In my experience, most marketers fancy themselves as lifelong learners, taking pride in innovating their work and skill set to maximize their impact. We keep tabs on emerging trends, tactics, and tools. We follow industry leaders for their insight. We consult our internal teams and external partners for advice.
But there may be one specialty group we don’t look to for inspiration enough: The kids in our lives.
As a parent of two adorable monsters who are growing up way to fast, I’ve been reflecting a lot on how far they’ve come. Of course, I’ve realized that I’ve come far too, as both a parent and a marketer. And I’d wager that most of us have kids in our lives who have the potential to teach and remind us of some important things that can make us better humans and better at what we do.
So, what marketing lessons can the little ones in our lives pass on? Here are a few that have been illuminated for me recently.
4 Marketing Lessons We Can Learn from Kids
1 – Foster permanent curiosity.
Lately, on the 20-minute commute to daycare, we’ve been listening to “But Why?” It’s a fantastic podcast by Vermont Public Radio. It’s just incredible. Kids from all over North America send audio clips of themselves asking the most unexpected, puzzling, and just plain fun questions. This week we learned why we laugh, why boys and girls are different, and why sugar is bad for you.
Curiosity is one of the simplest and most powerful lessons we can learn from a child. As a marketer, this makes me ask: What can we do stay curious against a backdrop of back-to-back meetings, tight budgets, and the unending barrage of emails? There’s a lot of opportunity for curiosity to creep in.
- Professional Development: Can you carve out a little time each week to drink a cup of coffee and surf your favorite industry publications for the latest news? Is there a certification or training that’s been on the backburner?
- Strategic Innovation: As you head into your quarterly or annual marketing strategy planning sessions, how deep have you dug into why you’re making your recommendations? Or better yet, have you considered other possibilities? A way to innovate?
- Reflection and Growth: We all experience our fair share of fire drills. We immediately spring into action, oftentimes without asking all the “why” questions. Furthermore, we may not take the time to look back to learn how we got there. What processes could be fine-tuned? What is the true cause of a marketing mishap? (Tip: I like to employ the Urgent Important Matrix attributed to President Eisenhower to help balance my day.)
2 – Employ resilient trust.
When both of my babes were around 6 to 9 months old, they learned to jump into our laps, assisted by Mom or Dad’s hands securely around their waist. They were so proud of their amazing feats. And through repetition, they knew we’d always be there to catch them—even when they jumped unexpectedly.
Aided by their caretakers helping hands and guidance, kids learn new things and take risks, eventually without fear. Why? Because trust has been built.
In the marketing world, when trust is a focus, you can forge incredible bonds colleagues, clients or customers, prospects, and partners. And in a time when trust is dwindling among consumers, it’s more critical than ever.
3 – Be coachable.
My persistent (and often stubborn) children throw puzzle pieces. They shriek or scream, sometimes when they’re seemingly unprovoked. They make mistakes. But their curious, trusting nature makes them incredibly teachable.
This magical trait is easy to lose once we hit the working world and get some experience under our belts. None of us probably think we’re perfect, but how well do you take feedback? If you want to get results for your company and your career, you need to be open to coaching.
For example, did your supervisor offer some constructive feedback? Rather than put up your defenses, open yourself up to the feedback. You can literally, open your posture (no crossed arms), face her or him directly, and show your listening. Even take notes if it helps!
Or did you get a string of bad customer reviews on social media? Acknowledge their concerns. Offer an opportunity to talk about it more in detail. Point them in the right direction to get help. This not only shows them that you want to create great experiences, but others can see your willingness to take feedback and work to make improvements.
4 – Keep it simple.
My children never fail to remind me to simplify my life—and my marketing. Whether you’re a parent or caretaker, or you’re watching others raise their kids, we can all admit that parents over-think questions and scenarios all the time. What do I do when my kid asks me where babies come from? Why is that parent so concerned about a kid playing with a cardboard box? Am I a terrible parent for putting my kid in timeout five times today?
But the thing is: Kids often sees the world through the most basic lens. They don’t typically overthink things. They aren’t riddled with stress and anxiety.
This should be a reminder that we shouldn’t sweat the small stuff and that the simple answer is often the right answer.
For example, you could spend 45 minutes responding to a curt email from a colleague or client, and then hours or days spinning as you wait for a response. Or you could ask the person in question to jump on the phone or huddle for a quick chat. This levels the playing field and limits the potential for misinterpreting signals.
As another example, if you’re in the process of launching a major campaign, can you integrate various tactics to minimize and streamline the work? (Certainly, hiring a trusted agency partner could help with that. Wink.)
Look to the Children
If you want to be a lifelong learner, sometimes you need to go back to basics. The children in our lives can teach us some incredible lessons about curiosity, trust, coachability, and simplicity that can improve our personal and professional lives.