3 Content Marketing Lessons Learned from Parenting

3 Content Marketing Lessons Learned from Parenting

Wait, what? Parenting and marketing are the same? Absolutely. I’ve given this considerable thought and think I’m onto something here. Now let me preface things by sharing that I’m the mother of a 15-year old boy, 3 dogs and a cat, but she doesn’t think about me as a parent, more like a servant.

As a parent, you try to shape the behavior of your children to ensure they grow into reliable, quality adults. To do this you must appeal to the things that make them tick and motivate them. It’s rare that a child will do something simply because you said so (especially at 15), so hitting their “hot buttons” becomes a viable tactic to elicit the desired behaviors.

As a marketer, you try to shape the behavior of your respondents to ensure they grow into reliable, quality leads for sales. To do this, you can leverage content that is designed to appeal to the things that make them tick… see where I’m going with this?

Think about content marketing as the guidance you apply in your parenting, an approach that helps to inform, educate and nurture children into adulthood and prospects into… well… “leadhood”(did I just create a new buzzword?)

If you’ve done right by your approach, targeted the right messages at them, and applied the appropriate lead scoring to know when they’re fully grown, your leads (all grown up!) will reliably reap profits for your organization.
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So, how are marketers doing as it relates to content marketing?

While we inherently know that content marketing is valuable to our marketing efforts, companies are still reporting that they’re falling short on execution. Data collected by the Aberdeen Group in May 2013 from 96 marketing practitioners in 81 companies that use content marketing tells a pretty clear story about these challenges (see the chart below).



The truth is, lessons drawn from parenting can be applied to some of these content marketing challenges. I’ve come up with 3 key takeaways worthy of consideration, but the list is truly limitless.

  1. Know your buyer inside and out. You wouldn’t try to parent your child by keeping them at arm’s length and not knowing their personality, likes, and dislikes. Trying to market to buyers without a true understanding of what they care about will not build a relationship. I’m a firm believer that if you are willing to listen, your buyer (or child) will tell you everything you need to know to successfully sell (or parent) to them. Good content marketing begins with buyer research. This is why I am such a proponent of persona-based marketing. Put the time in; it’s worth it.
  2. Keep your messages simple. You don’t read a dissertation to your toddler, so why would you overcomplicate what you’re trying to say to the buyer? Avoid fifty-cent words, those “obscure words used to describe a simple idea thus making the user self-important” according to to Merriam-Webster. In marketing, using fifty-cent words and jargon make you sound long-winded and disconnected from your audience (you know who you are.) If your goal is to persuade the readers of your content, pretend you have a limited supply of words. Remove unnecessary adjectives, glittering generalities and any extraneous words. Try to make your point (or rather your buyer’s point) using as few words as possible. And while this may seem to be the opposite of what we learned in school, where we were praised for flowery vocabulary, in marketing there are no extra points for a longer word count.
  3. Reward good behavior. Nurturing a child has both give and take elements. You reward good behavior and give time-outs for less-than-desired actions. Lead nurturing is not much different. The entire process is a give and take – the marketer gives information that the buyer wants in exchange for data on the buyer meant to identify who they are, and where they are along their buyer’s journey. Be thoughtful about this process; make the exchange equitable to ensure that the buyer keeps up with the behavior you want from them (engaging with your company’s content). Push them free goodies (content) when they’ve taken an action that moves them along the buyer’s journey. If the goodies are of value to the buyer, they’ll keep coming back for more.

I hope I’ve given you some food for thought – speaking of, that’s my son in the photo accompanying this post, showing off his vegetable-growing green thumb when he was 3.

What other lessons can parenting teach content marketers? Let me know in the comments below, or on Twitter @MaribethRoss.

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About the author

SVP of Marketing at Monetate, and veteran B2B marketer. On Twitter @MaribethRoss. Read more at www.maribethross.com

View all articles by Maribeth Ross

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