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Everything I Know About Messaging I Learned From My Kids

Everything I know about messaging

So it’s just another random weekday morning at the Graff household. . .

Mornings are "ruff" at our house

Mornings are “ruff” at our house

Only today, my children have inexplicably decided to get up a half hour early. Trying to allow my husband his extra half hour of sleep, I tell my 5-year-old to be quiet as she is getting ready. Several reminders and a dirty look later, she was still talking like I was two rooms away.

The thought entered my mind: I’m a marketer. I’m supposed to be able to pursuade people to do things. Why can’t I get my own kid to be quiet.

That’s when a light bulb went off: Messaging is like raising children. Let me count the ways . . .

  1. Yelling gets you NO. WHERE.  Nobody likes to be yelled at. Not our children, and not our Internet audience. But when we continually broadcast blatant sales messages, that is what we are doing. Instead . . .
  2. You gotta get creative. My most successful parenting moments have come when I have gotten a little more creative about my “messaging.” Like when the kids won’t get up, instead of standing there yelling at them, I tell them the bed doesn’t want them there any more and is going to spit them out. I then proceed to pick them up and “spit” them to the bathroom.

    No Rushing

    Nope, not getting up

Weird, but it works and results in laughter instead of tears. You need to mix it up a little bit. I like to drop in some gifs, humor and a nice dose of sarcasm in my writing, but you can think even further outside the box. I just read an article where some brands are incorporating music to reach out to the millennials. This is a good example of not only getting creative with your messaging and marketing, but also knowing your target audience.

  1. Explain yourself. For many youngsters, “why” is their favorite word (and the least favorite of their parents). My dad always said you should never tell a kid “Because I said so.” I can’t say I’ve followed that advice to a T, but I do believe that if kids understand why something is important, they are more likely to do it. It’s even more important in marketing. You have to tell people why they need what you are selling and why they should get it from you. Which leads us to #4
  2. What’s in it for them. I think my 7-year-old is a blooming marketer. When she wants to do something, she’s quick to point out how it benefits me. Like if the girls are doing something that I don’t want them to do, such as throwing balls or roller skating through the house, she reminds me that she and her sister are playing nicely and not fighting, and doesn’t that make me happy? Oh, boy, am I in for it when this one becomes a teenager! Anyway, whether it be your kids, your audience or in my daughter’s case, me, you will be much more successful getting people to do what you want if you show them how it benefits them. That means not just listing a bunch of features but illustrating how those features make your customers’ lives better. In other words, what are the results they will see by using your product/service. For instance, I just got a new phone. I chose the Galaxy Note 5, mostly because of the stylus. But was it really the stylus I was after? No. It’s what the stylus allows me to do–be more productive and organized by allowing me to take notes in once place and create reminders I can post right on my home screen. It’s a slight differentiation, but an important one, and one you need to identify for your own product/service.
  3. Speak their language. You aren’t going to tell your kids “Pray, transport your china to the kitchen basin.” No, you tell them “Please take your plate to the sink.” Yet the way we phrase our messages online are often more like the first one. We use jargon. We try to sound smart and professional by using big words. We use buzz phrases like “enterprise” and “dynamic” that don’t really mean anything. Be clear, to the point and conversational. In other words “Keep it Simple Stupid” (KISS).
  4. Test different messages. In marketing, particularly with landing pages, we call it A/B testing. In parenting, we call it grasping at straws.But the point is, you may have to try different ways of saying things to get your point across and persuade the action you desire.
  5. Be prepared to repeat. If you are a parent, you are going to have to repeat yourself. In fact, how many times have you repeated the phrase, “How many times do I have to tell you?” The same is true of your marketing message. It typically takes a minimum of seven times for someone to see/hear your message before they remember and fully understand it.

So that’s what my kids have taught me about marketing. Or maybe it’s the other way around, that marketing has informed my parenting. Either way, it just goes to show you that there are marketing lessons everywhere if you take the time to look. What influences a person (no matter the age) in non-sales situations could be the very things that influence them when they encounter your message.

Any other marketers out there who are also parents? Let me know in the comments what similarities you see between parenting and marketing.

Julie Graff

As PPM’s Social Content Liaison, Julie Graff is in charge of content and social media strategy for PPM and our clients. A self-proclaimed social media junkie, Julie also enjoys time with family, music, shopping, and mochas. She lives in Canton, Ohio, with her two children and husband.

2 Responses to Everything I Know About Messaging I Learned From My Kids

    • Julie Graff
      Julie Graff says:

      Right, then there’s that. But I prefer to think of it like this: We need to treat both kids and our prospects with respect, the whole golden rule thing where you treat people how you want to be treated. Unfortunately, (and I’m as guilty of this as anyone) I think we forget that kids are just little people, and you can’t expect them to do what you want if you more or less bully them. Well, that was pretty philosophical for a Thursday. I’ll get off my soap box now 🙂