Online Marketing – More than Child’s Play
It’s true what they say….if you want to know anything about computers, ask someone half your age. Children seem to have a much deeper understanding of computers and computer-related activities than we do and embrace new communication forms at lightning speed. This is great if you need help to unravel the mysteries of Skype or Facebook. But this youthful computer literacy also poses challenges if you’re involved in online marketing. While children may have an advanced understanding of computers, they are still kids. They’re naïve and vulnerable to disguised marketing techniques. So, what is the best way to market to children? And, more importantly, how do you do it ethically?
How switched on are they?
The statistics are as astounding as they are numerous. According to a recent survey by a major online marketing researcher, 77% of children between the ages of 8 and 14 years have completed online transactions, with their parents making the final payment. 56% of children have used the internet to find products for their parents. By the time they’re 14, a quarter of all children have access to a parent’s credit card number. There are plenty more statistics but the implications are clear; most young computer users are more than surfers and window shoppers. They are often active participants in the buying process.
Effective marketing techniques for children’s products
Some things never change. Kids love color and movement – always have, always will. Online marketing that use pictures, animation and color will attract the eye and hold attention. Marketing associated with ‘cool things’ like today’s hottest celebrities, music or movies is also traditionally effective – just as long as the distinction between advertising and entertainment is made clear. A more modern trend in online marketing is the use of branded downloads and items that can be forwarded such as Facebook gift apps and e-cards. For the ultimate in engagement, you can’t beat interactive sites featuring games, competitions and downloads – again, those lines between entertainment and selling need to be crystal clear.
Keeping it ethical
Things get a little vague when it comes to distinguishing between selling and entertaining. If you’re advertising something, make it clear that you are doing so. Don’t disguise your sales message as a piece of entertainment – even the most computer savvy children can still be sucked in.
Another consideration is the suitability of your message for a younger audience. The most obvious examples are the use of age-appropriate language and images; children access the internet from more locations than their parents do. Is your marketing language and imagery suitable for a child to see without adult supervision? Don’t attach negative emotions to the brand – think light, bright and dreamy rather than the stuff tantrums, eating disorders and nightmares are made of! One last thing to think about when preparing online marketing for children – is it something you’d be happy for your child to see? Would they react positively? Are there any elements that could have a detrimental effect on them? By asking questions which relate to your own situation, you are well on the way to creating online marketing that is not only effective but ethical as well.
About the Authors: Clinical Psychologist and a Finlee and Me distributor Angela Henderson and Online Marketing Consultant and Web Copywriter. Dana Flannery have combined to educate business on how to better deal with questions of ethical marketing online. They currently run various marketing workshops and online forums for small business owners.