Kids are born marketers. They learn early how to get their parents to do their bidding. Think about your own experience, whether or not you’re a parent. Have you ever seen a kid sell their parents on something—the idea that they need a new bike, an iPad, their own rooms—that mom and dad had no intention of buying? Yet they bought in anyway.
It happens all the time. Because kids are born marketers. And, they’re also instant consumers. There are entire industries built around selling to them—from toddler to teen. Watching them can teach grown-ups a lot about marketing.
For example, you may remember a story that went viral a couple of years ago when a girl scout set up her cookie table outside a medical marijuana dispensary in San Francisco. She sold 117 boxes of cookies in two hours – that’s nearly a box every minute. And it’s a clear lesson in knowing, locating and being there for your target market.
Here are a few other marketing lessons you can learn from kids:
Everything is personal
There’s a famous quote from the move The Godfather. “It’s not personal. It’s just business.” Well, young kids take everything personally. They’ll wail over getting the smallest cookie or because Tommy wasn’t nice. Most of us adjust as we age and recover quickly from bumps and bruises and hurt feelings, but there’s a lesson involved in making your marketing personal.
More now than ever before, because we’ve gone digital, you can define your perfect target persona, drill down on it to zip code, buying preferences and needs, and tailor your message to fit. That’s personal.
The lesson: The better you know your target, the easier it becomes to tell them a story that’s relevant to what they want and expect from you. Also, try not to hurt anyone’s feelings or pawn off the smallest cookies.
If at first you don’t succeed…
None of us would be walking if, after our first walking attempt, we’d sat down on our diapered bottoms and refused to try again. Marketing is like that. You’ll never succeed with just one email campaign or three days of social media posts. Just like a toddler learning to walk, a successful marketing campaign has fallen down, tripped over a few things, and gone in several different directions before hitting the mark.
In business marketing, we tend to put objects in our own way. We say, “Oh, that won’t work for me.” Or, “I’m too small to advertise.” Or, “We tried that once. It didn’t work.” Don’t say those things. Just keep trying until something works.
The lesson: If your competitors are running all over you, it might be because you’re putting obstacles in your own path.
Feed them the truth
Did you know there’s an entire genre of cookbooks focused on sneaking vegetables into kids’ dinners? Spinach in the chicken nuggets, carrots in the brownies, cauliflower in the sauce—it’s easier than battling over the broccoli, right? Well, it may work; the kids may eat more vegetables in the long run, but they haven’t learned a thing about vegetables or healthy eating. Instead, says Little Global Chefs, a kids and food blog, kids should be treated as “people who are capable of understanding real concepts and are capable of doing real things with your guidance and example.”
What does all of this have to do with marketing? Read that advice with a marketing perspective. Most consumers don’t trust marketers and advertising, so you’re already starting from behind. Consumers expect you to lie to them. Don’t do it. Today’s consumer has myriad options to purchase whatever it is they’re in the market for, and while we’re all looking for ways to beat out the competition, fight the urge to lie about your product’s great results, or tell less than the whole truth for your own purposes, or worse, break your promises.
The lesson: tell the whole truth, or your untruths may come back and bite you in the broccoli.
Learn to Play Dodge Ball
When it comes to online advertising, getting around ads is now a game. We all do it. Do you hang out longer than the three required seconds to watch an ad before you get to your YouTube content? Heck no. Your finger is poised over the skip button before the ad even starts, right? You’re not alone.
The use of ad blocking software grew 41% globally in a year’s time, and is poised to grow globally on mobile devices. If you’re getting revenue from your website or other publications via ads, or advertising on them, or targeting customers on social media, you’re getting blocked. There are solutions in the works and there’s always content marketing, which consumers still trust—and find less annoying—than ads.
The lesson: Educate yourself about ad blockers and solutions so you can learn to play dodge ball.