Boomers are so yesterday. Millennials are the biggest living generation in U.S. history. And these savvy consumers, now age 16 to 36, are poised to redefine the economy as we know it. The change is making law firms nervous about how to catch up and market to this often- misunderstood segment.
But two things are clear: First, businesses can’t overlook or avoid marketing to millennials, who are becoming serious spenders. This includes both law firms and the attorney advertising agencies that advise professionals on today’s best marketing practices. Good intending yet deeply flawed humans will always need quality legal consultation, whether they’re 25 or 70. (And as a bonus pass-through marketing strategy, nearly 30% of millennial men and women are living with their parents, who also need lawyers.)
The second revelation is that investing a little time to learn about this generation is worth the effort. There’s real ROI tied to knowing this audience. If your law practice can grasp millennials’ needs and engage them you can win their business (and maybe their parents or mentors, too.)
To help you understand big shifts in millennial buying behavior, let’s touch on some key insights that have come to light in the last several years as an intense spotlight has highlighted just what makes these modern consumers tick. Here are some key takeaways from market statistics and behavioral research into how millennials make decisions. These will undoubtedly impact how your law firm begins to markets in the future.
- Millennials work (and play) online, mostly on mobile devices.
- They appreciate access over ownership in the new “sharing” economy.
- Millennials expect everything (media, information, purchases, etc.) on demand.
- They are socially conscious and widely accepting, and expect brands to demonstrate similar values.
- Millennials are savvier with technology and “live” in a world in inundated with social, sharable information.
Take these insights—and market with them!
As an attorney advertising agency for more than 30 years, it’s our job to stay up with critical consumer buying trends; hire some really smart millennials to help our clients market smarter to their multifacted friends; and guide lawyers in new marketing strategies that help attract a new segment of clients and show real ROI in the process.
That said, not every macro trend we see among millennials applies to how young people might engage with a law firm. Leveraging the insights above, we’ve identified two big themes that could move the needle for attorneys.
Make your money back on mobile
The millennial generation lives by their mobile phones and expects—and regularly gets—the actionable information they need (such as online reviews, social-media commentary and instance price comparisons) exactly when they want it. This often leads to quick decision-making. Lawyers must consider this very important cultural phenomenon when marketing to this mobile group.
Always-on access, one-stop shopping, on-demand knowledge: Call it what you will, but the ability to learn things instantly requires that your legal website be as mobile-friendly as possible. It’s no longer acceptable to have a site that doesn’t render in a readable way for on-the-go users. In fact, as part of last year’s monster shift in how the world’s most popular search engine finds and ranks businesses online, Google actually started penalizing sites that weren’t optimized for mobile use by decreasing their ranking – and therefore, their visibility.
Take our advice: Don’t walk. Run to your web developer to make sure you have a fully responsive website. Because if it’s not mobile-ready, prospective clients will move on—fast—to a competitor that already embraces their increasingly mobile ecosphere.
Once you see the value in focusing on mobile to reach this new audience, there are a number of simple ways to not only make sure millennials won’t turn you off, but to truly engage with younger audiences in modes they prefer.
UX: That’s short for “user experience.” Think of it as being mindful of how easy it is to use your website. On a mobile device, it’s even more imperative to make sure your website is simple to navigate; content is bite-sized at first glance, but can take users deeper when they’re ready; and general layout and features are clean, streamlined and intuitive.
Content: No one—not millennials, not boomers—want to read long stuff on a phone. It strains our already overtaxed eyes; it’s cumbersome during a busy commute; and it could instantly turn off a prospective client from your firm. Instead, try taking those long-form blogs and in-depth case resource pages and making them easier to chew on via mobile phone. Beefy, informative content is still helpful for SEO purposes and building reputation, but try cutting the length of content you “tease” users with, and then give them links and options for reading more—only when they’re ready.
Eye candy: There’s no doubt that image-based information is where content is going in the very near future. Millennials especially like looking at and sharing passive video, photo and infographic content on their phones. For every new content marketing initiative you consider this year, think about how video might play a part in helping to personally engage a tech-savvy audience that’s used to plenty of eye candy.
Social media: Millennials expect to be able to quickly share any message through social media that a brand delivers. This is free marketing for law firms! Make sure that any content you provide access to on a mobile device comes with one-tap sharing tools, so this audience can spread the good word about your firm, for your firm. Likewise, consider getting your message directly to the top-trending social platforms, including Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, where a younger generation might be even more inclined to share your story.
Make authentic, original messages (with some irony, seriously)
Millennials have proven time and time again that they can see right through the guise of advertising “hidden” in content. This generation is craving authentic, original content that caters to their needs and wants. In fact, they can smell an ad through any device and will download software like Adblock Plus to ensure they never see a pop-up advertisement again. Like their TV, millennials prefer their information consumption without any fixins’.
Creating relevant original content that engages the millennial consumer isn’t impossible for law firms. Just remember to build future messages that are not driven exclusively by sales projections; create content that is truly relevant to the lives of young achievers; and infuse it with a little sarcasm when appropriate. Millennials just don’t take themselves that seriously—and they don’t expect any brand they interact with to do so either. There is always room for some subtle humor, a shade of irony or some sign that your legal brand takes the law very seriously, but knows how to tread lightly when it comes to perceptions of lawyers.
This direct approach has gone a long way in securing loyal customers in the commercial space. Beer being a one fun and ironic example, long-standing brand Pabst Blue Ribbon (PBR) has solidified itself as the ultimate hipster beer to the tune of skyrocketing sales. They appear to have achieved this simply by embracing an existing reputation as the everyman’s brew—and positioning a simple, iconic history that suddenly checked all the right boxes with millennial consumers.
In addition to authenticity and lightheartedness in your messaging, consider all the ways your firm can leverage what it does for the “good of all.” Why? Because research on millennial behavior shows that these globally-minded youngsters are not only more accepting of more types of people and professions, having grown up in a progressive no-bullying, no-hating, no-tolerance-for-discrimination environment, but they actually seek out businesses that are equally socially conscious.
The good news is in many ways attorneys are already positioned as an integral part of society. Your firm’s challenge is to leverage that message in a new one-for-all, all-for-one way that makes an impact with a millennial client. In a millennial world, where being original or different is the new cool, these insightful young entrepreneurs expect businesses to show their authentic brand personalities in all their glory. And isn’t that the heart of marketing, anyway: to present exactly who you are and how you’re different in the most compelling, engaging and relevant way?
So in many respects, you’re already on the same page. It’s not far-fetched to imagine a millennial dialing up one of your mobile-minded, socially responsible, attorneys for a good old-fashioned consultation.
Have more questions about how to reach millennials with your legal advertising? We have answers! Winning millennial business is just a matter of understanding this group’s habits—and how to engage with them. Call us today to learn more: (888) 461-1016.