I’ve been tardy with you my dear blogosphere. The last month and a half ushered in my first foray back to school in a few years for a Master’s in Publishing degree. The past month has been something of a work-your-butt-off-cry-home-to-your-mama fest, also precipitating my induction to modern technology with my new best bud Koby the Kobo e-Reader. It interests me to see what my target reader demographic will make of an eBook, and what I can do to make that process a little more painless.
Now I’m the kind of gal who carries around my twenty-pound Dell laptop and forgoes the impending hernia. The type of straight-outta-the-90s child who misses palm pilots and scrawls notes on stickies and whiteboards around my room as if they were prehistoric cave walls. Representing the Troglodyte faction with pride.
Imagine then my shock to discover that I am unknowingly functioning as my mother’s model for technological innovation. I routinely receive calls from her on the rotary phone opining that she can’t figure out the “damn iButtons on the damn iPhone,” (so adorable). This has been amplified as of late by my acquisition of a Kobo.
For a long time, my mother refused to be swayed by that snake oil salesman by the name of “technology.” Every time I go to visit her though, I put out the eReader and walk her through how it works. She slowly moves from cautious observer of technology to active participant after three such tutorials. Not to suggest that she is by any means a whiz at the eReader now. The last email I received from her sent chills down my spine: “BOUGHT AN EREADER [yes it was in all-caps] NOW YOU CAN SHOW ME HOW TO USE IT HAHA. BUT SERIOUSLY, WILL NEED HELP.”
With the push my program to learn about emerging forms of book technology, I wonder lately what the digital divide between people my mother’s age, and so-called “digital natives” will mean for marketing emergent forms of technology. If my mother and her flash mob of late adopters is any indication, approaches to selling new forms of technology will have to be gentle in delivery and coaxing—the equivalent of a big virtual hug that won’t yell at you or freeze you out. I’m interested (and fearful) to see how this experiment turns out.
Marketing Lessons from my mother’s eBook adoption:
1). The differences between PDF and ePub files are not exactly crystal clear to this demographic. Going on long explanatory passages isn’t helpful if what you’re even talking about isn’t clear. Plus, it breeds anger when the purchaser finds herself with a format she does not understand and finds difficult to use and read.
2). Visuals go a LONG way towards understanding. Step by step instructional videos and instructions utilizing images and BIG arrows are hella helpful.
3). When this person is confused and can’t talk to someone to walk through the problem, the device migrates to the back of a drawer and collects some excellent dust bunnies.
4). Accessorize: this goes a long way and is an easy thing to get excited about. Rhinestones, colour changes—any variety of crazy accessories creates continued excitement.
Source photo via Constance Wiebrands