Monday, January 9, 2012

Is Your Marketing
Gen Y Compliant?

Marketing to a Generation That is Immune to Marketing

© 2012 Jeopardy Productions, Inc. "JEOPARDY!"
and "America's Favorite Quiz Show" are registered
trademarks of Jeopardy Productions, Inc.
All Rights Reserved.

First appeared in A Captured Mind monthly newsletter

A little over a month ago, my wife and I sat down for a small break at the end of our day to watch America’s favorite quiz show—Jeopardy. It’s one of the few shows we enjoy simply because it challenges our brains. If you haven’t guessed by now, we are not big fans of passive entertainment. It is also a chance to exercise my inner geek.

But on this particular evening, something happened that fell smack dab right into my area of expertise: the generational divide. Three college seniors faced off in a battle of wits during the College showdown, yet one particular category stumped them all.

Let me explain. The category in questions was simple—match the actors with the television show. Here’s an example: Tom Wellington and Kristin Kreuk. The answer should have been “What is Smallville?” The TV series based on the teen years of Superman. You know, before
he decides to fly around in stretchy pants and a cape.

One question after another went unanswered — Gossip Girl, 90210, Supernatural, One Tree Hill,
etc… What was going on? These shows were designed for a Generation Y audience, so why could no one answer a single question in an otherwise easy category?

And my entire theory about Generation Y was right there in living color—they do not watch television in the traditional sense.
And I know what you are thinking: “but Brad, these are college students who probably didn’t have time to watch TV.” And under normal circumstances I would agree with you, but, the actors and the shows in question were at their peak when these students were in high school. It should have been an easy category. It’s the equivalent of a Baby Boomer answering questions about Gilligan’s Island, I Dream of Jeannie or The Andy Griffith Show. Piece of cake.

So I ask you a simple question: Is your marketing on target with Generation Y? Are you assuming you are hitting the platforms they are using? Or are you completely off target by assuming?

Look, anyone born after 1977 has been indoctrinated into a world of digital possibilities that most Boomers are unaware of. To market to a generation that is immune to marketing, you have to understand how they think, work and buy.

Time for what Tony Rubleski in his Mindcapture series calls layering…the blending of several platforms of marketing. The BIG companies do it. Just look at the different types of marketing messages you see from Nationwide Insurance, GEICO, and McDonald’s. Blended layering of fun-based Gen Y commercials with more serious Baby Boomer commercials. A strong Internet presence for one, while a stronger in store image for another.

Here is a few from my playbook:

1) Try a Little Romance

Generation Y is anyone under 35. Day in and day out since childhood every single movie, TV show or commercial they watched was trying to sell them something. Think Transformers or G.I. Joe cartoons. Were they just cartoons or cartoons designed to sell action figures?

So now that they are adults, marketing is just ambient noise. And guess what? They ignore it. All of it. Case in point: banner ads now get less than a 4% click through rate.

To gain trust with young adults, you must build trust through a long-term friendship not a short-term sale. In the Social Media marketplace we call this Romance. Gain trust as a trusted brand that just so happens to sell great products, while creating relevance. If you can’t tell why I need you, your service or your products, don’t bother.

2) Make It Interactive

Baby Boomers were trained to sit and watch TV while passive sit-back and relax while the Boob Tube was telling them what to buy and when to buy. If you are a Boomer like me, I guarantee you that you have over 15 television commercial jingles stuck in your head.

I’ll prove it to you. Finish this classic: “Plop, Plop, Fizz, Fizz,...”
And as you finish the jingle in your head “Oh what a relief it is,” —I rest my case. Boomers are brand loyal.

But anyone born after 1977 expects media to be interactive. These are the generations raised on video games, portable devices and CD ROM hybrids that took you to an interactive Website experience. They have been bombarded by one software update after another. To them “what have you done for me lately” is how they view most brands.

If you are lame and old in your message or the latest cool app, you are getting lost in all the new stuff that is competing for market space inside those digital native brains. Generation Y is not brand loyal but they are brand driven.
In other words they will only stay loyal to a top-tiered brand if that brand keeps creating great products. Stop making great stuff, and they leave.

So if you want to get Gen Y onboard, give them something to do. Keep updating your content and keep giving something innovative. Look how many TV shows are reality based and require the audience at home to vote on the outcome.

Gen Y expects to be involved. They expect constant updates. So give ‘em something to do. I know, this is exhausting to Baby Boomers, but hey, that is life in the 21st Century.

3) Create Events that Drive Your Brand

I was recently called in to consult on a new Social Media site that is part Facebook and part Spike TV. It is called ManWall and exploding with new users everyday. It is an interactive site for guys. It does not exclude women, but it prides itself on being a digital man cave. So the main content is user driven—funny videos, hot girls, UFC fight videos, etc… A fun resource for guy stuff and the 18-24 year old Holy Grail of marketing.

The first thing I told them to do was get involved in some sort of event. Sponsor a contest where the payoff is worth it. Here’s the example I proposed: the top 5 winners of Best Man Cave, get a free Las Vegas trip, tickets to the next UFC fight and backstage passes to meet UFC founder Dana White and the ladies of the Octagon.

So what if you don’t have a budget like ManWall? Try small regional events.

Why not sponsor a chili cook-off during the summer? Best recipe gets a prize and 20% of the proceeds go to a local charity. Film it and photograph it all. Invite everyone in your network, and post the footage on your website or Facebook event wall. This creates influence and event envy and gives us all an inside look into your brand.

Gen Y is an event driven group. They like concerts, fight nights, poker championships and Rock Band video game battle of the band parties. And, they like bragging about the events they go to.

So give ‘em an event and let us know about it. It will also make your brand more human.

4) Stay Focused on What You Are Offering

I love to talk about Starbucks in my presentations because they are as focused as a brand can get. First of all what is Starbucks known for? Coffee. Nothing more, nothing less.

Doesn’t matter what Starbucks you walk into, the coffee aroma bombards you. There at eye level are donuts, cookies and muffins. All of which are aligned with coffee, in reach at eye level for a quick sale, supportive of their coffee image. That is a focused brand.

Anything that steps away from coffee—sandwiches, salads, bottled water or juice—is on the bottom shelf below eye level. The cost on these items is higher but the margins lower, therefore not a primary focus. It steps away from their brand. So why have these items on the menu? They are necessary items to attract a customer to Starbucks during lunch and dinnertime. Brilliant.

Now at one time Starbucks lost their brand focus and attempted to build a series of restaurants. No one wants to go to a Starbucks for a delicious cheeseburger so naturally the restaurants failed. When a brand is focused and owns their category like Starbucks owns the coffee category, they have to stay focused in that arena, and not disappoint their customer base.

Once your brand is known for something, stick to it and try not to change lanes.

Would you buy tires from McDonald’s? Probably not. Stay in your lane of expertise when it comes to marketing.

5) Your Network is Your Customer

In Social Media land like-minded individuals gather together for fun, intense conversation and commonality. To sell to a group, pick a group that seriously needs what you are selling.

By using Romance as I pointed out before, someone will step forward to ask for more of you. They will challenge you. Pick your brain, and try to stump you. Let them know, you are here to stay, with integrity. A trusted partner offering your services.

This also means you must choose your network wisely. No duds, or high school sweethearts.

A CEO of a major IT company told me he refused to let his daughter join his network on LinkedIn. Everyone was astounded. He made it simple… “she has no business experience, nor is there anyone in her network that can help me business wise.”
Oh snap!

Cold or smart? After all he sees his daughter everyday. But if you start having every family member in your network, guess what? People wonder what your network is made up of…real business people or friends and family members.

Choose that network wisely.
I hope that helps. The generational divide is actually a cultural divide. How would you communicate, sell or market to someone in another country? Learn how they do things. And stay open for a few happy accidents that might just surprise you. Like a video that goes viral.

Thanks for reading,

Brad Szollose

Brad is the award winning, international bestselling author of Liquid Leadership: From Woodstock to Wikipedia: Multigenerational Management Ideas That Are Changing The Way We Run Things ISBN-13: 978-1608320554

Mr. Szollose writes a monthly column on business and marketing techniques that reach Generation Y for A Captured Mind Newsletter and is part of The Mind Capture Group faculty.

"I just had my mind blown..." - A.S., Vistage, New York

Leadership Lessons from a Web Pioneer.

The Art & Science of
Leading a 21st Century Workforce

Brad Szollose's (pronounced zol-us), is a globally recognized Leadership Development and Management Consultant who helps organizations dominate their industry by tapping into the treasure of a multi-generational workforce. 

He shares his management strategies within the pages of his award-winning, international bestseller Liquid Leadership...strategies that ignited his own company, K2 Design, beginning as a business idea in a coffee shop to a publicly traded company worth $26 Million in just 24 short months with an IPO on NASDAQ.

As a C-Level executive, his unique management model was awarded the Arthur Andersen NY Enterprise Award for Best Practices in Fostering Innovation Amongst Employees (the phrase Workforce Culture did not exist back then).

Today the world’s leading business publications seek out Brad’s insights on Millennials, and he has been featured in Forbes, Inc., The Huffington Post, New York Magazine, Advertising Age, The International Business Times, Le Journal du Dimanche and The Hindu Business Line to name a few, along with television, radio and podcast appearances on CBS and other media outlets.

Since the year 2010, and the release of his award-winning international bestseller, Liquid Leadership, Brad has created customized training programs for The American Management Association, Tony Robbins Business Mastery Graduates and Liquidnet Holdings, as well as several dozen Fortune 500 companies to name just a few; preparing them for the next generation of business leaders.

Mr. Szollose is also a TEDXSpeaker, and his talk The Age of Radical Disruption, focuses on the impact video games and serious gaming has had on the work habits and behavior of Generation X & Millennials.

Brad’s programs have transformed a new generation of business leaders, helping them maximize their corporate culture, creativity, innovation, productivity and sales growth in the new Digital Age economy.

Brad's work will expose the secrets to managing a cross-generational workforce:

Brad is the author of Liquid Leadership: From Woodstock to Wikipedia: Cross-Generational Management Strategies That Are Changing The Way We Run Things and the publisher for Journeys to Success: The Millennial Edition: 21 Millennial Authors share their personal journeys of failure and success…based on the success principles of Napoleon Hill.