One fundamental of marketing: Know your audience. So if you are planning a youth event, you need to understand the kids.

Kathy Needham, the owner of Needham Marketing in Grand Rapids, Mich., is an expert at reaching youth. Among her accomplishments are the development and launch of the Zonderkidz brand for Zondervan; development of the tween brands Faithgirlz and 2:52 Soul Gear for Zondervan; the negotiating of licensing agreements involving Veggie Tales books and The Chronicles of Narnia gift products; and the management of The Beginner's Bible, a storybook brand for children.

Needham says that if you are planning a youth event, make sure that you have a youngster from the target age group consulting for you. Also, to create an event that appeals to both the kids and the parent or youth pastor, go ahead and be edgy, but appeal to the adults that the kids will be safe. (“Edgy” to kids is anything that they perceive as being taboo.)

At RCMA 2009, Needham offered the following information for understanding youth.

When Reaching Out

  • You need to know what drives kids:

    • Control. They like to think they are in charge.
    • Aspiration. They want to be treated as if they are older, smarter, richer, and stronger than they really are.
    • Excitement. They like to stretch boundaries.
  • Boys are different from girls. For example, every seven minutes, males have a surge of adrenaline.
  • Keep their age front-of-mind.
  • Be able to speak their language.

Source: Marketing

Think Like a Kid

Kids really enjoy balls, exploring, animals, new information, dinosaurs.

What Kids Choose

During their free time:

1. 86 percent play games.

2. 84 percent go online.

3. 80 percent listen to music.

4. 66 percent pray at least once a week, and 40 percent pray daily.

5. 66 percent go to the mall at least once a week.

7. 51 percent watch TV or videos.

8. 27 percent send? instant messages.

9. 12 percent? participate in chat rooms.

Source: Youth Market Alerts

Other Facts

  • 50 percent to 70 percent of 12- to 14-year-olds have a cell phone
  • These themes are popular: space, travel, museums, zoos, Olympics, technology, charity, recycling, languages.
  • Peer-to-peer marketing is faster than any other form of marketing; kids will believe their friends.
  • Kids think of themselves as having an audience.
  • Youth today are archiving their adolescence, using digital tools.