Explaining Marketing to a Kid

A few years ago, the association that I was working for had probably the best “bring your
kid to work” day I’ve ever seen.

One of our activities was a “career scavenger hunt,” where the kids had to find the people who were participating, and then each of us had prepared some sort of activity to help the kids understand what we do.

Mine was a marketing activity, and got me thinking: what’s the simplest way to explain marketing? After all, I only had about 5 minutes to explain this to kids ranging in age from 5 to 17. Here’s what I came up with:

Marketing is about telling people what your company makes and helping them understand why they would want or need it.

For the little kids, that’s where we stopped. And that’s relatively easy for things that are tangible and desirable, like Hot Wheels cars or My Little Pony.

But what about things like buying (and eating) vegetables or buying (and wearing) sunscreen – things that are important, helpful and valuable, but not as fun as, say, an iPad?

That was the question I posed to the older kids, and I think it’s a critical question for association marketers, as we think about how to market what we do to our members and other audiences.