Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Never Trust Anyone Under 30

As many of you may have read, the Wall Street Journal (via twenty-something author Jessica Vascellaro) recently published an article about how email's reign is over entitled "Why Email No Longer Rules". The article quoted a computer history museum curator, an executive at AOL (who oversees Bebo and AIM), and a guy at SharePoint as proof points. Apparently, journalists at the WSJ are not required to consider balance (not one ISP or ESP is quoted) or research (not one email marketer is quoted.) It's a journalism standard that even we bloggers can understand.

While we can sit here and argue about the merits of the article, it does point out one jarring fact - our culture's fascination with youth (and what the kids are up to) is really beginning to impact the choices we make for our marketing channels. And that's a bad thing.

Here's the solution. Never trust anyone under 30 with your marketing spend. Don't do it. It's bad for you. Like in crossing the streams bad.

The reason is simple - youth goes hand in hand with passion. You're supposed to be passionate about things when you're in your 20's. But while that passion can be used to invent wonderful things by taking highly risky bets, that same "risky bets" persona can kill your marketing effort. Your job as a (direct) marketer is to be dispassionate about media channels. To not get caught up in the hype and instead focus on the results. The problem is, it's hard to be dispassionate, especially when the WSJ is braying like a donkey about the death of one of your beloved channels.

As you get closer to (and past) 30, chances are you've been kicked around a little by life. You have to eat the consequences of your actions. You learn that the risky/passionate play is not always the best move to make. You learn that Newton's Third Law is real. It's at THAT point you're ready to be trusted with making decisions.

Your 20-something staffers all think they can run your team. They just won't say so right to your face. Your job is to give them something they're passionate about and let them run. Hopefully, they'll fail at it. It's good for them.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for this. I was googling the phrase "never trust anyone under 30" after working with a group of boomers who are thinking the solution to our leadership decision-making conflicts is to put more 20 somethings in C-suite meetings and let them decide our strategy. Huh?? Two problems with that I think your post covers: fatal risks of failure for flying without a net for the 20 somethings (shall we call that the Icarus result?) and failure for the organization when we can't separate where to tap into passion, creativity, knowledge gathering and boundless energy from our own 60s/70s mantra that we ourselves can no longer be trusted with new ideas since we are over 30. I'm now a subscriber to your blog.