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Reaching Youth in an Over-Saturated Market (Series & Portfolio Piece)

Hey readers, welcome to my first blog series for my freelancing gig, HopeLincolnCreates. This is my soap box to brag about a cool project a did for work (my day job), but beyond that, WHY I did this little project and what I realized other business/marketing professionals are missing that might help you cross the great divide between your business and today’s youth. If you want to skip over my project and cut to the chase, I suggest you skip to reading the later posts in this series (coming Spring 2019!): What’s the Problem with These Damn Kids? and Don’t Cry a River - Build a Bridge.


As someone born in 1990, I’m a “millennial” who grew up right in between Generation X and Generation Z (can someone tell me why they skipped Y?). I’m no marketing guru, but having worked for a senior service for 7 years, mentored a middle-to-high-school youth group for 6 years, and now with all ages at a public university, I’ve got a decent grasp on why the ‘older’ generations feel so disconnected from the ‘youth’, and vice versa. So, if you don’t understand why those pesky kids are ruining your profits (and capitalism itself!) because they don’t understand your services, I’m here to give you some insight.


Note: Pretty much all of this is based on my observation and intuition. I’m not going to back up my findings with a ton of research. Take from it what you please, and spit out the rest for all I care!


 

The Problem which Started the Project

My day job is a clerical position at Purdue University, one of the best public universities, like, ever (Boiler Up!). But sometimes, I’ll tell ya, these people are a little behind on the times. My department oversees all the extracurricular and academic programs offered by our college, so my role is basically to help my bosses bring special programs to life and keep them running (e.g. order food like every other day). Fortunately, my bosses are very cool and trust me to take certain projects and just run with them, like this one I’m talking about here.


My college has a special exam for high school students to enroll in a self-study online program, take an exam here on campus a few months later, and if they pass, they get credit for one of a few classes they can choose from. Here’s the problem - most of the communication to advertise the program to the students is being relayed through email to their teachers, who then relay the information to the students. The effects? Students didn’t realize that this online course has nothing to do with their high school curriculum (like I said, it’s a self-study program), and despite the amazing value of this course (they would save hundreds of dollars), kids would register, pay the small exam fee, take the test, and fail miserably.


Now, it’s important to recognize that no one at Purdue was doing anything wrong to result in these negative effects. But the method for advertising this program hadn’t changed in years and was just a year or two from being shut down altogether due to poor registration turnout and the number of students failing the exam. Simply, the times are changing, and as times change, so should we. So, as my boss seemed bereft of ideas to help keep this program running, I realized where my talents might come in handy.


 

My Solution

Little ol’ Secretary Me took it upon herself to create a video to not only advertise the credit-by-exam program, but also educate students on its value and help them understand the importance of actually studying if they want to earn course credit. I’m a big fan of videos because: 1) Most young people don’t like to read if there are more than, say, 50 words unless it’s hilarious, relevant, captivating, or a text from their boyfriend/girlfriend. 2) You can relay, like, 10 times the amount of info in a video with text, voiceover, and music. 3) Video is the (a big portion of) the future - other mediums will always exist, but these days, video is the most convenient way to download information into our brains. I’m not saying it’s the solution to all your problems - it’s not! - but it’s a billion times better than sending a 1000-word email to an overworked teacher to advertise to students who already barely listen to him anyways.



With all that said, the video above was my solution to our problem, created in about 20 hours using Adobe After Effects (20 hours seems like a lot, until you consider how long it takes to overview the program, break it down into consumable chunks, write a voiceover script, choose which words will make it to the big screen, record and edit the voiceover, find pictures, music, and animation presets, input all the text, customize all the animations, and fine tune it to death). I will say, my boss’s boss was thrilled. His actual words were:

WOW! KA-WOW! KA-PA-WOW! Frankly speaking, I am genuinely impressed!! Actually, this could be “only the beginning”...

Now, I'd only consider myself a video novice, and we’ll still have to wait and see if this video truly does prepare/inform this next batch of students taking the exams (coming Spring 2019), but I’m HOPEful (get it? Hope is my name), and my boss is too. Now, if you’re ready to learn a little more about WHY young people are hard to reach and WHAT to do to make it easier, stay tuned for my upcoming blog posts related to this series: What’s the Problem with These Damn Kids? and Don’t Cry a River - Build a Bridge. Until then, stay classy.

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