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A Novel Method: The Parenting 'Drip Campaign'

Set goals and use strategies based on outcomes to influence a child's behavior.

Key points

  • Parents can learn from marketing tactics by influencing their children with short teaching moments.
  • Reactive parenting with frustration may be emotionally disruptive to the child impairing their ability to learn new behaviors.
  • Short frequent guidance can build a strong bond and allow parents to model empathy and calmness and provide validation.

Co-authored by Lara Honos-Webb, Ph.D., and Pen King Jr.

Have you ever heard of a “drip campaign” in marketing? It typically means a newsletter or other means of communication where businesses slowly build trust with a potential customer. Interactions are responsive to customer engagement, and content is sent based on how customers respond to emails.

Similarly, parents can learn to communicate with their child when the child is receptive to listening. Just as emails can serve as reminders, parents can use short, frequent teaching moments rather than long lectures. The idea is that you can slowly build a relationship, share information over time in a sequence, and include reminders of past content.

Be Responsive to Parenting Outcomes

Both marketing and parenting try to influence behavior and require patience and consistency to be successful. While marketing professionals set goals and change strategies based on outcomes, many parents fly by the seat of their pants with overscheduled lives and react based on emotions. Brands want to build trust with customers just as parents want to guide and support their children by staying in tune with their child’s growth and development.

In marketing, the key is to provide useful tips and tools that have immediate value so that the customer will keep opening the emails. Potential customers feel they have already benefited from your content and will be inclined to buy something from you when you pivot to selling. There’s an art to this marketing technique. The best drip campaigns never show their full hand. Like a movie trailer, you keep the customer wanting to know more.

Parents can learn a lot of valuable lessons from this marketing strategy. Imagine the difference between a frustrated parent saying, “How many times do I have to tell you not to knock down your sister’s Lego projects!” compared to a parent who drips information while driving home. You could say, “Your sister has worked hard on the Lego castle, and be sure to ask her if you can help her when we get home.”

Listen With Empathy

Fine-tuning how you deliver your opinions and highlighting essential learning is as important as the opinions themselves. Many parents intend to be helpful but blurt out ideas as they are often multitasking. Drip campaigns factor in other potential perspectives by gathering data to create customer insights, and isn’t empathy the gold standard of parenting in a nutshell?

The main idea is that when you see a behavior you are concerned with, make a mental note of what you want your child to do differently. Plan a calm time and place to educate them about what they can do and why they should do it. In the moment of the behavior, such as knocking down Legos, you can say, “I noticed you knocked down your sister’s project,” and ask them sincerely what that was about. You can listen with empathy and ask nonjudgmental questions. It is essential that you try to articulate your concern with calmness and flexible thinking.

Validate Emotions With Precise Words

Set aside a time when there is no immediate crisis where you can talk about how they would feel if someone knocked down their Lego project. This can build empathy. You can talk about feelings of jealousy or how to manage heated emotions before taking action.

Research shows that more precise words for emotions help to regulate those emotions. The idea is to provide guidance, validation, and support when they are not in a heated situation. This looks a lot like coaching.

You can apply the parenting drip campaign to impulsive behavior, healthy eating, motivation to do homework, and finding the benefits of discipline or sharing your family values.

Repetition and originality are key factors when it comes to influential marketing. A perfect example is a company like Apple Computer or McDonald’s, which has to continue to create great marketing materials and also come up with ideas that move people. These companies double down on what’s working.

Parenting is very similar. You have to keep doing what’s working and continue to invent different methods of communication that improve your relationship. Any parent could be inspired by Apple’s “Think Different” ad campaign by being creative, innovative, and adaptable in finding new and different ways to approach their parenting.

Pen King Jr. is the Co-Founder and CEO of Bonding Health (a childhood ADHD app for parenting) and a General Partner at Innovating Capital, where he focuses on investing in mental healthcare.

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