Reaching Moms Through Schools

by , May 20, 2009, 12:30 PM
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With more and more scrutiny being focused on advertising that is specifically directed to kids, many marketers are hesitant to even consider a through-school marketing program. What they might not realize, however, is that a through-school marketing program directed to moms (versus kids) is one of the most effective ways to build brand awareness and purchase intent for their products.

Annual spending on consumer goods (food, clothes etc.) for families with school-age kids is expected to reach $143 billion by 2010, according to Packaged Facts. Since moms make most of the purchase decisions for their families, consumer brand marketers must continue to look for new and more meaningful ways to engage the mom audience and make their brand message heard in this overcrowded, noisy marketing environment.

A through-school marketing program cuts through the clutter in the competitive marketing-to-moms space by putting a brand's message directly in front of a key demographic -- moms with school-age kids -- at a time and place when they are especially tuned in to messages and products that speak to their families' unique needs.

Why Through-School Marketing Gets Results

  • Precision targeted with no missed hits - While traditional media and marketing options that reach the mom market cast a wide net hitting all segments of moms, through-school marketing directly connects consumer brands to an extremely targeted, captive audience of interested moms with kids ages 5-14.
  • Relevant and receptive environment - Moms at school, or engaged in school-related activities, are in "full mommy mode" - specifically focused on their children's well being - making them particularly receptive to brand messages that speak to their challenges as a busy mom and offer solutions that will help them make their families more successful.
  • Implied school endorsement and halo effect - When brands sponsor a family-focused school program, moms recognize and appreciate the brand's support of education and their school-family communities - and respond and follow through by patronizing the brands that support their schools.
  • Grassroots brand advocacy - Moms attending a school-family event are in an ideal social environment to discuss and promote new products or services with other moms allowing mom-to-mom buzz and word of mouth endorsement to take place naturally.

Tips for Executing a Successful Through-School Marketing Program

Plan ahead
It's important to know what a typical school's event planning cycle is for the year. Schools make planning decisions months in advance so be sure you allow enough lead time to build momentum and anticipation for your program before it is actually executed. For example, we sign schools up for our Back2School program in the spring before school ends and summer begins. It's critical to get schools signed up to participate in the program in spring so they are ready to execute it come August.

Make it relevant to moms
Make sure your program is relevant to moms in the context of the school environment otherwise you might lose the brand goodwill that you hoped to garner by sponsoring a school program. For example, we set up a through-school sampling program for a client who wanted to distribute detergent samples to moms. Moms were given these samples while attending the Spring Carnival at school, an event where kids are likely to get quite dirty.

Give schools a real reason for doing it
The last thing you want to happen is for your program to come across as blatant marketing with no real benefit to the school. Make sure your offer has value to the school and that your key connection in the school (the person or group who will execute the program) can clearly see how the school and the school families benefit from running your program.

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0 comments on "Reaching Moms Through Schools ".

  1. Michael Bruccoliere from Universal Media, Inc.
    commented on: May 20, 2009 at 1:54 p.m.

    So how do you pull something like this off and what kind of specific executions are we talking about?

  2. Jonathan Bailey from Bailey Gardiner
    commented on: May 20, 2009 at 2:30 p.m.

    I agree this tactic can be very successful - we created a program aimed at moms through school kids for Honda by implementing an essay contest about energy and the environment. It underscored the fact that Hondas are fuel efficient, while spurring conversation about the brand.

    Recently we've had even better success connecting with those all-important moms-as-decision-makers through mommy blogs, as outlined in this recent blog post:

    http://www.dontdrinkthekoolaidblog.com/mom-bloggers-and-marketing/

  3. Minette Riordan from Scissortail Publishing
    commented on: May 21, 2009 at 6:40 a.m.

    The key is offering something of value to schools but don't be misled that marketing through schools is easy or simple. As a mom of two school-aged children and publisher of a parenting magazine, I hear from clients all the time how challenging it can be to initiate a relationship with a school, even when you do have something of value and service to offer. Many districts have very strict rules about what is permissible through the schools. I love the Honda idea of doing a coloring contest and any fundraising ideas are popular. It is often the PTA or PTO that is the appropriate route to building relationships with local schools. Creativity and content are key, moms and schools are looking for something new and fresh that is going to save them time and money and have a positive impact on their family. Be prepared to spend time cultivating these relationships, and when working with a larger school district, expect it to take time and follow through on your part.

  4. Nora Levy from Shopping Partnership
    commented on: May 21, 2009 at 6:44 p.m.

    Our company provides school rewards programs for shopping centers. We have successfully marketed our shopping center clients to school families and staff since 1992. This past school year, our 26 shopping center programs reached 542 schools and more than 400,000 students and their families. In addition to having the schools distribute our printed advertising, the schools also extensively promote our programs on their own, generating hundreds of thousands of additional exposures. We generate email signups and participation in other shopping center programs through our school rewards.

  5. Maryanne Conlin from RedRopes Digital/4GreenPs
    commented on: May 21, 2009 at 8:20 p.m.

    I completely agree! As one who has used through school programs in the past I believe they are an effective tool for reaching the purchaser.

    Using them to reach the purchase influencer - i.e. initiating the "nag factor" strikes me as a little shaky these days when we question brands in our schools. But, I think companies should support schools - they have a stake in well we educate our children and using marketing dollars to do that CAN be a win-win.

    John, do you have advisory panels in place of parents to help guide you? If Whittle as perceived, as it frequently is as the funnel for marketing organizations, it's tougher than if Whittle can be perceived as the conduit BETWEEN consumers and companies.

    Last year I was tangentially involved in a similar situation with Scholastic. They reached out to concerned parents and listened...they are I hope continuing to do this more.

    But I digress...

    I'm in favor of in school marketing when it can be perceived by all but the most activist parents as good for all concerned!

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