about millennials:

“The stock photo of the young guy in the business suit doesn’t resonate today — that guy is 55 now. That’s not how millennials work. They don’t wear suits and ties.”

Generalization? Certainly. But look at millennials you know. Open collars. Pantsuits instead of skirts. (Don’t leave out the women!) Casually well-dressed.

But how they dress isn’t important to your Business-to-Business copywriting efforts. How they look for the products you’re selling is. And you know, just by looking around you …

The world has gone “mobile”

Millennials have never known a world without the Internet. They’re as comfortable in the digital world as they are “in real life.” Or more so. And this comfort extends to work.

According to that Google study, 42% of B2B researchers use a mobile device during the B2B purchasing process. This represents a 91% leap over the past two years throughout the entire decision process.

And these B2B researchers aren’t just using smartphones at Starbucks. That same study found nearly half use mobile devices for product research at work.

Do they just do initial research on mobile devices at work?

NO WAY!

They're comparing prices. Comparing features. And buying. Purchases through mobile devices in B2B jumped 22% in the past two years.

But that’s not the only way B2B millennials differ from the “old ways.”

If it moves … it sells

Think about millennials you know. Where do they go to see what’s happening in the world?

YouTube. Vimeo. Flickr.

(I bet you do too!)

And so do your B2B researchers and purchasers. And they do it a lot … throughout the entire purchasing process.

According to YouTube data, B2B researchers and purchasers watched over 895,000 hours of the top B2B videos from established brands in 2014.

Nearly half of these researchers watched 30 minutes or more of B2B-related videos during their research process. And almost one in five watched over an hour.

You know what? These numbers will rise … significantly … over the next five years. And that will have a big impact on your B2B copywriting.

Your takeaway

I can’t give you best practices for marketing to B2B millennials. The amount of information is too vast. (And much of it I don’t know since I’m not an expert. Not by a long shot.)

But your double-edged takeaway: First, B2B remains one of the most lucrative and easiest niches to build your writer's life. And second, millennials are changing the face of Business-to-Business copywriting, expanding it, and enriching your opportunities.

Are you a millennial? If so, how is your worldview different from old dogs like me? If you’re not a millennial, how do you see this changing world? Let us know by commenting below.

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Published: August 29, 2016

9 Responses to “Millennials Are Changing the Face of Business-to-Business Copywriting and How Those Changes Impact Your Success”

  1. Initially I was worried that I may be too old to begin my writer's life at 50. Interacting with my 20 year old I often feel that I do not really know how they think.

    And then I tool that significant deep breath.
    Wait a minute,I told myself.

    Am i not browsing the net on my mobile device right now as I read this? Am I not texting on the side too? And commenting after logging into my awai site?

    So, here I come young folks, with all my youthful zeal to tickle your decision-making neurons.

    BalakaAugust 29, 2016 at 2:08 pm

  2. The world and cultural of the business world is changing. It's more laid-backed. I think it might be a good idea to start looking at things through my children's (who are grown-up) eyes. Starting to feel OLD!

    Guest (Melvin)August 29, 2016 at 4:44 pm

  3. Fortunately for me, my two children are millennials. They do everything they can possibly do digitally. And this will only continue into the future.

    Lynn LittleAugust 29, 2016 at 8:45 pm

  4. I like to make purchasing decisions at a desktop computer or a laptop not so much at a Cellphone using an app. But have seen other people buying from a Smartphone. Mr Will Newman is correct Millennials are in this new trend. Tablets are also playing and important role in the way we buy things online, like smartphones.

    Guest (Abimelech Rodriguez )August 30, 2016 at 6:45 am

  5. I have worked at selling Real Estate for 30+ years and have just started to see if copy writing could be my exit plan. I have seen a big change with the Millennials from all the past generations in that they are too busy to talk. They will text or email(if they have to). Their time is very important to them and whatever you do, you have to make it quick and easy by sending them to a site for them to read it before signing. I don't see this changing with the next generations since my 8 year old granddaughter has an Ipad and can show me things on my Iphone that I didn't know existed.

    [FROM WILL: I work with 11 - 15 year olds in our community a great deal. I sense your granddaughter's generation will be much different from millennials in terms of interactions with live people and devices.]

    Janet LongAugust 31, 2016 at 5:28 pm

  6. I've never owned a cell phone in my entire life (and I'm past my life expectancy the year I was born).

    I recently built a "mobile friendly" website for a client in a very competitive market. Did the design, copy, and SEO, all turnkey.

    He recently told me he had all the business he can handle and he does zero advertising. It all comes off of that site.

    But I had to understand his audience to pull that one off. Being in a very narrow niche helped, and they have a very high pain level.

    Clarke EcholsSeptember 4, 2016 at 11:21 pm

  7. I am that millennial that Will Newman just finished writing about (fly on the wall-sorry).

    For the Most part we don't want to be bogged down, with a 9-5 that has to be done in a specific "robotic" way each and every time, without the option of any mobility whatsoever.

    The more efficient and self-propelled the task, the better.

    The saying "If you want something done right, you've gotta do it yourself," has been my anthem for years, not always the best practice -- I know, but I love DIYing...

    [FROM WILL: Thank you for giving your perspective as a millennial. For all of our readers, the best way to understand the various generations is first of all don't generalize. And second, get to know people in those generations.]

    Virtual SolutionsSeptember 13, 2016 at 12:03 pm

  8. Hi Will, Came across this one today and re-read it. I really like this. It is very easy to become complacent and even resistant to changes in a model that is successful for us. It can seem threatening. You are not afraid to recognize changes in consumer habits that may affect the way we do business. I am not a millennial, by a long shot, but I research, purchase, and post on my phone as much as the computer. I believe mobile device user-friendliness in design and copy is a big deal. Thank you!

    David DanonNovember 6, 2016 at 11:20 am


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