What marketing and parenting have in common

As a parent of two boys, 5 and 6, I am very well aware of having “proud parent” syndrome. I think my kids are great. If you ask me my opinion, I will tell you that I think they are the best kids ever; talented, charming, hilarious and, of course, handsome little devils. (They get their looks from their mother).

I will talk about them until you are bored. But as a parent, that’s my job right?

However, I recently had a sobering moment when I realized my opinion about my kids wasn’t the most important one in the room. I was sitting down to my very first parent-teacher night and found myself pretty nervous. I was about to hear the opinion of someone who spends as much time with my son as I do. I realized that, no matter how much I love my son, for his overall success in school, for future success with employers and even finding a spouse…my opinion doesn’t really matter. Others are going to have to love him as much as I do.

I took a deep breath and prepared to listen to what the teacher had to say.

Reflecting back on this moment, it occurred to me that parenting and my profession of marketing have a lot in common. I am a product marketer for OnBase by Hyland, an enterprise content management (ECM) product that I genuinely think is great. If you ask the people at Hyland, of course we’re going to tell you how great our product is, all the things it can do and the amazing benefits it provides.

But, just like being a proud parent, our opinion really isn’t the most important. In fact, hearing from us how great we think our product is can be downright boring. People aren’t going to love our product just because we do.

I realized that we already have ongoing “parent-teacher” moments with our product, OnBase. We continually talk to people who spend as much time with our product as we do, our customers. We do this to get feedback on our product as well as our processes, so we know how and where to improve.

So we decided to get one of these moments on film. We gathered a small group of customers, each from totally different industries, and asked them one simple question: “If you had to describe OnBase in one word, what would it be?”

Totally unprepared and unscripted, we took a deep breath and let the cameras roll. The results delighted, inspired and even surprised us, and we combined them all into one video. We included every response that we captured and you can see it below.

Yes, as much as we love our children (or a product, service or solution we represent), there’s nothing quite like the glow of pride we feel when a great report card gets sent home, or we receive a compliment about them. It’s validating, it’s encouraging and it’s extremely satisfying!

So yes, marketing and parenting do have some things in common. Except one. While parents are expected to wax lyrical with their opinions of how wonderful their creation is, that’s certainly NOT the job of marketing. We shouldn’t be boring people to tears with our own opinions, we should be listening to and sharing what the people who interact with our children and work with our product think. Because in the end, their’s is the only opinion that matters.

Glenn Gibson

Glenn Gibson

Glenn Gibson is Director, Global Technology Evangelist at Hyland. With 20 years working in the IT industry, he’s collected several certifications over the years as a VMware Certified Professional, Citrix... read more about: Glenn Gibson