“Where are all the young people?”

That is what I wondered too.

That was one topic of our table’s conversation at this week’s Midwest Circulation Association meeting, during our lunch. My client was attending his second meeting, and I was the featured speaker. Derek is in his 20’s, and he was probably one of only 2 people in their 20’s at the meeting.

Audience development (AD) is such a critical role in media companies today, but many of us take a circuitous path to end up in this job. As databases are aging, email response rates are falling, in 2015/16 this role is going to increase in importance. Companies need to know their database, be able to better mine their current customer files, keep people engaged, and target their marketing for better responses.

AD is a perfect job for someone with a curious mind who likes ALL the spokes in the marketing wheel. We get to create marketing strategies, work on the tactical efforts, delve into the depths of our database trying to find better ways to target our efforts, reach outside our organizations to find new prospects, measure which efforts are working (by list, effort, copy, design, timing, etc), then try additional efforts building upon previous efforts. It’s a look into the psyche of our audience, a challenging but exciting puzzle.

AD is constantly changing, but it can feel a little isolating, since many people don’t understand the complexities of the job. It is a marriage of creativity and numbers. I think that attending in-person events give us an excellent opportunity to ask and discuss with others who do similar work. Step back from our computer screens to get a new perspective.

I have been attending the MCA meetings for several years and am a former board member. I find that I learn something at every meeting, and they are great for networking. Even if you are an AD newbie, I encourage you to attend meetings/lunches put on in your area. It is satisfying to find out that you are not alone with the issues you face today. And hopefully you will come back energized, with a new idea to try.

The journey continues.


P.S. For more specifics on AD responsibilities in media related companies, read my earlier blog post about this.

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