The two things I learned testing my message with 13-year-olds

Jess Iandiorio
3 min readMar 1, 2016

I’m on a mission to create a simple message that a 13-year-old could understand.

Why 13? They’re advanced enough to understand the tech world, but they are not immersed in it. They’re not groomed to consume technology marketing information in certain ways. They’re pure sounding boards.

For the majority of my career, I’ve marketed technical products to technical buyers. At Drift, it’s the opposite.

This means my go-to words are basically useless. Our target audience does not care about these words: Agile, Interoperable, Resilient. They’re not valuable. So I’m throwing the skills out and starting from scratch.

I’m still testing messaging with customers & prospects, but I really needed to open up and test with a younger audience to know if what I’m saying is truly simple & clear.

It just so happens that I mentor three teams of middle-school aged girls in the Technovation program. Captive audience!

Here’s what I learned testing company boilerplate with this group:

  1. Emoji’s are going to eat the world (of marketing). Here’s an image of what it looks like communicating with the different groups of girls in gchat:

I’ve had to learn how to speak Emoji to communicate with the girls. This is far more than emoticons, though. Emoji’s create emotional connections and a lot of fun for the girls. The more emoji’s, the funnier it gets. To stand out with this group, you’ll need to be fun and emotive. It won’t be possible to get through the noise if any of your communications are bla.

2. Basic words win. Or maybe it’s “Non-marketing words win.” In testing my company overview, while they generally liked it — there were two sections they didn’t like:

Drift makes it easy for companies to talk to customers in modern ways. Drift is a messaging application that helps everyone live chat directly with customers, and send messages to groups of customers. This helps companies easily talk to customers when they care; whether on their website or logged into their application. Drift’s mission is to help everyone on earth know, grow, and amaze their customers.

First — the word Amaze sounded too big. They said they respond to more realistic language. They suggested “improve their customer relationships” over “Amaze their customers.

Alas, this is our actual mission and we freaking love it. But, noted.

Second — “when they care” was meaningless and oddly emotional to them. I was trying to convey that we help companies reach customers when their customers are already paying them attention. They thought using the word care was too close to love and not reflective of the reality. We resolved “When it matters” worked better for them.

I’ll leave you with their final feedback:

Yes, Drift is an app thingy. Why are they better at copywriting than I am?



Jess Iandiorio

CMO @Starburst, former CMO Mirakl, VP, Mktg @Drift & VP, Product Mktg @Acquia. Love start-up culture and being SaaSy. Also love being a mom & wifey.