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I recently got back from the Kid Power conference in Orlando where I chaired two tracks: the "TV, Internet, Mobile & Beyond" track and "Promotions" track, respectively....

I've got to tell you, this conference was an eye-opener for lots of people.
Social networks. . . and IMing on cell phones vs. talking part of the time? Internet as the primary source of news and info, over TV? Emailing? Viral marketers actively being recruited among college students to endorse products and services to their peers on campuses? Apparently, this is a brave new world, that is, we're boldly going where no man has gone before.
In opening remarks to the marketing execs in the crowd, I wanted to share my firm's insights about kids and their preferred new platforms. Bottom line: kids are buzzing. Big time. About everything: the perceived good, bad and ugly; the world as they see it. They're buzzing about what's cool. They're buzzing on the Internet, cell phones (IM'ng now preferable to just talking), and in social networks.
In fact, these are their favorite platforms to receive and send communications in their interactions with other kids. Including their endorsements of hot new products and services.
Viral marketing is so hot in kids' demographic groups, that marketers want to know: how can we get them to buzz about us? And our great new kids' products? Simple answer: we've got to use their favorite platforms to reach them. The Internet, cell phones, social networks are all points of experimentation with marketers. Caveat: this has to be done in a sensitive, straight-forward and truthful manner.
Kids interact with products and services when they perceive them to be cool and true. . .fakes can be spotted in a nano-second. Teens and tweens look to the endorsement of trend-setting kids within their communities. The ensuing buzz that generates is key to the acceptance/success for any product or service being marketed to kids.
The challenge for marketing: how to get into kids' space and get mind share without being overly invasive in that space, and how to be perceived as cool (translation: deliver value). When a large group of teens were polled in a recent Yahoo-Carat study, their top brand requirements came to light. Worth the money. Value for the money. High quality. Keep the brand promises. Make appropriate products for teens. Make products that are easy to use. Know what teens like and listen to them to develop products they want to buy and use. Always exceed teens' expectations. Friendly. Fun. Innovative.
The upshot of this research: kids' criteria aren't much different than ours, as adults, when it comes to choosing and buzzing about preferred brands!

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Ted Mininni is president of Design Force, Inc. (, a leading brand-design consultancy to consumer product companies (phone: 856-810-2277). Ted is also a regular contributor to the MarketingProfs blog, the Daily Fix.