Nurture Your Marketing Neoteny

Posted on by Dana VanDen Heuvel

"The kid-within-us-all needs to be given permission to have fun regularly (especially in the workplace) and celebrate the big purpose of play throughout our entire life."
– Kevin Carroll, Author, Rules of the Red Rubber Ball

If you’re new to the term Neoteny, that’s a good thing! Neoteny, also called juvenilization, is the retention of juvenile characteristics by adults in a species. It is also often described as the "state or attitude of perpetual immaturity or playfulness" when applied to business.

600pxwellclothed baby1 thumb Nurture Your Marketing Neoteny Research from multiple disciplines illustrates the value of nurturing a playful and youthful state of mind for adults. While this is important for all disciplines, I believe that it is especially critical for marketers who live in a world of constant change, abstraction, ambiguity and creativity and who are charged with moving their organizations (and their customers) into an unknown future. Marketers need to be agile, adaptable, learning, malleable and not just open but eagerly searching for ‘the next new thing’ that will drive the business.

Nurturing your neoteny means taking time out each day, if you can, or each week at the least to day dream, have fun and celebrate your accomplishments while reveling in the higher purpose that you and your team are playing for in life and in your organization.


You have an amazing opportunity each day to see thing from a ‘child’s eye perspective’ and learn something new that will propel you forward.

  • Be ‘present’ in all that you do. It’s amazing how many of us get caught up in the past or future through our mobile devices during calls and meetings and just don’t allow ourselves to really dwell in the situation at hand.
  • Look for the ‘learnable moment’ in everything. Your morning visit to Starbucks, a class reunion, an encounter with a customer and a dozen other touchpoints can provide stimuli for great ideas if you’re open to them.
  • Nurture perpetual curiosity. Apply the 5 Whys technique. (A questions-asking method used to explore the cause/effect relationships underlying a particular problem.)
  • Pursue a new hobby. Nothing activates your ‘child mind’ like learning something from scratch. Even a new subject or a book on a topic you’ve never explored can ignite new ideas within your imagination.
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  • Kelly

    How could one not be inspired by that face? I’ve been working on gobs of marketing copy lately and when I read this post I thought – there’s got to be a better way to grab people’s attention. Something more playful. A question perhaps than tons of statements shouting “We’re #1 – believe me, listen to me.” Also, wondering if you can forward more info on the “Apply the 5 Whys” technique. Must have missed that. Thanks!

  • Dana VanDen Heuvel

    Hey Kelly! Great to hear from you. The 5 Why’s is something that I revert to often. You can see more here: and here: