Archive for February, 2011

Inspiring Hooligans

February 25, 2011

I couldn’t help but be encouraged by a story in the IBJ (Indianapolis Business Journal) a couple weeks ago.

A local business man, Ron Brumbarger, who runs Bitwise Solutions here in Indy, started a program for middle school students who are interested in learning about website development.  You can read the full story here.

The article struck a chord for me, personally, as I have been involved with youth development and leadership since my interning days in college.  Now that I’m an “adult” (by age only, mind you), I still teach middle and high school students as an instructor for a local marching band & color guard program.

If you don’t have kids of your own, or are not around kids of that age group, it can be easy to discredit them as naive, silly, spoiled, and (my favorite) lazy. But in my personal experience, many young people are much more motivated, creative, and aware than many adults may think.

I know what you’re thinking…. how on earth does this relate to promotional products?

Well, when I read this article, I couldn’t help but think of the countless times the students I come into contact with have inspired me to think differently about a promotion, a t-shirt design, or a campaign.

For example, the first place I saw a “silly band” was on the students that I teach.  They were crazy about them, and I knew it would only be a matter of time until the craze hit the promotional market.  A year or so later, and we just processed our first order of custom bands for ExactTarget.

ExactTarget Silly Bands

A twitter bird, cell phone, ExactTarget "X", and Subscribers Rule! Hand

ExactTarget Silly Bands Package

All wrapped up and ready to hand out!

I also love the creative and unique ideas the students from The Fan Stand at Hamilton Southeastern High School bring us.  They have no trouble telling me what is “cool” and “uncool”, which in my world translates to “sell” or “not sell”.  And they should know, as they sell about $200,000 worth of spiritwear and apparel every year.  Talk about motivated!

So the next time you need some creative inspiration, want a great test market, or just feel “promotionally” stuck, why not test out the younger generation for some help?  Ask your kids, or your neighbors’ kids, or those hooligans at your local Starbucks. Chances are they’d be more than willing to help, and you may just find the perfect design or product to put you a step ahead of the competition.

Please feel free to share your personal experiences in the comments section, and as a fun weekend activity, spend time reflecting on when you were totally cooler than your parents. Ahhh… those were the days.

Happy Friday!