New York vs. New Jersey: The Marketing Challenge

October 17, 2006 - Get free updates of new posts here

Last weekend I went to a poker tournament for Autism in Jersey which was quite an experience. It was mostly a blue collar middle class crowd of people. A good example of the type of people at the event was someone who said to me, “he he oh yea like Noah’s Ark huh,” I nodded with hidden anger. I asked a lot of the people there if they go to New York and they said “heck no.” I talked with the other Noah about these types of people and here is what I really took away.



The people involved in the tech industry, blogging, Silicon Valley and anyone who knows the words Web 2.0 are missing out on 80% of Americans. These PEOPLE. Here are some things abou them:

  • They do not care about AJAX.
  • User generated content is not a term they are aware of.
  • Yelp is something that there dog does after it takes a poop.
  • They have never been LinkedIn.

middle america blue collar


Lately, I wonder why people do sponsorships, spend millions on television advertising and buy up big billboards. It is for these people. They do watch American Idol, they are sitting with beer helmets during the super bowl (hmm.. I do that too), they do go to the same bar everynight and they are the majority of America. Reaching out to these people will stay old school for the time being but companies need to realize who there audience is.

beauty pagent


So what is the difference between New York and New Jersey. One is the 80% of America and the rest is the 20%. Will TV advertising continue to decrease? Yes, at a rate where more money is spent online. The question is how do the tech companies reach out beyond the initial crowd. I think the “Tipping Point” theory can explain it all but is there more…What do you think?

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16 responses to “New York vs. New Jersey: The Marketing Challenge

  1. Noah Kagan Reply

    Adam, more and more I think people need to work on products they love and use. If you are a middle class person working on something for other people like you it makes it easier in determing how to get their attention and what kind of things they do like. I think overall we are doing crossing the chasm stuff where we get early adopters tech and then eventually it makes it out to mainstream. I think more now we are making things way to techy and not enough usable. That’s just my thoughts.

    Ben, I don’t think anyone could have said it any better. Thanks for sharing that quote.

  2. Jennifer Reply

    Um, if this is news to you, you need to get out more. I’m a fairly Web-savvy gal in Los Angeles and half the things you say about New Jerseyites are true about me too. (Except the beer helmet part, I swear.)

    /Just sayin.

  3. Joe Suh Reply

    47% of Americans go to church on Sunday. Thats hard for me to believe.

    But when I was in North Carolina on Sunday morning, the streets were quiet – everyone was in church. Compare that to the Valley where the streets are quiet because… everyone’s online.

  4. Joseph Hunkins Reply

    Ben: 10x return if you dumb it down 90%?
    Joe Suh: Online isn’t Church? Holy shit I’m screwed!

    Actually, I think it’s a huge elitist error (though not inaccurate) to view “average Joes” as “dumb”. Partly because we are all more a product of our intellectual limitations than our intelligences, and more importantly because elite thinking is less likely to create useful tools/websites/ideas/businesses.

  5. Tony Chung Reply

    Silicon Valley is a bubble, no doubt about it. I was just talking to my brother out in Florida yesterday and he mentioned this “80% of Americans” concept — how people outside California are a whole different beast.

    But I side with geek culture and the valley. 🙂

  6. Berry Reply

    This is EXACTLY why I am trying to find a PR firm, figuring out how to get my “stuff” in newspapers, it’s why I sit across the desk from people every day.

    After several months of being around I have a better understanding of the new marketing culture… but I also understand that if I want to serve people that I will have to promote myself in ways that still earn the trust of the 80%.

  7. Bjorn Reply

    you hit the spot with this post, noah.. close to 80% in singapore here dun care shit about web2.0, ajax, rss.. coming back here earlier this year from the valley makes me feel like Truman when he came out of his fake world in that movie..

    but i still love web 2.0 and the promise it holds, this region is also betting big on that promise..

    Revolutionaries always feel lonely, thats when you know you are changing the world.. =)

  8. Mike Sabat Reply

    Just a few thoughts…

    This post reminds me of classic (redundant) Simpsons episode where Homer finds his long lost brother who happens to be the CEO of a car manufacturer in Detroit. The brother, and I forget his name, wants homer to design the new car because homer is an average joe. Of course homer designs a ridiculous contraption that can’t be realistically driven or produced which eventually leads the car company to go bankrupt (spooky huh).

    Here are the lessons I learned from this Simpsons Episode (free blog idea)

    1. Donuts are bad for the body but good for the soul.
    2. Marketers Market. Designers Design. And sellers sell. If you are a marketer then it is your job to get to know your market and market to them. IF your a designer you have to design a product for the target market because THE MARKET DOESN”T KNOW WHAT THEY WANT.
    3. Everything has a lifecycle and the lifecycle explains the 80/20. Noah, when your are saying that jerseyites don’t understand AJAX (or strip clubs or pumping gas BTW) its because they are not the 20% (more likely 3%) early adopters of AJAX. As you move through the lifecycle though, more people will learn AJAX – a la HTML.

    Inversely, NASCAR is like the AJAX for hicks. 10 years ago only 20% liked the sport. The marketers figured out how to make the sport appeal to new demographics and therefore it grew and moved through its bellcurve. Lets just pray that the day never comes where it reaches 80%.

  9. Andrew Reply

    Your post is a provacitive one. As I write my blog posts I sometimes think about the typical person that is spending time searching out a blog or information on a blog. My assumption is they fall into a very similar demographic category. Formely educated, probably a college graduate, well read etc. but I also think about all the people, the 80%, that not only don’t search for blogs but are unaware they even exist. I am amazed yet not too shocked at the amount of people I meet that have never heard of a blog. I think as the price of computers goes down and DSL connections become the norm more people will be introduced to the wonderful world of the internet, blogging etc.

  10. Mike W Reply

    You’re damn right that these are real people. T.V. advertising reaches them. Web 2.0 doesn’t.

    Web 2.0 isn’t exactly missing out on a percentage of Americans….it’s limited to an extremely narrow demographic. My dabblings in Web 2.0 applications and forums have led me to compile some extremely unofficial, mentally compiled statistics. First off, the age distribution for Web 2.0 users is metropolitan, young, narrow, and skewed to the left. Picture a mean age of 26-27 with a standard deviation of 4 years. This means that the bulk of your audience is young, partying, and heeding their biological call to mate by incessantly chasing the flesh of their choosing. You’re advertising to a very narrow band of people whose disposable income goes towards $50 bar tabs, $15 entrees, $75 outfits and $3.00 lattes.

    Is this a profitable audience? No. For example, look at any large urban newspaper. Their biggest advertisers are usually real estate companies, financial services, and higher-end retailers. This advertising involves professional services and *big money*. Web 2.0 users neither have interest in these services nor the money to patronize them.

    Furthermore, my experience has shown me that the small number of websites who have become profitable (ex. Ebay, match.com) have managed to broaden the age distribution of their users while shifting their mean age to the right (a.k.a. older end of the graph). Web 2.0 sites seem to do the opposite, having a tendency to start out young and shift their mean towards the younger end of the spectrum, further distancing themselves from a profitable advertising audience.

    But T.V.? It’s got the NFL, NBA, MLB, and NASCAR. It’s got Oprah, Sarah Jesse, Judge Judy, and Jerry Springer. It’s the devils pulpit, but one the Americab public transfixes itself to. It’s poison of the mind, but one which it’s viewers imbibes with great relish. It’s a wildly effective means of making it’s viewers unsatisfied with their lives, and simultaneously providing them with quick, crack-like fixes to alleviate their consumerist malaise. Furthermore, it’s viewer distribution isn’t a segment of the population…..it IS THE POPULATION.

    Web marketing will fall woefully short of it’s televised big brother, and won’t begin to catch up until it broadens it’s user base and attracts an older segment of the population. Another problem? Most people in this age demographic run screaming from anything that smells like kids looking for a party…..which is what most Web 2.0 sites eventually denigrate into.

  11. Neville Reply

    Very true, but remember what you’re selling.

    Coca Cola would rather advertise on American Idol because that would make sense.

    Likewise, Mr. Venture Capital Firm would rather advertise on TechCrunch because that’s more their respective demographic.

    Also remember, 1% of the population owns 60%(plus) of the wealth!

  12. Rik Reply

    There is always the classic theory that a product over its lifespan will encounter the innovators, early adorpters, early majority etc. This is also the case with web2.0. Right now this is a thing running on the labour of a small crowd of very dedicated people. All great shifts have started like this. You shouldn’t expect web2.0 to become mainstream anytime soon anymore than you should expect Joe from arkansas of anne from belgium to participate in it.
    it’s logical; right now the effort of joining web20 is just too big, you have to be too knowledgeable about to many things, which for the most people wouldn’t leave time for their normal life. So those dedicated folks are going to make web20 something everyone can do, just like MS made computers something everyone can do. It’ll just take time.

    And thats just why John Doe will still be reached via regular ads and stuff. However, i don’t completely agree, all that is also changeing very rapidly. we al know the story how people don’t supposedly look at ads anymore, but the truth is more that they are more trained (have become more knowledgeable), and are looking for their own info. i was just thinking the other day, how much influence do you get from advertising when google or your friend told you everything you need to know? This will in the end be the link that will bring Joe from arkansas into web20; I think in the end it’s just something you do, like seeing television or going to the movies.

    (sorry, its a bit of an unstructured piece, haven’t got my thought all worked out yet…)

  13. Marshall Middle Reply

    Don’t bash NJ, East coast people are all not technological retards. Why does the West coast feel that they are so suave? Is it some sort of 2pac and Biggie thing East Coast vs West Coast culture clash?

  14. Brandon Reply

    As an NJ native I got a kick out of this, although I’ve never met anyone where I’m from act like that.
    I’m assuming you were down south a bit where it’s mostly woodlands and closer to Philly than NYC.

    But, good points. Sometimes people (myself included) are consumed by technology and forget that the majority of people could care less about that stuff