How Fulphil Markets Their Startup to Gen Z
Guest Article: Tiffany Yau | August, 2019
Gen Z'ers - a group defined as born between 1995 and 2010 - are projected to account for 40% of all consumers by 2020. Similar to millennials, this demographic has its own set of expectations, reactions, and judgments when interacting with an organization. Because Fulphil’s core philosophy is geared towards empowering high school students to create their own social enterprises to transform their ideas into impact and help them get to their next step in their impact-driven careers. Through our programming and hands-on engagement, we’ve had to quickly master the delicate art of luring Gen Z’ers attention.
Through an intimate understanding around the nuances of how to frame our social media narrative, an open culture of feedback and focusing our programming around capturing authentic real-world experiential learning - Fulphil has been able to maintain consistency in our ability to recruit Gen Z’ers. Below is a listicle of key takeaways and learnings we’ve uncovered to gear your organization for success when engaging with this demographic.
Tiffany Yau, Founder of Fulphil, Shares How She Successfully Markets to Generation Z
Tiffany is a dedicated leader passionate about creating sustainable social impact through social entrepreneurship and more importantly, community empowerment. She is the recipient of the 2019 Greater Philadelphia Social Innovation Award, and been recognized by Generocity, Social Innovation Journal, Philadelphia Citizen, Wharton Business Radio, and Penn News as a social entrepreneurship thought leader. She launched Fulphil and also Hult Prize Ivy in 2017 with the goal of empowering ambitious youth to pursue their passions through entrepreneurship. Tiffany is currently pursuing her M.S. in Nonprofit Leadership and B.A. in Sociology at the University of Pennsylvania (Cl'19).
1. They want to hear about and share real experiences
At the moment, Fulphil’s Impact Accelerator summer programming is in full swing. Students participate in intensive on-site orientation training, ongoing professional development workshops, meaningful networking events, and exclusive Impact Summits.
A core facet of the program is geared connecting students with professional entrepreneurs who provide real-world anecdotes and advice. We have had the opportunity of hearing from a variety of speakers representing Ashoka, the World Economic Forum, Shark Tank, and more. The decision to include professional speakers in our program stemmed from the fact that Gen Z’ers are known to resonate strongly with personal anecdotes and real-world experiences tied to emotion. A testament to this concept is the viral success around Whisper, a popular Gen Z app-turned-publisher. Whisper provides personal, soul-baring stories and confessions from individuals around the world. The overarching success of Whisper comes from the app’s ability to let Gen Z’ers engage with and ask questions with these live experiences.
“Gen Z’ers are known to resonate strongly with personal anecdotes and real-world experiences tied to emotion.”
Exposing students to professionals in the Philly area who can share authentic stories of both failures and accomplishments -we are able to more strategically prove the importance of education, applying to college and the value of entrepreneurship through an impact-focused lens of making a difference in the world. Another great example of this concept in action was at our recent Staying GRITTY in Your Startup Journey panel, where 3 of our 30 Changemakers in Residence from the program, André Davis (Humble Genius Media), Ijanae ‘Izzy’ Jackson (Dwell City Solutions), and John Gamba (Catalyst @ Penn GSE) shared their inspirational experiences on a panel at Venture Cafe Philly. In addition to having renowned figures represent Fulphil at this panel, we also featured two students to sit alongside them on the panel to share their own perspectives, while also engaging the rest of our students before the panel began to share their pitches, inspirations, and brief call-to-actions to help others hear their voices with the goal of finding mentors who can help them in the next steps of their entrepreneurial journeys.
2. Heavily involve them in program feedback
Gen-Z doesn't just buy products; they like involving heavily in sharing their feedback, whether it is negative or positive. Millennials need a strategic cocktail of altruism, direction, and meaning. We consistently ask our student fellows for feedback around these speakers and any other thoughts they have around the program as a whole. Young students want to make sure their voice is heard, and that an organization has the openness to improve internally. Even minor soundbites of feedback from students - such as a presenter speaking too quickly - not only empowers our organization to improve in the future but also helps them to feel engaged.
“Gen-Z doesn't just buy products; they like involving heavily in sharing their feedback, whether it is negative or positive.”
3. Focus on a strategic approach to social media
The value of traditional print and programmatic advertisements is foreign to Gen Z kids, most of whom have grown up with social media. Social has broken down established marketing and storytelling boundaries for this demographic, and in response, has unveiled a generation that lives in a culture of micro-moment decision making. Whether those decisions are to like a post, buy a product, subscribe to an influencer or - in our case - sign up to be involved with an organization they believe in.
We’ve learned that consistent messaging and maintained honesty around the value of our organization is crucial to keeping strong engagement with Gen Z’ers. High school and middle schoolers expect any message that reaches them to be very clear and to the point. If you can’t impress them within 8 seconds, they will quickly move on. The best way to recruit and market to Gen Z students is to work towards creating a transparent, honest culture, remaining open to their feedback and ensuring your social media strategy remains as tailored as possible.