There has been much talk recently on marketers needing a wider set of skills to take on the challenges of the fast moving business world. A recent article by the CIM says that being up to date requires agility, the need to push outside your comfort zone and the ability to take on unfamiliar responsibilities – sound similar to parenting?
If you’ve recently had children or are juggling parenting alongside your career, how can you use the skills you’ve been putting into practice at home to enhance your marketing career in the constantly evolving market? The CIM article outlined four key skills that successful marketers should excel in: creativity, number crunching, networking and flexible working:
This is where hours spent building and rebuilding different Duplo creations or producing a den from only cardboard boxes and soft furnishings comes into play. All those times you’ve arranged food in a way that says: ‘you know you want to eat me’ (see emoji crumpet pizza below) – or worked out different ways to hide vegetables into meals so they’re not discernible (grating, mashing, blending) is about to pay off. Parenting requires you to always be tapping into creative solutions to keep children stimulated, divert attention and avoid tantrums. You don’t need to be artistic or super talented to apply creativity to your work – it’s all about problem solving, looking at what you’re currently doing and asking, “Is there a better way to engage here?”
Of course, not everyone will like what you come up with all the time – I recently drew what I thought was a fairly good Tinkerbell, even by my standards, only to have it ripped up and thrown on the floor. There is a lesson there on resilience too and the old marketing adage ‘don’t try to please all of the people all of the time’ springs to mind.
Working out childcare expenses, making cost-benefit decisions about big purchases like buggies and house renovations, and managing the increasing expenses of having children against household bills all require you to be financially astute. As a parent, you become very good at making forecasts and return on investment calculations; you can also apply all those research skills, for example in choosing a travel system, to your marketing audits and customer satisfaction assessments.
I don’t think I’d done quite so much ‘networking’ until I became a parent – there’s no easier way to get people to start talking than carting around a heavily pregnant bump or a smiling, rosy cheeked infant. You quickly become very adept at the relevant small talk and learn innovative ways to respond to popular (and sometimes unwelcome) questions.
There’s also all the interacting you do to build peer to peer support (NCT groups, baby massage classes, gymnastics and so on). In the same way that building meaningful relationships with your supporters is critical to your growth and success as a business, building friendships with other parents is critical for your and your children’s social development, not to mention your own sanity (my first year was infinitely more manageable thanks to the mums on my What’s App ‘Up all night’ thread). Having a sounding board can be invaluable when faced with challenging new situations – both at work and home.
No job requires flexibility or an agile mindset more than parenting. We have all experienced a situation where we’ve had to abandon long anticipated events entirely or leave the house 15 minutes (or an hour) later than planned due to a nappy incident of the ‘two-man job’ variety. Children are constant game changers; just when you think you’ve got a handle on things, you enter a new ‘phase’ – keeping up with the constant change and juggling the numerous tasks of parenting is excellent for honing the skills you need in the modern marketing world.
Finally, the CIM article advises marketers to trust their instincts. Parents are often bombarded with numerous conflicting suggestions about how to tackle a certain aspect of parenting, for example feeding or sleeping challenges. If you find that going with your gut feelings leads to happier, more contented parenting, you will likely be very tuned into your own instincts and this will make you a more genuine, trustworthy and persuasive marketer.
So, whilst there’s no substitute for hands-on marketing experience backed with an up-to-date theoretical understanding of marketing, parenting skills can provide valuable transferable benefits to the workplace and vice versa.
What other parenting skills have enhanced your work in marketing or another area? Please share in the comments.