Will the Internet of Things Make Us Dumb?

As CES wrapped in early January, all things shiny, cool and tech were on the top of many people’s minds, from the consumers who want to buy them, to the journalists who write about them, and to the marketers who must, simply put, market them.

Brace yourself, more useless smart devices are comingAs CES wrapped in early January, all things shiny, cool and tech were on the top of many people’s minds, from the consumers who want to buy them, to the journalists who write about them, and to the marketers who must, simply put, market them.

Even my publisher stopped by my desk to get my opinion on the Picobrew, given my experience as a homebrewer. While I still need to do more reading, I’ve had a tough time finding an explanation for how the device actually works and if it brews well, but I did find an article likening it to the Keurig of beer, and well, gross.

Picobrew aside (I swear Drew, I’ll wrap up my research and get you a formal opinion by Spring at the latest), Smart Devices and the Internet of Things (IoT) have been on my mind ever since seeing the following tweet from Sally Ekus, a cookbook-focused literary agent who I follow:

I like tech. I love to cook. And I’m a millenial, so I clicked on Sally’s link and dove into Allrecipe’s “Measuring Cup Trend Report,” (opens as a PDF) featuring information from its 2016 Smart Kitchen Survey.

Some of the report was pretty interesting, but a fair bit of the new IoT product information felt borderline absurd. Like this gem of a product:

Sereneti Cooki Robotic Chef
In the early stage of development, inexperienced cooks and busy, working families will love the convenience of having a robot such as Cooki do the cooking for them so hot, perfectly prepared meals are ready to eat the minute they arrive home.

You know what that’s called? A slowcooker. Trust me, they’re amazing. If you can’t bear the idea of having a “dumb” one, don’t worry. There’s one with wifi that can be controlled with the WeMo app. Bon appétit.

Supremely Better: A Multi-Generational Workplace

Personally and professionally, I get a lift from counting among my colleagues Baby Boomers, Generation Xers and Millennials — and I definitely am more aware by encountering, engaging and collaborating with each, individually and collectively.

I’ve never enjoyed hanging out solely with people just of my age group.

Personally and professionally, I get a lift from counting among my colleagues Baby Boomers, Generation Xers and Millennials — and I definitely am more aware by encountering, engaging and collaborating with each, individually and collectively. And that’s just counting “age” as diversity. There are many other components of diversity: gender, race, religion, politics, geography, national origin, veteran status — but I’ll focus on age here.

Mentoring is increasingly a two-way street, and even better a hub-and-spoke. As seasoned marketing and communications professionals, we have a lot of experience to share. But better believe it, I learn every day from younger colleagues — and I appreciate every lesson I get. Likewise, there’s always someone with more experiences (or different experiences) to keep an open door to. Here, too, I sponge. Simply said, there’s very little to “grow” by surrounding yourself with people exactly like yourself.

Yes, there’s community in like-mindedness.  But even recognizing like-mindedness means continually challenging and exploring other points of view.

Here’s What I Learned in 2015….
• Student debt is burdensome: There’s no sense in comparing your experiences as a Boomer new graduate years ago to those entering the workforce today. Unless someone enjoys a full-tilt academic or athletic scholarship, chances are young adults are carrying a hefty amount of student debt.

Education inflation has far outstripped the cost of living — college costs today are a world away from what I experienced just three decades ago. As a result, very few grads can stand on their own at 21, even if they want to. Few starting salaries allow them to live on their own, while repaying debt. Families with grown children are staying together for longer, as an economic reality, at least financially so.

Is there a professional takeaway here? I’m not altogether sure how this affects risk-taking, or the timing to pursue advanced degrees, but the zeal to contribute in the workplace, and receive commensurate compensation, is perhaps heightened.

• You really don’t [have to] retire: On the other scale, woe to any business that sends senior execs packing prematurely. Some businesses might offer early retirement packages to move more expensive workers off payroll, or just lay folks off — but are they harnessing all that experience before they do so? Is there a knowledge sustainability plan? “Peak earning years” must translate to “peak productivity” — the dynamics of business no longer allow anyone to rest on his or her laurels and nominally contribute.

Alternatively, I’ve come across more and more firms who are “hiring back” would-be company retirees as contractors, and as project and long-term consultants. For the aging, many of whom have under-saved for retirement, this removes the shock of a suddenly missing paycheck and a perception of being no longer valued, enabling them to contribute to business growth while softening the financial blow. For business, where experience is a teacher, common mistakes of the under-experienced are avoided. The bell curve of post-peak earnings, and the idea of “retirement” are being redefined, out of necessity.

• Mentoring should be bi- or omni-directional: When a project team, or workplace environment, is cross-generational, there will be better outcomes. In marketing, where target audiences may involve one or more age (or other) demographics, it simply makes for a more informed strategy to have architects who share personal knowledge and experiences of the market. So older teaches younger, vice versa, with in-betweens, too. I know of agencies pitching new businesses who ensure such diversity is “built” into the campaign planning team. That’s smart.

Here’s to a healthful, prosperous New Year, at any age.

10 Marketing Clichés I’d Challenge to a Fight if I Met Them in the Street

There you are, minding your own business, when it rounds the corner and rams into you full speed: the copywriting cliché. (It didn’t see you coming because it was too busy looking up the percentage of Americans who rely on a mobile device to complete daily tasks, without which we’d have no idea that mobile is important.)

There you are, minding your own business, when it rounds the corner and rams into you full speed: The copywriting cliché. (It didn’t see you coming because it was too busy looking up the percentage of Americans who rely on a mobile device to complete daily tasks, without which we’d have no idea that mobile is important.)

You’ve seen them ’round these parts before, and to put it mildly, you’re sick of it. Time to put up your dukes.

We’re all guilty. I’m certainly guilty. Lock me up in cliché jail and throw away the key, Copper. In fact when I was looking for ideas for this entry, I Googled “marketing clichés” and Google spat back “About 435,000 results (0.53 seconds).” Even this article is a cliché. But, as the slew of tired and overused concepts and phrases is certainly not static, let’s give my own list a go anyway.

Here are a few gems that make me clench my fists. They’re not really in order, save for No. 1 frosting my cookies the most. Disclaimer: I use some of them — frequently. And a lot of them, we continue to use because they work. But there’s always a tipping point, and for these guys, we’re definitely getting there. Consider this an exercise in self-awareness as much as anything else.

10. The latest and greatest resource for today’s [insert industry professional here]
9. With technology rapidly evolving…
8. “Look who’s talking!” to promote a speaker lineup
7. Mobile/Social media/Online is everywhere these days…
6. Grandiose list boasting — ie: “Build your audience with the bestest file out there … no really, honest … THE.BEST.LIST! Ever.”
5. I know you’re busy, so I’ll only take a minute!
4. Before you leave for the weekend/vacation
3. If you only register for ONE event this year, this is the ONE/A fresh, totally unique event
2. A one-stop shop for all your ________ needs
1. Any variation of “How to Market to Millennials”

This last one I just need to just expand on a tiny bit further. Look, I know. I totally get it. From roughly 1980-2000, people continued to have babies, and those babies continued to grow up, and it’s all very scary and brand new.

There’s all kinds of studies about how differently our brains work or how we think about spending money in an unsteady economy, so on and so forth. It’s only natural to feel like there’s a code to crack or a secret language to learn.

If you Google “market to millennials” you’ll get About 13,000,000 results (0.22 seconds). I’d say the industry has it pretty much on lock. And a good portion of these results will discuss us with the clinical tone of a scientist journaling the behavior a newly discovered species of fruit fly.

It gets to be a little much for those of us under the microscope. I promise, we’re just people. Hath not the millennial eyes? If you prick us, do we not bleed?

But I digress — this is possibly a whole other topic for a whole other entry. Meanwhile, tell me which clichés you avoid like the plague! (It’s a cliché that I used “avoid clichés like the plague,” since every English teacher in America has that poster in their classroom. This blog has been a wild trip to meta-land.)

See ya!