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kids-see-more-than-adults Photo Steve DavisHere is a quote from a 3 year old that has great relevance to marketers:

“You old people know nothing. You old people don’t see.” (An Ayla A Day)

This 3 year old is spot on, according to evolutionary biologists.

According to the experts, adults are quite bad at ‘seeing’ because we slip our eyes and brains into autopilot mode as often as possible to conserve energy.

It takes a lot of energy to run our brains, so most of us scan life as lazily as possible just to survive!

Kids see everything

As I wandered around the Adelaide Show last week, my 5 year old was spotting things I would have walked past without a second glance.

One of them is pictured, right; a tractor cutout that let her stick her head through to be photographed.

Here is the clincher; she saw the cutout, I photographed her, but I cannot remember which university was the one that had this novelty on their stand.

Marketing to adults

Could it be that marketing to adults demands we put more effort into getting attention than we would for children?

As I wandered the Jubilee Pavilion observing the variety of stands and exhibitionship, I was shocked to see so many stands with one or two people hunched behind counters moping.

Not only were these stands more invisible to adults than most, when they did see them there was nothing to draw attention or engage interest.

Others were playing the sales lottery, especially home improvement stalls, where the ‘pitch’ was, ‘can I interest you in home improvements?’

Making sense of the child/adult divide

While some of what makes children ‘see’ more than adults must surely relate to them not having developed autopilot mode yet, due to the world still being new, I am sure the things that grab attention and engage share similarities, namely:

  • Movement – moving things draw children in
  • Tactile – the most popular items are those that invite touch, taste, smell, and immersion (climbing inside, on top of, etc)
  • Puzzling – demonstrations of procedures, gadgets, tricks, resonate strongly

I am sure the more successful exhibitors at the Show not only had products or services that people needed or wanted, but they put effort into surprising, delighting and snapping passersby out of autopilot mode.

The cruel irony is that if only they tried SOMETHING, they’d discover we can be led like sheep to the wool pavilion!

And now for my last trick

I heard a magician interviewed last week and he commented that audience members tend to follow where the magician is looking.

If the magician looks at the audience, they look at him/her, if they look down at the trick underway, the audience looks down too.

This is how they get us with sleight of hand.

He said that after having us look up and down, the magician will look at us to grab our attention. If we do not follow, he/she will look back at the trick again and fiddle around until looking up to steal away our attention once more. When they successfully get our attention, their unseen hands hide the coin or feed the ribbon, etc, in plain view!

Come to think of it, kids love magic shows too.

Perhaps our challenge this week is to think about anything we can do or create that might spark a childlike splash of attention among our jaded, autopiloted, adult customers and prospects.

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