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Teens frequently change their styles, language and interests. What might have been cool when you were a teen is probably completely dorky today.

Even though keeping pace with new teen toys costs a lot, teens do not always have enough available cash. Hang around to see how your Web site can be fly with this tough-to-please age group, or scroll to the end to solve our current marketing challenge about writing compelling Web copy.

Past Challenge

Previously, Shelby asked our readers about reaching the elusive species—the teenager:

How to reach teens via the Web

We're working on plans to launch a Web site targeted to teens. Sounds cool, eh? We gotta get down with the program and figure out how to reach them—because like a nonprofit organization, they have a limited budget. What are the most effective ways to launch a Web site for teens while considering they have little spending money?

—Shelby, marketing assistant

Readers provide Shelby with three things to consider when preparing to launch a Web site targeting teens who most likely have only a little moolah.

1. Go viral!

If you can count on one thing, it would be teens' spreading the news in a heartbeat. Everyone finds out Joe likes Jane before Jane does.

Ron Edwards says two factors play a role in viral marketing: It's gotta be cool and it's gotta be worth forwarding to friends. "Teens are obsessed with coolness and are forwarding-crazy," he says. Let them do the marketing for you.

Experts find that teens like interactive Web sites—they enjoy engaging in things like interactive quizzes, games, chat and forums. Of course, having an edgy look and feel helps. Edwards says, "Use a web designer to create something cool and edgy with viral potential. Maybe an interactive quiz with a tie-in to your site, an off-the-wall subsection of your site, or let the teens post messages to their friends on your site. Whatever your idea is, just make sure it has a wacky, crazy edge to it."

Teens love community and connecting to each other. Providing that will attract them and they will ask friends to join them. There goes the buzzing!

2. Return to marketing basics

Make sure that you have a goal or a purpose for your Web site. Find out from your target market what they like and what would interest them. To simply assume what they like... spells disaster. Parents, who are constantly trying to figure out their teens, understand that guessing doesn't work.

Eugene Tan of CSA points out that teens typically have short attention spans and are drawn to new things: "Depending on the objectives of the Web site, concentrate on advice, how to, and 'what happens' types of answers to questions that teens ask. Also, frequently update the Web site with new happenings, fads and 'what's hot' types of information."

Be sure to research your target market thoroughly to see what attracts and repels them before you take any steps to design your Web site or develop your messaging for them.

3. Understand teens' buying habits

Josh Spoores, marketing manager with Majestic Steel USA, says that today's teens often get what they want. How many teens have you seen with a cell phone, iPod, pricey clothes and shoes or some other "ain't cheap" things? Current research on your target audience should show how they spend money, how much they spend and where they spend it.

"This is a market that readily spends money—whether its theirs or their parents'. Taking that into thought, go for the big launch with lots of perceived value. If you're going to convince them to give you money, your launch has to be reflective of their potential spending. Make it big, MTV-style excitement and above all talk to them as the consumer," says Spoores.

It's a Wrap

Four common themes for building Web sites targeted to teens have popped up from our readers: Be sure your site is cool, edgy, frequently updated and community-based. Include your audience, and you should be cool with them.

With the mystery of selling to teens solved, let's check out our next case.

Can You Solve This Challenge?

How to ensure "Content Is King" in Web copy

I know writing for the Web is not the same as writing for print. I've used search engines and have researched what makes compelling online copy. The advice is scattered. What are the top secrets to creating grand content?

—Zach, product manager

Have a problem with someone who thinks she's queen of marketing? You have 200,000 MarketingProfs knights ready to come to your rescue. Share a marketing challenge and receive a complimentary copy of our book, A Marketer's Guide to e-Newsletter Publishing. Checkmate!

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Hank Stroll (Hank@InternetVIZ.com) is publisher at InternetVIZ, a custom publisher of 24 B2B e-newsletters reaching 490,000 business executives.