Marketing lessons I learned from a three year old

With parents working in closer proximity to their kids in the current times, there are lessons from child psychology that can be applied to business, argues Petra Smith.

Children playing


Comparing a board room to a kids’ room might sound unusual, but there are many skills that we learn as parents that can be translated into business success. I learn from my kids each day – they teach me to look at things from a different perspective from everyday life to work and they make me notice the correlation between bringing up children and managing various aspects of business.

To me, it seems that, particularly in marketing, there are a few lessons a child’s perspective can teach us:

Kids love stories

Storytelling is one of the most effective ways to attract people’s attention – no matter if your audience is a small child, clients or employees. Neuroscience research confirms that irrespective of the way we present the story – words, gestures or pictures – our brains create connections with the specific people and their feelings in the story. This connection is much more intense compared to facts and data and our memories are more intense and last longer.

Storytelling in marketing creates a competitive advantage. Sharing stories allows us to connect with people in real life, create emotional connections and trigger our listeners’ attention. We all know how to tell a story, but what makes a difference is being able to tell a good story and tell the story well, making it relevant to the audience. And successful marketing is just about that – telling a memorable story, at the right time and in front of the right people.

Kids remember through repetition

Kids are like sponges – they learn very quickly, but for information to stick, they need to hear and experience the information more than once. The same applies for a successful marketing communication strategy – the communication needs to be consistent and ongoing.

Repetition increases memory. The more we see something, knowingly or unknowingly, we become familiar with it. Research shows that on average, consumers need to be exposed to a marketing message at least three times before they take action, but you need to strike the right balance and create a regular communication strategy, instead of just focusing on high volume – as with everything else in business, finding the right balance is the route to success.

Kids learn through experience

Kids learn every moment of the day, every day. They don’t look at learning as we do. Instead, they learn through play and interaction with other kids. Kids love to touch objects and experience new things. They are so enthusiastic about everything new, they take the leap without any hesitation. There is something fascinating about how they take risks and learn from them – both if they get hurt or if they love the experience. Of course, kids need to be developmentally ready for certain tasks, but if they are interested in, and want something, they will go for it.

Just like successful marketing is about giving your audience a memorable experience – big or small, the objective should always be to give them opportunity to experience what your brand stands for.

Kids ask us ‘why’?

Kids are curious. They ask many questions, as soon as they learn how to speak, and they will ask you more questions than you can answer. They know very little when they are born, but within the first few months and years of their lives, they transform into real people, mainly as a result of being curious and exploring the world around them.

In marketing, we often talk about brands – their benefits and features, but very often we miss the ‘why?’. Why should your audience care or why would a brand make their life any better or easier? By asking why, brands can communicate their unique value proposition in a way that is clear and simple to understand, making it stand out and prove to any potential clients that they should stop looking for similar products and services elsewhere.

Kids have a short attention span

No matter how curious they are, they can only sit still and absorb new information for a limited time. But getting their attention is only one part of the success – you then need to maintain it for as long as possible. Similarly, in marketing communication you only have your audience’s attention for a short while, so it’s important that you make the most out of it.  Thanks to information overload and our fast-paced digital culture, the attention span of your audience is narrowing.

A recent study shows that 55% of consumers read an article for 15 seconds or less – and what’s more, eight out of 10 people read an article’s headline only. With so much content to consume and such little time to consume it, it is essential to be creative if you want to cut through the noise and grab people’s attention.

One thing that really works on my children, and by the looks of things on the rest of the population, is fear of missing out. That is why social media stories which are only available for a short period of time are so popular – they are capitalising on your audience’ fear of missing out.

*Petra Smith [pictured above] is the Founder and Managing Director of Squirrels&Bears, a London based marketing consultancy for growing businesses.

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