A Life Lesson from Veronica Mars

Remember that TV classic Veronica Mars? (There’s a movie coming out in March FYI, so I’m pretty excited).

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I love it – sure it may be off the air, but that doesn’t stop me from obsessing over the show in my free time.  Realistically I could re-watch episode after episode full of sleuthing and witty banter.  I was doing just that last night when I realized that Veronica (and the show’s creators) would probably be (and in fact, are) great at marketing.

I took Principles of Marketing my senior year in undergrad at Wells College, and the one of the very first things that came out of my professor’s mouth – other than her introduction – was, “Know your audience”.

Know your audience.

The Holy Grail of marketing in some ways.  Every marketing class I took from that point on, – whether it was Sustainable Marketing, Digital Marketing, Event Marketing, you name it – mentioned this key tidbit of information at least once.  And it’s true, it really is valuable advice.  Just think about it: if you don’t know your audience – who they are, what they like and dislike, what they want, what makes them feel – how are you going to speak to them, build a relationship with them, and connect with them?  Veronica Mars always seemed to know her audience; she knew when to use witty banter and when to be aggressive, and she always seemed to know exactly how to talk to someone to get what she wanted or needed.  Sure, sure, it’s scripted and thus ideal – I can’t count the number of times I thought of some impressive response to a conversation or an argument I’d had minutes or hours earlier – but, she knew her audience. Always.

For me, this sage piece of advice applies to much more than marketing. Thinking back, I used it a lot as a kid! If I wanted those oh so addicting Reese’s Puffs or wanted to sleepover at a friend’s house, I knew how to tailor my request depending on who I was talking to.  I know I still use it today – every day – too, in my personal life, in my academic endeavors, at work; whenever I have a conversation at work, I always think (both consciously and subconsciously) who I’m talking to and how to approach them in order to get them to see my perspective or help me with something.  How I approach my boss about something I want to change in the department is very different from how I approach my business group manager or general manager for the same thing – because, like everyone else, they’re all very different people who respond very differently to certain delivery methods and messages.  The same applies to my personal life; if I’m trying to convince my boyfriend to watch a certain movie (he’s not big on romantic comedies, and they happen to be my guilty pleasure) or eat a healthy meal as opposed to Taco Bell (his (understandably) guilty pleasure), I always think about how to approach the conversation, how to tailor the message to persuade him.

What are your thoughts on “knowing your audience”? How (and where) do you use it in everyday life?

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Pet Peeves: Social Media Edition

I love social media. Sure, it has its downfalls – like face-to-face interactions overtaken by technology, anonymity that makes bullies feel brash, less personal privacy…the list could go on forever if we wanted it to. But social media also has a lot of great benefits, like connecting people from around the world, sharing stories and pictures, opening doors to what the rest of the world has to offer, and it gives us the ability to connect with our favorite companies and brands.

Many of my social media pet peeves arise from how people use social media.  Dozens of game requests bogging down my notifications, poor use of grammar and spelling, hashtags on Facebook (am I the only one bothered by this!?), redundant content…just some of the things that tend to grind my social media gears.

One such example: I have a friend or two who consistently and frequently post complaints about their jobs, their coworkers, everything and anything they have on their plate.  I get it – it always feels great to vent a little and let out some stress and frustration – but I personally don’t think that doing so on social media is the route to take.

Why you ask?

Well, for starters, you never know who could stumble across one of your heat-of-the-moment grumblings.  What if it was a coworker you had complained about? Or your boss? A future employer?  Are those really the messages you want to send to the people in your life? Is that really the professional identity you want to establish on the Internet?  If we’re being honest, I know I get incredibly annoyed by friends whose complaints constantly pepper my various news feeds – I get it, no one wants to have to work, but if you’re blessed enough to have a  job in the current economy, recognize that while you may not have the job of your dreams, you have something giving you income and experience.  Unless you’ve just won the lottery and are set for life, no one should stick their nose up at either of these!

My advice for unhappy employees:

Take a few deep breaths or head outside for a walk.  Afterwards, ask yourself whether what was bothering you is worth complaining about.  Chances are, it probably isn’t.

Find a body to vent to; your friend, your roommate, your mom, your dog, anyone who you can trust not to broadcast what you’re saying.

Get a journal – not a blog – a real, paper journal and vent there.  Then go back a few days later and read what you wrote. You’ll probably realize that whatever was frustrating you was pretty insignificant in the scheme of things.

Consider addressing your discontent – rationally and calmly – with the people directly involved, whoever they may be.  Communicate!! After all, they might not know that they’re causing you stress.

And, if you find you’re still unhappy…it might be time to search for a new job.

What social media habits drive you crazy and momentarily make you want to cancel your accounts and go off the grid? Let me know what your social media pet peeves are!

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