4 Reasons Your Kid Schools You at Promotion

August 3, 2011
By Lisa Barone in Online Marketing

The Federal Trade Commission may try and govern it all they want, but there’s a reason marketers routinely advertise to children. It doesn’t matter that they’re too small to drive to the store themselves, to own credit cards, or that some can’t even use the bathroom on their own. Marketers know two things:

  • Children have parents who DO have credit cards and cards.
  • Children know how to get what they want because they can sell anything.

Unlike a child, you probably suck at promotion. You don’t know how to sway people toward taking a specific action. You don’t sing your own praises, you don’t inspire anyone, and you live under the belief that if people like what you’re doing it, they’ll sell it for you. That there are Good Content Faeries who use pixie dust and magic to help spread the word about deserving businesses.

That’s adorable. It’s also kind of dumb.

If you don’t know how to sell to people and promote yourself, then it’s time to take some lessons from people who do. It’s time to learn from these guys.

Or should I say, these kids.

Below are four reasons kids have more promotional abilities in their sticky little fingers than you do in your entire body.

1. He’s not shy about asking for what he wants

Have you ever driven past a McDonalds with a kid in the car? [Has your hearing recovered yet?] Have you ever had the distinct pleasure of taking your kid grocery shopping? [How’s that therapy going? Hands stop shaking yet?] Little kids are masters at self-promotion because they’re not shy about asking for what they want. Their lives revolve around one thing – themselves – and they love to remind everyone of that.

  • Child is not happy.
  • Child wants a cookie.
  • Child WANTS THAT OVER-PRICE ELECTRONIC!

There’s no guessing. When they want you to do something, they tell you. Adults? We suck at this.

I’m not saying that, as business people, our world should revolve around ourselves. It shouldn’t. [It should revolve around our audience…], but you have to be confident enough in your product or service to ask people to do what it is you want them to do.

If you want them to share a link, tell them, just like your obnoxious kid would. If you want them to vote, to retweet, to connect you to someone, put it out there. Because that’s the only way it’s going to happen. And by NOT asking for that vote, that share, that link, you do yourself, your business and your audience a disservice. Because what if they never find that great resource you created simply because you were too shy to promote it?

2. She knows how to rally the troops

Little kids possess a magic that we lose as we transition to adults. It’s called “social skills” and “being fearless”. Drop a bunch of random kids in a room (otherwise known as “daycare”) and when you return hours later they will have transformed into a military unit. You’ll find them building forts, creating rockets, and constructing plays with detailed characters and scripts. Drop a bunch of random adults into a room (otherwise known as a “conference”) and what will you come back to? A bunch of people sitting alone staring into their iPhones doing their best to look busy.
Get away from your computer and go remember what it feels like to talk to someone. To make a friend. To have a conversation with someone you just met. Because you need those personal and networking skills to create promotional armies, build allies, and connect with people. If you don’t know how to talk to people and create friendships, good look moving your content, getting links, or attaining buzz. Kids know how to work with others and combine resources to build things. As adult, we tend to accidentally knock them down.

3. He masters and hacks his toys

Kids don’t just play with their toys, they master them. They learn every nook and cranny and master every button and every switch. And then, when they feel confident enough, they hack their toys to do stuff us adults would have never seen. That action figure with then ninja sword? Ask your kid and he’ll tell you it’s not ONLY a sword but a snowboard. And a hiking stick. And an antenna that gives him super hearing. Then he’ll create a story where that action figure must do all four to get out alive and save the princess. It’s not that his tools are more advanced than yours (okay, sometimes they are), it’s that he’s able to use them beyond even what the creators had in mind.

As adult, we don’t hack things. We don’t even master their intended uses. We do the bare minimum and hope it’s adequate. I mean, we talk to people on Twitter and try and engage in conversations when we can, but how many of us use tools to find customers, to learn when’s the best time of day to engage or to take the time to discover all the out-of-the-box uses for Twitter? Not enough. And because we don’t hack our tools, we miss out on some of their super powers.

4. She knows promotion is the only way

When a child wants something, they understand that the only way to get that item is to convince their parents/grandparents/whoever to help them in their mission to acquire it. Sure sometimes they rely on their own Good Content Faeries (otherwise known as “Santa”), but there’s an understanding that if they want something, they have to create a strategy for how they’ll get people to “help them” get it. This is where those rallying the troop skills again come in handy.

Most business owners stink at promotion because they think it’s an option. Something they can do but not something they have to do. And they’re wrong. By ignoring your promotional duties you fail to gain as much traction as you could. If you’re not willing to heavily promote your own product/service/linkbait, why would anyone else?

As I’ve said before, content is not king. Promotion is king. If this isn’t something you’re on board with yet, I’d recommend waking up your kid and observing him in his natural habit. Nap time’s over.

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