Below is one of my favourite movie excerpts:
(Credit: Glengarry Glen Ross, 1992).
Attention, Interest, Decision, Action. It's selling in its simplest form.
But how do you sell your millennial teenager on exam success? How do you convince them that the many hours of preparation and practice will all be worth it? It's a tough sell, tougher than selling real estate that's for sure. The Google generation are used to answers at the click of a button, instant gratification and shortcuts. Whereas you're trying to sell them a process that doesn't include any of this. Exam success requires consistency, correct technique and effort. Three things that are required to achieve most things worth having.
It would be a lot easier to stop trying to sell and just buy the grades on their behalf. Of course, you can't do this, the only currency great results can be bought with is called consistency, correct technique and effort. But I've always thought it would be interesting to see just how much a top set of GCSE's, an Oxbridge level International Baccalaureate or a 4.0 GPA score would go for when under the hammer....
Back to selling your millennial teenager on exam success, here's how I'd do it:
Go to where their attention naturally lies. It's on their mobile phone, social media and anything online. Put great content in front of them. Earn their attention with content that is inspirational, entertaining, valuable, interesting, funny and above all worthwhile and semi-educational. Put it in a format that they will engage with - an image, a video or an audio recording. Here's an example on Snapchat. Educators need to start going to where the battle is really happening and win the war for attention. The tyranny of the cat video has remained unopposed for too long.
Talk in terms of their interests. Every teenager is interested in the older, cooler more developed version of themselves. They look up to the older kids for guidance and they copy what they do. They wear their trousers low, hair in a certain way and have all of a sudden started using that catch-phrase because it's what the 'cool kid' in the year above them does. When really, it's just about being yourself - that's cool and Echosmith agree with me. Show them their future, show them the cool kid that could be them. If they're interested in making money show them how exams are the first and most profitable investment they can make. If they're interested in having freedom to choose what they do. Show them how grades are the keys to doors that will otherwise remain locked to them. Or, if they're interested in doing meaningful work. Show them how doing meaningful work is often difficult and it might be worth practicing the skills they will need by preparing and performing well in their exams.
Make it a simple decision for them. Don't attach any strings to your offer. Don't apply any pressure or offer any external incentive (these rarely work, intrinsic motivation is what we're looking for). Buying into exam success is a decision every millennial teenager has to make for themselves. If they want to do it they'll do it. Earning their attention and peaking their interest will help but the seller can't help it if the buyer chooses to turn down a great deal. What you can do is work out what's stopping them from buying. Do you have their attention? What can you do to gain their interest? Help them make a ‘grown up’ decision. It’s one of those things they'll look back on in the future and thank you for.
Give them a way to take action and effectively execute top exam preparation and performance. I created The Exam Coach Way for myself and then started to share it with the students I work with. It’s now online, on mobile and in video format, it’s called The FUN Exam Plan - there was no point in creating something that wouldn't be watched or listened to.
It's a path well trodden which is based on simplicity and efficiency. The FUN Exam Plan offers a step by step process, a clear route from A to B and a way to avoid trial and error and deliver results. Young students need direction, they can work out which learning style best suits them along the way.
In the words of Alec Baldwin:
"Always. Be. Closing."