When's the last time you heard that? Most likely it was when you were growing up and your parents were trying to get you to stop throwing temper tantrums or tormenting your little brother. But even as adults, we sometimes get admonished for being immature. After all, no one wants to work with someone who acts like a child, right?
Not so fast. Being childish can, in many ways, be a bad thing. However, did you know that it can also help you be a better marketer? It can even help you grow your company’s sales and revenue.
While we’re not suggesting that you draw on your office walls with crayons (unless you work at Crayola), there are many ways that a little bit of childishness can help you be awesome at marketing your company.
Children Are Fearless
Ever notice how a three-year-old will try anything? They have no fear. Children have not yet developed that inner recording that plays through all the terrible things that could go wrong when considering something new. They just do it.
Adults often see a new idea and think, “What if this happened, and that happened, and this went wrong, and my boss found out, and oh my goodness ... this sounds way too scary to start working on!” While you and I are busy making spreadsheets analyzing the risks involved with a new idea or project, your toddler would have completed it and moved on to three new things.
How does this apply to your role in marketing? Inbound marketing is all about balancing the creative with the analytical -- the “art” with the “science.” Don't get me wrong, following proven recipes and using data is critical to a successful campaign, but some of the best marketing concepts come from off-the-wall ideas that may seem silly at first.
Take HubSpot’s “Inbound Style” parody video that got over 200,000 views. Does something like this happen in a boardroom with careful analysis? No ... it happens because someone says “Hey! This sounds like fun!”
Being creative in inbound marketing takes a willingness to try new things without fear. Sometimes you succeed and sometimes you fail, but you move forward faster than those who let the “I’m scared” recording hold them back.
Children Are Exhaustingly Curious
What are the most commonly-used words in a child’s vocabulary?
If you said “why” and “how,” you win a cookie.
Kids ask questions all the time. They want to know why things happen and how things work. As an adult, this can be exhausting at times -- especially after answering questions all day. But this is how kids learn. They are inexperienced at dealing with the world around them and have not yet acquired the same knowledge that you have.
This very same attitude can help you become a master at delivering content to your customers and prospects. You and your team are experts at what you do. Whether you work in healthcare, finance, manufacturing, consulting, technology ... whatever ... your company has deep expertise that makes you good at what you do.
Guess what? Your customers and prospects don’t have this knowledge. This is your opportunity to step back and channel your inner 3-year-old. Look at your company’s products and services and start asking “why” and “how” things are done.
After doing this for a while, you’ll find yourself with an unending supply of blog topics, ebook ideas, video concepts, and other content ideas that can provide powerful fuel for your inbound marketing campaigns. What’s even better is the fact that you will be answering questions that your customers and prospects are actually asking.
Kids destroy things. Give your brand new smart phone to a toddler and see how long it lasts.
In all fairness, it’s not really their fault. (See points #1 and #2 about being fearless and curious.) Taking things apart and exploring all the possibilities is how they learn. Ask any talented engineer how they got started and chances are they will tell you how they took things apart as a kid just to see how they worked.
Your work in inbound marketing is not so different. Are there things about your company’s processes that you can try to “break,” and then sit back to see what happens? What are some of the flaws in how your customers implement solutions or use your products? What are some “broken” aspects of your industry that need to be exposed?
These are all terrific opportunities to help people. It’s also a great opportunity to create some controversy. Both can be excellent tools for generating traffic and authority for your company.
Ever been embarrassed by how “honest” your kid can be? I’m sure your 4-year-old didn’t mean to call that lady fat ...
While this unflinching honesty can be embarrassing, telling the blunt truth can also help you promote your company better.
Take Keith Frankel's recent blog post “Your Designers Are Not Artists, and You Need to Stop Thinking That Way.” This post points out a bold fact about the industry that no one really talks about. It tells the truth about designers and helps correctly frame how business leaders should think of their team members in the design department. And like any honest conversation ... it was a little bit uncomfortable for people to say, and to hear.
What are some potentially scary, little-known, or controversial truths in your industry that no one is talking about? Be bold and start a conversation about it. After all, your competition is probably too scared to do it.
Don’t Grow Up Too Fast
You’re a professional. You need to show leadership and demonstrate good judgment. Those are all important qualities of someone making good use of the power of inbound marketing.
But don’t be afraid to act like a child, once in a while.
Try new ideas without fear of failure. Ask lots of questions. Uncover what’s broken, and be bold about telling the truth when you find it. With this attitude, you will enjoy a never-ending flow of content ideas, campaign concepts, grateful followers, leads, and customers that trust your brand, and of course, lovable marketing.
Now get out there and play!
Michael Reynolds is President/CEO of SpinWeb -- a digital agency and HubSpot Gold Partner located in Indianapolis, IN. In addition to his obsession with marketing and technology, Michael devotes part of his brain to ballroom dancing and classical music. Prior to earning degrees in both Cello Performance and Management Information Systems from Ball State University, Michael studied the cello with a real live Klingon and still plays regularly in church and the occasional chamber music gig. For more information about booking Michael for a speaking engagement, visit his speaking site at www.michaelreynolds.com.
Originally published Jul 23, 2013 8:00:00 AM, updated July 28 2017