The New Retreats: Mommy Conferences

At a time when corporate budgets for tradeshows and events are being slashed, a new phenomenon is on the rise: conferences for women. Part retreat/part business, these events focus on the business of blogging, entrepreneurship, marketing and enhancing the relationships attendees have developed with each other via social media.

Conferences like Blissdom, Mom 2.0, The Startup Princess Academy and BlogHer are attracting hundreds of moms and a significant group of sponsors as well, including Wal-Mart, Weight Watchers, Quaker, Disney and Sony.

"Despite the economy, we're expecting record attendance and sponsorship at this year's conference," says Jory Des Jardins, co-founder of BlogHer. The two-day conference expects over 1,100 bloggers and marketers to attend, and has added a one-day agenda for businesses focused on best practices for reaching women in the quickly evolving social media world.

So, how can marketers best position their brands at such events?

1. Be Creative: Many marketers are looking beyond conference sponsorship opportunities and working direct with attendees. At last year's BlogHer conference, McDonald's sponsored a late-night cheeseburger party in one attendee's hotel room which turned out to be a huge hit.

2. Sponsor a Brand Advocate: A number of conference attendees don't go on their own dime - they are sponsored by a brand. The key in sponsoring an attendee isn't to expect them to show up emblazoned with your logo and constantly pitch your products. Rather, have them advocate on their own in natural ways both at the events and on their blogs. "By participating in events like these, marketers are spreading their messages via trusted messengers in ways that are far more cost-effective than traditional media," says Ciaran Blumenfeld, a brand consultant.

3. Listen: Listen to the attendees. Take the opportunity to interact with your target consumers, gauge their thoughts on brands and get feedback.

So why, when businesses are scaling back on attending conferences, are these niche events seeing a surge? For the moms attending, it not only gives them valuable insight but also a retreat-like setting to get away.

Blumenfeld and a few others are taking advantage of this fact by creating a pre-Blog Her pampering event for attendees. Participants will take home swag bags filled with sponsor products from the event, which features massages, hair styling and manicures.

"Brands are lining up for a chance to be a part of our event because they are connecting with the women in a meaningful way --by giving them a much-needed opportunity to be pampered," adds Blumenfeld.

Tags: moms
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7 comments about "The New Retreats: Mommy Conferences ".
  1. Jeanne Burns from CentricSource.com , April 1, 2009 at 12:45 p.m.

    Please post links to conferences mentioned ...thanks

  2. Stephanie Azzarone from CHILD'S PLAY COMMUNICATIONS , April 1, 2009 at 12:58 p.m.

    Spot-on piece, Lolita. As specialists in marketing to moms, we're encouraging our clients to expand the ways they work with mom bloggers, beyond sampling products for review. See you at BlogHer!

  3. Lolita Carrico , April 1, 2009 at 1:25 p.m.

    Thanks Stephanie!

    Jeanne - here are the links:

    BlogHer '09: http://www.blogher.com/

    Blissdom: http://blissdomconference.com/

    Mom 2.0 Summit: http://www.mom2summit.com/

  4. Nicole Brady from SahmReviews.com , April 1, 2009 at 8:16 p.m.

    You are absolutely correct, Lolita. As a registered BlogHer conference attendee, I've been amazed at the number of people talking about their quests for sponsorships. The unfortunate part is that many seem to be taking whatever marketing dollars they can grab just to pay down the cost of the trip. What advertisers need to consider is the quality (read: sincerity) of the partnership they are creating. Does the person you are giving your sponsorships to genuinely believers in your product or is the loyalty created as a result of the sponsorship?

    Although I would love to have sponsorships rolling in by the dozens, I don't because I'm not marketing myself that way. In the same fashion that I will only review products here and there when I can create a true story behind them, I'll treat sponsorship opportunities the same way. My mantra is quality over quantity. If I don't believe in the company and/or product, then I wouldn't feel right accepting a sponsorship from them. Kudos to Stephanie Azzarone for her recommendations to move beyond just providing products for review.

    I look forward to seeing this whole new marketing approach progress... and I'm anxious to meet everyone at BlogHer!

  5. Kim Moldofsky from MomImpact, Inc. , April 1, 2009 at 10:29 p.m.

    Great piece, Lolita.

    I want to add one more conference that was recently announced: Blogalicious http://www.blogaliciousweekend.com/ This conference is planned by and for women of color (though, of course, all are welcome to attend). The inaugural conference is scheduled for October 2009 in Atlanta

    I recently shared a few thoughts about sponsorship on my blog. BlogHer also has an FAQ page to clarify expectations for sponsored attendees at the event so as not ruffle the feathers of the actual conference sponsors.

    Now where do I sign up for those massages and manicures?

  6. Kevin Burke from WholesomeOne , April 2, 2009 at 9:56 a.m.

    More heavily skewed towards the marketing side of things, http://m2w.biz/ & http://m2moms.com/ are good conferences for learning about how businesses are trying to connect and build relationships with women & moms.

  7. Lolita Carrico , April 3, 2009 at 9:47 p.m.

    Thanks Kevin -- M2Moms is a great b2b conference.