410.235.7070 Join Our E-Letter
businessGPS Taking You From Where You Are to Where You Want to Go.

Over 30? You'll go, but you'll go kicking and screaming...

Over 30? You'll go, but you'll go kicking and screaming...

March 05, 2012

There's a new customer in the market that represents the largest consumer group in the U.S. but most Baby Boomers don't understand -- and that could be a very costly mistake.

I can tell you right now you may not like this article. With all the effort and energy spent, is anybody making money with social media?

Strange way to begin' but reading this is one of the most important things you can do for your business.

Why? Because there's a whole new batch of customers ' about 72 million of them (the largest group in the U.S. today!) ' whom you're about to do business with -- and they are completely different from you and all the other customers you've had.

I've been speaking all over the country about social media and a new group called Gen Y. This group was born between 1977 and 1994, so they're now between the ages of 18 and 35, and to boomers, they're really, really weird.

They'd much rather spend time on Facebook than watch TV. They're adored by their parents. One out of three have at least one tattoo. They don't see marriage as important in their lives. They eat out more than eat at home. They're more likely to read a blog than a newspaper article, and if they do read a newspaper article most of them read it online. Of those who do watch TV, nearly half prefer to watch the shows on their computer.

What's their preferred method of communication? Email? A phone call? Nope. It's 'texting. They send about 50 text messages every day. In fact, nearly half say texting is 'just as meaningful as an actual conversation with someone over the phone,' according to eMarketer. Just as many say the primary reason they have a cell phone is for texting and 41% say they've made a purchase using their smartphone. And email is something their parents do ' not them!

Makes you feel like a dinosaur, doesn't it? I know I feel that way. Most people I talk with don't understand this generation and seem overwhelmed just trying to figure out how to reach this group. But I've got a few ideas to make it easy ' and profitable ' for you'

The secret to reaching this group is to understand them first. You can see from the description I just shared that they're not like most people you already know.

But here are a few interesting insights:

  • 63% use social media to engage with brands and more than 50% say that Facebook, blogs, and brand videos affect their opinions about products, according to the L2 Gen Y Affluents: Media Survey, which evaluated the responses from nearly 1,000 adults.
  • Websites are as influential as physical stores in shaping Gen Y sentiment, second only to friends' opinions, according to the survey.


And from my own research I've found that they want control over the shopping experience. Years ago, if you told someone that they could design a room themselves or use the self check out, they would have been offended. Today, Gen Y shoppers prefer it! They want to go online and click on a virtual room and see what it looks like in different colors. They want to click on the various skins for their laptop and design them themselves.

They want to keep you at arms' length. They're skeptical and they don't trust most businesses. But there is a way to reach them. How?

Entertain them.

Created by Mohawk Flooring, Mohawk Me is a fun app the company created to appeal to Gen Y consumers. It's all about hooking their hungry fish by giving them something fun to do and then talking with them about flooring.

Have fun with them. Mohawk Flooring does a great job with this. Now, you may think you can't do a lot of fun things with flooring. And you would be right. So Mohawk had fun with its name and created Mohawk Me ' an app that allows you to give anyone a virtual Mohawk hairstyle by downloading a picture of a friend or yourself onto one of its eight images. Based on your selection, it also recommends the 'perfect Mohawk flooring choice' to match their personality.

It's brilliant. As you can see people have quite a bit of fun with it. It's a great way to get users engaged, and without even knowing they're start to get some flooring ideas!

My point: Traditional marketing won't work with Gen Yers. But that doesn't mean you abandon tried-and-true marketing principles ' principles like 'Go where your hungry fish live.' (Heard me say that before?)

So where do these Hungry Fish live? YouTube and Facebook.

Dr. Robert Wagstaff proved that you really can sell just about any product using social media ' and he's 76 years old! Several years ago 'Dr. Bob' developed the Orabrush, a tongue cleaner designed to help cure bad breath. Sounds gross, and in fact he tried selling it using traditional marketing -- and it bombed. After 10 years of trying, he sold about 100 (about 1 a month) at $5 each. Walmart and CVS weren't interested in carrying it on their shelves. A $50,000 infomercial tanked. He even tried selling the patent to Oral-B, but they wanted nothing to do with it.

Using one of the most powerful tools available to businesses today (and loved by Gen Y'ers), Orabrush turned its small business into a multi-million dollar business using YouTube.

So he took his product to a marketing class in 2009 at BYU to get ideas. Jeffrey Harmon, a student at the time, was interested in selling it on Facebook using a video he created for $500. In five weeks, Orabrush sold 10,000 units. Within one year, the company passed $1 million in sales.

The videos are funny, entertaining, clever, and so far they've attracted more than 38 million views on its brand channel. Orabrush is only behind Apple and Old Spice, with over 150,000 subscribers. It also has more than 300,000 fans on Facebook. It's the only advertising the company has done. But it gets better. Just last year, Orabrush announced that the Orabrush is now being sold in 3,500 Walmart stores throughout the U.S. Hmmm' I guess they're interested now!

How do you sell something as gross as the Orabrush? Turn it into a YouTube video. Have fun with it. It's a formula that's worked for this company that was struggling to sell just a few units every month. Now they're selling millions!

What's fascinating about Gen Y'ers is that once they trust a brand, 63% will use social media to engage with brands. They'll 'like it' on Facebook, subscribe to its YouTube channel, and sign up for offers, according to the L2 Gen Y study. This stat is worth repeating because it surprised me too: more than 50% say that Facebook, blogs and brand videos affect their opinions about products. That's just as powerful as word-of-mouth advertising and you have control over it!

If that's not proof enough here's another great example from one of our clients.
JeeperzCreeperz sells and installs automotive aftermarket accessories. It's a family-owned operation that started as a hobby for Kevin Bentz and his wife Charri and has grown into an online and brick-and-mortar accessory store for off-road vehicles, especially Jeeps.

An "ethical bribe" is a great way to get more people to "like" you on Facebook and drive traffic to your page. The key, however, is to convert those prospects into leads. Read on to see how Jeeperz Creeperz did just that.

Facing tough competition online from other aftermarket sellers they turned to Facebook and over several months built their page up to 1,700 fans, but very few sales. But within a few months, they increased their sales leads by 4200%. How? They built trust by showing which industry associations they're active in, and they offered a $10 discount for everyone who became a fan on Facebook (an 'ethical bribe').

They also posted questions and comments to encourage discussion ' about anything except the company. They asked: 'Where is your favorite wheeling spot? Post up!' (58 comments). 'If you could find a killer deal on some part, what would it be?' (35 comments). What's cool is that the best responses were those that talked about their wants and needs.

So what did Kevin and Charri do? They had their staff monitor the discussion looking for comments that could be a possible lead and contacted them. Simply by creating a forum for others to post their comments, they created their own lead generation system. So instead of getting 1 sales lead per month, they're averaging 43! How cool is that?

Perhaps you're resistant about jumping into social media. But it's time. Gen Y is the largest consumer group in the U.S. and their income levels are expected to double within the next five years. That's a market you want to reach!

Have fun with it. Try engaging with them (I know they're weird, but try) on YouTube or on Facebook. Consider creating an app. Don't know how to do it? Just drop us an email we will give you some resources. Also, hire a Gen Y person to do it for you. Test it and see for yourself what works. We'll be glad to try to drag you into this market ' even if you may be kicking and screaming ;)

Always taking you from where you are to where you want to go.


Jon Goldman, President