6 Lessons Childhood Teaches to Help Us Become Better Marketers

It’s a sad fact, but at some point in time, we’ve all got to grow up. Once we’re grown, we’ve got to get a job. The lucky few become marketers! Taking a step back in time, however, and thinking about the traits we exhibited as children, can teach us a great deal about how to be more successful in marketing our brands.


1. Burning curiosity

Kids are notorious for annoying the hell out of all adults within screaming range.

Why can’t I have a chocolate before dinner? But why?

What makes trampolines bouncy?

Why can’t I have a pet dinosaur?

How did the baby get in mommy’s belly?

Their ability to ask any and every question that comes to their brain is actually quite impressive—when it’s not directed at you. This desire to learn, to inquire, to discover, however, is something that all marketers should be taking notes on.

Adobe’s 2013 survey of marketers tells us that 76% of respondents believed that marketing has changed more in the past two years than in the last 50.

How crazy is that?! You’ve got to be curious. You’ve got to have that hunger. You can’t get comfortable with a cookie cutter marketing strategy because, guess what? The things that made for a strong strategy this year may not even be relevant next year.

The curiosity that we see in our little ones is exactly what we, as marketers, should be exhibiting every day. Whether it’s the drive to learn more about our customers or an hour spend analyzing our data to see what’s working and what’s not, we need to always be curious.

2. Living in the moment

Kids live in the moment. They aren’t inhibited by the little things. They do what makes them feel good right now. Kids don’t worry about yesterday, and they aren’t particularly interested in what’s happening tomorrow. Marketers need to work this way.

According to The Content Marketing Institute, marketers aren’t adjusting their strategies based on what is proving to be the most effective. Seriously. This is a thing.

Currently, what appears to be working best is:

  • In-Person Events (75%)

  • Webinars / Webcasts (66%)

  • Case Studies (65%)

  • White Papers (63%)

  • Videos (62%)

  • Research Reports (61%)

  • eNewsletters (60%)

  • Blogs (59%)

  • Infographics (58%)

  • Online Presentations (58%)

At the end of the day, you can be living in the moment or you could be implementing a copy and paste strategy. (I really hope you aren’t doing a copy and paste strategy.)

Good marketers don’t just go through the motions.

They don’t follow a design, but are active participants in their strategy instead. They try new things, gather the data, and roll with what’s working for their business today. They don’t need to concern themselves with tomorrow, because they know that tomorrow, they’ll be hustling again!

3. Pride in the struggle

There’s no shame in failure. Kids understand this, and that’s why they just keep trying, keep practicing, keep pushing until they get what they desire.

Whether it’s a little person falling down learning to roller blade or a big person finding out that the Facebook ads they worked so hard on just aren’t converting, you should be proud of getting up and trying something new—even when it doesn’t work out.

“Failure is a lesson learned, and now you can use that knowledge to make your marketing strategy stronger.”

A whopping 65% of marketers are struggling to find out what will be effective. 65 percent.

Take heart, friends. You’re not alone.

Be proud of the struggle. Don’t stop pushing forward until you get where you want to be. Once you get there, push even harder.

4. Authenticity

Kids have nothing to hide; they are the purest version of themselves outwardly, at all times. There’s something beautiful about this, and marketers take note! This kind of transparency is exactly what your customers are looking for.

A study put together by brand consultants Principals and the consultancy Brand Navigator, found a correlation between a company’s authenticity and the likelihood that customers become advocates for that brand. Furthermore, this study found that brands who were truly more authentic had higher quality customers.

Do you know how valuable one good customer can be to your brand? Ever heard of customer lifetime value (CLV)?

“Learn from children and be as authentic as possible with your audience. You’ll love your brand  voice so much more, and so will they.”

5. Creativity

Kids can play for hours with nothing more than a blanket and a flashlight, a stuffed animal and a bowl of Goldfish. Their ability to imagine big things is uncanny, and too many adults lose the ability to create something from nothing as they mature.

As we’ve already discussed, the world of marketing is constantly in flux. What used to work doesn’t anymore. You’ve got to step up your game. How do you do that? With a little creativity.

New research shows that the average attention span of a consumer is 8 seconds, which has dropped from 12 seconds since 2000.

So what can you do about it? Well, think outside the box for starters. I know it’s cliche, but the people who aren’t going about business as usual are the ones who are going to get noticed. I came across this gem the other day, and I couldn’t look away.

Case and point: you’ve got to be creative if you want to run a solid marketing campaign. That could mean doing epic ads, original copy, or maybe you’re going to be the mastermind behind the next ice bucket challenge.

Who knows?

6. Compassion

Let me tell you a story. I have three kids. The older two are five years apart. Sometimes they are each other’s worst enemies and other times they are one another’s best friend.

Tonight, for no reason that I could discern, my toddler bit my 7-year-old. He cried out in pain and his little sister immediately grabbed his hand, gently patted the spot where she had just bit, and whispered “I sorry brudder”.

Even though she was the one who had caused the pain, she was deeply concerned about her big brother’s well being.

Children are inherently good. They have empathy. They care about those around them. Marketers should do the same.

According to Brandwatch, 96% of the people that discuss brands online do not follow those brands’ owned profiles.

Why do you think that is? My own experience with managing social media accounts has shown me something scary. “Brands are too interested in saying good things about themselves than offering their audience value.” Is it a huge surprise that customers aren’t following them?

Furthermore, only 20% of Facebook posts generate an emotional response while no ads did. (Source: AdEspresso)

The key to successful marketing is compassion. If you’re not concerned about connecting with your customers on a deep level, in a way that elicits an emotional response, your efforts will fall flat.

Childhood is a beautiful time, a time when anything is possible. If we think about the important traits that carried us through childhood and apply them to our marketing practice, we can become better marketers every single day.

What would you add to the list?

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Meet the Author: Shauna Armitage

Shauna is a Marketing Director or Fractional CMO helping early-stage startups scale with effective strategies, creative solutions, and unparalleled integrity by making the most of small budgets for maximum impact.

As a vocal advocate for women in business, Shauna is on a mission to redefine what it looks like to be a working woman and to support other women doing the same. She spends her free time traveling with her husband and four kids while drinking Coca-Colas. Connect with her on Instagram at @shauna.armitage.

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