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What fatherhood has taught me about marketing

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I have two daughters, ages 4 and 1. It’s really great being a Dad. Tiring, but great.

I look at my single friends who are able to go out any night they want; who never get woken up in the middle of the night; who can just pick up and go anywhere on a moment’s notice. And I think, wow, what the heck did I get myself into? But, then my daughter will look at me and say, “I love you daddy,” and I realize that all the sacrifices I make for my kids are totally worth it.

Also, I’ve found there’s an unintended benefit of having kids. It has actually taught me a lot about marketing. Not in the conventional “4 Ps” sense. But the longer I’ve been a Dad, the more lessons I’ve learned that I can apply to my job. Here are just a few examples:

The importance of consistency. When my first daughter was born, we didn’t do a great job keeping a set schedule. Some nights she would go to bed at 7 p.m., and other nights it was 9 p.m. Naps were inconsistent. The result: She was constantly cranky and didn’t sleep well. When we spoke to our pediatrician, she said that infants need structure. So we got her on a more consistent schedule and it was like magic. Suddenly she was sleeping through the night and happy all day.

For a marketer, consistency is key. If you are constantly changing your logo or your ad campaigns, you risk confusing your audience and diminishing your message. Keeping your brand consistent can maximize your impact with the target audience. I talked more about this in a previous blog, Patience with Campaigns is a Brand Virtue.

Let them cry it out. Any new parent feels it’s heartbreaking to hear your child cry at night. My wife and I spent way too many sleepless nights going into our baby’s room and rocking her back to sleep, only to have her wake up 15 minutes later. Then our pediatrician told us to that she has to learn to soothe herself back to sleep. It was really hard to let her cry. But, she eventually learned to calm herself. The next thing we knew she was sleeping through the night.

When you launch a marketing program, you may not see immediate results. You might not get enough leads or sales could be stagnant. Just like when your baby is crying, the natural tendency is to find an immediate fix. Sometimes, you have to give your marketing a chance to work. Let your marketing “soothe itself” before you go tinkering with it.

Give a little to get a little. Getting your children to do certain things is a constant exercise in negotiation. Whether it’s eating veggies or brushing teeth, it seems we always have to either give or take away privileges to get the kids to do what we want them to do. (“Do you want to watch Elmo? Well, then you have to make a happy plate.”)

It’s not that different from developing a marketing program or ad campaign. You can’t always do everything exactly the way you want to. There are multiple stakeholders with lots of opinions. There are also budget and timing constraints. To launch a campaign, you have to make trade-offs. It’s just important you know what parts of the marketing program are negotiable and what parts you’re not willing to compromise on.

Poops don’t smell better over time. Changing poopie diapers is never fun. But, if you don’t change them right away, the consequences are far worse. Whether it’s an underperforming marketing campaign or a difficult employee, the longer you let problems linger, the worse they get. It’s always better to attack problems in a timely and direct manner. Otherwise, you could be looking at a bad case of diaper rash.

Show the love. It’s really simple. The more you love your kids, the more they love you back.

While you’ll never love your company or your product as much as your kids, you should make sure you do give your brand a little love and affection from time-to-time. You can always tell if a brand has been neglected. The logo looks dated. The advertising seems stale. It lacks innovation. It’s important for brands today to stay relevant. And that requires a little love.

I’m sure I’ll learn many more lessons as time goes on. But, it’s nice to know that being a Dad actually has some practical benefits for my job.

What lessons has parenthood taught you about marketing? Let me know @jperks74.

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