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  • Writer's pictureDeJuan Wright

90% of Startups Make This Mistake When Marketing Towards Gen Z Consumers

Updated: Mar 6

There is a direct correlation between marketing and building friendships that although seemingly obvious, is often overlooked by those in the marketing profession. And much like building a friendship or personal relationship with someone, far too many marketing professionals often make the blunder of assuming that their brand’s own interests is what matters most when marketing towards their target audience.

Take a moment, and think about how you’d feel if you went to dinner with someone on a first date, and throughout the date, without being coaxed to do so; the person you were on the date with only talked about themselves and the things that they were interested in. If you’re anything like me, you’d probably celebrate the moment the waitress brought the check over to your table.

That scenario is exactly how Gen Z consumers feel when brands market towards them and instead of making their interests the focal point of their marketing efforts, brands only focus on their products or services. If appealing to Gen Z consumers is a priority for your startup, be sure to avoid making this mistake made by 90% of startup brands.

The mistake

When seeking to build either a rapport with consumers or a relationship with someone you wish to befriend, a good rule of thumb is to always remember to put their interests and preferences above your own. Sure, I know that’s much easier said than done from a marketing perspective when you only have a finite amount of time to tell your audience just how cool, innovative, and beneficial your products are.

But I believe the late Dale Carnegie theorized adapting to the interests of others best in his book, How to Win Friends and Influence People, when he wrote, “Personally I am very fond of strawberries and cream, but I have found that for some strange reason, fish prefer worms.”

Carnegie expounds, “So when I went fishing, I didn’t think about what I wanted. I thought about what they wanted. I didn’t bait the hook with strawberries and cream. Rather, I dangled a worm or grasshopper in front of the fish and said: ‘Wouldn’t you like to have that?’”

The mistake made by the vast majority of startups when it comes to aiming to appeal to Gen Z consumers isn’t just talking about themselves all the time, it’s that they do not provide consumers what they desire and are interested in more than just about anything—shareable moments.

Shareable moments are simply moments that are deemed so cool to people, they feel compelled to share them either with others online—or through text with friends and family.

Why are shareable moments so important to Gen Zers?

Whether fishing to secure a personal relationship with someone, or in this case, fishing to land customers, keep in mind that humans are not a monolith. Therefore, not everyone will enjoy the exact same things. And as anomalous as they may be, Gen Zers are no exception to that rule.

Nevertheless, the key to appealing to any particular demographic is to approach your marketing efforts from the purview of majority rule.

So, while every Gen Zer may not place a high priority on experiencing shareable moments, if you’ve left your house in the last five years, I’m sure you’ve probably seen countless Gen Zers taking selfies on various occasions. That’s because selfies are used as a conduit for Gen Zers to attain something they value more than their time, money, and in many cases… even love. And that thing is social capital (aka clout).

But in order to attain the precious social capital they crave, in today’s social media-driven society, a huge part of doing so requires Gen Zers to have shareable moments to post on social media for others to see; which is something that 90% of startups fail to provide when marketing towards the demographic.

How to create a shareable moment through marketing

Have you been to an upscale restaurant lately? If so, did you notice that for some strange reason, some of your fellow diners were using their phones to take pictures and videos of their meals? It was in that instance, you witnessed firsthand—a shareable moment.

Aside from owning an upscale restaurant where the food is so expensive—people couldn't wait to brag to others that they dined there; one of the easiest ways to create a shareable moment is through sticky ideas.

Sticky ideas are ideas that according to brothers Chip and Dan Heath, authors of the best-selling book, Made to Stick, consist of ideas that, “Are understood and remembered, and have a lasting impact—they change your audience’s opinions or behavior.”

While there are six principles of sticky ideas listed in the book, for brevity purposes, we’ll only focus on principle 2—unexpectedness. “How do we get our audience to pay attention to our ideas, and how do we maintain their interest when we need time to get the ideas across? We need to violate people’s expectations. We need to be counterintuitive.” Says the Heath brothers.

Create shareable moments for your audience with your marketing by violating their expectations and being counterintuitive in a way that they’ll feel obligated to tell others.

Invite your audience to attend your crazy events. Conduct social media contests that’ll require them to take and submit weird selfies. Give them random rewards that acknowledge their support for your brand. Orchestrate outlandish situations that will impel them to interact with others over it.

Your objective here is to create such a ruckus amongst your audience, it’ll ignite a moment that they’ll feel required to share with others; which will also result in them receiving that one thing they covet so much—social capital.

Need help coming up with a shareable moment?

Having trouble coming up with a great shareable moment for your audience? Have no fear, Decryption is here. We’d love to help you or your team create and coordinate shareable moments for your Gen Z audience that’ll put your startup in the 10% of those that successfully do so.

Contact us today, we look forward to talking with you about the marketing services that we could provide your startup.


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