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What Parenting Can Teach Us About Marketing

What Parenting Can Teach Us About Marketing


At 42, I recently became an “instant” father. I married a wonderful woman with 3 boys, and I now have the privilege of being a stepdad to them. It’s not something I have taken lightly, and while I thought I was prepared for this life-changing event, I learned that I was only prepared intellectually, not emotionally.

In just 2 short weeks of living with them, I’ve made all kinds of mistakes I didn’t expect to make in situations that I didn’t expect to encounter. Luckily, they’re the kind of kids (and wife!) that give you a lot of grace and love you anyway, and I am grateful.

When we went to church this past Father’s Day Sunday, the pastor talked about the kind of relationship a father has with his kids. He said that when a father hasn’t spent enough time building a relationship with his kids, there is likely to be a good bit of rebellion when he tries to speak into their lives. But the more the father focuses on building a quality relationship first, the more his kids are likely to listen to him, to respect him, and to follow him. Like most things, you have to earn it.

I have a lot of work to do.

It occurred to me that marketing is a lot like that. We sometimes try to speak to our prospective customers before we’ve really built a relationship with them. And what do they do? They “rebel.” They tune us out and don’t buy from us.

Fortunately, there are more ways than ever for marketers to build relationships with prospects. One that I have re-embraced recently is the good old-fashioned letter, written one at a time specifically for the recipient, not a form letter. And of course, social media has given us a channel to have a “passive dialogue” with our customers and prospects. It feels a lot less threatening to most people while still allowing us to “talk” to each other.

The better I know you — the better our relationship — the more likely I am to do business with you.

The next time you’re marketing to one prospect or to hundreds, ask yourself, “Have I built the kind of relationship that will allow them to hear me?”