Every Sunday morning I have the opportunity to teach five-year old Sunday School class in my church.  I am supposed to be there to enlighten them about Biblical principles, but most every Sunday they enlighten me.  Here are a few of the lessons I’ve learned and brought back to help my clients succeed.

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Keep the message simple and always give the consumer reasons to believe that are in fact believable.  When you tell a five-year old a story, you need not take more than about five minutes to get it out.  Otherwise they are wiggling like little worms in their chairs; ready to move on to the next thing.

Today’s consumers have an even shorter attention span.  Thus the rise of Twitter, short form video, and: 30 second television spots all of which remain primary mediums for connecting with consumers.  Our job as marketing strategists is to help our clients get their differentiators down to a simple communication, to make sure we are supporting that essence with facts and not advertising speak, and to push it out in bits and bites to consumers on their terms.

Lesson learnedTelling a good and simple story is an art that five-year olds and people of all ages appreciate and will respond to.

Remember the power of word-of-mouth marketing and use it well.   Every Sunday we offer our five-year olds a chance to suggest what we might pray for this Sunday.  The first child is inevitably the extrovert.  He or she shoots up his hand and tells us to pray for his pet frog, which in turn creates a rash of other hands being raised, all of whom have a pet (lizard, hamster, dog, cat, snake, you name it) that need our prayerful support.  It works the same way with these young trend- setters when you ask about a favorite movie or for a list of where they might take Mom to eat after church. Get them started and the recommendations come pouring out.

It is an entertaining reminder of the power of suggestion coupled with word-of-mouth referrals.

This is often true of adults.  Throw out a golf story at a cocktail party and see how many more follow (each with a special club that made the incredible golf feat possible). Or ask a group of women about their favorite shoes.  Or query a bunch of twenty-somethings about their favorite music.  One suggestion leads to another and before you know it, you have some pretty strong word-of-mouth referrals happening right before your eyes.  Often, we remind our clients not to forget to ask for the referral or the recommendation and to provide opportunities in their connection strategies to make this easy for customers and prospects.

Lesson learned:  Never underestimate the contagious power of word-of-mouth marketing that occurs when a trusted source makes a suggestion to a friend.

Technology is no big deal.  You can do most anything with the swipe of a finger.

Five year-olds are iPad and iPhone experts.  They know how to find their favorite games, initiate a video, listen to music, watch movies and TV and interact one-on-one with their (or their parents’) hand held devices.  To them, it is not about the technology at all.  It is all about a very personal medium that they control and that will basically do whatever they want with one swipe or touch.  They expect all electronic devices to work the same way and increasingly they are right.

As marketers we sometimes get too caught up in the technology and let the technology and its pace of change intimidate us into using methodologies that are more traditional and less effective.  If a five-year old can understand it, so can we.

Being relevant depends on it.

Lesson learnedStop worrying about the technology.  Hire someone to assist you (maybe even your five-year old) and focus on all the new ways technology enables you to communicate with clients and prospects.