It’s not all about you, it’s about them

In our new, disintermediated, 24X7 all information, entertainment and news world, it’s critical to reach target audiences in the mediums they, not we, choose.

Yet, stubborn traditionalists in advertising, direct mail, medical supplies and, yes, public relations, continue to cling to such ineffective and costly tactics as mass mailings, 30-second TV spots and billboards on bridges. But, the times they are a changing…

Yesterday, we played host to 20 University of Richmond students. The Spiders (school nickname) Bbmdos came to us to learn PR’s specific role within the marketing mix and overall function within a business in general. But, this wasn’t just about us talking "at" them. Rather, we saw it as an opportunity to learn how "Generation Next" likes to receive its news and information, make purchasing decisions and communicate with one another.

While there were no "ah ha’s" or surprises in the findings, the Spiders’ feedback helped substantiate a few premises:

1.) 100 percent obtain news from the Internet, not newspapers or other traditional media. Most visit

2.) They use Facebook as opposed to MySpace, because of perceived confidentiality issues with the latter. Additionally, one of the advisors who accompanied the group said he uses Facebook as a key communications tool since it’s the best and fastest way to reach the students.

3.) They turn to Google, CNet, and Edmunds for product information/reviews before making a purchasing decision. Corporate Web sites and brochures have little credibility in their eyes. They want to hear from consumers who tell it like it is. And, yes, Internet research is a fundamental part of their overall purchase decision process.

4.) I.M. is their preferred way to reach out to one another, followed by text and email.

Like all consumers in the Web 2.0 world, Generation Next students decide how they’ll receive information. The sooner we marketers figure out it’s not about us, our company or our product but, instead, the wants and needs of the end user, the better we’ll connect. So drop the hyperbole, the superlatives and the inward-looking corporate speak. If we want to spin a yarn that will connect with Richmond Spiders, we better first understand how their information-gathering "webs" work.

3 thoughts on “It’s not all about you, it’s about them

  1. Bless your heart Rep, you are not quite correct. “Mass mailings, 30-second TV spots and billboards on bridges” may be ineffective ways to reach the latest wired generation but they’re not dead. Marketing methods are expanding at lightning speed, but all-things internet have NOT replaced traditional marketing.
    As an aside: I think it would be lovely if some of these “Gen Next-ers” (or whatever the latest limp moniker is) would pull the plugs out of their ears and quit reading and writing in the new shorthand, i.e. “RU K?”
    If I read one more simple, junior high school mistake such as “Yesterday her and Bob were…” I am going to scream. No, instead of sending a gentle correction I will… hell, I don’t know what I’ll do but obviously I am quite disturbed by how many kids can’t write properly, and don’t seem to care. These are college graduates… maybe even from the Univ. of Richmond or U of Vermont or even Drew. I don’t think most twenty-somethings understand how detrimental their plugged-in life is to their lack of basic grammar. They are reading “blog speak” and shorthand and in turn embarrass themselves and worse, the companies they represent, when they go out into the world writing like an uneducated punk.

  2. Having graduated from the University of Richmond in 2001, it is amazing to see how much has changed since then. Facebook and My Space had not been created yet and now the majority the students have accounts and utilize these websites to communicate. It is interesting how some schools, like UofR, are embracing the changing times and changing technology to reach the students (by sending out updates via Facebook), while others remain resistant and are completely against the sites as they view them as distractions to learning. There is an ongoing debate as to whether Facebook/My Space serve as distractions or represent technological tools to further education. Pasted below is an interesting article that reflects this debate.
    The EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative has released a brief pamphlet entitled “7 Things You Should Know About Facebook” aimed at higher education professionals that “describes what Facebook is, where it is going, and why it matters to teaching and learning.”
    I think that these sites are here to stay and that it is smart of schools like Richmond to take a realistic view of how students are communicating today and leverage this to get their message across to students.

  3. Good post, Rep. 11 years ago today I became a father and it was the first time I truly realized how quickly email will allow people to send pictures to loved ones far and wide.
    Thinking along those lines, what will the next 11 years bring us in terms of communicating to the masses? Beats me, but it will be fun to find out.
    If mental telepathy ever gets off the ground [sic], and we’re able to send “wireless thoughts,” I hope some company will develop a way to “block” certain medical sales execs and his thoughts from entering mine.