Brands Create Offline Experiences For Online Moms

When trying to reach the mom demographic online, reviews and giveaways on targeted blogs are a standard arrow in the quiver of marketers. But as those tactics become so ubiquitous that they resemble white noise, some companies are stepping it up a notch.

By creating offline experiences for online influencer moms, they draw attention to their brand, as well as engage savvy evangelists with some cross-promotional clout.

Recent examples include a junket to L.A. for seven bloggers, which sported a red carpet experience and a tour of the Frito Lay factory. That was to launch its campaign, "Only in a Woman's World."

When Walmart launched its "11 Moms" campaign, it brought the included bloggers to headquarters in Bentonville, Ark.

"There really is nothing like the Willy Wonka experience of getting an insider view of corporate culture," says Stacy Debroff, head of MomCentral consulting , who recently attended an event by Campbell Soup.

What do bloggers get out of it? "It's very exciting to step away from home for a few days and get treated like something other than the family cook, dishwasher, butt-wiper, and chauffeur," says Kim Moldofsky, http://hormonecoloreddays.blogspot.com who has attended events for Johnson & Johnson and Subaru.

When deciding who to tap for these events, consider factors beyond traffic numbers. Influence is now the metric: Is the mom active on Twitter, Facebook, CafeMom, TwitterMoms, or MomFaves.com? Does she have a BlogTalkRadio show, or would she create one around your campaign?

"I think it's important to ensure a good fit between the blogger and the company or product," says Moldofsky. "An invite should be based on shared values and interests, not just the company's sense that the blogger has a lot of readers."

And bloggers should consider the authenticity of the connection. Barbara Jones, head of One To One WOM Network, offers this advice to bloggers: "If you do something that's not on point for you, you're going to lose people."

Also, consider other brand involvement. "Companies should realize that connecting with a visible blogger who's been on several other promo trips is not necessarily a good thing. How many products can one blogger represent without watering down her credibility?" asks Moldofsky.

Maria Bailey, author of Marketing to Moms, says, " I think there's a lot of opportunity to reach out to second- and third-tier bloggers." And the bonus: Those who haven't been to so many events may be hugely enthusiastic about your brand and project, reflected in her social media engagement around it.

Make a concerted effort to achieve diversity among the moms you invite, from a geographic, age and ethnic standpoint. "Think about what your client base is and assemble a group that resembles that," advises Moldofsky.

In the interests of authenticity, moms are not paid for these trips, because that could be seen as influencing the honesty of their perceptions. "You'd rather feel invited than bought," explains Jones.

What about follow up? Once everybody goes home, is that the end of it? "It's kind of like dating," says Bailey. "You need to have a communication plan in place before you ever invite the blogger."

She likens the relationship to a dialogue. "If you create the right dialogue, you never have to ask a blogger to post, because they feel vested in the company. At that point, they've become a loyalist."

Because of the time and investment involved in such events, they present a great opportunity for the marketer to really get to know the bloggers and maintain a relationship. "One of my clients sends a Mother's Day card to their bloggers every year," Bailey says.

Tags: moms
Recommend (3)
2 comments about "Brands Create Offline Experiences For Online Moms".
  1. Nicole Brady from SahmReviews.com , April 8, 2009 at 7:06 p.m.

    This is, indeed, a powerful marketing tool. The woman that I'm rooming with at BlogHer was invited to the Campbell's event and I have looked at the company a little differently ever since.

    And things like the EA Sports Active Challenge retreat (where they invited actress Alison Sweeney along with bloggers) has been an interesting story to follow.

    Reading stories of the women who attended the cruise ship event as well as events sponsored by companies like Kodak and Nintendo is exciting because people that we 'know' on a personal level are being given the opportunity to interact with companies on a personal level. By osmosis, I feel more connected to the company on a personal level.

    I agree with what Moldofsky said about not selecting people who have spread themselves very thin. There is at least one blogger who has participated in a great deal of sponsored activity and I have little respect for anything she posts these days.

  2. Rufus Dogg from DogWalkBlog , April 9, 2009 at 11:06 a.m.

    I think one day we will all look back and wonder how the "mommybloggers" became such a powerful social group and we will have greed, vanity and hubris to thank. IRL mommies have only a few "real" years of "influence," yet power is hard to give up once attained. I think brand sponsorship and attention that seems like a good idea in order to sell a few more cans of soup or one more spa sponsorship today will create a culture of "helicopter mom" far in excess of what we are seeing today.

    The smart folks are honing their law degrees now and looking at RICO to see if what "mommybloggers" do to brands that don't fall in line with their world view (motrinmoms) qualifies as extortion. Imagine the civil cases brought against these "mommybloggers" by their own children in a few years when they are blamed for all sorts of psychological illnesses brought on by the relentless and irresponsible exposure of their every move (and movement.)

    Short-term thinking, long-term consequences. And before you fire back in disagreement, remember, you would be kicking a dog, a worse crime than disagreeing with a "mommy."