What Steve Irwin’s 13-year-old Son Can Teach Us About Marketing

If you haven’t met thirteen-year-old Robert Irwin, be prepared to be blown away. He is by far the most gracious, likable, intelligent, well-spoken 13-year-old I think I’ve ever seen.

As someone in the video comments section said, “He is a f***ing treasure”.

Robert recently stopped by the Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon. He brought in baby animals and let Jimmy interact with them while he told Jimmy fun facts about each one. Jimmy plays the “city guy” to Robert’s “outdoorsman” and the [very real] hesitation we get from Jimmy makes for a fun and entertaining contrast with Robert’s sheer, unstoppable delight.

Have a watch:

You’re ready to go on an expedition with Robert, right? I know I am.

So how come this pre-teen can sell us wildlife research and conservation but some of the biggest NGO’s in the world can’t?

Robert (or the team behind him, I don’t know) is excellent at marketing.

Here’s what we can learn as marketers – especially those of us working in the social impact space – from 13-year-old Robert Irwin:

He’s excited as hell about his brand

Talk about infectious excitement! Now Robert didn’t invent the gig – his father certainly did this first – but he knows how to use his energy to get our attention. Notice how positive he is about everything. Notice his passion and enthusiasm to share every single “fun fact” about each animal.

You might not have the opportunity to appear on the Tonight Show anytime soon, but there are still opportunities to be excited as hell about your brand. Think about how you can “write like you speak” on social media posts to convey this kind of enthusiasm. Think about how you can incorporate your energy and passion for your business when you talk with leads, funders, the press.

Obviously, you should tailor your messaging to fit the tone of your brand. But if you don’t get excited about your products/services/project, no one else will either.

Here’s another clip from the same show a few months ago

He tells interesting stories

The major challenge anyone working in social impact has is that oftentimes the thing they’re selling doesn’t have a direct or clear benefit for the audience their selling it to. It’s social impact, so it usually benefits someone else, maybe a community in need – a community your target audience doesn’t know, has never met, and will never meet.

Let’s face it: it’s hard to get people to care about anything or anyone but themselves.

You have to do as Robert does and sell the stories.

Make those communities across the world very real. And be INTERESTING.

This is where so many organizations go wrong: no one wants to know “we had X-many honey badgers in the world in 2005 but we only have only X-many today”.

American badger


Data and facts and all that serious stuff are important to have in your back pocket because they validate that the world needs what you have to offer. But, if you’re marketing yourself to a lay audience, you need to be more interesting than that to get their attention.

How about, “In Africa, the honey badger has been known to back down lions! They have NO FEAR AT ALL!” Ah, that’s better.

Robert layers on these little anecdotes one after another. He paints us juicy pictures of the animals’ lives. Tells us their names, feeds them, pets them.

I dare you to aim for interesting in your marketing. Think of the really intriguing stuff you can share with your audience. The stuff they don’t usually get to hear about. Tell anecdotes, or tell longer stories with a beginning, middle, and end – but start with the end and keep them on the edge of their seats!

Maybe you’re thinking, “Well Robert’s got it easy. He has exotic animals to show off for godsakes! I don’t have anything that interesting or exciting.”

I would bet your brand has its own “exotic animals” to share with the world. You just need to look for them.