Mad Marketing Skills

Your guide to cashing in on the young, urban market

legally able to drink and wants them to be responsible drinkers.”

Urban youth consumers don’t respond to messages that are heavy-handed or condescending. Keep it simple and relevant, says Raymond O’Neal Jr., executive vice president of Vibe-SPIN Ventures in New York and publisher of Blaze magazine, an urban music publication.

“Golf as a brand [sport] wasn’t meaningful to blacks years ago,” says Buford. “But Tiger’s [Tiger Woods] appearance said we’re welcome and this is for us. He creates a linkage to young blacks, and now that’s happening in tennis with Venus and Serena Williams.”

Indeed, this market longs for a sense of belonging, so your message should make them feel that by purchasing your product or service, they are included.

Urban youth consumers tend to be trend and style conscious, which means you must keep pace with their interests and buying habits to formulate a successful marketing strategy. This is particularly true of fashion.

“These consumers have loyalty for a while, but they’ll switch to your competitor in a heartbeat,” says Brannon. “Your product or service has to be new and fresh and uniquely for the urban youth consumer. What’s hot this week won’t be next week. The dilemma becomes how to keep up with their trends. Businesses need to stay in tune with these consumers. Ask for input from teens to understand why they respond or don’t respond to your product or service.”

Although it may be tempting to use celebrity endorsements, be aware that they can become dated, says Carol Patterson Brooks, president of Correct Communications Inc. in Newark, New Jersey, a marketing and communications firm specializing in providing access to niche markets. Instead, tie in rap, R&B or hip-hop and other music to appeal to this market. Even a local icon, such as a radio personality or local youth sports hero, can be appealing and bring in urban youth consumers.

Because urban consumers identify with their communities, unless your business is part of their world, you are invisible to them.

“Giving back to the community, being involved and being seen at community events says you’re one of them and you support them,” says Brooks.

For example, if you own a restaurant, you could sponsor a local sports team or, if you can’t afford to do so, donate hotdogs and drinks at their games. Create partnerships with schools or community centers to participate in or sponsor events, campaigns or fund-raising drives. Take charge of a community project, such as cleaning up an empty lot so kids can play sports there. Tie in a product promotion with a movie theater chain to drive your company’s sales.

Besides wider name recognition, Mojo landed a vending contract when it supplied beer for a Congressional Black Caucus party held at Washington, D.C.’s Velocity Grill in the MCI Center. “The entire evening cost us about $200 and we got an account out of it, too,” says Chapman.

Penna De Kelaita, 30, owner of SpiceRax in Los Angeles, discovered that sending press kits to specific media outlets was

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  • Donna

    Who handled promotions for this exciting company?