Throughout my recent maternity leave, I spent my days re-acclimating myself to the demands and idiosyncrasies of a newborn. As this wasn’t my first rodeo, I even managed to stay in touch with my Access family and managed a few projects here and there in between infant giggles, midnight feedings, and the daily pursuit of risk by my three-year-old.
Staying clued in with work has caused me, on more than one occasion, to consider a few comparisons between marketing challenges and the trials of caring for a newborn.
Clean up the spit-up, and move on.
Everything can be done right, but sometimes babies spit-up to spite you. Mine certainly does. Best way to deal with the mess is clean it up, learn from it if you can (hmmm, maybe I should have grabbed that burp rag after all,) and move on.
As marketers, we painstakingly research, plan, and execute down to the tiniest detail. Usually that process results in brilliant campaigns that generate results and win awards. But sometimes, campaigns spit-up. A typo gets overlooked, a PR win gets a negative spin, a media placement goes unnoticed, or a message that tested well doesn’t resonate the way you thought it would. We do our best to prevent these things, but no one is perfect. The best creative and the most impactful marketing plans are built upon years of learning from mistakes and moving on.
Adapt constantly to needs and interests.
Anyone who is a parent knows what I mean by this. Baby sleeps 8 hours in the swaddle one night and wants nothing to do with it the next night. The swing that soothed her last week is now apparently a torture device. With a newborn, as with marketing, survival is dependent on the ability to adapt.
For marketers, that means not only adapting strategy, but paying attention to how your audience is changing. Make a point to check in periodically for feedback or to identify shifts in perception, attitude, or even whether a need still exists for your solution (maybe there’s a new need that your competitors aren’t addressing!) Audience research will help you stay to relevant with customers and rise above the noise.
Think on your feet.
Recently while we were out, the baby had an accident and we were without a spare pair of pants. (ROOKIE MISTAKE. What was I thinking?) It was 40 degrees outside. Girlfriend needed pants. And so, we created what we proudly refer to as Jants – we used her jacket as pants. Was it cute? No. (Actually yes, because she’s adorable.) But did it work in a pinch? Yes indeed.
Thinking creatively to get out of an unexpected hiccup might surprise you with fantastic (or at least memorable) results. This is par for the course in focus groups or PR events, especially where it is a fact that an issue will arise that was not anticipated (in the case of focus groups, its usually fantastic when this happens.) Roll with it, ask smart questions, or jump into action and you can overcome just about anything.
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Now that I’m getting back in the swing of things, I’m working out a new routine for juggling work and life with two kids, but one thing remains certain for me; no marketing or parenting challenge is too great that it can’t be managed with creative thinking that generates amazing results.
Of course, I always hope to avoid the spit-up altogether. With work and at home.