Five marketing observations from the new dad on the block

Making Michael Keaton proud.

That’s me – making Michael Keaton proud.

2014 turned out to be the year of change on both professional and personal fronts. First, I dove into the world of non-profits where I joined the board of directors at the Minnesota Interactive Marketing Association (MIMA). Second, I changed jobs and left the world of big box retail for the land of financial services marketing. However, each of those adjustments paled in comparison to the biggest change of all: becoming a father.

My son Ezra showed up on the scene last September. It has been a wild ride with lots of laughs, plenty of sleep deprivation and a whole new outlook on many things. But besides these changes, I also realized that I’ve entered a new phase as a consumer in the cross-hairs of marketers out in the world: I’m now part of the dad demographic.

Ever since we had a baby, I started seeing child related products, deals, items and marketing popping up everywhere. Either I wasn’t being targeted before we had Ezra, or I just didn’t have reason to notice all that stuff. But if there was ever a life event to trigger new purchasing habits, then let me tell you that having a kid tops the list. It’s been interesting to take this all in – not just as an marketer but as a consumer.

With that in mind, here are five observations that have stuck out to me. They serve as good reminders of principles to consider in all of our marketing gigs.

  • Don’t discount convenience. When people ask me about what changes I’ve experienced since having a kid, I always talk about how fast the days and weeks go by. (Case in point: this is my first new blog entry in nearly five months and I’ve just recently felt like I’ve had the time to tackle them again!) Free time is a precious commodity that I now appreciate much more than I did previously. Anything that can help me save time or get things done faster or easier is something that I’m willing to pay for – like our new best friend at the Plesser household Amazon Prime. I can shop from my sofa for anything from diapers to toilet paper to CF cards and have it all show up at my door in two days. Without paying an extra shipping free. We didn’t even wince at the $99 annual fee; to use it equated to a bit of personal freedom.
  • Timing can be everything. Most maternity leaves for working mothers typically last 12 weeks and evidently this hasn’t been lost on manufacturers of baby formula. Right around that time we started to get deluged with product samples and coupons from brands like Enfamil to help with the transition from staying at home to going back to work. It’s clear that these companies scour public birth records, match it up with publicly available home address data and then create campaigns right around the time when women are set to return to the workforce. Because Leslie was taking an extended maternity leave, the timing of these offers weren’t exactly relevant to us. But she definitely felt like the brands were trying to be helpful in a trying situation that many moms face as opposed to being another wasteful direct marketing ploy.
  • In the right circumstances, don’t underestimate product sampling. After Ezra was born, the nurses at our hospital used these blue pacifiers made by Philips and he just loved them. When it came time to get some new ones, do you think we spent a lot of time shopping for different kinds? Nope. Why would we? We just went straight for the ones that we knew he was familiar with and enjoyed.
  • Sometimes price isn’t even a consideration. There is a time and place for price comparison shopping. Do you know when I don’t care if I save $0.03 on a per item basis? When I’m hands deep changing a blowout because I bought the cheapie brand of infant diapers. In those instances, I’m just 1) trying to wrangle the messy diaper off of the baby while trying to minimize the collateral damage, 2) wondering how I’m going to get my hands clean and 3) cursing myself for skimping in the first place with the off name brand of diapers. (In case you’re wondering, Pampers swaddlers infant diapers FTW.)
  • Design still matters. (Even for baby gear.) When you have a baby, you end up having to get inordinate amounts of stuff. And most of it is ugly as sin. Bright and clashing colors abound and most pieces are made of junky plastic that take up TONS of space. When we were in search of a new baby bathtub we saw this in spades. (Why do you need an infant bath tub? News alert: washing a baby in an adult bathtub just doesn’t work.) When looking for a tub for the little man, we were thrilled when we found this one. It was smartly designed to save space, super functional and looks rad. We were sold.

(Photo courtesy of


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