Tuesday, March 30, 2010

The Surge Of The Millennial Entrepreneur!

Some say that 2010 will be a watershed year.

I agree.

There are some profound changes happening in 2010.

For example, in 2010, a population shift is taking place in which for the first time ever in American history, families…households with kids…will represent less than 25% of the population!

Other changes are less dramatic in the numbers, but equally dramatic in their impact on the marketplace.

I got a chance to witness one of those changes first-hand.

This past week, I met with a young entrepreneur. Actually…a Millennial Generation entrepreneur to be more precise!

Rebecca is a young woman in her late 20s who I met at a local small business group event. The evening of the event was her first time coming to a business group meeting…of any kind.

Rebecca graduated from college with a degree in non-profit organizational management. She is passionate about cause-related groups – some eco-environmental…others advocacy and outreach…nearly all idealistic and change-oriented.

No question that Rebecca is a Millennial.

As passionate as Rebecca is about her cause missions…she is also beginning to come to grips with realism of earning a living, sinking down some roots and keeping the cabinets filled with food and drink.

While Rebecca has explored some job opportunities, she quickly has reached the conclusion that there are limited openings out there…especially in areas of personal interest.

As a result, Rebecca has elected to start up her own business…a personal holistic wellness management advisory practice that she can also balance with her being part of a grass-roots indy music group.

She met with me over a cup of coffee because she learned that I teach entrepreneurship and wanted to find out more about how to get her business up and running.

Rebecca asked some great questions, took extensive notes and later requested a copy of a business plan outline.

Rebecca is passionate about her causes and groups… she is also passionate about making her business a success.

In 2010, the vast majority… like over 80% of Millennials will be out of school and firmly anchored in the workplace. Many of them will have experienced the harsh realities of business and the economy.

The Millennials are the most college-educated generation to date and the most entrenched in online and mobile interaction and networking.

More and more of the Millennials will be doing just what Rebecca is doing in starting up new businesses and introducing new passionate brands.

In addition to running BrandVenture, I also serve as an adjunct college professor.

I teach the students in my classes that the “build it-buy it” philosophy of business is dead and I receive little to any question or debate.

There are nearly as many Millennials as there are Boomers. The current president of the United States got elected into power thanks to the Millennials.

Innovation and change is what is going to move the economy forward.

The Millennials will be the fuel and drive behind it.

I agree that 2010 will be a watershed year.

If change is stressing you out… you might Google Rebecca and I bet she can help!

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Stripping Naked For All The World To See!

I met with the interactive team of one of the regional newspapers last week.

Their person heading up sales said that most of the companies they call on have already spent their budget on another medium.

And you know what that medium is?

Outdoor billboards.

I am not kidding. Outdoor billboards.

I hear that the billboard companies are cutting some great deals. I hear from businesses we meet with that they are really trying to justify their advertising dollars.

Seeing your advertising on a big board that you drive by several times a day probably reinforces that CMO who wonders every day if they are the next in line to be cut.

Outdoor billboards are not a bad medium.

Many advertisers can target them right in the heart and the daily driving course of their “rifle-defined” audience groups.

However, to this day, there are few marketers, designers and advertising agencies that understand the mechanical requirements of a billboard.

Sometimes if I am stopped at a red light and there is a billboard in front of me and I get a chance to see it up close and look at it longer that just a few seconds, I will finally get a chance to read what it says and see the nice pretty design.

One of our past clients that spent a good share of money with us is running a billboard campaign right now.

(I have to quickly say that we are not their ad agency nor are any of the ad agencies with whom we partner!)

It features a balloon in the shape of a heart and our client’s brand name is listed right on the center of the balloon. There is a three-word headline (they get credit for keeping it limited to three words!) and then an entire sentence of copy underneath.

It looks nice up close. Like when you are smack on top of it at a red light stopped.

Any time you are further back or driving past it, you cannot read the name of the client nor read the copy line.

And I promise that I am not making this assessment after a few happy hour drinks!

They are not alone.

Billboard after billboard after billboard is designed to look nice with whole sentences. Others have not one, but several pictures.

So many billboards look like newspaper ads when the paper is right in front of a person and they have some time to read the copy.

I remember one of my college professors saying in class that all that belongs on a billboard are five words or less.

That’s it.

When I think back on billboards I remember, I quickly remember the “got milk?” boards developed by Goody Silverstein & Partners for the California Milk Processor Board in 1993 and later licensed for use by milk processors and dairy farmers.

My college professor would have given the agency an A+ on that project.

Since then, I would wager to bet more than 1,000 different companies and brands have pirated the idea and used it for their advertising.

One of the first account supervisors I worked with understood outdoor advertising.

Before we could take any outdoor ad layouts to the client, we had to take the layout boards and walk across the room, tape them to the wall and then walk back and see if we could read what was on the design board.

If we couldn’t, the layouts were sent right back to the creatives to re-layout and the copywriters to edit down.

BrandVenture is neither an ad agency nor a design firm. However, we do have to deal with top management teams that will quickly conclude that marketing really does not work…and worse yet, they have to do another agency review to find a shop that “gets it.”

A month ago I wrote about how so many companies are building their cocoons to dwell among others that (God Forbid) rock the boat, challenge the strategy and try to do anything innovative with the brand.

What I write about in this blog-logue is actually an extension of the same desire to tell it all in the nicest, prettiest way.

Shoot. And saying that all that belongs on a billboard are five words or less is like stripping naked and holding up the brand for all the world to see.

My oh my… that’s risky isn’t it?

Psst… spending all those marketing dollars on those nice designed, copy intensive, pretty billboards and tracking their returns may be actually be much more risky than you think!