March 04, 2014

Jasmine Is Taking Over

There's nothing quite like using air quotes when giving a presentation!

A couple of weeks ago, I presented "A Cold Dose of Reality" at Vircomm Summit 2014 in London (click here). This came on top of a presentation I did about six weeks ago for a company (MailChimp) employing folks with an average age of +/- 28-35.

In other words, I had two opportunities to present to audiences that are very, very different than the audiences I usually interact with.

Take a look at this image from the conference in London. 

Tell me what you see? I see two things.
  1. Young Professionals.
  2. Technology.
This is not NEMOA (and that's not a criticism of NEMOA, it's a reflection of a deeper change in our world).

I counted more than two hundred tweets during my fifty-five minute presentation (compared to five at a NEMOA presentation in 2012). In fact, about forty minutes into my presentation, I asked the audience if they had any questions. A young man raised his hand and said to me, "would you like to hear what the attendees are saying about your presentation on Twitter?" That's when I started addressing audience concerns derived from the conversation they were having about me while I addressed the audience.

My keynote was about all the ways that communities, fueled by social media, fail to contribute to meaningful sales totals. That's an easy presentation - and we all know that communities do matter, but it's painfully simple to find data to the contrary.

The next day, I hosted a three hour session about creating a community for a coffee house in London. It was here that I realized that the world had changed.

I divided the room into four teams. The teams had to build a community for this business, they had to integrate social and mobile with their community and with the marketing team. And most of all, they had to prove that their efforts would lead to enough sales and profit to impress the CEO of the company, an old-school operator who only cares about the bottom line.

The image above accurately reflects the demographics of individuals attending my session.

These teams put together marketing plans that would flat-out blow your mind. They spent 75 minutes and created magic!

Their marketing plans all had tactics designed to bring new customers to this coffee house - they would leverage their community to recruit new members. Their marketing plans included ways for users to vote up/down product ideas. Their marketing plans tied into loyalty programs, so that they could track results. These folks wanted to create apps, not for the sake of technology, but so that they could notify the audience of program/content changes and to measure customer response.

I was floored by their talent, I was dazzled by their ability to collaborate, to bounce ideas off of each other, and to work together to create a presentation under time pressure. One group even put together a ten-slide Powerpoint presentation. Another group ran simulations to determine the expected payoff of their efforts. A third group researched other programs so that they could easily articulate how their program would work (using Google Glasses, no less). A fourth group (with a slightly older demographic) had a CRM-centric approach with really credible numbers to back up their ideas.

When I visit my typical catalog client, I observe three things.
  1. An average age of employee in the room of between 40-65 years old (usually skewing 50-60), well-seasoned folks with a lifetime of valid business and management experience.
  2. An inability to figure out how to acquire new customers if you cannot pay co-ops for new customers.
  3. Fear of the future.
When I spent time with the audience at #Vircomm14, I observed three things.
  1. An average age of attendee of between 25-35 years old.
  2. Unbridled creativity and fearlessness surrounding ways to acquire new customers using technology, viral marketing tactics, and content.
  3. A lack of understanding of what makes Executives tick.
Compare the two lists.

Might it be possible to create breakthrough results by merging what employees at my typical catalog client do well (executive/managerial/business experience) with what the attendees of my sessions do well (unbridled creativity, no fear, use of social/mobile to promote content that leads to selling stuff to customers like Jasmine)?

Jasmine's generation is taking over, folks. Among customers, and among our employees. And on Twitter, Jasmine's generation tell me, repeatedly, that "you", the Executive, will not listen to them. We're going through a generational shift, but we're not willing to listen?

It might be time to merge our experience with Jasmine's enthusiasm and creativity. Why not try something different, merging the best of both worlds?


If you are younger than 35 years old, send me an email ( - tell me your experiences. Is your voice being heard? Is your company implementing your ideas?

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