After welcoming our third daughter into the world a couple weeks ago, I’ve been spending a lot of time at home on paternity leave.
This meant a lot of Mr. Mom time for me, as my older girls (6 and 3), were both home all day until school starts in August. This included trying to get our rambunctious 3 year old down for a nap everyday.
Of course, I’ve done this a bunch in the past, but never everyday for 2 weeks straight. Let’s just say, there was a little bit of a learning curve.
But one benefit (aside from spending so much time with my girls), was seeing how the same tactics I used putting my toddler to bed, could be applied to marketing. Here are three of the lessons I “earned.”
Set the right expectations
One of the big things that separated a tantrum from a good transition to nap time was setting the right expectations.
That meant trying to set up a routine so she knew a nap was coming which may mean – playing on the bed, reading a story, and brushing teeth.
I also started to give her plenty of advance warning of the impending nap, and did regular updates.
After we play, we’ll read a book, brush teeth and take a nap.
10 more minutes and it’s time to read a book, brush teeth and take a nap.
After this book, we’ll brush teeth and take a nap.
By repeatedly setting expectations and letting her know what’s coming next, it made it easier to get to the next step until nap time.
For marketing, the concept of setting and ultimately fulfilling expectations is a big part of converting leads into customers, and customers into advocates.
This holds true from the broadest brand awareness campaign, down to the copy on a confirmation email.
As an example, compare the Zappos experience to that of Amazon for buying shoes. The two companies can sell the exact same shoe, but have far different value propositions that wins them loyal customers.
For Zappos, it’s all about the customer experience and every policy they have is centered around that. Where else would a call center employee be celebrated for a 10-hour call?
On the other hand, Amazon promises low prices and convenience of shopping for everything in one place. So the price conscious customer looking for a deal on shoes while they also buy a TV is very happy to have the convenience of shopping on Amazon.
Imagine if Zappos started running ads that said it had the lowest prices. That wouldn’t go over well with the bargain shopper who hits their website and sees little discounting.
On a smaller tactical level, running any email marketing campaign is full of setting up and delivering expectations. It’s one reason why people hate click bait subject lines. No one likes to be over-promised and under-delivered.
Context is everything
I was in disbelief when my mom told me that my daughter would willingly go to bed when it was nap time at her house. At my mother-in-law’s house, my daughter would sleep in her stroller.
She knew that how she would nap differed based on who was watching her that day.
Even between my wife and myself, she would know that we have different routines and styles of getting her to sleep (mine being the least scheduled).
Similarly, marketing messages need to be tuned into the context they are being delivered, and to the audience.
One of the most clever integrated marketing campaigns I ever saw was from a field study I did in Japan for my MBA. We were lucky enough to visit with IBM Japan and they shared with us a campaign that was structured around the context of a business person’s daily schedule.
This meant print ads in the morning paper, ads on the morning news, transit ads on the subway, and reversing that for the evening commute. It was a brilliant campaign designed around increasing brand awareness for the business person, keeping in mind the context of how they would view it during their day.
People make emotional decisions
Ok, so this is probably no surprise, but 3 year olds are not logical at all. Everything is about the present and what benefits them now instead of the long term.
Believe me, I tried bargaining, bribes, reasoning, and threats in the beginning.
Ok we can read one more book, then it’s nap time (after the 3rd extra book)
If you take a nap, then I’ll buy you a pony (not a real one)
You need to nap so you can rest and have a fun afternoon playing with your friends
If you don’t nap right now, then you can’t play with your friends
In the end, what worked was not the bargain, bribe or threat, it was the emotional state she was in. For her, this meant making her laugh and feel happy before cajoling her into settling down.
For your audience, it may mean emphasizing the scarcity of a deal to get them afraid of missing out. Or it may mean running inspirational campaigns like Dove has done to emotionally connect your brand with positive associations.
In any case, being aware that people will often go with their “gut” on decisions can help direct your choices in strategy and tactics.
Bonus: Know when to call it quits
I didn’t win every battle and did cave and allow my daughter go sans nap a couple times.
Similarly, you can’t make every marketing channel work. Just because you’ve read case study after case study that another SaaS company got viral loops to drive their growth, doesn’t mean you have to make that work as well.
Use what works for you and double down on it when it does.