The average age of a Realtor is currently 57, and members of the millennial generation are between 18 and 34 years old. Working with these people (and they are people, not kids) requires understanding and interacting in ways you might not understand.
My advice to you is to spend some time with a millennial so you get beyond the hype and into their heads.
Start with a common ground
The assumption by many folks is that people in this age group are all connected to their smartphones; they’re texting constantly, they’re tech-savvy, and they’re losing a sense of personal connection. Nothing could be further from the truth. If you sit down and actually get to know one of these young adults, you’ll be surprised by how much you have in common.
I hired an agent who falls right in the middle of the millennial age group. Just like others in generations past, she’s building her career, has a boyfriend, and looks forward to marriage and starting a family. Talking to her reveals an interesting perspective you don’t get in reports about how to market to millennials.
She has the same sorts of aspirations most of us had in our 20s. She knows she’ll have to work hard and earn her place in the industry. And I don’t see her millennial sense of entitlement (something I did actually see in new agents in the ’80s).
My millennial agent is smart, responsive and adapts quickly to change. When I interact with her, I need to be equally smart, responsive and adaptive.
Bridge the gaps
There are a lot of stereotypes about millennials that could get in the way of how you engage with them. For starters, not every millennial is attached to technology. My agent does not live and breathe Instagram or spend hours texting her friends.
Understanding her and others like her shows that she isn’t concerned with traditional expectations or roles. Being connected is about enhancing relationships. And information, not technology, is the real tool.
The assumption that connecting to the millennial generation means texting, being active on Twitter or having a startup mindset is completely wrong. Spend some time with a millennial and you’ll quickly discover this is true. The technology is a means to an end, not an end unto itself.
Millennials are really old-school
Back in 1994, Don Peppers and Martha Rogers wrote “The One-to-One Future,” which is about implementing one-to-one personalized marketing. That book is as old as some millennials themselves. It’s all about using technology to create a mass personalization experience for products or services.
The interesting thing is the concept of personalization has been around for centuries. It gained steam in the 20th century as brands built their consumer experiences.
Millennials are looking for a personalized customer experience.
The technology you use is just the means to engage in that experience. They want information, tailored for them, and they want it quickly. They’re going to ask questions, and not necessarily via a text message. You’ll do just fine if you give them the information they want, explain its context and why it’s useful, and do it fast.
Consider the adage “Don’t judge a book by its cover.”
The worst mistake you could make with millennials is making assumptions about who they are. While I’ve found that millennials generally want the experience I described, they’re still individuals. Keep that in mind and tailor your services accordingly. When you do, you’ll engage with the largest generation of consumers in history.
Bryan Robertson is the co-founder and managing broker of Catarra Real Estate.