Josh Shipp, Advice Slinger, at #ypulse2009 Conference

Here’s a summary of his talk.

1. Teenagers do not give a crap about your brand
They’re not thinking about you, your next product, your next app, your next innovation. You have to make yourself distinguishable and authentic. This gives you the right to be heard. Josh says to his teenage audiences: “if your life sucks, it’s because you suck.”

2. What matters to teens:

  • Dating
  • Parents
  • Friends
  • Identify

3. Be as skeptical as a 15-year old.
What do I buy into? What is corny? Use that mind as a filter. The best products for the teenager were made by older people, but shaped by skeptical 15-year olds. You need to have a skeptical 15-year old on your payroll? If you don’t, you should. Do you have the right to talk to me? What irritates this audience is that they tell you how to make your product better, and you do nothing about it.

4. Be realistic
Try something. You may fail. It’ll suck and it’ll cost you time and money. But you’ll learn and be better.

5. What do teens care about?
They care about your story. They connect, relate and trust a story. They don’t trust companies. They trust stories and individuals. They like the Jonas Brothers, but not Columbia Music. They care about their iPod, but not Apple, Inc. Does your brand have a story? And is it worth re-telling? Does it have a story that I’d put in my Facebook status? Does your product make me look funny, stupid, smarter, more beautiful? Because if it does, your audience will tell your story for you. Your audience will market for you.

6. What if your brand isn’t interesting?
Even if you think your brand isn’t interesting or dynamic, or you believe it isn’t, you can be successful. You need to build a story that people can relate to. You need to see your problems as an opportunity. Your biggest problem may be your greatest asset.

7. When your audience is engaged with you, they are listening
So perhaps they are laughing at you. But they are listening too. What will you say? You should add value to your audience’s lives. If you don’t add value to your audience, you should not exist. Your audience should trust you, and they will if you add value. Help teenagers with their aspirations and dreams.

8. Some knowledge biscuits:

  1. Free stuff rules
  2. My email address is dead. Have a plan for mobile phones.
  3. When all else fails, don’t underestimate the power of girls and free cookies This site includes a free book that you can download.