Five marketing lessons from a six year old

Nabeel Ahmed · October 14, 2010 · Short URL:

Be loud and you'll be heard; Be funny and you'll connect...

Being a single father and raising a little boy has many challenges and rewards. But my son has turned out to be an effective salesman, negotiator, comedian, teacher, and marketer. Here are six lessons I have learned from my little man.

1. Be loud and you will be heard 

In this declining economy, while companies have significantly cut down on their marketing budgets, being loud has become cheaper. Being loud will get you the attention you are looking for. How you manage and maintain this newly-found attention is completely up to you. Being loud equals to standing out. He does it because he knows that A) He will get the attention B) Most likely he will convince or blackmail me into buying him or giving him something. In the business world, in order to accomplish "B," you have to make sure you are under-promising and over-delivering. Blackmailing will most certainly make your attorney a rich man.  

2. Be funny and you will connect

Ayaan (my six year old) is super funny at times. His unfiltered humor touches me and makes me connect with him at his level. Your brand has the same power. Old Spice’s newly-found success is a great example of being funny and making people connect. The Old Testament even references the healing properties of humor: “A merry heart doeth good like a medicine.” Although our ancestors couldn’t explain it scientifically, they knew intuitively that laughter was good for the body as well as the soul. In the documentary, Art & Copy, creative advertising executives talk about how vilified and dirty advertising is perceived by the average consumer. They also talk about humor changes everything.

3. Cry and you don't get anything

One lesson I teach my child on a regular basis is that crying does not get him anything. He is beginning to get it now. He usually thinks about the pros and cons of crying before actually engaging in the practice which is a funny exercise and a smart lesson on its own. When you whine and complaint about surroundings, impacts, customers, quality, budgets, economy or anything negative for that matter, you are turning off your dad and your audience. People in general are attracted to upbeat, encouraging, positive, and optimistic outlook. Your audience is seeking confidence and assurance. Constantly looking at the negative and seeing no options when situations go awry, negative self-talk limits your success. At times when things are tough, I am guilty of it myself and I have learned that positive self-talk expands my ability to achieve, to learn, and to accomplish. Crying equals uncertainty and instability. [divider]

4. Don't say the bad words 

I am actually very proud of Ayaan. Being six, his “bad word” vocabulary is still very limited. However every now and then some new word (courtesy of poorly-rated Nickelodeon shows and cleverly-annoying Spongebob) makes it to the top of our discussion. My son uses these words because he wants to prove that he has learned something new and he is older now but it doesn’t fit well, sounds harsh, and to a degree, upsets me. Businesses often make the same mistake. I personally have made the same mistake several times before I learned about being authentic in my business dealings and the value it offers. Businesses tend to use the words their competitors are using. Big fancy words to make them appear bigger and more “credible”. Sometimes they try to use the same marketing language their competitors are. In this process they end up becoming less and less authentic and instead what they end up jeopardizing the most is their credibility. My two cents, please don't follow them or use these big words. Big words are bad words. Be authentic. There is nothing wrong with being small. It gives you the flexibility and charm, big companies wish for. [divider]

5. It's easier for me this way

During Ayaan's first grade homework projects, we often sit down and talk about the logistics of who is going to do what. He has his little workstation all setup with paper, glue, scissors, crayons, and glitter. I will at times begin by folding and cutting papers in straight lines. At one point, he grabbed it from me and said, “Dad, let me cut it sideways, it’s easier for me this way.” Whenever you are working on a project, ask yourself one question “Is there an easier way?” You will often discover that yes, there is an easier way. In some cases, it’s better than the perfect solution you were thinking about. It’s quick, it’s efficient and it delivers. Sometimes we just imagine that our problems are complex and therefore require complex solutions. Trust me, you will discover, that's not always the case. 

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Nabeel Ahmed

I am a visionary entrepreneur with almost 16+ years of extensive Marketing and Business Development expertise. I have had the opportunity to grow startups as well as fortune 500 companies. I have been part of 5 start-ups.

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