Monday, May 4, 2009

Millenial Marketers - Change Your Messages Already

I think it's about time that all of those Generation Y (Millenial) firms that are teaching people like me how to deal with 20 somethings updated their material. Saw a presentation at the recent ASAE Marketing and Membership Conference by one of the better ones (she wore jeans and had no PowerPoint just gushed for an hour about how different we are). And the year before I bet she said exactly the same thing.

Guess what - the world of the millenials is more like the world I graduated and came out into the world in. It's the beginning of the 1980s or at least the 1990s. It's called recession. Think back to when teens got a kick out of being portrayed as all powerful mutant turtles. Blink and you're there.

This is the real world not the hyper inflated Wall Street one that crashed. There are no jobs, inflation is rampant, and they cannot afford an apartment so going back home to mom and dad is a dreaded option. Does it matter than Gen Y folks were coddled, raised in a world where everyone was a winner and job hopped each year? Not anymore - welcome to the real world. Yet our overpaid consultant with the unkept hair continued to harp on about the same socio/cultural issues and how we must mentor not instruct them.

First off - all the info the "Gen Y Experts" spew about the millenials is about the older ones - those born from 1980 - 1990. There is an entire generation behind them of those born from 1990-2000 who will not think they are entitled to everything because their parents are struggling. Who will not win at everything. Who will have to take jobs at McDonalds with a college degree and beat out senior citizens for them. Tell me about that group. I have two in my home - and they are not spoiled rotten that I can tell you.

Here's something else we've found in our research. While Gen Y may have grown up in social media they don't know how to use it to further their own careers. Posted a question on LinkedIn asking "For those under 30, how are you using social media to enhance your career?" The majority of answers that I got were from people in their 40s and 50s saying "Don't discount us." The 8-10 responses from the Gen Yers were different.

You would think it's a given that these kids would be all over online to find new jobs and network. Here's what we learned:

It’s Not That Simple -

Facebook is for friends not business

YouTube is what we did last night online

Don’t know how to use LinkedIn, Plaxo, etc.

I posted on about a dozen groups that I belonged too and got back some very telling responses - here are a few.

From International Association of Business Communicators.

"I haven't seen much use for any of them, professionally. I am still using Facebook as a social network to keep in touch with friends and family."

From Emarketing.

"I tried using LinkedIn as a way to better position myself. I also cleaned up my MySpace and Facebook accounts. But I haven’t really marketed myself online yet."

"I am using social networks for my career but the results are not that satisfying, I am not sure where I am lagging behind. Can you help me out?"

The first answer comes from someone with a degree in communications and the other two are working in Electronic Marketing but don't know how to transfer what they are doing for products and services to themselves.

So what's my point? I have two:

First, all of these pricey consultants who are teaching us how to use social media and how to work with the 20 somethings need a reality check. If you want to reach young professionals you have to be creative to do it. Offer them information that they need to know - particularly in regard to their careers. Teach them how to interview and network - skills they haven't developed with all the typing and texting. And at this point, with all of the online tools, still nothing can replace time tested networking (Face to face that is).

Second, look at the demographics of those who come to your social media pages. Again the pricey consultants couldn't tell me how Gen Yers use these sites for business because they don't study that. They look at the fans or group members as one audience. The baby boomers were two distinctive generations. So are the millenials.

Facebook now has tools so you can look at your audience demographically. You need to segment the market even in social media. Because if you don't someone else (maybe a marketer with grey hair who doesn't think targeting was invented yesterday) will do it first.

Don't mean to come down on the younger generation. They are the future and all of us would love to retire. But marketing wasn't invented yesterday even though it's now done in a brand new form of media. And we need to adapt the time tested marketing principals to new media - the same way it's been done as every form of new media has come along.

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