20 November 2009

Fountains of Youth: 6 Reasons to Follow Young Marketers

by Freddy J. Nager, Founder of Atomic Tango LLC, and Veteran Marketer Trying to Get Jiggy with It

In my quest to find value on Twitter, I began by following a lot of marketing people, including several ad agency heads and veteran PR people. I wound up unfollowing most of them — except for the young marketers still in college or graduated within the past five years. I’ve found the young marketers refreshing for several reasons…

1. Young marketers don’t claim to know everything or call themselves experts or gurus.

(I recently heard Prof. Warren Bennis describe [intlink id=”3007″ type=”post” target=”_blank”]gurus[/intlink] as “people who don’t know how to spell ‘charlatan'”.) This level of modesty is rare on Twitter, where 9 out of 10 users are self-proclaimed experts. It makes me wonder how this country could be in such an economic crisis when most of the adult population consists of experts.

2. Young marketers aren’t wed to any particular approach or dogma.

They don’t run around tweeting “it’s all about brand promise” or “it’s all about measurable results.” They’re still open to different ideas — and that’s critical, since markets evolve, and what worked yesterday might be useless today. Marketing is all about experimentation and innovation. The next great marketing ideas will likely come from someone under age 30.

3. Young marketers have better things to do than sit around all day posting articles.

Evidently, veteran marketers are an underemployed lot who spend most of their time reading articles online and sharing them. One grizzled PR pro was posting three or four articles every hour. The young marketers might post three or four articles a week. For them, Twitter is just another tool — not the foundation of their entire careers.

4. Young marketers are in touch with the marketplace.

They’re out there exploring and experimenting, not just surfing and reading. Consequently, not everything they post is about marketing; it’s about living. What they share about their lives and their learning is usually more insightful — and more delightfully written — than articles in academic journals.

5. Young marketers are optimistic.

They do express concern over what’s happening to this world they’re going to inherit, but rather than lamenting or cynically analyzing the debris, they’re out looking into how to build things. Since most of them won’t hit retirement age until after the year 2050, resignation is not an option.

6. Young marketers are teaching me a lot.

As a veteran marketer myself, I’ve developed bad habits — case in point, my need to get away from this here computer and actually enjoy the L.A. outdoors. I also need to discover music that’s been published since Pearl Jam’s “Ten.” By reading the posts of young marketers, I’m learning what interests them and what doesn’t. That beats the platitudes, shared links, and statements of the obvious from most of the veterans.

Now there’s a lot to be said for veteran experience and expertise in crafting and executing a marketing campaign. There are also a few veteran marketers who I enjoy following and are the exception to my crude stereotypes.

But if you want some keen insights into what makes markets and marketing click, don’t just treat young people as potential customers. Even within Twitter’s absurd 140-character limits, these young professionals manage to say a lot.

Now if we can only get more of them to blog…

Update 1/13/10: I’ve had several requests for specific recommendations. Here are a few…

Tags : , , , ,

Freddy is the Founder & Creative Strategist of Atomic Tango. He also teaches graduate-level marketing communication courses at the University of Southern California (go Trojans!), shoots pool somewhat adequately, and herds cats. Freddy received his BA from Harvard and his MBA from USC.

6 Responses

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.