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Understanding Millennials

October 31, 2011

This is what I knew about millennials: I wasn’t one. I also knew that if I intended to communicate with this next generation, that was no excuse.

I got a great head start at understanding millennials at our PRSA Kansas chapter’s professional development day. Jeff Fromm (@JeffFromm), senior vice president of sales, marketing & insight for Barkley, shared stats and attitudes from his agency’s study of nearly 5,000 millennials and non-millennials : American Millennials, Deciphering the Enigma Generation.

First, three reasons why it’s important to understand, decipher, and communicate with millennials: size, spending power, and influence.

“Since the Millennials generation is larger than the Baby Boomers and three times bigger than Generation X, marketers’ understanding of Millennials’ needs, tastes and behaviors will clearly shape current and future business decisions,” said Fromm, when the survey findings were initially released in August.

Some of the findings us non-millennials could guess: Millennials are “digital natives” and multitaskers. Others were surprising: They support big government and want to become involved with causes.

Here are more details and highlights:

1. Millennials are the first generation of “digital natives.”

  • The research showed that  millennials are 2.5 times more likely to be an early adopter of technology than older generations.

2. Millennials are interested in participating in social marketing.

  • Millennials are significantly more likely than  to explore brands in social networks. And when it comes to making purchases, millennials are far more likely to favor brands that have Facebook pages and mobile websites.

3. Millennials believe in cause marketing.

  • Millennials are more likely than non-millennials to develop a more positive image of a company as the result of cause marketing programs. More millennials than non-millennials attempt to buy products from companies who support the causes they care about.

4. Millennials crave adventure.

  • Significantly more millennials than non-millennials described themselves as adventurous and expressed a desire to be considered a “done-it-all.” More millennials reported a willingness to encounter danger in pursuit of excitement, compared to non-millennials.

5. Millennials strive for a healthy lifestyle.

  • 60% of millennials say they try to work out on a regular basis. 26% consider themselves health fanatics.

6. Millennials seek peer affirmation.

  •  68% of millennials usually don’t make a major decision until they have discussed it with a few people they trust.

Lots of good insights on how to better communicate, market, friend, work with — and for — this powerful generation. Thanks to Jeff Fromm and Barkley for sharing this data and helping make millennials less of an enigma.

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Social media as a continuum

January 20, 2011

Social media, Facebook, Twitter, FlickrFacebook hubs have replaced web sites. Shareable social objects have replaced lifeless content. Earned relationships have replaced marketing collateral. Relevancy and context is the communicator’s — and the consumer’s — new battle cry. So says social media experts Brian Solis (@briansolis) and Jason Falls (@JasonFalls).

They presented — or should I say, enthralled – – at yesterday’s Explore and Engage Wichita event. My to-do and to-think-about lists are overflowing in terms of social media tools and strategies.

Some sound bites from Brian:

We are all competing for relevance.
Tools don’t matter. Engagement does.
Authenticity and transparency are keys to social media success.
Businesses have been run with a top-down approach. We are introducing a bottom-up approach.
Listening and hearing provide the tools to impart relevance.
Brands are no longer destinations. We have to build bridges back to them.
One-to-one-to-many is far more effective than one to many.
Social objects (tweets, posts, photos, videos) are the future of marketing.

Beyond the soundbites is Brian’s call for research, strategy and thought leadership: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Alj2xxGf5XQ.

Jason echoes this approach, offering these steps:

1. Know your audience

2. Set goals.

3. Build a content strategy.

4. Choose the right tools.

5. Implement and activate.

In his words: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=owBU9zlCtLU.

Brian and Jason stressed measurement of outcomes — not a new business recommendation, but one we often forget. The other challenge: Once we earn relationships and thought leadership, we must nurture this privilege. Social media is a continuum.

The tremendous opportunities ahead…

#140conf Small Town

November 1, 2010

It was quickie grilled cheese for the kids tonight. And, the bottle calves were fed just a little late. They forgived me, though. I had a good excuse. I spent the day soaking in social media knowledge, tips and strategies at the 140conf Small Town in nearby Hutchinson, Kansas. Our mission: Explore the State of Now.

This was the first and only 140conference to be held in a small town. Previous locations included  New York, Detroit, Los Angeles and Tel Aviv. We looked at the real time Internet in a specific context — what it means for small town America. I was proud to join the voices talking about the intersection of social media, small towns and agriculture (@ZJHunn, @Kst8er76, @KSFarmGrown, @RocketGroup, @DebbieLB, @TykerMan1).

The line-up was simply outstanding. The topics ranged from tourism to education to entrepreneurship to PR to friendships, even to the lost children of El Salvador. The organizers — and visionaries —  Jeff Pulver (@jeffpulver) and Becky McCray (@BeckyMcCray) provided the framework: “The next person you meet could change your life.” (By the way, Jeff and Becky organized the 250-person event almost entirely through Twitter and one phone conversation.)

I just wished my traveling farmer could have been there — both for moral support (could they see my knees shaking?) and to see how the ag community is coming together through social media. I think we can change lives, as we communicate and educate to preserve the family farm legacy.

Thanks to Jeff and Becky and their army of volunteers for providing the forum. And, mark your calendars. The next #140conf Small Town is already set for September 20, 2011 in Hutchinson.

Logo lessons

March 29, 2010

Bill Gardner, a Wichita-Kan.-based national logo trends expert, gave a captivating presentation at our recent Public Relations Society of America – Kansas  lunch program. The topic: the top 15 design trends for 2010. Gardner has tracked trends for several years through research and the online database he created, www.logolounge.com. The site now boasts more than 133,000 logos, all searchable by keyword, designer, timeframe, country or more.  His 2009 report can be found here, with the 2010 posting soon: http://www.logolounge.com/logotrends/.

The logos he presented were fascinating, even beautiful. However, Gardner’s take on what logos can — and should — do for a company also fascinated.

“Design makes a difference in purchasing when products are homogenized,” says Gardner. He asked such questions as ‘What does your logo sound like?’ and discussed logos that confront, or make you interact. He also talked about how some companies use words (taglines) as part of the logo, to make the most of that impression with the customer.

Gardner’s presentation reinforced the message that knowing who you are as a company — and reflecting that in all you do — is a powerful tool for success. You can check out more of his thoughts on trends in the sixth of his LogoLounge book series, due out soon.  Follow him, too, on Twitter: @logolounge.

Brand new

October 6, 2009

Lewis Street Glass Co.I shouldn’t say this out loud, but, sometimes, I get tired of branding. Not the purpose, the tools or the process — just the artificiality of branding for branding’s sake. Maybe that’s why I’ve always had this strange fascination with the Lewis St. Glass Co.  I have seen their trucks for years — neat, white trucks with cool trailers for hauling huge pieces of glass. But, that’s not it. Lots of companies have neat, white trucks hauling interesting objects.

It’s the name — the simple brand name. Lewis St. Glass sounds like a company that is family-owned and based in a neighborhood. The Lewis Street people don’t pretend to be something they’re not. When you need glass, you can count on them.

As bad luck would have it, I did need glass recently. I had another cracked windshield, thanks to our dirt/gravel road. Who came to mind? Exactly. Lewis St. Glass.

Turns out the company has moved from Lewis Street to a big new garage, in another neighborhood on the edge of downtown. Good for them; they’re growing. They were ready for us when we arrived — and completed the job 30 minutes faster than expected. The nice receptionist took my check. The nice installer gave me advice regarding no car washes for 24 hours. And, I snagged a pen on the way out. By the way, the pen is just a pen. It doesn’t uncork wine bottles or double as a laser. You can bet it writes great, though.

I’ve forced myself not to see if Lewis St. Glass has a web site. I don’t want my image of them to be tarnished. For me, they’re the perfect brand. They say who they are and deliver on what they promise. Long live Lewis St. Glass.

I saw this quote from Shakespeake:  We are advertis’d by our loving friends. Had to laugh. Even Shakespeare was talking about word-of-mouth marketing.

Interesting reading on its value in WOMMA’s newest volume of “Measuring Word of Mouth.” First chapter is free to view online.

Lynn

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