Marketing is about building relationships. Children are experts at relationship building. You can learn a lot from them to apply to your marketing efforts.

Let’s see what they can teach you about growing your business.

 

Feed your customers what they need

A hungry child is a miserable child. They’ll cry or scream until you feed them. My 10 month old grandson shouts when he’s hungry. He doesn’t stop until his mum feeds him. She knows what he likes to eat. For the sake of our sanity and to keep him happy she gives him the right meals.

Imagine for a moment you were looking after a friend’s hungry child. You haven’t got a clue what they usually eat. But instead of finding out you cook them fried chicken and chips. It’s your favourite meal so you presume they’ll like it.

You serve it to them expecting them to eat it and be satisfied. The child sits there staring at the plate of food. They push it away and starts crying. You tempt them to eat it. But the more you try, the harder they cry.

In marketing you can treat potential customer like that hungry child. You feed them the information you think they need. You tempt them to buy products or use your services. But instead of solving their problems or meeting their needs you lose them to your competitors.

How do you find out what your customers need? What are they hungry for? What problem makes them want to shout? What’s making them miserable? What’s keeping them up at nights?

There’s only one way to find out. Get to know them. If you don’t know your customers, it will be hard to market to them.

When you know them you can give them what they need.

So who are your customers? Where do they hang out?

You can find some of them here:

  • On the internet
  • In the Chamber of Commerce
  • From your competitors
  • The national press and industries
  • At exhibitions and trade fairs
  • From your competitor’s annual report at Companies House (if they’re a limited company) in the UK

The next step is to create a profile of your ideal customer. You’ll have to get some details about therm first. Use surveys, questionnaires or ask them directly.

Find out about their:

  • Gender
  • Name
  • Age
  • Salary
  • Job
  • Hobbies
  • Marital status
  • Nationality
  • Size of family
  • Buying and spending habits
  • Likes and dislikes
  • What they worry about

With that information write their profile. It could be something like this, “Mary is a 35-year-old English woman. She’s married with a five-year old son. She’s a manager of a hair salon. She earns £25k. She worries about not spending enough time with her son because of her work schedule. She shops at Marks & Spencer, New Look and buys books from Amazon etc.

Now you’ve got a clearer picture of your ideal customer. Create a marketing strategy that’s focused on meeting their needs. Give them what they’re looking for. Solve their problems. And they’ll keep coming back to you. A satisfied customer is a returning customer.

Tehmina Zaman wrote a more detailed post on ‘How to Create Your Ideal Customer Profile’It’s worth reading.

 

Take a marketing risk and do something different

Children take risks like they’re playing games. They don’t think about the dangers. They just go for it. They’ll do things like walking on a high concrete wall and not worry about falling off.

I grew up in the country in Jamaica. I wasn’t a tomboy. But I tried anything I saw my cousin doing. He was 8 and I was 6. One day he climbed a huge tree and dared me to do the same. Without thinking twice I followed him to the top of the tree. He climbed down and left me up there.

Iguana Lizard

A green iguana lizard

Suddenly, out of nowhere a large iguana lizard appeared. It sat on a branch in front of me staring. I couldn’t climb any higher and I couldn’t get down. I had to wait till the lizard moved out of my way. I was stuck in the tree for at least an hour.

Do you know what taking that risk did? It took away my fear of lizards.

Are you afraid of trying something new? If you keep doing the same old thing, nothing will change. Do something different to get different results.

Have you considered using an old-fashioned direct mail marketing method?

Instead of writing emails, write sales letters. Post your marketing materials to selected potential customers in a traditional mailbox.

For a touch of creativity use coloured envelopes. Write the addresses by hand and put postage stamps on the envelopes. In your package you could include a letter, brochure and reply card.

It’s more expensive than sending emails but it’s worth it.

Linda Formichelli wrote a post on Copyblogger about the benefits of direct mail marketing.  In her article she talked about why and how using snail mail works to land more clients.

 

Step out of your comfort zone

Children aren’t afraid of experimenting. They know how to feel the fear and do it anyway.

My friend’s son was playing in the garden one afternoon. After a few minutes he came in and called me. “June, look what I found.” He was holding the biggest snail in the palm of his hands. It wasn’t nice for me! I don’t like creepy-crawly things.

Are you ready to step out of your comfort zone? If you are, try cold calling. It takes courage to do. But its effective.

Before you cold call prepare your mind. You’ll get some rejections. Do your homework first and you’ll get good results.

Here are some cold calling tips:

  • Write a script and stick to it. It will help you say the right things. When nervousness kicks in you could forget what you’re supposed to say.
  • Find out the name of the person you want to speak to. Google the company. Check out their LinkedIn profile or call the company and ask for the person’s name. I saw an opportunity to write for a blog of a  local nursery. I called the nursery and asked for the person in charge of the website. The receptionist gave me their name and direct telephone number. It was easier than I thought.
  • Keep a record of the calls you make. Create a spreadsheet and list the names of businesses, the date, the people you speak to, telephone numbers, email addresses and action taken. Measure your progress.
  • If the person is interested in your products or services, book a convenient time to have a meeting with them. It doesn’t have to be face-to-face. You can have a meeting on Skype.

 

Make new friends

Children are good at making friends. They hang out together. Share sweets. Comfort each other. Go everywhere together. They never get fed up of being together. They’ll even fight to protect each other. And they love playing together.

You can’t grow a successful business solo. You need people. Social media is somewhere you can find those people. It’s also an effective marketing tool.

“The way of the world is meeting people through other people.” ~ Robert Kerrigan

Social media is growing at a rapid pace. Facebook is one of the most popular online networking sites. In 2012 Facebook alone had over 1,056 million users. That number is growing daily.

Facebook users in 2012

Facebook users in 2012

In 2010 Twitter reported that it had over 50 million tweets daily. Their users for the June 2013 was 218 million. That number has grown since then. Many people (including your target customers) are spending more time on Twitter each day.

Twitter monthly active users in 2013

Twitter monthly active users in 2013

Apart from Facebook and Twitter, there’s also LinkedIn, Google+ and You Tube.

Bear in mind that you’re not just using social media to make your marketing campaign go viral. Instead, use it to build a community of people to connect with.

So, how do you make friends with your potential customers using social media?

First of all, there are rules to follow for a successful marketing campaign on social media sites.

Some of them are:

  • Be an observer to start with. Check out what’s going on. Listen  to conversations and take note of people’s behaviour.
  • Get involved by making friends. Start interesting conversations with your followers on Twitter. Show genuine interest in what they’re saying. Offer valuable discounts and promotions. But don’t focus on selling or talking too much about marketing.
  • It’s easy to get sucked into using social media. You could spend hours tweeting or hanging out on Facebook. Make a plan of action. Use your time wisely. Decide how long you’ll spend developing your profile, interacting with others and promoting your products or services.
  • Be prepared to work on your marketing efforts till you see results. You probably won’t see success straight away. But be patient and consistent.

As children grow and mature, they gain knowledge. Your business will grow as you apply new knowledge to your marketing efforts. Try different strategies and focus on the successful ones. But don’t forget, marketing is about building relationships first. When your customers know and trust you, they will gladly buy from you. But only if you give them what they need.

Photo credit: Pixabay

Can you add any more marketing lessons to this list? What’s worked for you?

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