I like to watch people and follow trends, including reading research about who is doing what and why. For 20 years, I've been a sales and marketing executive, responsible for creating go-to-market strategies to lower costs with shortened sales cycles to increase sales, so observing and adapting have been vital keys to successful programs.
One of the lessons I learned as a sailor and use often is that you need to constantly be adjusting your sails or you'll end up on the rocks. This lesson holds true for influencers or those wanting to engage with moms. Take this case in point: my son and his method of adapting to engage his mom.
One of my favorite pastimes was spending Sunday mornings going through the newspaper while my son looked through the circulars. He would circle the items he liked (a/k/a wanted) and then share them with me, communicating his desire for specific items especially prior to birthdays and holidays. Over time, this tradition evolved to surfing the Internet and instant messaging the links, subtle hints about items he liked.
Whether I bought them or not, it provoked engagement, conversation and provided me with the information as a call-to-action, making it easy for me to click and buy. As a professional marketer, I couldn't help but be amused at the way my son was learning to adapt and engage me, to influence me so he could get to "yes" (a/k/a mom buying what he wanted).
So, why do brands and agencies still think engagement consists of consumers clicking on banner ads, when a recently released report pointed out that just 8% of Internet users click on 85% of banner ads, and speaking as a mother, moms are not part of the 8% who are clicking on those ads.
Recently, I found a newly released white paper published by Advertising Age, titled the "Rise of the Real Mom." In it, Boston Consulting Group states Moms control $4.3 trillion of the $5.9 trillion in U.S. consumer spending, or 73% of household spend. Hoping to find that the researchers who wrote this paper have hit the Holy Grail in helping marketers engage with the highly coveted "mom" demographic, I instead found parts of it to read more like a scene from "Mad Men."
The most startling paragraph contained suggestions that were offered up to guide marketers, including:
- not to just "communicate goods and services they offer are practical and convenient; they also need to make real moms feel confident and in charge"
- "empower female consumers to delegate to others (spouses, children, brands) so they can have more time to be who they want to be"
- "use new ways to reach a population that rarely has time to sit down and read or watch or enjoy something without simultaneously doing something else"
Wow, okay. I scrolled down the page past lots of impressive pie charts as I had to find out who wrote this 28-page whitepaper and, you guessed it, they were two women who aren't moms.
News Flash: Moms are empowered, confident, and in charge. We are ahead, way ahead, of the curve. We have adapted by embracing technology and are highly functional multi-taskers. We use our smartphones on the go to find products and services, VoIP products to stay in touch with family and friends and to meet and connect with other moms using Twitter, blogs and Facebook. We engage in real-time conversations daily on the Internet using "social TV" that goes beyond what traditional television is trying to morph to today on MomTV.com.
Moms are learning, growing and changing, but that does not mean childcare and household duties shift over to our spouses because of our pursuit of personal goals. It's just not how moms (or dads) are wired. The "mom target market" has moved light years ahead of "Mad Men" mentality. It's time for brands and agencies to get ahead of the curve and adapt their strategies to reach and engage moms with an authentic voice in a two-way conversation.
"The great secret of succeeding in conversation is to admire little, to hear much." Benjamin Franklin