Question:What's different about marketing to teenagers?

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The answer to this question is excerpted from a article by Wendy Comeau, that you can read in its entirety by clicking here.

Successful teen sites have some key things in common that even the decrepit and hunched-over can learn from.

Here are a few tips on how...

Teen years are almost like dog years with regard to the amount of change and development that can be packed into just 12 months. It goes back to basic marketing: don't segment based on simple demographics - segment based on benefits that customers care about! Every stage offers a huge, receptive market, but you've got to carefully identify who they are and what interests them.

Teens' opinions are very, very strong and they're looking for a chance to do two things: express them, and find others who feel the same way. Teen sites that give them a place to be heard, a place to belong, are more likely to be well received. To do this, you might consider putting up a comment board to let them provide feedback to the site and to each other, or you might post an on line poll: 'Jam it or Can it?' Don't try to force products or ideas down their throats as being the next big thing: just be cool and then let them decide.

In this way, teens don't differ much from the rest of us. Keep your brand image strong in various media beyond the Internet, and teens will respond by coming back for more.

Once you target a specific segment, be sure that your content is relevant to teens' lives. Don't try to start a chat session about dorm life and furnishings if your site is designed around a young teen audience. Know your segment: read their magazines, know which celebrities they love and hate (beware, this changes very rapidly), know what delights and infuriates them, and populate your site with it.

You don't necessarily have to write the copy for your site as if it just rolled off the tongue of an 8th-grader, but you should be aware of what phrases your target audience uses and which ones threaten to be outdated turnoffs. How do you do this? Ask. If you don't have the funds for a formal study, you might consider talking to a dozen or so kids that you, your family or friends know.

Remember how fleeting your tastes were when you were a teenager? Teens are hungry for the latest, the coolest, and the newest. You must update your site frequently or risk being labeled 'SO last week.' This means posting new features, pictures, ads, and offers every day, if possible.

Kids follow the lead of their favorite stars. According to Michael Landau, general merchandise manager at Yahoo! Shopping, "Celebrity fashion is a huge driver of consumer purchasing decisions.." Perhaps you could consider linking to a celebrity gossip column, or making fashion recommendations based on what Mandy Moore was wearing in her latest "Seventeen" spread, or listing celebrity birthdays in your horoscope section.

Don't try to make your product something it isn't. This generation of kids has been cleverly marketed to since birth and is too savvy for deception. On the other hand, don't assume that they are the cynical bunch that the Gen X-ers have been touted to be. Teens don't mind marketing messages in and of themselves, as long as the messages ring true and the products and issues are relevant to their lives.

Read the whole article here.

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