Learning a Thing or Two From Generation Z

Serial entrepreneur, international speaker, and soon-to-be published author, Andrew Rosenstein, popped into my office yesterday to show me the outline of his work in progress, “Understanding the Drive of a Rising Generation.” You probably have never heard of Andrew, but something tells me that might change in the not-too-distant future. 

I’ve known Andrew since he was a pre-school prankster wreaking havoc on playdates, and before I blinked, there he was, all grown up. Andrew (now 17) is emerging as a thought leader for Generation Z, the just-being-defined generation that follows the Millennials – the cohort that’s coming of age right now.

We didn’t have time to delve deep. I was between meetings with our marketing team, and Andrew had a conference call with his editor. “So Andrew, as a marketer, what’s the one thing I need to know about Gen Z?”

Andrew didn’t hesitate, “The BS filter is on!” He elaborated, “You know how your daughters are way into Snapchat and not into Facebook or Instagram?  It’s because you can’t edit Snaps. Snapchat is real. It’s fast. No BS. It’s Authentic.” AHA! It’s Authentic! I get it!

He went on to explain what was happening under my roof and right before my eyes, but I was never able to wrap my head around. Marketing and media messages are coming in fast and furious, and my teenage daughters’ schedules are jammed packed with school, work, social and recreational commitments. Rarely are they sitting around taking in long form communications and when they do, one hand is on the remote fast forwarding through the commercials and the other is on the phone skipping through the unwanted garbage. You want to get their attention?  Your point better be concise, compelling, and above all, AUTHENTIC. It all made a little more sense.  (I stop short of saying complete sense because, after all, we’re talking about teenagers.)

So what do snapchat and teenagers have to do with marketing bequests and gift annuities for non-profits? Actually, a lot more than meets the eye.  While Gen Z is an extreme example of how the immediacy of communication directly affects the urgency to process it and move on has put their BS meters on high alert. This is the same technology and steady onslaught of marketing messages that is affecting older generations, albeit at a somewhat slower pace. Grandma and grandpa may not be Snapping between bites at dinner, but they are consuming and digesting marketing and media at a much faster rate than ever before. 

What if you want to get the attention of your best planned giving prospects, in between all these other messages? I’m not suggesting we start Snapchatting with them, but we can learn from Gen Z how to package and present the message to incorporate it into our own marketing communications: Be concise. Be compelling. Be authentic. The BS filter is on!

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