Just Ask A Mom
All it takes is a handful of real-life Moms to help make a big impact on your brand. They can help you come up with a winning new Mom-targeted product, a promotion that will really drive Moms to make a purchase, or an advertising campaign that truly resonates with them. It's called a Mom-advisory board. In our practice, we are big fans of them, because we have witnessed, again and again, powerful results when companies put them to work.
Most of our clients use Mom-advisory groups in one of two ways: (1) as a think tank to help them come up with ideas for new products or marketing tactics or (2) as a sounding board to help them improve existing products or optimize ideas already in the pipeline. Of course, there are many other uses which we've applied for our clients, such as mini test markets or as part of due diligence for investors evaluating a new category. Some use their internally cultivated groups of Moms, while others leverage panels like our MomForce. In either case, there is a powerful advantage to using Moms with marketing experience. Unlike regular consumers, they think strategically and their insights are grounded in business reality.
The key is to engage Moms early on. As a result, companies can very effectively and efficiently optimize their Mom-marketing tactics, rather than finding out at the end of the process via very expensive research that their product or a messaging idea is a miss. No one likes to go back to the drawing board.
I am by no means advocating that companies replace traditional market research, but by utilizing their Mom-advisory board early on in the process, they will be reaping the benefits of effective and efficient optimization of their marketing strategies and tactics. The chances of coming up with a winning Mom-targeted solution will be a lot higher. And if it turns out that you do have a dud on your hands, you will know early when there is still time to start over.
While engaging advisory boards across different groups is useful for many businesses (e.g., a kid-advisory panel for a breakfast cereal manufacturer), when Moms are your target, there are added benefits to engaging them. One great side benefit of engaging a Mom-advisory board is that they are also very likely to become your brand advocates, as a result of your engagement with them. This might seem small (most advisory boards our clients "hire" are comprised of 10-15 Moms), but given the magnitude with which Moms talk and listen to each other, you get an instant multiplier effect, which should not be underestimated.
If you consider assembling and cultivating your own Mom-advisory panel, here are some things to keep in mind:
- Bring in the world. Many companies use their Mom-employees to serve as a quick and convenient Mom-advisory board. This is better than nothing, but we recommend that you bring in an outside perspective. Using your own Mom-employees carries risks, the most significant being that they work for your company so they are biased, even if only on a subconscious level, and might not be a good representation of the outside world.
- All Moms are not the same. I'm referring to the stages of motherhood, which greatly define her behavior, drivers and motivators. For some companies this might be less important, but for others (think, for example, a baby food manufacturer or a college test prep service) it is critical. Make sure you keep in mind the desired demographic and also attitudinal characteristics that might be important for your brand.
- Where are your Moms when you need them? Ask yourself how you plan on utilizing your Mom-advisory board members. Do you need them to come to your offices in person? Are you okay with a virtual get-together? This further dictates the composition of your advisory panel as some companies need local, but some prefer geographically dispersed representation.
- Make sure you don't have a leaky bucket. If the nature of your business requires Moms of narrowly defined range (e.g., mothers of babies), you need to account for the fact that members of your panel will be outgrowing it quickly. To avoid spending a lot of resources with an on-going replenishment process, you might be better off leveraging companies who have "Mom-advisors" on stand-by and can deliver exactly the profile you are looking for from their extensive database.
If building your own is not feasible, there are agencies like ours out there ready to meet your needs. Bottom line, just ask a Mom... we are usually eager to help!