As a mother of two toddlers, I know a growth spurt when I see one.

Growth spurts look like this: The kids eat and sleep a lot, they get cranky and suddenly, I put them to bed looking one way and they wake up looking another – whether they have grown an inch, sprouted a tuft of hair, lost their baby fat or popped a tooth – they suddenly look much different.

Recently, I’ve been noticing that my traditional marketing (TV, radio and print ads), eats a lot (of my money, that is), sleeps a lot (in terms of results) and generally makes quite me cranky.

Then, on September 28, the Seattle Times had a large picture in the business section of the “bedroom of the future”. The interactive wall paper could allow someone to project their computer screen onto their walls. They mentioned how this might be popular with teens. In this article, I witnessed the phenomenon of a growth spurt. I went to bed with media looking one way and woke up with it looking another.

I thought about my life as a teen. From third grade on, I was addicted to the telephone. I remember spending hours talking to my friends on the phone. I remember the day we got call waiting, the day we got a cordless phone, the day I got my own phone in my room. These evolutions in communications each meant huge transitions in my social life. Call waiting meant I could prioritize who I talked to (and conversely, who talked to me). Cordless meant I didn’t have to sit on the tile in the kitchen anymore. A phone in my room…. well, that meant all sorts of late night and early morning calls.

The teens I have in my life now text each other constantly. I watch the dexterity of their thumbs; mesmerized by how quick they are – and how connected they are to their social groups.

I think of what it would have been like it I could wake up in the morning, enveloped by my MySpace friends in the sanctuary of my room. What would it have been like, when I was a teen, to open my eyes and see the things my friends from around the world had posted while I was away from them for that nine hours that I had just spent in sleep?

If I had that when I was a teen, I would have never watched TV or listened to the radio. Never. Kids today are weaned on iPods and TiVo and YouTube (and soon Holodecks). It makes complete sense that they are not hearing the ads we put on the radio and not paying attention to the ads we place on TV. I don’t blame them.

I don’t blame them, but I still want to talk with them. Our credit union, like all of the other credit unions in our area, have a great financial alternative for them. Not only are our rates and fees more reasonable than any bank around, we also care about their financial well-being. We have all sorts of educational opportunities, like credit university and our free classes, to help them make better financial decisions. Belonging to a credit union also means belonging to something bigger than yourself. From everything I have read and seen about this generation, they like the idea of an affinity to like-minded people. We can offer that, banks can’t.

But how do I talk with them now that the media landscape is changing so drastically. I don’t know. But just like when my kids had growth spurts and took leaps in development (like learning to walk and learning how to ask ‘why?’), I figured it out. I’ll keep working on this one.

Shari Storm

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3 Responses

  1. Anonymous says:

    I can’t believe you used to get 9 hours of sleep as a teen! I’m confident you will figure a way to talk to teens – if anyone is up to the challenge, it’s you!

  2. Shari Storm says:

    See – I was one smart teen. Even back then I knew that kids need lots of sleep. Just kidding. I have always loved sleeping. My teen years were the best years of sleep I have ever had.

    I want to be a teen again.

    Wait, no I don’t. I wouldn’t be 14 again for anything.

    Anyway, thanks for the vote of confidence, Mr. / Ms. Anonymous.

  3. Dentist Sunnyvale says:

    Wow, reading this has a nostalgia. Remembering how it was back then from today, where you can reach with just one click, but not all.

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