2016 was a big year for our family as we welcomed our first child into the world. We have been trying to have children for a while now so it’s been an exciting period in our lives. As a new father, I wanted to be sure that I was doing everything I could to be a good dad. But of course, I haven’t had any prior experience in this area which meant I had to spend some time studying up on fatherhood.
I spent a good deal of time reading books and talking with older gentlemen I know who’ve done a pretty good job at raising their kids. During my research, I noticed some interesting parallels between thoughtful parenting and developing and implementing a solid marketing strategy. I decided it would be an interesting exercise to draw those connections in a blog post.
So, if you’re interested in learning the fundamentals of good parenting (and good digital marketing strategy) please read on.
Providing The Absolute Necessities
This one is going to sound like a no brainer, but shockingly the first key to good parenting is providing the basic living necessities for your children. This includes things like food, shelter, clothing, healthcare, etc. If you don’t do these things, your children won’t be with you for very long (The State is kind of finicky about these things).
There’s a similar principle in play to build a solid digital marketing strategy. Before you can go off chasing the new, shiny toy, gadget, or app, you must provide the fundamental necessities of a website that loads quickly, free of page errors, easy to navigate and with proper tracking implemented. It’s the base of the Marketing Stack. This also seems like it should be a no-brainer, but sadly you’d be surprised at how many companies neglect to make sure that these fundamentals are all in place.
Giving Time and Attention
“And the cat’s in the cradle and the silver spoon, little boy blue and the man in the moon”. You’ve probably heard the line when it comes to parenting, that it’s not the amount of time you give but the quality. Well, sadly this is just an excuse that some people use to justify prioritizing other things over their children (You’re future in the PGA isn’t going to happen, let it go…). The fact is if you want to create the greatest possible environment for healthy thriving children, you’re going to need to spend time with them. You need to talk to them, listen to them, read with them, participate in activities with them. You get the picture. There are no shortcuts
A similar concept applies to developing your digital marketing program, simply put there are no cheap short cuts to a long-term successful digital marketing strategy. You’re going to have to invest time and resources building and executing your strategy. If you don’t, you might see momentary lifts from time to time, but you’ll never realize the full potential of your marketing and sales efforts.
Staying Consistent and Patient
To thrive, children need consistency from their parents. For a child, parents are the bedrock of safety and security that they rely on. If a child doesn’t know what to expect from their parents from one day to the next and can’t establish trust, then they’ll wind up with emotional challenges that will follow them for the rest of their lives (And make some psychologist very wealthy).
Consistency is also important to a solid digital marketing strategy. If one month you decide to pour a bunch of money into SEO, but then decide the next to cut it, you’re never going to realize the benefit. I would never argue that testing, iteration, and optimization aren’t critical, and there should absolutely be room for that within the guiding framework of your overarching strategy. Being patient enough to see through a deliberate, focused, and constant digital marketing strategy pays dividends over the medium to long term. Bouncing back and forth in what you want to do will get you nowhere fast, and end up losing you a lot of money. (It might even occasionally frustrate the hell out of your marketing department/agency. Not sayin’. Just sayin’.)
Studying Your Child
A big part of your job as a parent is to help your child prepare for their future life as an independent adult. You need to train your child in the skills and tools necessary to be successful in life. You also need to help them discover where their talents lie and encourage them in exploring and developing those talents. To do this you need to study your child; you need to observe their personality, their interests, their talents, etc.… You don’t impose your idea of what they should be (E.g. – “you can be anything you want as long as it’s a doctor”). Instead you need to help them find what they’re drawn to and encourage them in that pursuit.
A similar concept applies to good digital marketing; it starts with an unassailable knowledge of your audience. Far too often, businesses take the approach of dictating to their audience what they need, think, feel, etc.… This is a recipe for failure. Instead, you need to take the time (and spend the resources) to study and learn what it is you target audience wants. You need to find out what questions are they asking, what needs do they have, what messages ultimately resonate with them, etc.… Once you understand your target audience, you can build a digital marketing strategy that will be far more successful.
There is a classic saying in project management that says if you fail to plan, then you plan to fail (All the PM’s in the house nod in unison). This is as true in parenting as it is in every other area of life. If you want to be successful as a parent, then you’ve got to put some thought into it. This doesn’t mean you have every single detail of every single day planned out. It means that you’re thinking ahead as to how you’re going to train your child up in the way they should go.
Do you want a literate child? Then you should read with them. Do you want a child that appreciates art and culture? Then you should take them to concerts and museums. Do you want a child that isn’t self-absorbed and actually cares about others? Then you should participate in service activities with them. Children will not learn these things just because you say so; you need to plan out ways to show them. Also, do you want your child to get a good education? Then guess what, you better start thinking about where they’re going to school. Are they going to go to a public or private school, what about the school district? (Oh, yeah college is expensive, start saving)
This concept applies equally strongly to digital marketing; in order to be successful in your marketing efforts, you must invest time and resources building a comprehensive long term strategy. You need to think about user experience and optimizing your site for organic search (SEO), your PPC campaign strategy, analytics tracking, your content strategy, your social media strategy. Are you going to build an in-house team to manage all of this, or are you going to outsource it to an agency? Are you going to do a mix of both? If so, how are you going to structure that relationship? (I’m just scratching the surface here.) There are many things to think about, and if you want to be successful in your online presence and engagement with your target audience; then you need to think through all these aspects and build a plan.
Hopefully you’ve enjoyed humoring me on some of the lessons I’ve learned in regard to parenting and developing and implementing a solid digital marketing strategy. The principles discussed here are just a starting point in both cases; but they are a necessary foundation that can’t be ignored. Provide the fundamental necessities, invest your time and attention, stay consistent, study your audience, and plan comprehensively. And look at that, you’re on a great path as both a new parent or a marketer. Maybe even both.