It’s a Party, So Start Inviting…
Welcome to 2018 everyone. I hope this issue of The Carnival Pump finds you warm, enjoying the new year, avoiding that evil flu, and ready to make this a wonderful carnival glass year. Of course that is a nebulous thing, with lots of people trying to figure out how to spread the joy of a carnival glass club membership to so many new people.
I chatted with Bob Grissom of HOACGA about this very thing earlier today. Our conversations almost always have a “How do you think the clubs are doing and what can we do to promote them more?” element, and today’s was no different. The difference about today, though, was that I feel far more positive about carnival glass collecting these days in general and that’s primarily because of Facebook. There are many fantastic carnival glass sites on Facebook: ICGA has an incredible one with many posts and pics, Hooked on Carnival is a great one I help do daily, Carnival Glass Showcase has tons of amazing photos and stories, Carnival Glass. Show, Share and Enjoy is a wonderful place that people post their carnival pics. Several clubs have great Facebook pages (Tampa Bay, the Canadian club and many more) that post often. Furthermore, all the primary carnival glass auctioneers have Facebook pages showcasing their upcoming auctions.
I feel like the explosion of carnival glass sites on Facebook has reached tens of thousands of potential collectors in the past year. Many people, I have never met or even knew of before Facebook in my 25+ years of collecting, are enthusiastically posting photos of their latest pieces, asking questions, and learning something daily about carnival from the many posts and articles you can find on there. As a result, many of them are clicking over to the websites of carnival clubs, including ICGA, to learn more about us. I explained to Bob that this is a great thing, but the clubs still need to do that one thing that gets them to a convention for them to meet us, explore the glass firsthand, meet the fun and normal people who come to conventions, and make that connection that will bring them back.
“But what is going to do that?” Bob asked (and it is THE $64,000 question, really). We chatted about ideas and thoughts, but nothing really popped up as THE thing to do. Millennials, the primary audience we are targeting for first ever membership in a carnival glass club, are a different breed. I hired two millennials last year in my company, and they have taught me some surprising things. The job for which I hired them is fairly technical, so I went into training with them to show them exactly how we do things involving computers, software, broadcasting, cameras and setup, sound, etc. During the training, I really didn’t feel they were paying much attention. They were on their cellphones the entire time, typing away, taking the occasional picture, etc. They also whispered to each other a bit during the training, but I didn’t say anything. After eight hours of training, I was certain they didn’t get a single thing I did.
The next morning, it was a baptism of fire. I took them to a conference we were broadcasting and said, “Okay, set it up and let’s do it.” I stood there watching as they started the setup. They didn’t do it the way I showed them, but in a very short period of time, they had everything setup, and it was setup correctly. Then they started the broadcast. Again, it wasn’t exactly how I showed them to do it, but they did it right, and frankly, they did it even faster than me (and no one is faster than me at most of this stuff.) I watched them that day, and then again several other days. Every time they did it, they did it faster, usually finding an incredibly smart shortcut I never thought of, and they did it very fast and efficiently. Finally, it hit me: millennials won’t generally do it the way you do it, but they will find a way to do it their way, and typically it will be even better than how you do it.
One day we broadcast a conference about the labor force and there was a speaker chatting about millennials specifically. He listed a bunch of things about millennials (he was a baby boomer and didn’t have much nice to say about the millennials) and my employees rolled their eyes through the entire presentation. The part they disliked the most is when he said “Millennials don’t want to do the small jobs; they want to be vice president from the beginning.” I asked them about it and they said it wasn’t true. “We want to feel like what we do is valued, and we don’t want to work for peanuts. Treat us with respect and we will love a job and stay there forever.”
So thinking about all of this, here’s what I know about millennials. They want respect, but they also know they have to earn it. They don’t want someone to think of them as “too young to collect”. They are also going to do things their own way, which includes collecting, learning about carnival glass, etc. Seminars may not be for them unless the seminars have a strong element of “fun” to them. They are also very used to doing things on their own, such as learning, buying, collecting, etc. They aren’t big on judgement. They also hate to feel like they are being taken advantage of by anyone, let alone someone older than them.
So here’s what I think we need to do. We need to have a party at our convention. We need to invite as many people (millennials and otherwise) to it, and we need to not charge anyone to attend. It will be a “getting to know you” kind of party. Each of you need to invite someone who could possibly be a collector and have them come to Indianapolis for that party, which will be on the Thursday night, as part of the pizza party and game show. They can come, have some pizza, meet the attendees, browse the rooms after, look at some glass, and have a good time. They will have a great time, and so will all of us.
Are you ready to party with the future of carnival glass collecting? If so, start inviting people now. Let’s get them there (tell everyone you know interested in carnival glass online and on Facebook) and let’s get that party started….
Stay warm and see you in July!