It’s a relentless, dogged pursuit of your children. B2C businesses study human behavior relentlessly to determine the most effective means of reaching their primary customers: your kids. Before you get all holier than thou, consider why your kids are the focus of retail marketing. Hmm… Well, most of them don’t have jobs yet. Most of them don’t drive cars yet. Most of them can’t vote yet (except for the next American Idol). Most of them can’t drink, buy cigarettes, or join the military.
So what makes this pre-teen to teenager so commercially powerful? The answer is simple, though many parents ignore the truth. Parents make teenagers the single most powerful consumer group in the United States of America. How? By giving them fistfuls of cash and/or credit cards and hours and hours of unsupervised time in which to spend it. American capitalism, though perhaps not as ethically and morally astute as it should be, is no fool. Parents throw money at their kids to spend – possibly to atone for the guilt of not spending time with them – and marketing agencies have taken the time to learn where and how those kids live. In today’s American society, you simply cannot reach children and teenagers unless you have a visible presence in what is being called by BtoB Magazine as “social media” channels. Social media includes blogs, podcasts, and networking sites like MySpace.
Yes, we must mention MySpace yet again. It appears that only Google and Yahoo receive as much or more public attention as MySpace. One can hardly ignore one of the most popular and influential channels of entertainment and communication among the most important generational consumer base. I must pause to follow a rabbit trail for a moment. Since MySpace is one of the most important virtual sites in the world, how is it that the company has yet to realize that the ads posted on a member’s home page should correspond to that person’s interests? I am a married man, and MySpace knows that from my profile. Why can’t they find a more appropriate ad for me than some gigantic dating website ad? What a waste of someone’s money! There’s not a chance in hell that I am going to be a profitable client to them, so why isn’t MySpace following Google’s lead and offering keyword relevant ads?
My trail is over. That happens to be one of my biggest pet peeves at present. I hate dating ads and it insults me that one of the largest online companies in the world cannot manage to figure out that I’m not interested in the crap they’re selling. According to Ellis Booker, Editor of BtoB, “there is a major shift, largely generational, in online consumption habits. A part of this shift involves a growing reliance on ‘authentic,’ word-of-mouth sources, in addition to traditional media and corporate outlets.” What Booker is trying to say is that another generation has come onto the stage, searching for something their parents’ generation didn’t offer them: authenticity. Blogs are tremendously effective marketing channels because of the confessional/journal style in which the content is written. The entire blog genre was, at least originally, intended to be a more personal and authentic medium of expression for individuals.
Some agencies are over-exploiting blogs now as well; the result is the lessening of the power of blog authority. It’s a given that anything successful will be copied a dozen to a thousand times until the success has been completely drained. It is my prediction that effective blog marketing will peak within a year and then begin a descending pattern towards its death gurgle. That is, unless marketers learn from past mistakes and stop trying to flood an already saturated market. But whether the messages come through blogs, podcasts, MySpace, or something new, your children are the primary targets.