There's no denying the power of cute

4 marketing tips from a 4-month-old

As mentioned in a recent blog post, I became a father pretty recently. And, well, this baby has been growing and changing quite a bit in the past few months. It turns out that I’ve learned a lot about babies that resonates with what I know about credit union marketing, and members.

I’m definitely not saying you should treat your members like babies. Instead, I believe that many CU marketers get so caught up in the campaigns and products that they forget the “back to basics” lessons where we all get started. 

So here are five quick marketing tips that spending time with a baby can help you remember:

There’s no denying the power of cute

Kittens, puppies and babies. Every marketer knows the draw of the adorable. It’s so well-known that you might think it’s kind of lazy to just throw a cute critter on your ad campaign. But you can’t say it’s not effective. If it’s lazy and it works, it’s not lazy.

Cute things tap into our subconscious and make us feel good, to put it simply. Anyone who has seen or experienced the phenomenon known as “cute aggression” can tell you that it’s not entirely rational. Which means it’s a perfect target for marketing.

This doesn’t mean it’s infallible, however. Slapping a baby on your ad won’t guarantee a home-run. I’m sure I’m not alone in watching a bad commercial for diapers or other baby products, and wondering, “How did you mess THAT up?”

Simple and fun are still valid

People have bemoaned how the internet and social media are shortening people’s attention spans ever since, well, the internet happened. I can’t speak to whether that’s right or wrong, but I’d like to submit another perspective: People also say that babies have short attention spans, and I think they’re leaving out some important information.

Babies might seem to have short attention spans, but they’re not just getting bored. To a baby, everything is new and potentially interesting, and they have no experience to draw upon when deciding what to pay attention to. In fact, they’re often so overstimulated that if we want their attention we’re better off relying on tried and true methods, such as bright colors, motion and unique sounds.

It’s worth remembering that everyone is being bombarded with noise and information constantly, not just babies. It’s nearly impossible to keep up with it all, and since we’re not babies anymore we can’t just choose option a, “sit down and cry.” We’ve all built up internal content filters instead, presenting a unique challenge for the modern marketer.

The things that do seem to get past many people’s filters are straightforward, novel, and fun. I can’t promise your members will be as easy to entertain as a baby, but aiming for those three qualities might help.

Everything is worth exploring

A lot of being four months old seems to involve examining anything you can get your grabby little hands on, and then putting it in your mouth. I can’t say I recommend that last part in your day-to-day marketing efforts, but the constant exploration is a tool worth remembering. If you try to approach known quantities with a fresh perspective, you might find something you missed before.

There’s another way to look at this as well. Being a parent, I’ve often found myself re-examining things through my child’s eyes. I feel like the same principle can be applied to how you watch your members interact with your campaigns, products and website. This is, in fact, a large part of User Experience, or UX, Design. Watching someone who lacks your familiarity navigate an interface is incredibly informative.

When all else fails, there are surefire ways to get noticed

Our little one has learned about volume recently, and let me tell you she’s making the most of that discovery. A sudden outburst from the tiniest person in the household gets a lot of attention. 

Again, this is a commonly-employed marketing tactic, and arguably one that lacks refinement. But I can’t deny that it’s also effective. For example, I’ve always thought the Arby’s “We have the meats” campaign and the Geico “Caveman” campaign were just categorically dull. But that doesn’t stop me from recognizing them when they appear. If something is “loud” enough and repeated often enough, you can’t keep it out of your brain.

The last lesson I wanted to include here might seem a little crude, but any parent can tell you it’s hard to ignore something when it starts to stink. It’s almost funny how quickly a stinky baby becomes everyone’s top priority.

It’s sort of the opposite for marketing campaigns. The ones that stink get ignored. You might get some mileage out of an auto loan refi campaign along those lines, though. (“Your current rate stinks!” Seriously, we’d love to make that campaign with you, so hit us up!)

Sam Dicken

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