Topics: Content Marketing

5 Ways Marketing is a lot Like Parenting (or, An Ode to Marketers and Fathers Everywhere)

Picture of Chris Heiler Author: Chris Heiler

Chris and Charlie Heiler


Happy Father's Day, Dads! Give yourselves a slap on the back, kick your feet up and grab a cold one--it's your day!

I'm hardly the perfect dad. Bike helmets are not mandatory at dad's place. Charlie (four) has taken a liking to Pink videos over The Wiggles--and I'm fine with that. And, last time I sent him off to daycare with a snack I packed a bowl of peanuts and a granola bar laced with the same. Evidently peanuts are frowned upon at school? Who knew...

Despite all this I still consider myself to be a pretty good dad (though not as awesome as this dad). I also like to think I'm a pretty good marketer. And when parenting and marketing are pretty much the only two things on your mind 24/7 (two out of three anyway :-), you tend to find similarities between the two. So I wanted to capture the similarities I've found between marketing and parenting and share them with you on this special day. Here we go...


"Don't talk to strangers" is the dumbest advice ever. Ever!

I'll start here because, taken literally, this is the crappiest thing you can teach your kids. Why not instead just tell them to "fear the world and be afraid of everybody"? I let Charlie talk to whomever he feels like striking up a conversation with. That might be a homeless person at the bus stop or an attractive girl walking her dog (I actually encourage this, for my sake of course). As long as he doesn't walk off with the person, why should I advise him not to have a conversation?

Imagine as a business owner (yes, you're a marketer) that you heed this advice and don't talk to strangers. Good luck staying in business. Growing a business is all about talking to strangers. It's called networking, whether at your local chamber of commerce or on LinkedIn.


Better have thick skin

Charlie is in to yelling at me lately. "You're. Being. Rude!" is his standard response when I try correcting his bad behavior. I would prefer, "Gee, thanks for the constructive criticism, Dad. Next time I spill my milk on the floor right in front of you I won't blame someone else." We haven't gotten to this point yet.

If you're a marketer -- a good marketer, I should say -- you'd better have some thick skin because you're going to piss some people off. I've had an assortment of people tell me "I suck" and, my personal favorite, that I'm either "full of sh*t" or a "piece of sh*t".

It's 2013, folks. Your small business is open to criticism and negativity like never before. Deal with it. If you have a habit of treating your customers like crap your business will be exposed and will suffer the consequences. On the other hand, you have an opportunity to be the hero and build a business that thrives in today's connected world.


Consistency is key

Especially for kids like Charlie who have two single parents and two homes, consistency is ultra-important in their life.

Marketing your business requires the same consistency. You can't take four months off because you're having a busy spring (sound familiar?). You build momentum by being consistent and relentless.


Don't wait for things to happen

You have to be proactive as a parent and as a marketer. I want Charlie to be a die-hard Notre Dame fan like the rest of his crazy family. That means sitting his butt in front of the television on Saturday afternoons to watch the Irish. Well...maybe that's not a good example...

I mentioned the importance of consistency above. You also need to be aggressive. Don't be passive. Don't wait for things to happen. There is only one person who cares about your business: YOU!

You want your kid to be well-mannered? It's up to you. You want to grow your business? Same deal.


Be a mad scientist

I don't have to tell you that every kid is different. Hell, they're different on different days! "I. Don't. WANT. A. TACO!", Charlie yells at me a day after happily eating a taco. 

No one has all the answers when it comes to parenting (except maybe that Dr. Sears guy). Same with marketing. Every business is different. Don't fall into the trap of copying everything your competitors are doing. You have to experiment--try new things, new ways. Find out what works effectively for your business.


There you have it, probably the only parenting advice I'll ever dish out on this blog. So, Dads, put your marketing hat on the shelf for today -- you can get after it on Monday -- just enjoy the day being a dad. And here's a big slap on the back, from Charlie and I in Austin, to all you awesome dads out there! (Sorry, I'm not a hugger)

P.S.- I'm hardly the perfect son as well. I just realized I completely forgot to send my dad a Father's Day card. Sorry Dad, I love you. You don't need a card to know that.

image credits: me

Picture of Chris Heiler

About Chris Heiler

Chris is the founder and CEO of Landscape Leadership. He has been in the green industry for over 20 years. Aside from leading the team at Landscape Leadership he enjoys speaking at green industry events across the country sharing his insights on marketing and sales. Chris now lives in Austin, TX, a transplant from the midwest and the great state of Michigan.

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