What Raising a Toddler Can Teach You About Engagement Marketing

toddler airplane

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Posted: March 26, 2014 | Engagement Marketing

As anyone who has ever raised a child can tell you, parenting a toddler is challenging and rewarding, all at the same time. As any marketer who has decided to start truly engaging with their audience can tell you, those same feelings usually apply. And the comparisons don’t end there.

As a Marketo Solutions Consultant tasked with designing and configuring digital marketing strategies for our prospects, I think about engagement marketing a LOT. I’m also the father of a rambunctious, free thinking, strong willed (stubborn, if you will) two-year-old boy. One night, as I was coaxing him into finishing the food on his dinner plate (he had already excused himself to go throw blocks at the dog), I thought about how the lessons I have learned as a parent apply to engagement marketing.

Read on to hear a few of those lessons – you might be surprised by the connections.

1. Listen

Soon after my son was born, I realized that even though he couldn’t communicate verbally, he was constantly sending me feedback. At first, I was so concerned with teaching him and getting him to do certain things that I ignored his non-verbal cues. That led to frustration on my son’s part, as he was so clearly trying to tell me things that were very straightforward from his point of view. If I’d truly listened to those cues, I would have noticed that a flapping motion of his hand meant he clearly wanted to watch butterfly videos on YouTube (obviously, Dad).

What are your prospects or customers saying to you that you can’t pick up? How are they interacting with you (or not)? What campaigns do they respond to most? Listen to their cues. If you’re too focused on educating your audience and getting them to respond in certain ways, you’ll never hear what they’re actually trying to say, and you’ll make them feel “marketed to” rather than heard. Today’s prospects and customers want to have a conversation. They expect you to respond and adjust to their feedback at every step of the process.

2. Engage on Their Level

Parenting books are useful, but they never quite describe how parents can engage on a toddler’s level. Sure, they suggest all kinds of games and play activities for each age, but unless you’re an all-out baby whisperer (like my wife) this has to be learned over time. Does the food need to be shaped like an airplane, and delivered with accompanying sounds effects? Great, I’ll be the pilot. Do we need to run three laps around the house before we can get dressed? Guess we’re doing some running. Whatever it takes to connect, I’m in.

When it comes to your engagement marketing, you have to be “in” for whatever it takes. What’s the best engagement mechanism for your prospects and customers? Would they like to download an ebook, which is followed up on with a phone call? Or are they more likely to watch a webinar and do research on their own? Are they viewing your content on their mobile phones predominantly? If so, responsive design templates are a must for delivery of your email and landing pages. A willingness to discover and provide the right mix (and delivery system) for your engagement is critical.

3. Play the Long Game

In parenting, you can’t look at your responses as isolated incidents; every interaction adds up. For example, my son will have impeccable manners when asking for candy, chocolate, or anything with “high fructose corn syrup” as a main ingredient. Is it best to reward him with sugary goodness for his politeness, or to give him a healthier option and deal with the tears? What will lead to him developing the best manners over time? My reactions to his behaviors need to keep him on track.

As every marketing and sales professional knows, not every lead is created equal. A key part of successful engagement marketing is putting each prospect on the right nurturing track. Once they are in the nurturing track, we can turn to assigning value to each action (or inaction) they take. A tool like our Customer Engagement engine can help you accurately measure when it’s the right time to move a lead to a different nurturing track, send certain content, or put in a well-placed phone call. Knowing which leads get turned over to sales as defined by quantifiable scoring is mission critical to any organization.

4. Be Persistent

This is easier said than done, but parents need to be persistent: stick to rules, maintain order, and reward good habits. Somewhere between the 11th and the 17th time that I was walking my son back to his bed in the middle of the night, rather than letting him sleep with us, I began to question my parenting techniques. Eventually, my effort paid off – he now sleeps through the night in his own room.

Likewise, successful engagement marketers need to be persistent. You need to realize that your prospects or customers won’t always respond to the first call-to-action or second campaign touch. We live in a busy, cluttered world that’s full of distractions. It is the marketer’s job to break through this noise with timely, relevant, and persistently engaging content. As multi-touch attribution has demonstrated over and over again, many successful conversions occur on the fourth, fifth, or even sixth touch with a prospect. Don’t throw in the towel early because your audience seems unresponsive – with smart, creative, and persistent marketing they can become golden opportunities.

5. Measure and Analyze

With the plethora of parenting advice on social media, parenting blogs, and articles (not to mention the in-laws), it is easier than ever to measure and analyze parenting techniques. Thanks to Google, I find myself frequently searching for exciting terms such as “techniques to get two-year-old to stay in bed” and “when is right time to give up pacifier”. Assimilating information, implementing it in practice, and then analyzing and measuring what works (and what doesn’t) has made a huge impact on my parenting.

When was the last time you thoroughly examined the number of qualified leads each of your marketing channels produces? Do you know which is the most fruitful and which needs improvement? Are webinars vastly outperforming tradeshow events (at lower costs)? What are your peers in the industry doing that is cutting edge? Measurement and analysis of your engagement marketing mix and channels allows you to see what content actually engages users, what draws them to the action desired, and what ultimately moves them further along in the buying cycle. From this analysis we can repeat the high performing campaigns and look to optimize the underperforming.

That’s what I’ve learned about engagement marketing from parenting – are there any connections I’ve missed? Drop us a line in the comments below.

Joe Benoit is a Solutions Consultant at Marketo focused on helping organizations achieve increased revenue through Marketing Automation best practices and strategy. Along with consulting on digital marketing, he enjoys spending time with his wife and two small children, craft beer, and the great Northwest.

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What does raising a toddler have in common w/ engagement #marketing? A lot. Read this post to find out why.

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