Selling to Millennials Isn’t Hard: 5 Secrets From a Millennial

Millennials: Just the word alone is enough to stoke ire, confusion, condemnation, or fear in the hearts of even the most hardened marketers. Whether millennials are bringing down fast-casual chain eateries, redefining the very existence of shopping malls, or spending a supposed down payment’s worth of money on avocado toast, they seen to confound small business owners and entrepreneurs. But is selling to millennials all that hard?

Better question: Is selling to millennials really all that different than promoting your goods to any other generations, markets, or groups? Marketers can attribute much of the inherent difficulty they experience when selling to millennials to understanding who this group of consumers actually are.

Millennials are people born between 1981 and 1996 according to the Pew Research Center, which means that the oldest millennials are 37 years old and the youngest are 22. Broadly speaking, these groups have next to nothing in common—22-year-olds are on their way out of college and onto their first real job. Thirty-seven-year-olds are mostly established mid-career professionals with families and responsibilities that come with them.

In other words, the challenge of selling to millennials is that marketers are trying to sell to too broad an audience. Worst yet, that audience has been generalized and stereotyped to such a degree that the wide age gap between the oldest and youngest millennials makes it such that no attempt to create comprehensive categories for them can actually work.

That doesn’t mean it’s not possible to develop great selling strategies for millennials—it just means that you’re going to have to dig a bit deeper and think about your audience first, rather than a generalized generational snapshot of purchasing habits and behaviors. Take it from a millennial.


1. If You’re Selling to Millennials, Know Your Audience

The size of the millennial age gap means that your marketing strategy will depend more on the average age of your current customers. This is why it’s all the more important to know your market inside and out, rather than hunting down a new set of customers based on their demographics or spending power alone.

Look for certain traits within your brand’s core customers—as well as in what you’re selling. For example, if you own a high-end clothing boutique, odds are you won’t want to tailor your marketing messaging to twenty-somethings who can’t afford your goods. If you’re selling unique, quirky cell phone cases, you’re not going to get tons of orders from people who are closer to their 40s than their 20s.

To better understand your strategy for selling to millennials, consider creating customer profiles. Think about four or five archetypes of whom you believe your customer is: what they do for a living, what their income is, and what they look for when making purchasing decisions. This tactic isn’t just useful for selling to millennials—it’s just good business sense.

2. Fish Where the Fish Are

Once you have a stronger understanding of who your customer is within the broader millennial category, you can start to target them where they live. For most, this means finding your audience through digital and social media advertising. And as tempting as it may sound to create a one-size-fits all digital marketing strategy for millennials, there’s much more to it than that.

First, let’s talk about social media marketing. Those of us who aren’t active on social media may assume that the leading platforms—Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Snapchat, and Twitter—are different iterations of the same basic idea. But in reality, each network attracts a different demographic: Facebook and LinkedIn’s core Millennial users tend to be older; Instagram is more popular across age groups; Snapchat skews younger and more social; and Twitter tends to be used across the generational spectrum.

If you’re looking to target Millennial moms, for example, you’d want to look at Facebook and Instagram before you started creating content for Snapchat. If mid-career professionals are your target, you’d want to look for them on LinkedIn and Twitter.

Second, it’s important to understand how your customers are coming to your company’s website or business listings on Google, Yelp, and other review sites. Most of these sites offer analytics and demographic information, which can help you figure out who’s seeking out your company. And you could do worse than setting up Google Analytics for your company’s webpage, which will open up a ton of user information about how (and who!) visits your site.

3. Develop Your Own Unique Voice (aka Don’t Try to Sound Hip)

Nothing seems more disingenuous (or is mocked faster) than brands that try to keep up with trends, slang, and the passing fads of younger consumers. And you most certainly don’t want to end up on a site devoted to mocking companies that do a terrible job of keeping up—or trying to hard to.

This isn’t to suggest that you shouldn’t create a voice for your company that’s unique and fun. Quite the opposite is true. You’ll want to establish an identity for your company that you use both online and in-store. Feel free to make it as casual or professional as you believe is the right fit for your business—but just make sure you don’t try to be something you’re not. It’ll be transparent.

4. Go Digital… but Only if it Fits Your Business

Every company can benefit from having a presence online. If you’re in retail, B2B, or B2C environments, you’ll likely stand to benefit the most from a digital-first approach. At worst, you can supplement your brick-and-mortar business by letting customers buy online. At best, you may even be able to broaden your customer base to other locales and states by listing products online and shipping your goods at competitive rates.

But not every business might benefit from a digital push. Companies that have to sell in person, such as industry supply stores and salons, may not stand to gain as much as others. In this scenario, make sure that you’re only pursuing a digital strategy that improves upon your customers’ experience with your brand. Don’t force would-be buyers to go online if it doesn’t suit them, or makes the buying experience worse.

5. Selling to Millennials Is Really About Keeping Things Simple

One thing that millennials (and anyone, really) appreciates is simplicity. Simple messaging, simple experiences, and minimal hassle. This generation spent half of its life in the pre-internet age, so it remembers what things were like before the advent of the web. And having experienced life before and after the joys of online shopping, banking, and bill pay, it’s hard to voluntarily spend money with companies that don’t make the purchasing process easy.

This means that your path to success when selling to millennials is all about making the experience as easy as possible. Create a few solid choices for buying products, invest in a good website, online customer service, and an easy-to-use ecommerce portal. Selling online means requiring as few steps as possible for the consumer, so you’ll do well by keeping things smooth and easy.

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First details of new employment park on Sutton Coldfield’s green belt in Peddimore revealed by IM Properties

Jobs and social benefits promised by developers of new industrial park by Minworth

from Birmingham Post – Business

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The 80 Poundworld stores set to close – and the number of redundancies at each

It will leave Poundworld with just 230 open branches

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This is when the new £1million go-kart track 30 minutes from Birmingham will open

A brand-new venue is set to be built in the West Midlands – and Brummies can be there within half an hour

from Birmingham Post – Business

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Property is popular but West Midlanders not saving for retirement

New study suggests people in the region are not saving enough for their later years as property emerges as the number one investment vehicle for retirement nest eggs

from Birmingham Post – Business

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Start date unveiled for city centre office project

Wates Construction wins £135m brief to build the first two office blocks on the Axis Square project next to the Mailbox

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Using digital tools to automate your financial plan

Digital tools can help keep your financial plan on track


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8 Unusual and Unexpected Ways to Increase Your Credit Score

We’re going to tell you something that you likely already know, and if you do, it’s worth saying again: Nearly all of America’s financial infrastructure is based on credit. Credit allows people to purchase or finance items that they can’t pay for in cash upfront. Credit is what allows you get a home loan, car loan, or business loan. So, in a credit-based economy, if your credit score isn’t strong, you’ll find it hard to qualify for financial products or will have to pay more.

If that sounds grim, there’s good news, too: Fortunately, you have a lot of control over your credit score. Each credit bureau uses their own algorithm that determines your credit score , and even if you aren’t privy to exactly what goes into the equation, you still have a window into the component parts. Which means there are proven ways to increase your score and keep your score high.

Sure, we all know to pay our bills on time, not to max out our cards, and to prevent unnecessary hard credit pulls. But there are other techniques for maintaining and improving credit that you probably don’t know about. Learn some of the lesser known ways to boost your credit score—and in turn, your ability to qualify for the best financial products.

First: How Credit Scores Are Calculated

The three main consumer credit bureaus are TransUnion, Equifax, and Experian. Each bureau ranks personal credit scores on a scale from 300 to 850. Most lenders consider a score above 670 as good and a score above 740 as very good.

You might find that your TransUnion, Equifax, and Experian credit scores are slightly different. Each credit bureau relies on slightly different credit models. And creditors and lenders have a choice of which bureaus to report payments to. This means that your Equifax score might be different than your Experian score.

But your scores should be approximately the same across bureaus, and there’s a gold standard of what goes into your credit score:

  • 35% Payment history on loans, credit cards, and other debt
  • 30% Utilization (how much of your available credit you’re using)
  • 15% Length of credit history
  • 10% Credit activity (e.g. applications for new loans)
  • 10% Diversity of credit

As you can see, payment history is the main determinant of your credit score, so the obvious way to build credit and keep your credit high is by paying all your bills on time. But there are also less obvious factors at work.

Just remember to be patient. Credit doesn’t usually decline overnight, which means you can’t build credit back up overnight either. With all of these strategies, raising your credit can take a month or two, even more.


Surprising Ways to Increase Your Credit Score

1. Keep Your Old, Unused Credit Cards Open

The average American has three credit cards, and many have four or five or even more. Chances are, you’re probably not using all the cards in your wallet. But resist the temptation to call the credit card company and close an account, even if you’re not using the card.

Your level of credit utilization accounts for almost a third of your credit score. If you lower your total credit limit by closing a credit card account, you are effectively lowering your total available credit. For example, if you have a $5,000 credit limit and charge $1,000 of merchandise, that’s a 20% credit utilization. But if you have a $10,000 credit limit and charge that same $1,000, that’s only a 10% credit utilization. Lenders prefer that you have low credit utilization because this shows you’re not overly reliant on debt.

In order to keep cards open, you don’t have to use them religiously or even have them on you at all times. Using them even occasionally, like once a month, is more than enough. If you don’t use a card for several months, the issuer might close the account. In short, keep your cards open to keep your overall utilization lower.

2. Be a Good Tenant

Most people’s largest monthly expense is housing. In some instances, you can actually attribute your rent payments to your credit history.

If you have a private, small-time landlord, they might not have the ability or time to report your payments to the credit bureaus. However, if you’re in an apartment building owned by a management company, you might be in luck. Some apartments regularly report rent payments to the credit bureaus. A good reason to be nice to your landlord, even if you feel like you’re overpaying!

Obviously, you only want to ask your landlord to report your rent payments if you’re good about paying your rent on time, just like any other bill. If you tend to fall behind on rent payments, that can actually hurt your credit score.

3. Become an Authorized User on Someone Else’s Credit Card

Another unconventional way to build credit is by becoming an authorized user on someone else’s credit card. Friends or family members might allow you to become an authorized user on their card, but proceed with caution: By becoming an authorized user on someone else’s card, your credit scores become intertwined with theirs. Good and bad payment activity will reflect on both of your credit scores.

Think of being an authorized user as a lifeline for your credit. You can take advantage of someone else’s history of on-time payments to build up your own score and qualify for better products and services.

4. Return Your Library Books (Seriously)

Believe it or not, overdue library books might be bogging down your credit score. If you frequent the library and have forgotten to return a couple books over the years, this usually is no big deal. However, if your balance with the library runs too high, or if your book was in high demand, the library can report you to the credit bureaus for overdue items. If you’re a recent grad, you should also make sure that you’ve returned any overdue textbooks to your college library.

5. Don’t Forget About Store Credit Cards

Ever been to a store that offers you 20% off for signing up for a store credit card? Department stores are notorious for this. If you accept the offer, you should know that the store card is like any other credit card.

If you have even the smallest balance on one of these cards, you need to pay that off the same way you would with your bank credit card that you use for everything under the sun. Late payments can accrue interest and become delinquencies over time. As we mentioned earlier, your payment history is the most important metric in your credit score, so being on top of payment deadlines and balances is imperative.

6. Ask for a Credit Limit Increase…

We talked earlier about utilization and the role it plays in your credit score. The lower your utilization, the higher your score will be. If you increase your credit limit, then you have more wiggle room to keep your utilization on the lower side.

Asking for a credit line increase is easy. Many credit cards companies will allow you to request a credit line increase online. All you have to provide is your annual household income.  Some issuers even provide an instant decision with a soft credit pull, so there’s no immediate impact to your credit score.

7. …and for (Occasional) Late Payment Forgiveness

Nobody is perfect. We try our best, but sometimes, you might miss a payment deadline on your loan or credit card statement.

Remember that your credit card company or lender wants to retain a positive customer relationship with you. If you have a history of on-time payments, most issuers will agree to waive late penalties. Others might still charge the penalty, but they’ll agree not to report your lateness to the credit bureaus.

Late payment history can negatively impact your credit for years. So, try to resolve a late payment right away.

8. Check Your Credit Report for Errors

One in five American consumers has an error on their credit report. That’s more than twenty percent of Americans. Sometimes, spelling errors, name changes, or mistakes in your address can cause credit report errors.

Fortunately, every consumer can request a full credit report from the credit bureaus at least once a year, at no cost to them. And if you find a mistake on your report, you’re fully within your rights to dispute the error. The bureaus will review your claim and must remove inaccurate information within 30 days. Depending on the type of error, fixing mistakes can raise your credit by hundreds of points.

Cool and True: You Can Do More Than Pay Bills on Time to Improve Credit

Hopefully, some of these tips and tricks prove to be useful for you. First, make sure you take care of the easy and obvious ways to raise credit, like paying your bills and protecting your personal information. Then, if you incorporate some of the tips from the list above, your credit score could turn out to be even better.

To be extra proactive, check out entirely free Fundera’s credit monitoring feature. This will show you both your personal and business credit score, both of which affect your ability to qualify for financial products. Noticing dips and upticks in your score can help you address problems and capitalize on what’s working.

Check Your Credit Scores for Free

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Dress For Success: 8 Attire Tips from Famous Business People

No matter what you do for a living, it can be challenging to determine what “dressing for success” means in your specific office environment. There’s lots of information online about different types of work appropriate styles that you can incorporate into your wardrobe, but, getting down to it, lots of this info ends up feeling contradictory or plain useless.

What you wear matters, and it can impact before the work you do and how your colleagues perceive you. Every office place is unique, but keeping tried and true business fashion tips in mind can help you dress in a way that helps you do your best work and make the best impression possible. With a few simple best practices in mind, you can build a wardrobe that feels true to yourself and that helps you excel at your career.

We looked at stylish and successful business people across industries and outlined their iconic fashion choices. Breaking down the clothing choices of our favorite business leaders like Elon Musk, Oprah Winfrey, and more, we included actionable tips that can help you elevate your own wardrobe.

Check out the infographic below on eight style tips from business icons:

Sources: Business Insider | CNNMoney | Art of Style | The Wall Street Journal | The Atlantic

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The 6 Best Indicators of Business Growth

Small businesses, like people, don’t necessarily grow all at once. Just as we use many measures to show a person’s growth—in height, weight, age, and accomplishments—we evaluate business growth using both external factors like customer demand and sales trends, in addition to financial records, and more qualitative inputs like employee headcount and company culture. There are a few different indicators of business growth, all of which provide an individual snapshot of one aspect of your business. Together, these business growth indicators provide a composite view of how your company is doing, and where it’s projected to go.

Determining how much your business is growing, either at an annual or quarterly rate, is crucial. For one thing, it’ll improve the accuracy of your financial projections, and inform your business budget. And a firm understanding of your growth to-date can help you set goals for future growth, and better allocate resources and spending to areas that need more attention.

Here, we’ll go over six of the best indicators for business growth: demand, profit, revenue, sales, market share, and personnel.

How to Accurately Estimate Growth

Before you can start measuring your business’ growth as a comprehensive whole, it’s important to determine how you’re measuring your growth. That’s where KPIs, or key performance indicators, come into play—they’re specific, measurable values that indicate how well, or poorly, your business is achieving its goals. By honing in on your business’s KPIs, you can more effectively track each quarter, and chart your progress using consistent metrics.

Your business’s KPIs are dependent upon your company’s specific goals, and you should set several KPIs for all aspects of your business—like sales, marketing, and finances. To give you a clearer picture of what we mean, though, here are some common KPI examples:

  • Monthly sign-ups
  • New accounts created
  • Deals finalized by your sales team
  • Leads generated  
  • New customers per month
  • Debt to equity ratio
  • Organic search traffic

Ultimately, your profits and losses alone can’t tell the whole story—keeping track of targets specific to your industry and business helps contextualize your growth.

And don’t base your growth projections on inference alone. If you or someone on your team has accounting experience, this is the perfect time to flex your analyst muscles. Depending on your purposes for evaluating your company’s growth, consulting a professional might be a worthwhile investment. That’s especially true if you’re presenting this information to lenders or potential investors.


6 Reliable Indicators of Business Growth

Tracking KPIs on a monthly and quarterly basis will help you identify where you’re growing, and any areas that need work, in addition to creating a consistent reporting structure. There are many quantifiable indicators of growth worth evaluating, even though they don’t correlate directly to profit and revenue, like social media engagement, website traffic, and search rankings. The most relevant indicators of growth will vary depending on what kind of business you own, so take the time to assess which factors are the most crucial to your success.

Once you establish your growth priorities and KPIs, you’ll be able to apply these general principles to your business and its growth.

1. Demand

The foundational law of “supply and demand” is foundational for a reason: Your growth potential depends in large part on how much demand there is for your business—whether that’s a service, product, or experience. Assessing your business’s demand is crucial if you’re thinking about expanding your business, or making a hiring plan.

Here are three key indicators of business growth for demand:

1. Your customer base is loyal—and growing. If you focus on serving your clientele, you know what your customers expect, and can anticipate what they’ll want next. As a result, you’ve cultivated a dedicated, diverse customer base that is loyal to your business, and vocal about their support.

Not quite there yet with your customers? One way to boost customer engagement is to include clients or customers in your business strategy planning. Try creating opportunities for customers to leave comments and feedback. If you have a brick-and-mortar storefront, you can provide feedback opportunities with written comment cards. Create an online survey—you can even just use Google Forms—and add the links to a user survey to your website, and email signature for salespeople and customer service representatives. You can also record sales and service calls, and provide a voluntary short survey at the end of calls.

2. Inventory is turning over rapidly. If you literally can’t keep your shelves stocked, it might be time to expand your business—one of the most demonstrable ways to measure your growth is by looking at turnover rate for inventory.

3. The team is busy. Not selling goods or holding inventory? For demand growth indicators in the service industry, look at how full your bookings are, how busy your salespeople and account managers are, and how much people are working overtime.

4. You’re attracting outside attention. Whether it’s an investor showing interest, or an enthusiastic customer base begging you to expand your business, listen to the feedback you get from clients, friends, and advisors as an indicator of your popularity.

2. Profit and Losses

“Profit” is your net income after essential expenses, like payroll, equipment, and inventory; and “losses” are the costs that exceed revenue. Obviously, a healthy business needs to have more profits than losses—a business with less of the former and more of the latter runs the risk of untenable debt and, potentially, bankruptcy. To determine your business’s profits and losses, you’ll need to collect a few crucial financial records, including income statements, a cash flow statement, and a balance sheet.

Then, check your margins. Your profit margin is the percent of revenue left over after costs and expenses. The calculation is relatively straightforward, once you collect your income and expenses data. To some extent, the best way to determine a good profit margin for your business is dependent on industry, so your profit margin value is relative to the average for businesses in your location and sector.

3. Revenue

When you’re looking for indicators of business growth, calculating your annual revenue growth rate is a good next step once you’ve analyzed your profit and losses. If you’ve been in business for fewer than three years, or are a venture-backed company that hasn’t become profitable yet, cash might be tight or business might vary month to month. Revenue can help indicate growth, even if your profits aren’t increasing right now.

That said, if your revenue is high or steadily increasing, yet profits are stagnant, you can use this opportunity to analyze where you can lower operating costs or losses to bridge the gap.

If your revenue indicates healthy year-over-year growth, but profits aren’t budging, zero in on your expenditure to see if there are any costs you can eliminate to free up more cash to put back in your business.

4. Sales

Revenue and profit usually get all the attention for indicators of business growth, but if you’re tracking success, it’s essential to also evaluate the sales that are driving your revenue.

Your sales team is the frontline of your business, and you have insights into the trends and changes from month to month that will impact revenue. So, it’s worth aligning your company’s KPIs with sales goals. Especially for small business owners hoping to increase sales, it’s important to consistently report on sales performance.

When a sales team has more leads than they can call,  or are working exclusively on inbound leads, there’s a good chance the wider market is expanding—and with it, the potential for your business. And if your team is closing more deals than your product and account managers can handle, that might indicate growth potential for your business specifically. Just beware of churn due to over-selling.

With few exceptions, successful revenue models rely on sales—whether it’s subscriptions, services, or products—so booming sale can indicate it’s time to expand in order to accommodate new customers or accounts.  

5. Workforce and Network Health

From headcount, to hiring patterns, to vendor relations, your employees and partners determine a large part of your success as a manager and owner. Yes, creating jobs can drain cash, especially if you’re in the early stages of your company. But a growing team indicates that your business demand is high enough to justify adding roles.

It’s a good sign if you’re hiring because you have to. An uptick in hiring is a great indicator of growth, particularly for small businesses, because there is typically limited cash on hand, which restricts hiring flexibility. And often before you start to see major profit increases, you’ll have to start hiring out of necessity—as in, account managers are maxed out, salespeople have more leads than they can keep track of, or you’re filling multiple roles yourself.

Also, excluding issues of productivity or mismatched roles, sometimes the best way to boost your business’s growth is to invest in a much-needed hire. Talk to your team about their bandwidth and needs. Their input can help you identify which aspects of your business are the most in need of extra hands.

People want to work for you. An engaged, active workforce will drive productivity and create a great culture. Dedicated employees who get your mission and share your values can help take you to the next level of success.

6. Market Share

Depending on your industry and geographical location, your portion of the local market could be an additional key indicator of how much your company has grown, and how much growth potential there is in the existing market.

Observe peer companies of a similar size, or better yet, direct competitors. If it’s relevant, check your competitors’ recent updates, keeping an eye out for new locations, products, or partner integrations—try checking a company’s blog if you need somewhere to start.

A healthy competitive market will actually help your business grow, so you want to see activity in the space outside of your own business. In the case of small businesses, this indicates demand in the market for the good or service you provide.

Next, try to figure out how big the potential market is, and whether or not that base of potential customers is growing. For many industries, you can find independent reports from analytics companies like Gartner, as well as free market research guides and resources. If you have more business than you can accommodate, too many sales leads to handle, and competitors in your space, there is a good chance the market for your business is strong—and growing.


Looking at Indicators of Business Growth: The Big Picture

A comprehensive assessment of your business, from day-to-day operations to annual revenue, should indicate to you how much your business is growing over time, and help you identify patterns in demand and spending. Demand, profit and revenue, and headcount might indicate growth from a numerical perspective, but true growth is largely a self-fulfilling prophecy. If demand indicates that your customer base is growing, for instance, act accordingly: Put your effort behind cultivating and expanding that following, and making necessary expansions and hires to support that base.

And whatever your financial statements are telling you, try to capitalize on what’s going well, be it quality products or services, a great sales team, or simply an excellent operation—while working on areas that could use improvement. Because one of the most powerful uses of growth analysis is to identify what’s holding you back. Unsuccessful services or products, inefficient spending, or making the wrong hires can be hard to identify in the moment. These factors are all easier to pinpoint when taken into consideration with financial data and your company KPIs.

In short, if you see indicators of business growth, act quickly capitalize on that growth. Look into small business financing to seize opportunities if they present yourself. At the same time, be sure to remove inhibiting factors, like bad hires and unnecessary spending, from its path. Once you’ve done your homework, and developed an idea of how your business is changing and growing, you can draw from countless free tools to help grow your small business.

Keep in mind, growth is also a risk. It’s tempting to see all growth as good growth—and you should celebrate these wins—but, above all, it’s important to stay focused on delivering quality and operating efficiently.

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