The VPM Blog

It’s a Young Person’s Game | Part 2 of our Old Dogs Series

Posted by Don Crow on Mar 9, 2011 3:00:35 AM

This week we dive into the mindset of business and non-profit leaders who still balk at the power of social + mobile. Although there are some similarities to last week's look at letting go of fear, this week I'm sharing a couple of experiences where the leader felt they were "too old" to embrace the waves of change already crashing at their doorsteps.

In a recent client meeting, the CEO looked at me as we ended our lunch and said, "Don, this is a young man's game. Tell me again how you've gotten here." We laughed, I swallowed hard and responded, "I'm young at heart and for as much as 'young men' may be connected socially, it is tough finding one who understands how to help organizations like yours profit from integrating social media, streamlined web design and mobile solutions into their overall marketing strategy."

He leaned back and sighed, never taking his eyes off me - I swear if we'd been on camera it would have been that moment in the movie - and said, "I think you're right. My reluctance to get into this game has been because my kids have literally driven me nuts texting all the time and telling me I'm getting left behind." He went on to add that his aforementioned kids lack of purpose other than to tell him, "everyone else is doing it," did not make for a very compelling sales platform to change his overall strategy.

I wonder what his own employees have been telling him?

In another meeting, this time with a non-profit board of directors, two of the board members waved off 75% of my suggestions and responses with a wave of their hand, a roll of the eyes and even a verbal, "that's just for young people!" Now this is an organization who is NOT a client of ours and one in which we had somehow gotten through their RFP process and been 'granted' a board interview. I'll skip ahead and tell you I gracefully bowed out of the process.

Why?

We imagine the future with clients who want to be in the future. We don't do a very good job of convincing entrenched push marketing minded folks they are getting left behind in a world that values peer recommendations, social networks and content the consumer/constituent chooses. We certainly could have helped this organization share their existing fund-raising events in new ways, encourage more sharing amongst their current donor base to attract new donors AND provide valuable and visually interesting content to people who may be using their services later or referring someone else who will.

So two very different meetings, two different outcomes.

The CEO overcame his reluctance to review something new - presumably because we offered solutions in a language he understood and not because we were of a similar age and therefore had built trust offline before I opened my pitch book. The non-profit board is probably harassing someone else now or have simply given up the search for a redesign of their very 1998 website and assistance in stemming the tide of declining participation in events and donations.

Don't let your preconceived notions about the web and social media being only about young people sharing what they ate for lunch, who they hooked up with and what party their attending (which a lot of folks do, young and old - and in a different viewpoint they're alerting their network of where to eat and who to socialize with in real life. Valuable to you?!). Research shows facebook is growing by leaps and bounds in the over 35 years of age segments. Twitter is signing up new users as you read this. SMS/Text'ing continues to mature and grow - and so do the ways in which businesses are testing the applications. Web design is getting a make-over to stay competitive with native mobile apps and smart-phone usage. All of us are tuning out TV, print and direct mail - even email at alarming rates.

Still a young person's game? Or is it a game introduced by younger people which, with a leadership position your organization could learn to embrace?

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