Adapt To Reach Your Audience

If you really want to engage with Moms, you need to adapt your strategies to understand what the influencers are. From spouses to children, health to finances, friends to colleagues, finding the triggers to how a mom engages is not an exercise for the weak, nor is it one that is going to be delegated anytime soon.

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

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

6 comments about "Adapt To Reach Your Audience ".
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  1. Susan Marshall from ExactTarget, November 25, 2009 at 12:49 p.m.

    Amen -- from a working mom with three kids under 5

  2. Joe Barnes from Digital3000.Net, November 25, 2009 at 1:26 p.m.

    Great insights as always from Stephanie! Everyone in marketing should read this.
    Joe Barnes

  3. Cheryl Sternberg from While She's Out LLC, November 25, 2009 at 1:41 p.m.

    Couldn’t agree more, Stephanie! The two-way conversation takes time and money, but is well worth it. At The Parenting Group, we built a market-based online research community in 2003, and what we’ve heard has shaped much of what we’ve done since. Most recently, we learned that moms want to interact with brands on their own terms, and that the average mom gives and get advice in more than 8 product categories. More results here:

  4. Elli Strauss from Elli Strauss International Marketing Communications, November 25, 2009 at 1:41 p.m.

    You are spot on. Marketing has a reached a stage where it's all about metrics - measurable, trackable results = ROI. While certainly an important element, actually engaging the core audience in terms of attitude and relevant content lags far behind.

    I just wrote an article on mobile marketing for a work from home women's blog, with the goal of doing just that.

    I also like your reflection on the insights of consulting groups - it's like in the old days (I'm dating myself by admitting I'm a classically trained and experienced marketer) - consultants put together theoretical, strategic reports, leaving out the reality of grass roots research.

    Great stuff.

  5. Gabriela Paredes from C-Sync, November 30, 2009 at 11:27 a.m.

    I am not a mom, but am working with an entrepreneurial mom looking to get her product idea off the ground and this article is very insightful! Not only is it well written and refreshing, but it really gets to the heart of where marketing is going and "the mom" market is no exception. Thanks for the insights.

  6. Ellen Davis from Your Social Reputation, January 8, 2010 at 2:43 p.m.

    Enjoyed reading this!

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