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    September 5, 2008

    Could Catalogs be Gen Y's Direct Mail?

    A few days back I found a story on Marketing Charts that summarized the findings about Gen Y from Deloitte’s “2007 State of the Media Democracy."

    At first glance, not a whole lotta "new-to-me" info, Millennials are using cell phones, they like gaming, etc, but then one line really jumped out at me:

    "Millennials (those now age 18-24) have an affinity for traditional media, such as print publications and television - and almost 6 in 10 (58%) say they use magazines to find out about what’s cool and hip, such as clothes, cars and music....Moreover, almost three-quarters (71%) of Millennials say they enjoy reading print magazines even though they know they could find most of the same information online."

    On some level, this seems intuitive. I still prefer to read a paper book, maybe write down a note or two rather, than reading it online. There is something about being able to flip pages back and forth that scrolling just isn't the same as.

    This I think, could really be revolutionary to this blog's thinking. If all these young people admit to reading magazines, then perhaps all is not lost for paper fundraising? At a minimum, those magazines could be a great place to get young donor's attention. Now that I think about it, I do recall seeing ads for some breast cancer fundraisers in some of those style and fashion magazines I happen to read. But where's everybody else?

    So, if Gen Yers are looking through magazines to find out "what's hip," does this mean nonprofits need to figure out a way to get hip? And a lot of being hip is about looking like you don't care about being hip. Like you are too busy doing your thing to be hip.

    Despite all the cool things we do, I think few nonprofits have found ways to really get in with the Gen Y crowd (a great exception were those Lance Armstrong bracelets-no matter how you or me might feel about them, young people loved em, and they were certainly hip). But then it seemed like everybody and their mother had a different colored bracelet out there, and it wasn't cool anymore.

    So here is a thought-maybe instead of DM we get at them through catalogs. Ones that tell our story more than "sell" our products-a mix of a magazine and catalog (I would call it a magalog but that's something totally different in the publishing world).

    So, say your organization works in Africa. Maybe your really cool catalog has a story about a young woman who spent a semester in Africa, traveling, working, helping people.

    And you happen to mention that your organization helped her get there. And that the cool dress she is sporting in the photo was hand-made by African village-women. And oh, that I can happen to order it on page 5, and the cash will go to these women.

    And on page 6, I can also find out more about how I could go on a similar trip, or how I could go online and listen to a music clip from the most popular music pop artist in Africa, and that clip happens to be on your site, and there is his whole life story, about how he came from a tiny African village ravaged by HIV, and is not an activist, and here is how I can help prevent spread of HIV/AIDS in Africa...

    By the way, here is another interesting tidbit from the study that goes back to my whole thing about Gen Yers' potential to be infectious fundraisers for any organization:

    "when they find a particular television show or website that they enjoy, they tell an average of 18 people, compared with only 10 people for all age groups."

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