Don't Call Us, We'll Call You

We've all heard the saying, "Don't call us, we'll call you." Normally, it's reserved for that scene in a movie where someone in a position of power is giving the blow-off move to a salesman, interviewee, or otherwise faceless subordinate.

These days, brands and marketers are hearing the phrase more and more from disenchanted and disinterested teens.

More than other demographics, teens are all too ready to give marketers the brush-off. So how do brands and marketers avoid falling victim to this dismissal from such a powerful target group? Here are three tips:

1. Provide access to information without being pushy.

Advertisers in past generations seemed to better understand the value of the Marketing Mix - using a combination of platforms to build a marketing plan. If your brand or initiative is going to be successful, it's not going to be because of viral marketing only, or any one single channel.

Viral marketing might be the piece of the puzzle that gets you the great press, but that great publicity has to provide the audience a path to more than just an e-card builder or funny video. Your mobile campaign might get people talking but what are they talking about? Even before viral takes hold, your brand needs to be in a position for people to understand your product, and for that, more traditional channels are still successful -- yes, even with teens.

Use traditional channels such as commercials or outdoor to soften the market so that when teens see your cool video they know what it's attached to. Remember, unless you're in a category that monetizes emerging media, your bottom line is not going to be increased by a billion views on YouTube. It's the awareness of your brand that drives sales at the register.

2. Be ahead of the trend, but don't be trendy.

Teens are especially in tune with trends, be it fashion or marketing, and the kiss of death for this demographic is being seen as "so five minutes ago." Sorry everyone. But unless you're going to come up with something truly unique, that stand-alone Facebook Application or Fan Page you're investing in this year isn't going to be your be-all, end-all marketing solution.

While the best approach favors a strategic mix of emerging media, mobile is one of the channels that still has untapped potential, especially in the teen space. Mobile has yet to fully saturate the trend scales and will be poised to do so in the second half of 2010.

Augmented Reality is another "trend" on the horizon that has yet to realize its full potential. Just beware of this: advertising to emerging markets has all but fallen to "what emerging technology has been successful?" If you're asking yourself what "has been" successful, you're probably too late. Look ahead, not behind. Teens especially aren't impressed with seeing things the second time around.

3. Be honest and be real with your message.

If you're a bank, don't try to be overly cool. Likewise if you're pushing flavored beverages positioned to teens, don't hold back on being too cool and really connecting with your market. Listen to your research. Too often we as advertisers position our message to be too broad.

When looking at your positioning, don't be afraid to pinpoint your message if it means it is going to truly connect with your audience. We all know censorship is bad, so why do we allow ourselves to shelve that perfect ad because it's too niche? Don't be afraid to go out on a limb to get your message across. Today it means your message is more likely to connect.

So like your target, keep it real. Find your marketing mix balance and stay ahead of the game. Before you know it, you'll be avoiding the dreaded brush-off and seeing substantial results from this ever-evolving but extremely important demographic.

Tags: teens
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2 comments about "Don't Call Us, We'll Call You ".
  1. Ambrose L. from - , May 27, 2010 at 12:10 p.m.

    Why are teens explicitly mentioned? Everyone thinks like that…
    One unsolicited more free gift and I’ll cut off all communications, and I’m not a teen…

  2. Byron Wolt from Speak to Students , May 27, 2010 at 11:04 p.m.

    Dead on accurate! I market a college and college system to teenagers by offering content that is useful to them. I have been successful in getting and keeping students attention because I do not offer just an advertisement and sales pitch. I offer content that that even students who are not interested in my particular college will believe has value to them. In the 5 minutes in a presentation i spend telling students about the college I represent, it is important to be honest in telling them why I am telling them about the college and encourage and direct them to get more information IF THEY ARE INTERESTED. They are a heavily marketed to group and being contacted when they are not interested is a quick way to burn bridges with teens and their many friends.

    The days of the standard sales pitch are over and in my opinion, the person or company that can build connections by offering valuable content will win in the long run with students. After all teenagers are not just important to future business but to the present.

    Again, the article was dead on and crucial for companies who value teenagers to understand!