Q&A: Avnet’s B2B Journey to Reach Millennials

Posted on by Beth Negus Viveiros

Kevin Sellers
Kevin Sellers

Electronic components distributor Avnet recently went through a major rebranding to engage new prospects and customers, including Millennials.

At B2B LeadsCon’s Connect to Convert, CMO Kevin Sellers shared how the Fortune 500 is positioning itself as a resource for entrepreneurs, manufacturers and makers at every point in the design process.

Sellers was recently a featured speaker at our recent virtual event, Marketing to Millennials 2017 (now available on-demand). A number of attendees had interesting questions following his session—here’s a selection of his answers to those queries.

Q: Does Avnet’s strategy change when targeting Millennial engineers compared to buyers/purchasing?

Sellers: In reality it should—we don’t always get that right but we are looking at that pretty hard.  The motivations for engagement are really different if it is procurement versus engineering that you are dealing with.  For the most part, procurement focuses on cost (price), inventory management, terms, etc.  Engineering focuses on capability, quality and differentiation for the most part and so the content and conversations you would have with those audiences is different and the content you use to nurture those should be tailored and different as well.  So, I wouldn’t say the strategy changes but the tactics certainly do.

Q: How did Avnet’s recent rebranding address Millennials?

Sellers: The new look was really about modernizing our presence from what was an old-school tech company to a more modern, collaborative one.  When it comes to brand identity, there is no right answer—there never will be.  The challenge is that you base your direction in a design that is strategic and communicates what you want to your core audiences.

Avnet’s new logo

For example, we changed our color palette because color communicates.  We were predominantly red before—a color that is about strength, power and can also have negative connotations such as danger or “stop.”  Green, the color we chose, fits our brand persona so much better—it communicates collaboration, harmony and growth.  The design was also done in a way that allows us to use that identity within our communications to creates engagement with the brand, rather than just being a logo.  These are things to look for to ensure you communicate something that is in line with your brand attributes.  With Millennials piece, we found much greater receptivity to the modern look and the engaging way we use the A-frame to show collaboration.

Q: Are you concerned that marketing to Millennials could alienate your older customers/audience?

Sellers: Great question—we think about that a lot too.  Marketing to Millennials doesn’t mean you ignore the older audience—they love great content too and want to engage.  They just might not do as much research digitally as a Millennial would do or might be more interested in speaking to a warm body than transacting online.  This is why it is important to know as much about your customer as you possibly can, which isn’t always possible but good marketing automation tools can help.  We are finding that from a content perspective that the differences aren’t huge—but from a sales engagement perspective there can be differences and that is where being close to the sales team as possible is key.

Q: How does Avnet tie content marketing and social marketing back to revenue growth for ROI purposes?

This is the $64K question for all marketers, right?  For a long time, we could measure activity with our content and activity on our owned media properties, but identifying who those prospects were and specifically what each was doing and how they were engaging with our brand was very difficult.

We now live in a world where we have the tools that can identify those prospects that engage with our content and learn a lot about them and their pain points.  These tools can also track them through the funnel to show those that convert to become paying customers, which allows for monetization against campaigns and content.  ROI is still challenging—marketing is awakening to the need for ROI and becoming more attuned to how their efforts do more than just build awareness and brand but drive measurable customer acquisition and revenue.

Q: What impact are Millennials having on trade shows and events?

Great question.  This generation is very experience oriented and as a result, smart brands recognize the need to look beyond the traditional ad model and create experiences for potential customers to engage with them.  The best brands have figured out how to create experiences that are really authentic to the brand’s position in the market.

There’s no better example than Red Bull—they promote their product so effectively through events and experiences that are all about adrenaline and getting out the edge.  Trade shows remain important because for the most part the audience that attends a trade show does so because they want to be there and so potential customers are a higher proportion of that audience than any other outreach method.  But even with that, creating a unique experience—rather than just hyping your products—is key.


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