I thought I was sooooo clever. To promote our upcoming PBI Boston Conference,
I had the perfect theme...the absolute anthem…the killer headline. It read:Please come to Boston for the springtime.
Up it went on our office whiteboard. In came our new intern, a Boston University student. “Matt,” I said, pointing to the copy, “what does this mean to you?” He looked from the whiteboard to me. A look of puzzlement washed over his face. “Um, it’s really beautiful here in Boston in the spring??”
My heart sank. I erased the “killer” copy, and with it, a stupid idea. This lyric
from a 1974 song from the now-obscure Dave Loggins
meant zippo to this young man (and, I daresay, to anyone under 50). The incident reminded me of an important lesson in business: be relevant. Just because you think you have a great idea to help sell your services or products, make sure the idea speaks to your market.
To be honest, I purposely asked Matt about that lyric before using it in an e-mail blast because, days earlier, I’d used the phrase “Gal Friday” in an e-mail I sent to a colleague. In her reply, she apologized for having to look the phrase up!
“Oh boy,” I thought. “I must remember this golden rule of marketing: MAKE SURE YOUR MESSAGE RESONATES WITH YOUR AUDIENCE.”
Printers today are struggling to be relevant and contemporary, right? I suggest that in addition to 1) embracing social media, 2) giving a tired, old website an extreme makeover, and 3) making an effort to get out more often and connect with and learn from customers, marketers and social media experts, you do one more thing: hire a kid.
I’m only half joking.
If you don’t employ someone who’s under 30, create a job for one—even if it’s a part-time internship. Barring that, ask college-age sons, daughters, neighbors, etc., to have a look at your marketing materials. Do they “get” what your company is about?
A young person can help keep you current. He or she can read your website and your promotional materials, including your sales letters, to make sure your copy resonates with that age group. Even if many of your customers or prospects are north of 40, or 50, there are Millennials
joining the workplace all the time. Some of them are definitely in marketing, design and print buying.
Or if you’re in the B2C space, young consumers need to “see themselves” in what you’re selling. The graphics and content on your website need to speak to them. Do they?
It’s a difficult balancing act; I get it. Maintaining your professionalism is crucial. I don’t suggest you produce a cheesy video that will embarrass you, or that you start speaking/texting/tweeting in only short letter-code words—GMAB! There is a happy (and tasteful) medium.
If we give our online presence* the “Millennial Test” from time to time, we just might avoid publishing something that lands flat, with an awkward thud, and perhaps cost us some business.
Many members of PBI’s target market are in their 40s and older, and likely would’ve recognized those lyrics. But I was going to use them as a headline in an e-mail blast and maybe even in an ad campaign. Without the context of that long-ago hit song, the reference would’ve had landed with that thud I mentioned.
Maybe our next conference ad campaign should promise that attendees will learn “Moves Like Jagger.” (Only kidding.)
Here’s to balance, professionalism, and staying relevant.
[* Website, e-mail newsletters, blogs, Tweets, corporate Facebook posts, videos, et alia.