As the second-largest generation in the United States, Gen Z gets a lot of slack — no cap. However, they represent a major, often untapped, market for service-based businesses.

And did you know, having Gen Z, or “Zoomers,” on your team can sway others to consider your business? In fact, according to a recent study, almost 60% of people surveyed say they’ve made purchasing decisions based on Gen Z’s influence.

So, how do you get these “digital natives” to click the “book now” button on your website? Seemingly born with technological savviness, the key is speaking their language and meeting them where they’re at.

Winning Over Gen Z

Rule #1: Throw the rule book out. Traditionally the goal of marketing is to put your best, most pristine foot forward. However, retouched images and carefully curated Instagram feeds don’t speak to these post-Millennials. They prefer authentic marketing.

Here’s what that means:

They Want to See the Real You

If you Google (or Bing) [your industry] + near you, how many other businesses will pop up? We’re sure it’s a decent amount.

Make your business stand out. Rather than simply listing your services, focus on why you’re in business and the impact that you’re trying to make. Most people in your industry can do what you do, but do customers feel better after working with them?

If you aren’t sure how to describe your “why,” here’s how Rares Stelea from Clean Air Pros explains how his business got its start.

“I got into business strictly for the fact that my son, in our new home, was always sneezing and coughing,” Stelea says. “We took a look at the air ducts, and they were absolutely filthy.”

This personal experience is where he got the idea to begin a business with the goal of helping families. “We wanted to make sure folks have clean air inside their homes.”

They Want to Hear About Genuine Experiences

To capture Gen Z’s attention and loyalty (we’ll get to loyalty later), businesses must find ways to showcase the real experiences they offer in a genuine and authentic way.

To do this, go directly to the source — your customers.

  • Create User-Generated Content. Encourage customers to share their own experiences and showcase them on your platforms.
  • Request and Respond to Reviews. Did you know, almost 70% of Gen Zers read or watch at least 3 reviews before making a purchase? Asking for reviews after a job well done is an easy way to provide the social proof your potential customers of all generations are looking for.

Remember, with reviews, it’s possible that not every person will have a 5-star experience with you. That’s OK. By responding to both positive and negative reviews in an honest and open manner, you’re showcasing that your business cares, which helps to build long-term trust.

If you want more ways to turn a bad review into a positive experience, check out this video from our Director of First Impressions, Gabe:

They Want to Know You Care

If we know anything about this generation, it’s that they are dedicated to supporting social issues, and they expect the businesses they purchase from to share their passion.

Now this doesn’t mean your business needs to support every cause, especially if that would be inauthentic to who you are. But you can cater to Gen Z’s desire for social responsibility by getting involved in your local community.

This could mean volunteering at local events, sponsoring community initiatives or partnering with local organizations. By demonstrating your commitment to the community you serve and live in, you can build strong relationships with your younger consumers.

Zoomers Are Online, but Where?

While there are plenty of studies and stats on which social channels Gen Z prefers, it’s important not to put your marketing eggs in one basket. It’s better to diversify your social media strategy, focus on authentic marketing and connect with your younger customers on multiple fronts.

When doing so, there are a few things to remember.

One Size Does Not Fit All

When it comes to marketing your business, it can be tempting to copy-paste your Facebook post over to Instagram. Unfortunately, this often comes off as inauthentic, and we know how Gen Z feels about that.

Rather, ensure you’re creating authentic marketing content and writing captions that are tailored to each channel. The key is matching the vibe of each platform.

For instance, Instagram is great for aesthetic posts showcasing your work while TikTok, on the other hand, is a fun place to showcase your brand personality by hopping on trends.

Video Killed the Radio Star

I know — bad reference for Gen Z, but I’m a Millennial, and the sentiment is still true. Zoomers consume video veraciously, from TikTok to YouTube. Meaning, video is one of the best ways to reach them.

Plus, due to their insatiable need for authenticity in marketing, creating video for this generation doesn’t require a film degree — just a phone. Take a look at these small business creators crushing the game for some inspiration.

Keep it Short, Sweet and to the Point.

Gen Z is notorious for having a short attention span. But let’s be honest, no one wants an ad that takes 10 minutes out of their day.

Keep your posts and captions short and effective.

Remember, the goal of social media marketing isn’t for every person who sees your post to book an appointment right away. Rather you’re on social media to build brand trust and name recognition. That way when potential customers are in need of a plumber, hair cut or legal advice, they think of your business first.

From there, it’s your website that’ll convert, but make sure it’s mobile-friendly.

Fickle or Faithful?

If you’re looking to build long-term relationships with your clients, don’t discount Gen Z. In fact, many of them stick to buying from a favorite brand for a long time.

But once they are in the door, they won’t stay loyal blindly. In addition to quality service, it’s important to cater to the preferences of these digital natives.

Let’s break them down:

  • Create a mobile-friendly website. Gen Z is a mobile-first generation, meaning they rely heavily on their smartphones to access information and make purchases. Having a mobile-friendly website ensures that your business is easily accessible and user-friendly for this audience.
  • Allow them to book online. Online booking allows them to schedule appointments or make reservations without having to make a phone call or wait on hold. Plus, online booking allows them to make appointments when they think of it. This could be during working hours or at 2 a.m.
  • Let them pay how they want to. They prefer using contactless payment methods such as debit cards, credit cards and payment applications over cash. And these days, the stigma of digital payments being unsafe is virtually gone, with more than three-quarters of customers saying they believe paying by card or on an online portal is just as safe or safer than paying in person.
  • Chat with them where they are. To this generation, convenience is key, so don’t make them jump through hoops trying to message you. Streamline your communication channels by adding a chat feature to your website, or allowing customers to connect with you on social. This will improve your customer service and create a more positive experience. And to avoid hopping from platform to platform to ensure you’re never missing a message, use a tool like Thryv’s Centralized Inbox to keep all your conversations in one place.
  • Don’t be shy about texting. In a recent study, we asked Gen Z, along with every other generation, how many unopened texts they have on their phone. Almost 60% of the respondents say they didn’t have any. So if you’re sending appointment confirmations or reminders, payment requests or receipts or discounts and deals, make sure they’re getting seen by sending them right to Gen Z’s pocket.

All in all, authentic marketing is key for small service-based businesses seeking to engage with Gen Z. By focusing on authentic marketing, improving digital communication and providing convenience throughout the entire purchasing experience, businesses can lock in with this young, untapped market.