4 Reasons Your Kid Schools You at Promotion


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.

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.

Your Comments

  • Stan

    Really very nice article ;-)

  • wayde

    Great perspective, I love the idea of mastering our toys. However, while kids are great at self-promotion they tend to suck at big-picture reputation management.

  • Kristi

    Love this :) You have pretty much pegged my kids and we can definitely learn stuff from them!

    • TrafficColeman

      Kristi I think kids will do and say things most grown ups wouldn’t, so this mean their not in fear of taken chances which is what we all need.

      “Black Seo Guy “Signing Off”

  • Todd Mintz

    When my kids ask for stuff, I give them the glare that I’ve perfected from watching all the Clint Eastwood movies…it works too :.

  • Jerry McCarthy

    I have a 6 year old daughter and 1 year old son. I always tell my six year old she’s going into sales when shes old enough. She could talk a priest into having an affair with a nun. She’s that good. Although it’s annoying at times, I really admire her tenacity. When she hears “no.” She figures out a way to ask again in a different way and not just once. Priceless. Though more times than not she ends up going to timeout, I really do like how she has the natural mindset of knowing persistence beats resistance. Thanks Lisa! You always keep me on my toes. :-)

  • Jason Hong

    Great article. I’m currently going through that transition phase, from master of my gadgets to “how do I use this thing?” Maybe when we have kids, we transfer our abilities to them via some magical aura. I was pretty creative there, right?

  • Bharat Patel

    Wow. It makes me feel that i am into my college where my professors teach me about business administration. Online marketing is all about this game how can you sell. I have found that a super affiliate can even sell a useless thing at a higher price.
    Can we ?

  • Joe @ Not Your Average Joe

    I can’t believe all the stuff my kids get from me and my wife just by asking…Sheesh, I have to get tougher. And learn to be more like them!

  • David Hawkins

    “Most business owners stink at promotion because they think it’s an option. Something they can do but not something they have to do.”

    I’ve read in numerous places that promotion (sales) is the most important part of your business.

    Before even pretty letterheads and gold you should be focused on sales – get something our there whether that be a product, a service, whatever.

    In my proverbial ‘jump before you look’ style I was the person woh invested everything into how the business looked and THEN started tickling the idea of sales

    After all, if you go on Dragons Den and value your business at 1,000,000 they’re going to ask you how muny sales you have :)

    But here’s the problem in our culture (the west) –

    Sales is stigmatised!

    Particularly in snooty UK, there is the unspoken vibe of: “Sales? Moi?”

    My 2 cents

  • Pam

    Great post. Common sense stuff, that you’re right, some of us don’t do, because we think its rude or bragging to self-promote.
    As always, I learn good stuff here.