As we all know Generation Y has grown up in a hyper-connected, speedy world. They relate to brands, products and work in a very different way to those that have gone before. Here's 3 ways to hook Generation Y, whether you're selling them services and products or trying to get (and keep) them on the payroll:
1. Hook Them with the Short Term
If you're selling them insurance, retirement or financial services, don't talk long-term investments and returns, they are not interested. Tell them what they can get right now. If you don't have a product with a short-term focus, get one! When I read Seth Godin's early book "Purple Cow" I remember him saying something clever along the lines of if your brand no longer reaches it's target market consider developing a competitor brand to it that has all the things your current products lack.
At work consider providing on the spot feedback not annual reviews, and bonuses related to weekly targets not monthly. Show them there is a quick path of career progression and offer opportunities like international exchanges to sister offices. Offer on-going training and skills development, keep them learning.
2. Hook Them with Acceptance (but be authentic!)
Don't try and change Gen Y and condemn them for their differences - embrace them! They will react positively to people who validate them for who they are now, and where they are aiming to be. Gen Y'ers want to have fun so make sure your products and services have an element of fun to them.
Work and fun are not mutually exclusive so spend some money to create a more enjoyable environment to work in. At this point I feel it necessary to mention Google's Swiss HQ - slides, bean bags, meeting pods in the shape of swiss chalets, free food... Let's just say their unconventional approach to business will definitely hook a Gen Y'er (or anyone for that matter!).
3. Hook Them with Speed
Make sure your products/services are accessible, have minimal red tape and little or no barriers to entry. If a Gen Y'er has to jump through hoops for you, you won't see them for dust. Instant gratification is key here.
At work Gen Y believe that age is no barrier so they are not going to hang around and work their way up the ladder like their predecessors. Challenge them with difficult tasks from the get-go, let them build their experience early and start them pioneering new projects.
If you can begin to understand Generation Y then you are well on your way to accessing a very intelligent, creative and determined group of people. And if you can gain their trust - authentically of course - then you may well have tapped in to a market that can actively on-sell your products (or company) in a more viral way than you could have imagined.