Marketing Lessons You Can Learn From Your Kids

Kids are born marketers and watching them can teach grown-ups a lot about marketing.

learning marketing from kids

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 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 ended up buying it 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 toddlers to teens. 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. This serves as a clear lesson in understanding, identifying, and strategically positioning yourself 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 movie 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.

Neuroscientific studies have shown that storytelling releases oxytocin, the “trust hormone,” which helps in building a stronger emotional connection between the brand and the consumer.

Kids Know Their Audience

Ever noticed how kids can sense when you’re upset or happy, even if you haven’t said a word? They’re like little emotional detectives, picking up on subtle cues and adjusting their behavior accordingly. This skill isn’t just cute; it’s a marketing goldmine. Imagine tailoring your campaigns with the same level of emotional intelligence. You could read your audience’s mood swings and preferences, just like a child discerning when to ask for a new toy or when to lay low. The key is to invest in tools and practices that help you understand consumer sentiment. Whether it’s through social listening or customer feedback, the more you know, the better you can adapt your strategies.

  • According to a study by the Institute for Health and Human Potential, companies that work on emotional intelligence among their staff see a 58% decrease in staff turnover.
  • Emotional intelligence training can lead to a 12% increase in sales, as reported by the Sales Executive Council.

Now, let’s dig deeper. Kids don’t just stop at reading emotions; they act on them. If a child senses their parent is stressed, they might offer a hug or draw a picture to cheer them up. In the marketing world, this translates to personalized customer experiences. For instance, if data shows that a segment of your audience prefers eco-friendly products, you could send them targeted content about your brand’s sustainability efforts. It’s all about taking that extra step to not just understand, but also resonate with your audience.

But wait, the plot thickens. While kids adapt to emotional cues, they also know when to switch tactics. If being cute doesn’t get them that cookie, they might try negotiating or even a little guilt-tripping. Marketers take note. If one approach doesn’t yield results, be ready to pivot. Maybe your email campaigns are falling flat, but your social media engagement is through the roof. Don’t be rigid; be like a child—flexible, intuitive, and ever-curious.

Lessons from Bedtime Stories

You know that magical moment when a child’s eyes light up as they listen to a bedtime story? That’s the power of a compelling narrative. Just like kids are drawn to tales of adventure and wonder, your audience craves stories that resonate with them. The secret sauce? Simplicity, relatability, and a dash of suspense. Keep your brand story straightforward but engaging, much like a children’s storybook. Use simple language, but pack it with emotion and relatable scenarios. And don’t forget to sprinkle in some suspense to keep your audience hooked till the very end.

  • A Stanford study found that stories are 22 times more memorable than facts alone.
  • According to the Content Marketing Institute, 92% of consumers want brands to make ads that feel like a story.

Here’s where the magic happens. Kids are drawn to tales with unmistakable lessons or insights. Similarly, the narrative of your brand should offer something of real value to your target audience. Whether it’s an ingenious fix for a common issue or a missing emotional bond, the aim is to involve your audience in the unfolding plot. By doing so, you not only humanize your brand but also boost customer interaction. So, as you design your next marketing initiative, consider making your audience the star of your brand’s unfolding saga.

According to a report by the World Economic Forum, “Emotional Intelligence” will be one of the top 10 job skills by 2025. Companies like Google and Microsoft have already incorporated emotional intelligence into their leadership training programs.

Now, let’s talk about the climax—the moment every story revolves around. In children’s stories, the climax often involves a twist or a crucial decision that the protagonist must make. Similarly, your marketing narrative should build up to a pivotal moment that demands action. This could be a limited-time offer, a groundbreaking product launch, or an exclusive membership invitation. The aim is to create urgency, compelling your audience to act. So, channel your inner J.K. Rowling and craft a story that not only entertains but also drives action.

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 operates on the same principle. 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.

Learning from Playground Tactics

Ever watched kids on a playground barter for a turn on the slide or negotiate who gets to be the leader in a game of tag? It’s like a mini masterclass in negotiation and customer engagement. Children have an innate ability to gauge what the other party values and leverage it to get what they want. In a B2B context, this translates to understanding your client’s pain points and offering tailored solutions. For B2C, think of it as knowing your customer’s lifestyle and preferences well enough to make irresistible product recommendations. The key takeaway? Whether it’s a game of tag or a business deal, knowing your counterpart’s desires can give you the upper hand.

But wait, there’s more to this playground saga. Kids don’t just negotiate; they also adapt their tactics based on the reactions they get. If asking nicely for a turn on the swing doesn’t work, they might offer a trade, like their spot in the sandbox. This adaptability is a golden lesson for marketers. In a world where consumer behavior is ever-changing, flexibility in your sales approach can be a game-changer. So, if that email campaign didn’t yield results, don’t just sit there; switch up your strategy. Maybe it’s time for a more personalized approach or a different channel altogether.

According to a study by the University of Texas, the desire for personalized experiences stems from a need for control and information overload. When consumers see personalized content, they feel a sense of control, which positively impacts their perception of the brand.

Finally, let’s talk about the power of enthusiasm. Have you ever noticed how a child’s excitement can be so contagious that you find yourself getting swept up in it? That’s a lesson in how genuine enthusiasm can elevate a pitch. In sales negotiations, showing authentic excitement about your product or service can be the tipping point that converts a potential customer into a committed one. So, the next time you’re in a sales meeting, channel your inner child’s zeal and watch how it transforms the room.

  • A report by McKinsey & Company shows that agile marketing teams are 21% more likely to report better financial results.
  • According to Gartner, 63% of marketers plan to increase their agile marketing adoption in the next two years.

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, 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 from 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.

The ‘I Want it Now’ Phenomenon

Ever noticed how a child’s eyes widen at the sight of a candy store? That’s instant gratification, and it’s not just kids who are wired this way. In today’s fast-paced digital world, consumers are increasingly impatient, wanting everything “now.” It’s a psychological itch that marketers can scratch to their advantage. Imagine launching a flash sale that lasts just a few hours. The ticking clock not only creates a sense of urgency but also satisfies the consumer’s need for immediate rewards.

But hold on, there’s a twist. While the allure of instant gratification is potent, it’s not a one-size-fits-all strategy. Just like a child might crave candy one moment and a toy the next, consumer desires are ever-changing. This is where data analytics come into play. By tracking real-time consumer behavior, you can dynamically adjust your marketing strategies. For instance, if you notice a sudden spike in searches for “sustainable products,” a timely promotion on your eco-friendly line could be a hit.

  • A study by HubSpot indicates that 64% of customers expect real-time assistance regardless of the customer service channel they use.
  • According to a report by KPMG, 47% of consumers will take their business to a competitor within one day of experiencing poor customer service.

The Role of Trust

Think back to childhood, when a broken pinky promise felt like a catastrophic event. For kids, promises serve as an initial introduction to the concept of trust, shaping their future interactions and relationships. In marketing, trust holds similar weight. If a brand fails to keep its promises, be it related to product excellence or timely delivery, the fallout can be dire. It goes beyond the immediate loss of a sale; you’re risking the erosion of customer trust. Regaining that trust is a steep uphill climb.

Now, let’s get into the nitty-gritty. Imagine you’re a kid again, and your parent promises to take you to the amusement park if you finish your chores. You do your part, but then they back out. How would you feel? Betrayed, right? The same goes for your customers. If you promise next-day delivery, you better make sure that the package arrives on time. If not, you’re not just failing to meet a service standard; you’re breaking a trust pact. And in today’s digital age, word of such betrayals spreads like wildfire. So, invest in systems and practices that help you keep your promises. Transparency is key. If there’s a delay, communicate it. Your customers will appreciate your honesty.

But here’s the kicker: trust isn’t just about keeping promises; it’s about exceeding expectations. Kids light up when you surprise them with an extra treat or an unplanned outing. Similarly, delight your customers by going above and beyond. Throw in a free sample or offer a discount on their next purchase. These small gestures can turn a one-time buyer into a lifelong customer. It’s like that extra scoop of ice cream that turns a good day into an unforgettable one.

  • A 2019 Edelman Trust Barometer report indicated that 81% of consumers need to trust the brand to buy from them.
  • According to a study by Label Insight, 94% of consumers are likely to be loyal to a brand that offers complete transparency.

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 dodgeball.

Making Marketing as Fun as Play

Remember how kids can turn anything into a game? Whether it’s a simple chore or a long car ride, they find a way to make it fun. Now, imagine applying that same principle to your marketing strategies. Welcome to the world of gamification, a technique that uses elements of play to engage consumers and drive actions. By incorporating game-like features into your marketing campaigns, you can boost engagement and, ultimately, your ROI. Think of it as a playground where consumers willingly interact with your brand, all while having a good time.

Gamification isn’t just about adding points or badges to your app or website. It’s about understanding what makes games so captivating in the first place: challenges, rewards, and a sense of achievement. For instance, if you’re in the retail business, you could create a virtual treasure hunt that rewards customers with exclusive discounts or early access to new products.

According to a study by the University of Pennsylvania, gamification works because it taps into the human psychological traits of competitiveness, achievement, and the community, which are key motivators for engagement. The key is to align the game’s objectives with your marketing goals. If customer retention is your aim, consider a loyalty program where customers level up or unlock new benefits based on their purchase history.

Gamification allows you to tap into the psychology of motivation. Just like a child is motivated to finish a puzzle to see the complete picture, your customers will be driven to complete tasks or challenges that bring them closer to a reward. This not only increases engagement but also encourages repeat interactions with your brand. And let’s not forget the data you’ll gather. By tracking how users interact with your gamified elements, you can gain invaluable insights into consumer behavior, allowing you to refine your strategies even further.

  • According to a report by MarketsandMarkets, the gamification market is expected to grow from $9.1 billion in 2020 to $30.7 billion by 2025.
  • A study by TalentLMS found that 89% of those surveyed stated that a point system would boost their engagement with eLearning materials.

Challenging the Status Quo: What We Can Unlearn from Kids

Kids are natural rule-breakers, aren’t they? They question everything, from why the sky is blue to why they have to eat their veggies. This innate curiosity is something many adults lose over time, especially in the marketing world where “tried and true” often trumps “new and exciting.” But here’s the kicker: sometimes, the best way to innovate is to unlearn some of those so-called best practices. Kids teach us that it’s okay to ask “why?” and “what if?” These questions can lead to groundbreaking strategies that defy the norm and capture attention. So, the next time you’re stuck in a marketing rut, channel your inner child and dare to challenge the status quo.

Kids don’t just question; they experiment. Remember building forts out of pillows or mixing different sodas to create the “ultimate drink”? These childhood experiments were our first forays into problem-solving and innovation. In marketing, this translates to A/B testing, customer surveys, and even venturing into new platforms. The point is, don’t just question the norm—test your theories. Collect data and analyze the results. You might stumble upon a marketing goldmine you never knew existed.

Here’s the final twist: kids are resilient. They fall, they fail, but they get right back up. In marketing, failure is often seen as a setback, but what if we view it as a stepping stone instead? Each failure offers a lesson, a nugget of wisdom we can use to refine our strategies. So, the next time a campaign doesn’t go as planned, don’t just scrap it. Analyze what went wrong, make adjustments, and try again. Your resilience might just be the secret ingredient to your next marketing success story.

The Future of Emotion-Driven Marketing

Imagine a world where your marketing strategy is so in tune with your audience’s emotions that it almost reads like a heartfelt letter from a friend. That’s not science fiction; it’s the future of emotion-driven marketing. This approach takes cues from our pint-sized marketers—kids—who are masters at reading emotions and acting on them. With advancements in AI and machine learning, marketers can now analyze consumer sentiment in real time. This enables brands to send that perfectly timed email or offer just when the consumer needs it, much like a child offering a hug when they sense their parent is stressed.

The future isn’t just about understanding emotions; it’s about predicting them. Imagine knowing your customer’s needs before they do. Predictive analytics tools are making this a reality, allowing marketers to forecast emotional states and tailor strategies accordingly. For instance, if data shows a rise in eco-conscious sentiment around Earth Day, you could preemptively launch a campaign highlighting your brand’s sustainability efforts. This is akin to a child not just reacting to a parent’s mood but anticipating it, like quietly setting the table when they sense their parent had a tough day.

The game-changer in today’s marketing landscape is the fusion of virtual and augmented reality with emotion-focused strategies. These cutting-edge technologies craft deeply interactive brand experiences designed to trigger specific feelings—be it awe, joy, or empathy. Consider this the grown-up version of childhood imaginary play, where the boundaries between the real and the fantastical seamlessly meld to deliver a profoundly captivating and emotionally charged journey. Far from being a distant vision, this approach is actively shaping today’s consumer environment. Brands utilizing emotion-centric marketing are not merely keeping pace; they’re defining the emotional context for consumer interactions.

  • According to Forrester, predictive analytics can improve marketing ROI by 241%.
  • A study by Nucleus Research found that predictive analytics delivers $13.01 for every dollar spent.

Did You Know?

  1. The Power of “Why?”
    • Children ask about 300 questions a day, according to a UK study. This natural curiosity can be a lesson for marketers to never stop questioning consumer behavior and market trends.
    • The more questions you ask, the more insights you gain, which can lead to more effective and targeted marketing strategies.
  2. The Influence of Colors
    • Research shows that children as young as 2 years old can recognize brand logos, and color plays a significant role in this.
    • Marketers can take a cue from this by choosing colors that not only attract attention but also convey their brand message effectively.
  3. The Art of Storytelling
    • A study by OnePoll found that the average child receives about 3.5 hours of storytelling each week. This ingrains the importance of a compelling narrative from a young age.
    • Marketers can use this insight to craft stories that not only sell a product but also form a lasting emotional connection with the consumer.
  4. The “Mirror Effect”
    • Children often mimic adults as a way of learning. This “mirror effect” can be a goldmine for marketers.
    • By showcasing real-life testimonials or relatable user-generated content, brands can encourage potential customers to mirror the positive experiences of existing customers.
  5. The FOMO Factor
    • The concept of “Fear of Missing Out” (FOMO) is not just an adult phenomenon. Children experience it too, especially in social settings.
    • Marketers can leverage FOMO by creating limited-time offers or exclusive events, compelling consumers to take immediate action.
  6. The Psychology of Rewards
    • According to a study by the University of Toronto, children are more likely to repeat behavior that is rewarded.
    • This principle is the backbone of loyalty programs in marketing. By rewarding customer loyalty, brands can encourage repeat purchases and long-term engagement.


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