From ages 3 to 5 my daughter refused to believe in Santa Claus. She didn’t see how such a big person could fit down such a tiny hole. In her own words, “I don’t believe in magic and I don’t believe in flying rodents. It just can’t happen.” For her, truth was something tangible that could be supported by the evidence she could understand. She was, and to this day still is, extremely analytical.
I tried to make the whole Christmas experience fun.
“Would you like to take a picture with Santa?”
“Oh look what Santa brought you!”
“Look! Someone ate your cookies!”
But all I got was bah humbugs from an overly analytical Christmas scrooge. Sometimes, however, she would allow us to pretend that he was real. But only if she felt we wouldn’t get “too into it.”
But this Christmas season my daughter came home from school with a different outlook.
“Dad… Santa’s real!”
After an in-depth discovery, I learned that my daughter had succumbed to peer influence and was the perfect example of how marketers influence people to buy, buy, buy.
According to her, everyone at school believes in Santa and everyone had some kind of personal experience with him. Some sat on his lap and others just saw the crumbs from the cookies he ate. No matter how much I pressed the topic, Santa was now real.
Why the Dramatic Shift?
Two major factors brought about my daughter’s change:
First, she found it enjoyable to pretend from time-to-time that Santa did existed. It was a game to her and she loved it… as long as we didn’t get too excited about it all. This behavior put her in the right mindset. It allowed her perception change. Even though that change was contrary to her nature and her core beliefs.
Second, she was immersed in a world of first graders. A world that has its own reality when it comes to the existence of the big red man and his little green, present-wrapping elves.
The Personal Application to Your Product
As marketers, we have to get people ready. We have to prepare them. We have to influence them (a.k.a. influencer marketing). In other words, we have to convince them that there’s no harm in pretending or using their imagination.
You can get anyone to buy your product over a competitor’s product. You just need to get them to “pretend” and then listen to what you have to tell them. Even if they are 100% convinced and brand loyal, you can still win them over. Even if they are correct in their current stance, you can still convince them to switch if you say the right things at the right time.
Sadly, it is a power that is often abused by fake and scammy products. But the point is still there. Good marketing is all about perception and getting the ball rolling with a small group of targeted influencers.
I miss my analytical five-year-old and the rational creature she was, but the peer influence was too strong this time. It’s no longer pretending. She’ll change again, and I’ll get that side of her back. But not this Christmas season. This Christmas we’re celebrating the real life of Santa Claus, and I learned another lesson in marketing from a pushy, active six-year-old.