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.