Getting Gen-Y’s Attention: 101


Even if I had the money to buy every textbook I ever needed in college, most of them would have collected dust on my shelves all semester. One could chalk it up to having a typical Millenial attention span –one that understands thoughts in 140 characters or less – but just like my textbooks, I don’t buy that. Part of my complete disinterest in textbooks comes from the fact that the second a book is published today, it is pretty much obsolete. Since I was in fifth grade, I have been able to access almost any information on the Internet more quickly and accurately than I ever could in a textbook. Furthermore, this online information is free (or if it’s not free, I’ll go look on another site until I find it for free). With a limited budget and unlimited free resources, is there any kind of textbook that could ever capture my interest?

The answer, as I discovered this semester, is yes. In one upper-level marketing class, I was assigned three books: Zag by Marty Neumeier, Blue Ocean Strategy by W.Chan Kim and Renee Mauborgne, and (my favorite) The Culture Code by Dr. Clotaire Rapaille. I ordered these books online because the bookstore did not have them in stock and while I did save money by ordering through Amazon, I ordered them all new rather than used. I also read these books from cover to cover, no naps required. What is it about these textbooks that captivated me? Well, for one, they are not technically textbooks so much as they are books that my teachers assigned my class to read. Rather than covering a whole spectrum of outdated marketing information, these books are narrowly and deeply focused. They all offer extensive information about breakthrough marketing strategies, which keeps me focused and makes me feel like an insider. When I read these books, I feel smart. When I read textbooks, I feel sleepy and overwhelmed by the sea of broad information.

The stereotype that Millenials don’t read is inaccurate –we do, as long as it is personally relevant. We work best by simplifying information and focusing on specific, important ideas. We want to be excited at the prospect of reading these books, and then proud to put them on our shelves as a physical extension of our interests. While we may shop around for a good deal online to buy these books, a new book is always more satisfying than a used one, as it is as much a platform for self expression as it is for learning. In a world saturated with free information, that is something we will pay for.

By Jeannie Hannigan: “Hi everyone, I’m Jeannie and I’m a senior marketing major at Emerson College in Boston with a passion for social media. I love to do work that educates, improves, and gives back to the world around me. I’m an endurance sports nerd, and you’ll often see me training for my next crazy event. Best ways to contact me? Shoot me an email or tweet out to me @jeanniehannigan.

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