I was inspired by an article in Fast Company magazine months ago. Sarah Nagle, of Smart Design, made some suggestions for those who are designing products for the “Lady Gaga” generation. I have tweaked those thoughts and added some of my own to provide a short list for you who build programs for students. In case you’d like to step into the brain of that young person you wish to reach, here are some statements that help you understand them and their culture:
1. Everyone is awesome.
Lady Gaga has built her entertainment empire off of the notion that she and all her “alternative” Millennial fans are awesome and they know it. Even if this notion makes you want to gag—ask yourself: how can I maximize this perspective with the students I lead or the young people I am trying to reach? Why not capitalize on their confidence and their presumption that they can accomplish something outstanding.
2. Change is compulsory.
Let’s face it—few young people today want to stick with anything very long. They are in a constant state of transition. Most don’t keep jobs long, or stay in dating relationships long. So…how can you create programs or products that evolve or change every few months? Is it possible for you to coach them into long-term commitments by challenging them with short-term ones along the way?
3. Sharing is second nature.
Passing along a photo, an idea or a humorous tweet is only the beginning of how Generation iY thinks. Sharing is intuitive for them because they grew up in the age of “free” where so much content is given away electronically and at no charge. How can we respond to this predisposition? If you have a message or an idea you want to go viral, why not insure that it adds value…and watch them do the marketing?
4. Emotions rule.
This is true, whether we like it or not. The ideas, messages, videos and products that get traction are ones that involve young people emotionally. It isn’t about logic; it’s about the heart. This doesn’t mean your idea cannot be rational. It simply means that emotions rule when it comes to the things that capture their imagination. What do you do (i.e. offer) that can touch them at an emotional level?
5. Creativity is worshipped.
You must have your head in the sand if you didn’t spot this one already. Everyone wants to be the first, the innovative one when it comes to new fashion, new ideas or new trends. No one wants to say “me too”…they want to say “me first.” When you plan events or programs, are you original? Do you have some out-of-the-box ideas that no one has done before and can create a “buzz” among your students?
I think you’d agree—Lady Gaga practices these concepts above very well. And, she has quite a following.