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Let's Talk about #Gen-X Marketing


Gen X-- Lord of the Rings

The general ground rule at McKinsey Development (MKD) as it applies to blogging is “blog when you have something you are passionate about saying.” This is two blogs in two weeks for me. Clearly I have something to say about marketing to diverse audiences. Last week, I commented on Millennial generation outreach, as it applies to brands. This week, I want to talk briefly about Generation X (Gen X). 

Here's what's on my mind as it applies to Gen X marketing: 

Gen X is special.

In today's day and age some will argue that we are all special. But, hear me out. Gen X is legitimately a special market constituency. 

Let's start on background. Gen X is typically defined as the generation born between 1965 and 1979 (with some margin for inclusion). We don't hear a whole lot about Gen X (think: Lord of the Rings), compared to the Millennial (think: Harry Potter generation) and Baby Boomer (think: Gone with the Wind) conversation.

Why? Well, there are a lot of opinions about this. One could argue that it is simply sheer number. The Baby Boomer population weighs in at 77 million and the Millennial population around 83 million. Gen X on the other hand is a constituency of about 65 million. 

While Gex X may be less distinct, the child of the Baby Boomer and the parent of the Millennial is extremely influential. The Gen X'er is the navigator. He or she takes in information, sorts through the fluff and shares findings with parent and child. 

Nothing you do and nothing you say as a brand is going to convince a Gen X'er to trust you enough to make a recommendation to their parent and/or to their child. This generation requires demonstration. This generation also remembers the days before digital marketing and still appreciates traditional outreach. Samples, tours, demonstrations, special events, one-on-one meetings and phone calls, evidence-based publications...Gen X appreciates "tried and true". Your website, social media efforts and digital strategies peak interest and engagement with this group--but they may not tip the boat. You have to let them in, hold that open house, produce the key people behind the brand and demonstrate authenticity.

And when you do earn a Gen X fan, you may earn a fan for life, as this generation is known for having the highest brand loyalty.

Are you considering Gex X in your marketing outreach efforts? If not, why? 

Marketing to Millennials


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It seems there is much ado about Millennials these days in the marketing arena. Rightly so, given that the generation of individuals born between 1980 and 2000 now makes up around 25% of the U.S. population. Business owners and marketing leaders must shift our mindset when it comes to communicating with this influential market segment. In fact, let's remove the word "marketing" from our vocabulary altogether when it comes to Millennials. Millennials don't like "marketing". They (and I should say we) pick out and discard push messaging at lightning speed, moving through multiple browsers simultaneously while silencing ads and invasive messaging. It's difficult to get our attention and even more difficult to keep it.

So what's a brand to do when it comes to Millennials? Here are some ideas:

1.) Stand for something. In a world where everyone has awesome friends, fabulous vacations and the perfect #ThrowBackThursday picture each week (according to my Facebook feed at least), the Millennial generation is craving authenticity. In fact, take a look at the reaction a Millennial receives from the social media sphere when he or she admits their day isn't going too well or they've experienced some form of personal loss. Their tribe rallies and steps in with social support in the form of likes, shares, messages, stickers and eCards. Millennials are sensitive to the world around them and want to contribute to the greater good. We're used to documenting our lives and we trust brands who do the same. Have you seen the new Under Armour commercial with Misty Copeland? Prime example of a brand stepping up, telling a story of perceived injustice and celebrating the perseverer. We'll even pay more for a product we believe in. Tom's is a great example. $60 slip-on shoes? Sure! One for me and one for a child who needs a pair. What causes does your brand support? What values does your brand hold dear? Are you talking to your millennial audience about your brand mission as it relates to social responsibility and the greater good?

2.) Don't tell us what to do. Don't tell a millennial what to buy or where to buy it. "I'd never do that," you say? If your primary messages and brand communication strategy revolves around sales, promotions and bullet point lists of why someone should buy from are doing that. Millennials want to discover things on their own time at their own pace. We like doing our own research and being the first to tell our tribe we've discovered a great restaurant, winery, clothing line or experience. We like to be asked for our opinions and input, and we love it when you listen! Ask a Millennial to help you craft your next ad, commercial or engagement strategy. They'll not only want to contribute, they'll want to share the end result.

3.) You come to us. The Mad Men era advertising trifecta of TV, radio and print is no longer relevent when it comes to capturing Millennial interest and enthusiasm. We're streaming Pandora while strategizing our next play on Micromon or Minecraft, pausing only to keep up with our text messages, chats and news feeds. We are the ultimate multitaskers and if you want to communicate with us, you have to be where we are. 

Take a good look at your brand outreach plan. Do you have a specific strategy for reaching and engaging with the fastest and most influencial group of our consumer population? If you don't, why not?

Is ‘Proper’ English Obsolete?


Some argue that the average reader is completely indifferent toward grammatical accuracy. An opportunity to contribute to a virtual conversation, some observe, can cause a linguistically deranged frenzy that knows no bounds. Recently, while idly scrolling through my Instagram feed, it was hard to ignore the total and complete grammatical anarchy on some of those longer threads. It occurred to me that the art of conversation has inarguably gone from a physical experience to a virtual one; it’s only natural that the formality of writing has entered a new phase. So the question becomes: are the once widely accepted rules of ‘proper’ English a thing of the past?

There are conversations being had amongst those hip scholars on TED that report that the casual written speech of texting, blogging, tweeting, et cetera, is a  “miraculous...energetic…emerging complexity.” Texting, linguist John McWhorter argues further, it is not writing at all. It’s…talking!

While “sharing ideas at the speed of talking” has become the new norm, and no doubt has had a critical impact on the way news spreads in modern society, writing still ought to remain a conscious process. From a marketing standpoint, writing well is intimately linked with reaching target audiences well. When we lose this consciousness, it can mean the difference between Rachel Ray finding inspiration in cooking, her family, and her dog and cooking her family and her dog. It is the difference between inviting our grandfather to sit down and graze at a family meal (“Let’s eat, Grandpa!”) and serving him up as the main course (“Let’s eat Grandpa!”).

Has proper grammar joined the lost arts of handwritten letters and cursive handwriting, or will it become the ultimate differentiator between "good" and "great" marketing?

Bringing Your Inner Child to Work May Be Invaluable

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I remember sitting in a tent made of bearskin (well actually, under the shade of a curiously aromatic old sheet) on a boiling summer evening. Ignoring the heat, or perhaps relishing it, my hunting partner (my 10-year-old playmate) and I tore into the carcass of a deer we had just taken down (a piece of London broil her mother had given us as a snack) with remarkable expertise. The blood (ketchup) stained our hands as we proudly licked our fingers.

I’m all grown up now, and yet here I sit, gazing back in the other direction. Sometimes I wonder what happened to the formidable creative streak that was as much a part of me as my sweat or my heartbeat. As we age, advance in our careers, and take on a great number of responsibilities, we forget one very important thing: how to play. In the world of psychology, it’s widely accepted that children possess a purity and energy that unlock the creative process. We are now in an age of some of the most innovative companies the world has ever seen, and these companies are changing the culture of business by embracing this very notion—that the kids have it right.

Think of it this way: a child’s mind easily conceives of a thousand ways to fill the hours of a sluggish afternoon, so couldn’t an adult whose joy and spontaneity has been nurtured conceive of a number of productive ways to launch a company into infamy? Google knows it! The company’s whole philosophy stems from the fact that stressful and uninspiring work environments don’t produce collaborative innovation.

As a result, Google’s employees are happy, productive, and enthusiastically contribute to the success of the company. In businesses across the world, let us not only embrace our inner-child, but invite her to come to work with us.

MKD Breaks Down Instagram for Business in 60 Seconds or Less


When utilized correctly, social media has proven to be a powerful marketing tool for connecting businesses with their target audiences. But now, with the (over) abundance of social media platforms available to businesses and consumers alike, it's important to be able to decide which ones are worth your time.

Instagram, an online mobile networking service based on photo and video shares, is one such trend that has amassed a tremendous following. However, is it right for YOUR business? We'll let you decide that. Our goal with this savvy infographic is to give you a quick summary of what Instagram could do for your business in 60 seconds or less.

Why Print Media Is Still Relevant In The Digital Age


Over the last 10 years print media has lost ground in the digital media boom, facing competition from smart phones, iPad, internet, social media and many other digital media. The recent annoucement of four large daily newspapers, including the New Orleans Times-Picayune, cutting back to less-than-daily frequency while boosting digital efforts, is yet another of many examples.

Although print has declined, there is still a need for print in marketing and advertising. cmyk Print media is tangible, portable and moldable, it can be carried with a person without the need of technology. A person can feel the texture of the paper, turn the pages of a magazine, see the brilliant colors shine on the page of a high-gloss photography book. Paper can be any size, shape or color, it can enhance an idea and become a work of art. In advertising print can become larger than life in the form of billboards that can drive traffic to a website or inform you of discounts at the closest hotel. It can be the smallest printed teaser card to generate buzz of a new restaurant opening. A print piece can engage a person, interact with a person in ways the web cannot. Print has the diversity of being able to stand alone or work with other media to create dynamic and effective multimedia marketing campaigns.

The use of QR codes can drive traffic to websites in a quick and effective way. Statistics show that campaigns that combine printed direct mail pieces with internet advertising yield up to a 25% higher response rate than using internet alone, according to the Direct Marketing Association. typeface Print has a credibility that the internet is lacking. There is an ease with print that you don’t get with onscreen text, a sense of being more trustworthy. In fact many studies have shown that print is still considered more credible than online material. This is because print is more permanent, it has to stand up over time, while the web is fluid, it changes, information can be rewritten very easily or even deleted.

So while many may think print is a thing of the past, there are many practical uses for print media in today’s digital world. Print has been around for thousands of years in one form or another and print will continue to be an important part of society for years to come.

Summer Interns Take Over Times Square



Alyssa Gorman and Janai Rau, two Fauquier County natives who were hand-picked from a competitive pool of applicants, have started eight-week internships at our MKD headquarters in Warrenton, Virginia. Both interns have taken up residence in “Times Square” at our office.

Alyssa GormanGorman, a rising senior at George Mason University, is a Warrenton native with a passion for television production. She is currently working towards a degree in film and video studies with a concentration in business. Gorman, who worked on the set of the locally produced “Be Better at Business TV” series, will utilize her collegiate and field experience to assist several McKinsey Development productions this summer.

Janai Rau

Rau is also a Fauquier County native. Studying at Virginia Tech, Rau is working towards a degree in graphic design. Enthusiastic about digital design, Rau would like to channel her skills through advertising. 

We received a record number of summer internship applications this year. Gorman and Rau were selected based on an overarching standard demanding an enthusiasm for learning, willingness to be challenged and collegiate track record of success. Offering a full workload of dynamic projects, our two interns will have the opportunity to work side-by-side with firm leadership on specifically assigned account projects.

Our internship program seeks to demonstrate to its interns, through immersion, the significance of all aspects of integrated marketing communications—and the importance of these aspects working together effectively.

Our firm's CEO and founder, Crystal McKinsey, is a firm believer in the formative power of internships. “Initiative is the number one quality I look for in any applicant,” shared McKinsey. “You can teach strategy, best practices and integration…you can’t teach initiative. Gorman and Rau were standouts during the selection process and our team is looking forward to both teaching and learning from these talented young professionals."

Amazon + Twitter join forces, but how does this affect you?


News is spreading fast about the new partnership between e-commerce champion Amazon and social media guru Twitter. This month, Amazon launched the new “#Amazoncart” concept, which enables you to sync your Twitter and Amazon accounts. You can add products found on Twitter to your Amazon shopping cart without having to switch between apps.

Here is how the new partnership works: When you see a product you like via Twitter feed you can hit reply and respond with “#Amazoncart,” and, instantaneously, that product will automatically save to your Amazon cart.

How does this affect you and your business? You will now have to consider marketing your product to Twitter as a new e –commerce site. Twitter is no longer a pure social site, it is now an economic business that will develop new pressures to buy products. You will have your friends tweeting you products that you should add to your cart, or ideas for gifts.

How will you start market Tweeting your products? Should you market Tweet? Can you service Tweet? If you’re a service based company are there creative ways to Tweet coupons for your companies services industry? Either way you feel about the new partnership, it is going to affect your business and ultimately affect you personally as well.

The question is how should you approach this new e-commerce platform and is product tweeting right for you.

LinkedIn Throws Company Pages a Curveball

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Just in time for baseball season LinkedIn throws users another curveball. On April 14, 2014 the Products & Services page was removed from all LinkedIn Company Pages. Early this year, LinkedIn brought in a new lineup with ten major changes ranging from their new MVP player the Showcase pages to the elimination of personal updates, all creating a stir in the online community.

What to expect with the new changes:

  • The new Showcase page allows you to expand your company information across many LinkedIn users narrowing in on specific brand awareness.

  • Company Updates lets you have long-term relationship building with your followers, giving you the chance to share per conversation what your company has to offer.

  • The real-time nature of updates is perfect for sharing news about company offers, making content feel relevant and timely.  

The digital game is changing all the time, and like many season ticket holders, not everyone will be happy about it, however the season goes on, and each company will learn new ways to market themselves. The question we must all ask is, “Are you ready to play ball?” 

New Twitter Recipe for Success

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The new Twitter profile design, which was initially offered to only a select few users, is now available to everyone with just the click of a button.

Here are the four things you need to know:

Huge cover photos. The new size for the Twitter header image, 1500 by 500 pixels, offers immediate visual connection to your brand.  Think of your new cover image as your business or brands personal billboard. Use this space to tell your brand’s story!

Pinned Tweets. Pin a Tweet of your choice, making it the first Tweet a user will see when landing on your profile. To pin a Tweet, click on the ··· icon below the tweet. You’ll see “pin to your profile page.” The pinned tweet will stay at the top of your page until you pin a new one or unpin it (via the ··· icon).       

Capture the essence of your brand or business with these kinds of Tweets:

  • An upcoming event.

  • A big announcement.

  • A tweet that drives emotion.

  • A tweet that summarizes your brand/mission.

Most Tweetable. Tweets that have received the most engagement (retweets, responses or favorites) will appear slightly larger, so your best content is easy to find.

Filtered Tweets. Now you can choose which timeline to view when checking out other profiles. You are able to select from these options: Tweets, Tweets with photos/videos or Tweets with replies.

Those are the four things you need to know about the latest update to Twitter in a nutshell. Your new Tweet recipe is: 1) Tweet engaging content 2) Include call-to-action 3) Pin those Tweets to the top of your profile.

What do you think of the new Twitter profile design? Tweet us and let us know! @McKinseyIMC

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