Bridging the Gap

28 02 2008

technology_v1.jpgSince I’ve started working part time at Radio Shack, I’ve noticed a few trends. For instance, customers want to feel like I know what I am talking about. It’s actually more important for me to sound like I know what’s going on than for me to actually know and not be able to explain. There’s a lot I could say about that, but that’s not what this post is about. Another thing I’ve noticed is this – It’s not that older customers don’t want to understand how to work new-fangled technology, it’s they’re embarrased they don’t already get it.

The moment I use words like “internet” or “wireless” or “digital” I get the

“HAHA, slow down there. I can’t keep up with that. You might as well be speaking espagnole” (that last part is more appalachia than age)

But there’s more to this situation than Mr. Rodgers not being able to understand that you can actually get to the “land of make-believe” via URL rather than the trolley. Who can blame them for using they’re AARP card as a way out an awkward conversation that they might not be able to keep up with? Honestly, how many times have you given the old head nod and laughed at the appropriate time when someone’s talking over your head? Not to say they have anything to be ashamed of, but it’s a little awkward when someone assumes you’re on their level, and your not.

In a New York Times article, we see this gap between the technologically savvy and those who aren’t is widening. According to them the highest fifth of streaming-media users watch 140 times more video than the lower half. In order for the new media idea to work, these numbers have to change. True, in this situation, time will heel the wound as the older generation passes on, but today we have an opportunity.

Instead of having them come to our web site, or buy our iPhone, or read my blog, why don’t we put these things in their hands? The way we have been presenting these new toys has not been senior-friendly. I suggest instead of teaching old dogs new tricks, we have them do the same tricks but with better rewards. Why not?


Lessons Learned – Part I

25 02 2008

During my time at OU, I’ve actually picked a few things up here and there. In between those pesky classes and long nights studying, I’ve learned a few lessons that I think will stick with me long after I leave Athens. I’m going to try and list those out, as much for me as for anyone reading this.  But for the simple reason that there is no way I can fit, or remember everything that I’ve learned in one post, I’ll call this “Part I”

1 – People do what they want – A simple concept and almost obvious at first. My point here though is that in many cases, regardless of the commitment someone gives you, at the end of the day, they’ll find a reason not to be there if they don’t WANT to be there. This still seems somewhat vague, so I’ll elaborate.

In college, there will ALWAYS be more homework to do. Even after pulling an all-nighter, odds are there is more you can do if you want. Considering the main reason many people go to school is a classroom education, this normally takes priority. For many it becomes their scape goat out of all types of responsibilities though. It seems that if anyone wants out of a commitment, class is a conveniently available excuse. How I see it though, when they took on that position, they said they had the time to not only be able to handle that position’s jobs, but all of their other duties as well. Wusses.

2 – It’s my fault. Seth Godin really hit this on the head with this post. Read it. You’ll realize you didn’t do anything wrong, I did.

I’m going to stop here. I have a broomball game at Midnight I need to warm up for. Awesome.

“Air” heads

1 02 2008

Fall quarter has came and passed and, although I miss all of my good friends at the “Home of Homestyle,” I, along with my car, am thankful to be able to spend my time in Athens, Ohio and not on 33W to Columbus. The new quarter also means no “History of Rock and Roll” Class, which is again a sad statement, but does mean I can attend PRSSA meetings on Monday nights.

This latest meeting we had Jack Buchanan from B&A come and speak at our meeting. I was instantly reminded of why I pay $65 dollars a year to be in PRSSA. Jack brought some very interesting ideas to our meeting and one that really got me thinking.

We started talking about brands (as good little PR students do) and I asked a question about what to do if the actual product I’m bringing to the market isn’t that good. Jack replied “You need to figure out the value of the brand to the people who use it or will potentially use it.”

That sounds like a good answer and I nodded slightly to show that he had thrown me into deep marketing meditation, but it wasn’t until I was on my thinking chair at home that I realized what he was saying. The question isn’t “why do people want this product” it’s really “What does the product do for them?” These seem like the same basic questions at first, but their truly not.

I look at the new Macbook air that came out a few weeks ago and see the disconnect between the two questions.

Why do many people want it? Because it’s a Mac, and Mac has a great reputation for making great computers and delivering them to great customers, graciously. But what does it actually do for them? Other than being able to send it in their inner-office mail, I’d say, not too much. The fact of the matter is there is only one USB port on there and no cd-rom drive so once you throw in all the extra things you’ll need to get it to do what you want, you’ll need more of a suitcase to carry it, than an envelope.

Why does this happen? Well Jack answered that question for me too. When I asked him about the product that wasn’t that great, I would say:

“I probably wouldn’t use it.”

Jack finally replied “Who cares about you? Go to the Market!”

I realized the question isn’t “what would I do?” or “What are we able to do?” It’s “What is useful?” and “How will this make my life easier.

At times it seems like elementary thoughts, but the practice of them seems rare… at least to me.