Childlike Marketing (No Kidding!)

May 5, 2008 Blog 3 comments

Child’s Play or a Lesson in Marketing?

As I was going for a run this evening at the neighbourhood park, I noticed how kids have this boundless energy aimed at the sole purpose of having non-stop fun. Jumping and skipping from one activity to another, they appear not to have a care in the world, and are focused on their agenda of having pure, unadulterated fun. While watching them play in glee, it hit me that perhaps there are lessons there that we can learn from in the realm of marketing.

Indeed, some of the traits of childhood – especially at play – are invaluable to us jaded marketers. They include the following:
Being Lithe, Lean and Lightfooted

Notice how fast kids can be in adapting to their circumstances? Agile and unencumbered, they sprint from activity to activity, determined to make the most of their limited playtime. In the same light, marketers should manoeuvre their marketing measures to adapt with fast changing consumer tastes and desires. Don’t keep using the same old tactic when it reeks of stagnation!

Wide-eyed Wonder and Awe

Ever observed how kids tend to be more easily impressed with stuff compared to the typical cynical and battle-scarred adult? Well, perhaps one could take a lesson or two from their expressions of wonder, and see how this sense of wonderment and awe could be woven into one’s business. I think what you need is an active imagination, a sense of stretching oneself beyond the confines of tradition, and an ability to go beyond the call of service. Don’t sting on making your customers open-jawed as it pays tremendous dividends over time.

High Degrees of Spontaneity and Improvisation

Have you seen how quickly kids can think on their feet and come up with a story or scenario that is wilder and taller than anything you can ever conjure up in your boardroom? What’s even more impressive is that they can do it in a jiffy. Being quick-witted and responsive is a trait that we should learn from kids, and a very important skill in the often unforgiving marketplace. See what’s needed and act on opportunities as soon as they arise rather than wait for a 100 page report from the market researchers or analysts.

Being Transparent and Straightforward

Kids are generally unpretentious, frank and forthright in the way they communicate with others. They are clear and coherent in what they want, and seldom take a long-winded convoluted route in moving from point A to point B. In the same spirit, it may be useful for us to be more transparent and upfront in our dealings with our customer – assuming we have their best intentions in mind. Let us be honest from the onset about what’s possible and what’s not, and be sincere in our dealings with our clients. You may be surprised that the cliched aged-old saying of honesty being the best policy do work.

A Generous Dose of Creativity without Thinking

Most kids are born creative and innovative. What happens over the years is that us adults slowly but surely suck every ounce of original thinking out of them. Similarly, one could think like a child and be open to all kinds of wacky and controversial ideas in marketing. Why should one call a spade a spade when it could be used as a spoon for example? Stretching one’s mind and expanding one’s horizon is a good exercise to embrace when challenging the norms of convention.

Lots of Humour and Cheekiness

This is probably the most important rule of all. You need to have fun in your marketing. Don’t ever dismiss the might of mirth, and bring a smile or laugh to your customers. They will love you for it. Notice how kids are always smiling or laughing over the smallest matter? Copy them! Bring joy to your customers – and colleagues – and make your marketing materials enjoyable to your consumers.

Hmmmm….Perhaps it is time once again for us to rediscover our inner child? At the same time, would adopting a childlike stance make us too naive and open to the evils of this world though? What are your thoughts on this matter?

….”I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.”
Matthew 18:3

By Walter
Founder of Cooler Insights, I am a geek marketer with almost 24 years of senior management experience in marketing, public relations and strategic planning. Since becoming an entrepreneur 5 years ago, my team and I have helped 58 companies and over 2,200 trainees in digital marketing, focusing on content, social media and brand storytelling.


  1. I had the pleasure of playing with my nephew last Saturday afternoon and I can’t help but agree that it might be beneficial for marketers to learn a thing or two from kids.

    The honesty, creativity, curiousity and cheekeness are great traits for being uninhibited and using the “right side” of our brain. Awesome traits to possess especially if you’re a creative.

    Unfortunately, many of us are schooled to be logical thinkers who feel uncomfortable with anything fresh or out of place, limiting our brains to the confines of being a dusty old man. We’re sensible not to try anything foolish or evil, but we’ll never see the treasure at the end of the rainbow.

    Might be the educational system we’ve toiled through here in Singapore, but bringing out our inner child at the right time with the guidance of our dusty old man could prove to be the creative spark all marketers need!

  2. Thanks for your comments Mark. I think that we have much to learn from kids in how we market our products, services, brands and companies. Agree that the aspect of play is missing in many of our lives, and something that needs to be there in order for one to create great marketing.

  3. Marketers are sometimes guilty of doing only “hard sell” and not enough of “heart sell”.

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