My twenty-three year old daughter was home for the holidays. Hard as it is to believe, my “baby” is now a college graduate. Of course the start of a new decade left me thinking about the technological changes that have occurred over the span of a decade – and how they’ve impacted her life and my business.
Alyssa was raised with a computer. She used to come with me to my computer school and help teach the children’s classes. We were the first house on the block to have Internet access and Alyssa took advantage of my expertise when it came to mastering Word, Excel and Power Point.
My two daughters are only four years apart in age, yet I saw a tremendous difference between their generations. When Andrea departed for college at the start of the millennium it took a mini-van filled to overflowing to carry her “necessities.” Her possessions included a stereo, television, desktop computer, digital camera, photo albums and a huge box of cables including one for the dorm’s Ethernet connection. Alyssa arrived on campus four years later carrying only an IPod, I-phone, Mac book and a couple of power cords.
Alyssa is a card-carrying member of the 70 million strong “Generation Y.” Although they travel light they have access to a never-ending source of media which they expect to access immediately, anytime, anywhere.
ACT 2010 now includes links to various social networking sites including Facebook and LinkedIn. I was surprised to learn that many of my clients weren’t as excited about this new development as I was. “Don’t use Linked In,” huffed one person. “Facebook is for kids,” snapped another. These folks obviously assume that the people they encounter in the business world think the same way they do. Unfortunately, they don’t.
I’ve identified ten areas of communication that have changed over the course of the last ten years, at least if you’re a member of Generation Y. And, like it or not, if they want your business to survive you’ll have to adjust to those changes.
1. Land lines: For Generation Y, land lines are a thing of the past. If they do talk on the phone they do it via a cell phone which has become a permanent appendage. More than 23% of homes currently lack land lines – and the number is going up all the time.
2. Newspaper Classifieds: I’m a firm believer that if radio killed the video star then Craig’s List surely killed the newspapers and put most forms of print media in jeopardy of extinction. Morning papers and TV news have been replaced by online media sources.
3. Dial Up Connections: Your first Internet connection was probably a dial-up. Today’s generation wants instant gratification and finds it at home, on their phone and even at the local McDonalds. And your site had better have the bandwidth and design to enable quick page viewing!
4. Books: I’m an author so this one really pains me. Books are expense to produce – and purchase. They take space to store. Gen Y does their research over the Internet and downloads their reading material to their Kindle. Students can even download textbooks at sites like Coursesmart.com.
5. CD’s: Whoosh. Now you see them, now you don’t. Faster than you can say “download” the CD has been replaced by YouTube, ITunes and a variety of other sites that allow media downloads.
6. Film cameras and prints: Even if you could buy one, you’d have a hard time finding a place to process your film. Gen Y has thousands of pictures residing on their cell phones, computers and Face Book pages. And can access millions more on the Internet. A single image is no longer enough to speak a thousand words.
7. Yellow pages: Ironically, the only people using the Yellow Pages these days are aging Baby Boomers who probably lack the eyesight to read them anyway.
8. Faxing: If they don’t have land lines, why in the world would a Generation Y’er have a fax line?
9. E-mail: If you think you’re reaching your target audience via e-mail alone, think again. Generation Y is so mobile that even e-mail can’t keep pace with them. they’re using Face Book and Twitter to communicate.
10. Cell Phones: Buh-bye cell, hello smart – at least when it comes to phones. Gen Y doesn’t have to sit at a desk or be tied to a computer to access information; they carry a wealth of information in the palm of their hands.
Of course, you don’t have to reach out to Generation Y. You could market only to people who think – and communicate - the way you do. Unfortunately, that idea makes the somewhat flawed assumption that those people will still be around at the end of the next decade!