Marketing Like a Mother
by Alison Schroeder
No one knows us like our Mamas.
And no one markets like we do.
It’s when I started to think of the parallels between the two that I got this idea for 2019’s ode to moms in honor of Mother’s Day. How many times in our days do we unwittingly say a phrase like our moms? How many times do we reach for our phones to send a quick text, Snap, or plea to Siri to remind us to call her on our commute? Just how much of how we were raised and influenced by these women affect our day-to-day?
Moms. They’re omnipresent. And here are 11 ways how we were raised and influenced by our matriarchs directly impacts our roles in marketing at Leighton Interactive.
1. You Can’t Get Italian at McDonald’s
Set your expectations appropriately. Don’t look for answers in the wrong places. This statement comes from Amanda’s mom. Is your marketing lackluster? Don’t blame the intern who is just learning social ads. Does your sales force struggle to close the loop? It’s probably not all the economy. Shortcutting the budget where you can but still expecting the same results from the platinum-level package isn't realistic.
2. Fair is a Place You Get Cotton Candy
Clare recalls this being a daily mantra in her household growing up. Rightfully so; her mom raised five kids. And homeschooled them. But this isn't about sainthood; this about the perception that everything in the world of business and marketing is fair. Every anticipated outcome is actually about effort and strategy; it's not fair if some of your professional (or personal for that matter) vulnerabilities or risks in innovation don't pan out. We know that to be all too true.
However, the cotton candy part of that statement reminds us that there's some sweetness associated with inequity, however it might be more in realizing that nothing is promised and everything is earned.
3. All That Matters is That You Try Your Best
Our official tagline at Leighton Interactive is Get Better. It’s that simple and yet it’s that monumental. Candice’s mom said it best with her simplistic version of Get Better. Day in and day out, marketing can feel like a sprint and a marathon and even one of those extreme hillside obstacle course races combined. As an industry, it’s one that moves the fastest and changes the most. Keeping up is a challenge for nearly every creative human tied to its cause. This statement reminds us that most days, we’re doing just fine so long as we’re giving it our all.
4. You Catch More Bees With Honey
… than with vinegar. I think that is the expression? The intrepid meaning here is kindness prevails, even if you’re dealing with ornery-ass people. Dominique’s mom is onto something, especially where business and marketing are concerned. Someone left you a bad review? Spin it appropriately and respond with gusto in the right direction. Trying to get on the good side of your client? Kill them with kindness but mean it. Be vulnerable and transparent in the name of goodness.
5. You Can Wish in One Hand and Spit in the Other
You tell me which one fills up faster. This is my contribution. I heard this from my mom a lot as a kid; what can I say, I was a wisher. This plea-for-action actually transcends generations because my grandma said it to my mom and her siblings. It’s that effective. Wanting and wishing and action and doing are two separate schools. Marketing is often the same way.
You can wish all day or all year long but without a solid plan of action or at the very least an established jumping off point, where are those wishes going to take you? Don’t know where to start with some of your goals or dreams? Make them SMART, write them down, and be a little visionary with the whole thing or else you’ll be left with a soggy hand of unfulfilled desires. Ish.
6. Never Whisper Anything You Wouldn’t Say Out Loud
When I heard this from Lora, I got goosebumps. THIS. This I want on a bumper sticker and a t-shirt. It’s very marketable and for good reason. I think a lot of businesses and companies of today struggle with identity and how to authentically connect with consumers and customers in the very cluttered landscape of business. Adopting this mantra means staying true to the roots of your brand and mission, vision, and values.
If your company is the best at manufacturing whatever niche product you exclusively produce, you can’t tell the world that but fail to live up to that promise once you’ve shouted it from social media or your website. On the reverse, if you kill the competition on the regular with service and expectation but you’re too humble to build a campaign around it, quit whispering it in annual sales meetings. Shout it from the rooftops.
7. Embrace What You Love by Putting Your Best Effort Into It
This came from Lori herself. It’s advice she gives her kids ... and it's advice we give each other and our clients. One of Leighton Interactive's core values is Give a Damn. That's pretty much summing up putting your best effort forward.
What do you love about your company? What do you love about your role? What do you love about your career? When you love something, you automatically lean in. Passion is integral in careers and in many places it's not something that's addressed or asked. We ask ourselves this, we ask our team members this. We even outwardly ask our clients what they love. We want to share in what makes their faces and lives light up too. It's an honor to serve what they love by pouring our hearts into what we love to do.
8. Keep Trying. You’ll Do Better Next Time. Just Don’t Give Up
Sage advice from Jashmin’s mom about being dauntless in the pursuit of being nimble. Marketing requires a whole heck of a lot of pivoting because it requires a whole heck of a lot lever-pulling. Reporting and analytics add pressure to any marketing strategy just as much as it adds clarity. It's not uncommon to get caught up in the numbers every so often especially if they're trending downwards. Not everything is a crisis, and not everything is cause for scrapping the entire plan. Strategies and brands take time.
9. Know When Good Enough is Enough
Brooke’s Instagram handle says she’s an aspiring good-enoughist. I commend her for that. Turns out, she gets it from her Mama. The world of marketing often feels like it's full of shiny, new objects to chase. Keeping pace in hard race to run can mean some unrealistic expectations. Take content for example. There's no such thing as perfect. I could edit and edit and edit this particular piece for days. Sometimes I do, especially if the industry warrants the second-guessing. But what happens if we sit on something and mistakenly think we'll get it absolutely perfect before we launch? Will it ever see the light of day?
Of course, quality is something we don't skimp on. But knowing when we're in that sweet spot of trusting our process and believe in its integrity is pretty damn special.
10. Low & Slow to Get the Perfect Grilled Cheese
Because our moms taught us everything, including how to recreate the perfect comfort food. And you bet I can relate this worldly advice to marketing. So much of what we do as marketers and business people is about results and achieving them rapid-fire. That’s rarely achievable. In fact, most marketing strategies are about the long-game and settling in to watch it all unfold, leaning into faith, and trusting the process.
Rushing anything and expecting perfection is just silly; Emily’s mom hit it on the head with this trick of the trade. Most good things take time, and our impatience in a serve-it-up-to-me-now world makes waiting hard and often, impossible. If you’re into burnt bread and cold cheese sandwiches, sure. Crank it up. We prefer to let everything meld together until it’s just right.
11. Always Put People First
I may have saved the best for last. From Kristen, this mom-bomb should really be a global life motto, but we’ll carry its torch as marketers as we wait for the world to catch up. People, in general, are my favorite part of marketing and even for me, sometimes the focus blurs a bit as we bury ourselves in the numbers, trends, and tactical armor of the trade.
It’s always the right move to stop every once in awhile to reflect on who we’re trying to reach, and how we’re going about succeeding. Are efforts still persona-based? Have we taken every single UX experience into consideration? Are we being human? Are we choosing relationships over revenue?