My son starts preschool tomorrow. Aside from staying home from the office tomorrow and becoming a basket case (my baby is growing up!) it got me thinking. My son loves to watch Noggin, and they have some amusing promos based on this: Noggin is like preschool on TV. Don’t you wish life was more like preschool?
Why yes, I do wish life was more like preschool. Thinking about it, Internet Marketing is part of my life now, and it does share some similarities with lessons learned in preschool…
Everything is a learning experience.
In preschool, even playtime is learning time. Playing on the playground lets kids work on their gross motor skills and social skills. In Internet Marketing, we never stop learning, either. While keeping up with the latest webmaster guidelines may not be very fun and exciting, keeping connected via social networks like Twitter makes education more fun. While messaging on Twitter may seem like goofing off sometimes, there is educational value in many of the conversations there. Reading and writing blog posts keeps everyone up to date on what is happening in the industry, much like circle time in preschool.
In preschool, kids have to learn to share - something that many of them likely never had to do before, especially if they lack siblings. It may cause tears from time to time, but it eventually gets easier. It’s a little trickier in the field of Internet Marketing, as no one wants to give away their trade secrets, but if no one shared anything, we’d never be able to improve – individually, or as an industry. Sharing bits and pieces of knowledge helps spark new ideas. Even something as simple as linking out from blog posts is a form of sharing, as it encourages the sharing of both ideas and attention.
Snack time is an important part of the day.
In preschool, kids learn to sit down and relax for a little while as they enjoying healthy snacks. In Internet Marketing, we appreciate the value of a little snack break, too. At least in the We Build Pages office, we get free ice cream – whether we’re designers, content managers, link ninjas, or newly acquired superstars like Pat Sexton. (One of the programmers helped himself to some before 10:00 am yesterday.) We also celebrate birthdays with cake or other goodies. Snacks are good for staff morale and motivation.
Arts and Crafts are important.
In preschool, arts and crafts are more a part of the lesson plans than they are in grade school, when they are considered an optional form of enrichment. In Internet Marketing, creativity is a job requirement. You need to experiment in order to find out what works and what doesn’t work, cobbling together your marketing plan from all of the tools you have available. While you may not be working with pipe cleaners, cotton balls, paste, and construction paper, it’s still up to you to figure out the best way to put together the resources you have available to you.
Reading is fundamental.
This goes with along with the "never stop learning" part above. In preschool, story time is crucial for helping kids pick up valuable literacy skills that they may or may not be learning at home. In Internet Marketing, you have to read to stay competitive. If you aren’t reading what others are putting out there, you’re going to miss out on some valuable information – and that could cost you both your money and your reputation.
Follow the rules.
In preschool, you have to listen to what the teacher says, or you’ll find yourself sitting in time out. In Internet Marketing, like it or not, you have to play by the rules set by the entities that send you the traffic. Oh sure, you can disagree with The Goog’s policies – you can even complain loudly about them – but at the end of the day, if you don’t follow the rules, they may decide to stop sending you traffic by means of a penalty. Maybe the complaining will lead to a policy change eventually, but don’t hold your breath. Of course, if you don’t care about Google traffic, then you don’t have to listen to Google. But if you want to play in their house, you have to play by their rules. The time out corner can be a quiet, lonely place to be.
In the end…
I left out the part about playing well with others, because that seems to be something our industry is struggling with on a daily basis. Can you think of any other ways that Internet Marketing is like preschool? I’d love to hear them.