Tag Archives: marketing

“Disrupted” Author Gives Advice on iGen Marketing

My last post was a review of Disrupted, which I  like a lot. So does my president. He told his cabinet members to read it. At a recent conference of college presidents, he recommended it to his colleagues.

I’ve recommended to everyone in the business.
I sought out author Stefan Pollack to do a Huffington Post piece about it. You can check out the full article there or just cut to our question/answer session below. Stefan kindly indulged me last week while he was on vacation.

Five questions about his findings and the future of marketing/advertising.
1. Why have you labeled people born after 1994 the “iGen generation?
Until now, most circles have labeled this generation Z, but based upon my observations there is enough of a generation gap between Y and this generation, that they needed a proper title. iGen describes quite a bit in just a few letters: they are inherently mobile, they value individuality, they are unique compared to the working generations of Y, Z and Boomers. The name also implicitly nods to Apple’s iPhone and iPad, which, among other forces, helped instigate the great communications disruption of the last decade, empowering this generation to lead brands into a consumer-controlled environment.
2. How large is the disruption created by this new consumer generation?
To be clear, while iGen has certainly created a disruption in the marketing world, the reality is they are natives of a post-disrupted environment. They don’t know a world apart from this intuitively mobile and consumer-driven one in which we currently live. iGen grew up knowing they have the entirety of human knowledge on small devices in their pockets. The consequences are staggering. Never before could a generation completely and totally omit a brand from their consumer decision-making process—they can find out anything and everything without consuming one iota of traditional media or brand-controlled messaging. This is probably the largest disruption our industry has ever witnessed.
3. What do companies and colleges need to do to communicate with these consumers?
The most important thing brands can do is listen. Identify the target audience and listen to them, learn their behaviors, their wants and needs, and deduce how a brand or message can coexist or nurture that lifestyle—then a brand or message will be relevant to iGen. Additionally, companies can identify influencers that iGen already listens to and capture their attention with a message, however they will concede control of the message once the influencer becomes an advocate.
4. What do we need to keep them?
Simple: be transparent, authentic, and honest. iGen and digital natives are the bloodhounds of consumers—they can spot disingenuous marketing long before it reaches them. However, once a brand or idea is embraced by iGen, they become fearless advocates and behave as influencers in their vast networks.
5. What will advertising and marketing look like in five years?
At the velocity of current trends, advertising and marketing will need to adapt to correct for the massive ad-avoidance rates. Now that people are mobile, their attention is moving from TV and print to their devices. Mobile marketing will continue to be a leading force in the industry, but it will need to be targeted—both demographically and geographically. Specific niches, such as video and music streaming, augmented reality, and location-based promotions, have tremendous potential for success. iGen is not adverse to marketing or advertising as long as it is relevant and authentic. The days of sandblasting a controlled message and hoping that enough of it sticks are over. Marketers must be accurate with their analysis of target audiences and use only tools that appeal to them.

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“Disrupted” Should Shake You, Wake You

For years, as a PR professional, I’ve been trying to figure out how to get to high school and college students. I imagined them surrounded by a bubble I couldn’t pierce.
Stefan Pollack explains this generation’s communications world in Disrupted. It’s clear, direct and commendably presents his findings without offering “easy”  answers.
The iGen generation, as he labels it, has created the biggest shakeup in communications in generations. The iGens are those born after 1994 who have never known a world without computers,  parents without mobile devices, and who want their information now and know how to get it instantly.
If it takes more than an instant, it’s too long.
They don’t need to memorize old facts because they curate.
Pollack credits Apple for changing the way we communicate through the introduction of the iPod, which revolutionized the way we buy music and ushered the downfall of record stores, iPhone, and the iPad which signaled the downfall of desktops and laptops. He doesn’t give enough credit to the almost simultaneous appearance of Google, Facebook, Amazon, Twitter, and Netflix, which share in the apocalyptic shift in the way we buy, read, listen, communicate and overthrow countries.
This is a minor complaint. Pollack is right. The revolution has happened.
iGen was born into the technology and with unwitting naturalness changed all the rules overnight.
Radio ruled for decades, dictating music we should listen to, infested by commercials. TV fed us nightly shows interrupted by commercials. Newspapers and magazines created cover and inside stories dotted by ads. The book industry told us what we should read. Period.
All are now in death gasps.
The traditional media, gatekeepers of news and scripting what’s important, are gone. iGens, now their own gatekeepers, allow in what’s relevant to them. If they accept it, they share it with their friends, the “infinite touch points.”
If they find you relevant and approve, you may succeed.

If they find you irrelevant, or worse, dishonest, they can injure or even destroy you by simply and instantly spreading the word.
Blasting ads at this generation is a waste of time and money. Relevance and interactivity is the only way to communicate.
And they want humor.
Over the past couple months I’ve found myself recommending Disrupted to members of various boards that I’m on, to my university president, to colleagues. All of us in the marketing world know traditional media is dead to those under 50. Disrupted presents its findings and explains how iGen is  communicating and if you don’t get on board – not just with the social media but understanding the way they’re  thinking, seeing the world and acting in it – you are a historical footnote.
At lunch recently, I ran these ideas past a 17-year-old female songwriter who’s going to college to major in philosophy. She nodded in agreement and added: “I Google things I’m interested in so I’ll get Google and Facebook ads about them.”
Read that sentence until it sinks in. They don’t complain about advertising. They invite brands that interest them.
And Brand, once you’re in, you’d better be real, relevant, transparent, have a sense of humor and a social conscience.
Disrupted passed the iGen test.  It’s the Bible for today’s marketing.

Pinterest: Have Fun, Keep It Real

I’m seeing Pinterest as a new wave viewbook.  Granted, high school students and parents haven’t caught up with it, but then, neither have colleges.

Our current viewbooks and recruiting materials are our packaged goods using  the old media philosophy of “this is who we are and we hope we can sell you on who we say we are.”

Pinterest offers a new slice of the 2.0+ philosophy.  The 2.0 language is: “This is who we are and we invite you to join in our discussions.”  The new spin is “this is who we are and we invite you to share our pictures/videos and comments.”

A student or a parent can poke through the boards to get a feel for the campus, its programs and activities.  But like all social media, it has to be real.  If you create boards that are as stiff, clunky and, mmm, didactic as printed materials sometimes are, your boards will fall flat.

There is a discussion about copyright which revolves  around people repinning photos of others, not knowing if they’re copyrighted.  Almost everything we post is ours. We own the pictures and we want you to repin them.  Just as we want you to share the photos on our website, our videos as well as our Facebook and Twitter material.

One reader commented on the last post that she’s worried about copyright if the school posts, say, the cover of a faculty book or bookstore items.  I’m not a lawyer but I can’t imagine a publisher or manufacturer getting upset about promoting their products.  As long as there is no misrepresentation or a third party making profit from their works, there shouldn’t be a problem.

The only glitch we’ve had is an artist who insists on approving photos taken of him in performance.  We’ve been waiting now for several weeks.  We haven’t heard from hm so we’ll use what we want.  Marilyn Monroe might have had approval rights, but this is a different age, one in which an audience member takes a picture and posts it on YouTube before the artist finishes his first verse.

Right now it’s important to get a Pinterest board started.  The possibilities are nearly endless.  The seasons, club activities, video testimonials,  and projects.  The secret is to keep it real and create categories that others — parents, students, alumni and constituents –are  interested in.

And it should cost next to nothing.  At Mansfield, we have a photo library of 40,000 + photos, student video testimonials, TV shows and more.  With some creative thinking about boards, they  fall together pretty easily.

It does take time to produce each board but with careful photo/video selection and tight writing, they shouldn’t have to be updated too often.

In fact, by the time your boards need to be updated, the print viewbook might well be a historical mention in Wikipedia.

A good introduction is The Ultimate Guide to Marketing Your Blog, Podcast or Videos with PinterestIt’s a free download and aside from the writers using “great” every other graph, it is written in a simple and lively way and has good, solid information.

It didn’t take long for us marketing folks to see a new venue to promote our stuff. Is it a good venue?

Actually, I think it’s excellent.

The bottom line is to be there when the audience comes looking for you.

Pinterest & College Marketing

Pinterest is the new social media explosion.
Is it the Wild West all over again?
Yes.
Do we marketing types really know how to use it?
Not really.
Do we need to jump on the wagon?
Absolutely.
Pinterest is the world’s fastest growing social media site. It started as a way to share — gardening tips, fashion, recipes, and wedding planning.  The primary demo was, and continues to be for now, women.
But it’s changing and expanding at an exponential speed that would have excited Einstein. Do a search for anything — antique swords, silent movies, Eros– and you’ll find people who share your interest.

It’s a virtual bulletin board in Alice’s Wonderland. Hours melt  before you as you follow this link, and search for this subject and find worlds within worlds, still pointing to more.

Will Pinterest last? I think so.

The news that we’re an increasingly visual society is old.  Words are work. People read less and less as time passes.  I don’t like it but I’m working to accept it.
Who imagined that YouTube, from its first amateurish, silly, and often sophomoric postings would become the most popular search engine in the world?
In my mind, Pinterest is a college marketer’s dream.
Mansfield University jumped onto Pinterest in early 2012.  A no-brainer .  We’ve created boards on Stars Who Have Performed at Mansfield,  Scenes on Campus, Regional Activities, and Student Organizations, Campus Buildings, and others.  We’ll be adding more.

We organize — visually — our topics of interest, fill in with short written content and post.

Does it work?  Don’t ask.  In the marketing world Pinterest is in its infancy.

Is it worth the time involved?  Yes.  Experiment.  Test.  Play.

In the next post:

-It costs nothing;

-Use the resources and materials you already have;

-Copyright doesn’t have to be a dilemma.

The local store that made our Christmas

Shop local.
I experienced the importance of this a few weeks ago. Dunham’s Department Store in Wellsboro is a family-owned  store founded in 1905.
They’re also one of my wife’s clients. She came home from a meeting with owners John and Nancy Dunham after Thanksgiving and over supper talked about the meeting.

“After the meeting, when I was looking around, I saw the most beautiful coat,” she said.  I was half listening but remembered something about “soft” and  “rust color.”
It was so beautiful, she said, and there was only one in her size. She was sure it would be gone in a few days.
A couple weeks later, I did a book signing at From My Shelf Books, another locally owned, indie business. I walked up to Dunham’s, hoping they might still have the coat and could identify it with my meager two clues.
I ran into John and Nancy in the snack shop, sat down and had a bowl of soup and coffee.
“Linda saw a coat,” I said. I don’t know anything about it except it’s soft and rust colored.”
Nancy thought it over. “Well, I think I saw her looking at a coat in the display window.” She thought some more. “Based on what she’s bought in the past — like that white jacket a couple years ago. . . I think. . . let me go look.”
She returned with a coat. I had no idea if it was it. “I think it is,” Nancy said. John nodded in agreement. “That looks like her.”
For the first time in my life I said, ‘I’ll take it” without even asking the price.
“Do you want it wrapped?” Yes.
I was pretty nervous Christmas morning. If it wasn’t the right one my wife would be very disappointed. If it was the right one, it would make her whole Christmas.
It was the right one.
Imagine this.  Go to Bon Ton or Sears, or Macy’s . Can you sit down with the owners and have a coffee? Can you say your wife saw a coat two weeks before, give a couple vague clues and have them bring it out and hand it to you gift wrapped?
Not a chance.
The Dunhams know  all their regular clientele so well that on buying trips they pick out clothes based on their customers’ tastes!
Yes, I also like the idea that I’m supporting local business and keeping money circulating in the community, contributing to it health.
But I’m also grateful to John and Nancy for making my wife’s Christmas special.  (It’s nearly impossible for a man to buy a woman clothes she actually likes.)
Dunham’s has been around for 112 years, succeeding on the premise that knowing and caring about your customers is the best kind of marketing.

Maybe you don’t die after all

I said in the last post that we write and exist in the moment. Things are moving  fast and there is so much other excellent content that if you stop, others move in.
You vanish.
That’s only partly true, I found.
On July 4, when every patriotic American is drinking beer, doing hot dogs and ooohing to fireworks, I received an email inviting me to do a technical review of a new book in its final draft stage.
That the woman writing to me on July 4 was impressive.  She was a dedicated professional and thoroughly unAmerican.

I went back to the invitation which read, in part: “I’ve been reading your higher ed marketing blog and believe you could be an excellent technical reviewer for our forthcoming book on WordPress Marketing. . . .”

I have a soft spot for WordPress since my three personal blogs and my professional one at Mansfield University are all on WordPress.

Then I realized I hadn’t posted anything on this site in awhile.  I went back and checked.  The last post was July 2010 of me doing a whining sign-off with a bad case of burnout!  I hadn’t posted anything in a year!

But then, this isn’t unusual.  I’ve had responses to posts that are three or more years old, as I’m sure most bloggers have.  So maybe you don’t die after hanging it up.  You just keep floating out there in some half-life state and eventually someone enters your orbit.

I accepted the invitation and over the weeks as I worked on the review, felt the urge to get back into the game.

I did some research on the publishing company and found that the lady was, indeed, not American.  She had written to me on July 4 from her office . . . in England.

***

A lot of you are bloggers.  What is the oldest post one of your readers has responded to?  One year?  Three?  Five?

Ida’s PR Lesson

We all know that basic PR starts at the ground level.
I had picked up a couple packs of pipe cleaners in Michaels and joined a long line of customers  at the one open register.
Finally a heavy set lady —  a big-boned, bouncer built woman with a bulldog face — opened a second register and sat down. She was the kind of person you see behind desks in the Department of Transportation and prisons. A mere glance and you know you don’t want to mess around with her. Her name was Ida.
A woman appeared at the counter and Ida rang her up.
As I said, it was a long line. I didn’t see anyone else making a move so I slowly made my way over to her counter.
As if she didn’t see me, Ida turned to a family in the line:  “You can come over here.”
I stood there, puzzled. She looked up. “They’re next,” she said. The young husband and wife looked at me. “Go ahead, you were here,” the man said. They had two kids and a pile of goods to pay for.
I said that was okay. I was not about to take on Ida.
They paid for their stuff and headed out. I could have said, “Ida, technically I was here first and you should have taken me,” but life is short and I only had two packs of pipe cleaners.
Ida leaned forward and looked up at me with that strong, square face and small eyes.  “Sorry about that. I made a mistake.”
“No problem,” I said, relieved that this would have a peaceful conclusion.
She rang up my pipe cleaners, pulled out a paper and scanned it. “I just gave you a coupon for 40% off,” she whispered.
“Thank you,” I said, genuinely surprised.
“And here’s another for 20% off next time you come in.”
“You’re too good to me.”
She gave me a hint of a smile.  “You have a nice day.”

What started out badly took a turn when Ida realized her mistake.  She not only apologized but tossed in a couple sweeteners.  She was the essence of quick-thinking PR.  I’m sure she doesn’t know anything about “PR” but she is honest, real, and understands people.

I hope her manager understands the value of front line people like Ida.