Marketing Lessons Learned as Children
by Brad Ellisonb.firstname.lastname@example.org
Everything we need to know, we learned in kindergarten, right? We learned to share and we learned to play nice. We learned to respect those in charge and we learned that our moms won’t always be around to clean up our messes. These are some valuable lessons that (hopefully) have stuck with you into adulthood. But surely these childhood lessons apply to other areas of our lives as well.
Can they apply to our businesses? Can they apply to the marketing of our businesses? I think so…
1. You can’t hide a piece of broccoli in a glass of milk
Your company’s bad habits or weaknesses are the broccoli from your childhood. You don’t want to deal with them and you don’t want anyone else to notice. But you can’t hide your shortfalls behind slick advertising or false bravado. When the shine wears off, your customers will see the real you and your credibility will suffer. Be honest and don’t promise things you can’t deliver…when your mom dumps the milk from your glass down the drain your ruse will be foiled.
2. What people look like really doesn’t matter
Remember that boy in your class who wore glasses and had braces and endured a couple years of you calling him “Four Eyes” or “Metal Mouth?” Yeah…he’s your millionaire boss now. He looked differently than you, but he had a lot to offer. Who cares what a company looks like? Some guy might be fabricating sheet metal in his garage…but if he is the best at doing what you need, maybe he should get your business. Don’t be charmed by good looks, eventually they fade.
3. A pencil without an eraser is basically a pen
Be careful what you are saying and where you’re saying it. A social media post or a hastily constructed email response to a customer complaint can’t be un-written once it’s sent. Be wise and guard yourself.
4. Sometimes it’s best to keep your mouth shut
If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all. Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak out and remove all doubt. There are a hundred cliché ways to say one thing: THINK ABOUT WHAT YOU ARE SAYING!
5. Eat your popsicle from the bottom up
It FEELS more natural to eat your popsicle from the top down, but very quickly the bottom melts away and you’re left with the nastiest, stickiest hands. Your mother used to have nightmares about these. It feels natural to just start telling people about your company, you need to prevent the melting and the dripping. Develop a strategic marketing plan and figure out exactly what you should be saying and where. That’s the bottom. The top is the message. Go in the right order.
6. If you fall, you can cry for a moment, but then get up and run
Every so often, your marketing message may miss its mark and you’ll fall. Most (proper) marketing strategies take some time and effort to develop, so the failure of one can feel like quite a loss. We’ll all allow you to feel bad for a moment…but pretty quickly you’ll need to brush yourself off and get back in the game. You didn’t fall because you aren’t able to run…you just tripped. It happens.
7. You can’t start over just because you are losing the game
This doesn’t mean that failure is permanent…it just means that you can’t always just wipe the slate clean whenever you want. If marketing your company is a game, you might lose. THAT game might be over…there may be nothing you can do about it…but a new game can begin. Don’t sulk.
8. If you want someone to listen, whisper
I knew I was in BIG trouble as a kid when my mom lowered her voice to a whisper. It was a pretty fierce whisper…but she made sure I was really darn close so I could hear her. You know who I don’t pay attention to on Twitter? The guys who scream their “marketing messages” as loud and as often as they can. These guys post 200 times a day to each of their social media platforms. They are screaming so loud to get their message out that I simply tune them out. The guys I DO listen to post only relevant, important messages and information. They draw me in through a relationship then whisper when they have something I NEED to hear. They must’ve learned that from my mama.
9. Pets are a big responsibility
Every household in America:
“You can get a dog if you promise that YOU will be the one taking care of it.”
“Yeah, Dad, I promise!!”
Two weeks later, the kid has gotten sick of waking up to let the dog out and cleaning up the mess inside and out…and Dad has to step in to do the dirty work. We all have that pet project that we want to get off the ground; a new product, a new service, a company blog. If you want a pet, you better be prepared to handle all the responsibility that comes with it.
10. Never say "Last one is a rotten egg" unless you're absolutely sure someone is slower than you
Don’t tout yourself as an expert in your industry if you’re among the worst. A manufacturing company with poor quality products will end up having his business stolen by their “speedier” competitors. If you can’t currently compete in your market, you have two options: fix what’s broken so that you CAN compete or find a different market to compete in. Anything other than those two options leaves you the rotten egg.
Respond: We want to hear from you! What other lessons do you remember from childhood that we can apply to our businesses? Last one to answer is a rotten egg.
Image credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/chicagonorthshore/2647233194/ via Creative Commons