My cousin recently gave birth to her first child, a baby girl named Kendall. Recalling the countless hours we had spent reading to our son, my husband and I invested a happy afternoon selecting a mini library to welcome our new family member.
As so often happens to me, I couldn't help relating this experience to my work. The best children's books always come with a lesson that is bigger than a mere bedtime story, and I delighted in thinking about how my favorite books communicated to our son lessons that I use in my marketing communications. I thought I'd share just a few examples.
As I pen this blog, I'm smiling. And I hope you are as well.
In "Moo Baa La La La" (Little Simon, 1982), Sandra Boynton's lyric prose succinctly relates various animals with the way they "speak," and ends by asking her readers to contribute their own words.
The lesson for us marketers is to speak to our customers in their own language.
It's not uncommon for us to use the internal shorthand language of our companies when speaking with our customers, and can be confusing to them. Or worse, it can sound exclusionary to those who do not understand.
It's also a great idea for us to allow customers to tell us what problem they need to solve in their own words.
In "Oh, the Places You'll Go!" (Random House, 1990), Dr. Seuss congratulates young readers on their achievements, relates the perils that await them and encourages them to continue to take chances.
We've all found ourselves in situations where senior management tells us to innovate and take chances, yet we don't because we fear that failure is not an option.
When we're confronted with the reality of inadequate resources, it's tempting to do the safe thing, yet it's times like these when we must take our executives at their word. A calculated risk is defensible even if it means experimenting with unknown outcomes. When we do fail—because we all will at some point—document the lessons learned and move on.
The moral for senior management is to congratulate the behavior even in the face of less-than-optimal results.
In "Go, Dog. Go!" (Random House Books for Young Readers, 1966), P. D. Eastman uses words and illustrations to introduce little ones to the concepts of numbers, colors and opposites. Additionally, a recurring question is posed throughout the book as the pink poodle seeks acceptance of her hat.
The marketing lesson is simple: Segmentation and clustering is key our job in marketing. Knowing what messages to present to what audience at what time will improve our chances of success.
Marketing is all about aligning the offer to the appropriate audience. We won't always be successful but we have to keep experimenting, and we have to remember to gather input from our customers.
Our tele teams understand this lesson. Even though the first several prospects may not "like" our product, if we've done our jobs properly they eventually will find the folks who do indeed—as the pups do in "Go, Dog. Go!"— "like our party hat."