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4 Critical Marketing Lessons from 600 High School Sophomores

A few weeks ago, I participated in Career Day at my daughter’s high school. The sophomores I talked to mostly cared about the lollipops I was handing out. I didn’t talk to all 600 of them, but the students I did talk to inadvertently reminded me about four critical marketing lessons.

If you’re anything like me, sometimes you forget how much you know about what you do – and you also forget that not everyone knows that stuff – and maybe you also forget what it’s like to be in high school.

Here’s what they reminded me about.

4 critical marketing lessons

Tailor your message to the audience

Who are you talking to? What do they care most about? What are their biggest challenges? What do you do to solve them?

A small percentage of 15- and 16-year olds are thinking about their careers. Most are not.

When I was in 10th grade, I thought about three things: getting good grades, hanging out with my friends and BOYS. If you had talked to me about marketing, my eyes would have glazed over.

But if you had talked to me about a fun, creative career with endless possibilities and GREAT salary potential, you would have gotten some of my attention.

Share concrete examples of abstract ideas

Sometimes, trying to explain what you do is hard. If you’re an airline pilot, home builder, ER nurse, bartender or dog walker – no problem.

Marketing is all about building relationships so people will buy your stuff. That’s abstract. I wasn’t fully prepared to explain it to high schoolers who don’t know anything about business.

Yes, I had a #marketingfail.

Run your message by a few people

I like to practice presentations, pitches and elevator speeches with people who know me, know what I do and can provide feedback. It’s like holding a mini-focus group. The feedback can be invaluable.

I have two kids – a 12-year old and a 16-year old – who I could have run my messages by. They kinda-sorta know what I do. I also had a list of questions kids could possibly ask me during Career Day.

But I didn’t practice. Another #marketingfail for me.

Be interactive

Think about the best presentation you’ve attended. I bet there was at least one interactive element, like asking questions of the audience.

Now think about the most boring, which probably involved being talked AT by someone who had the charisma of a corpse. No one likes to be lectured, and god knows that high schoolers get enough of that in the classroom.

That’s why I created a marketing trivia game for them to play. It was super fun and it got them engaged and excited.

By the time you read this, I will have just given a presentation at a big conference in Toronto. You can bet your bottom dollar that I will follow all of these critical marketing lessons.

Photo by Pixabay from Pexels

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