Published June 27, 2011
Businesses need moms.
According to the National Association for Moms in Business, mothers have $1.3 trillion in spending power, (equal to that of the entire country of Great Britain), and control 80% of household spending. If companies aren’t capturing this demographic, they are missing a big part of the revenue pie and could be hurting their bottom lines.
And who should know more about how to capture a portion of this massive spending than a mother?
Stacy DeBroff left her demanding legal career in the 1990s to spend more time with her kids. But while writing books and serving as a corporate spokeswoman from 1998-2006, she realized there was a serious disconnect on how brands target this key demographic that holds so much purchasing power.
For example, Debroff was asked by one client during its plastic wrap campaign to stress how users can seal the wrap perfectly over a container by pushing on it with your fingers and moving in a circular motion.
“I said, ‘that’s great, but the way moms really apply plastic wrap to leftovers is to just slap it on. We don’t do any fancy pressing down,’” Debroff said.
She later served as a spokesperson for a toilet paper campaign and the company wanted the product to be called “toilet tissue,” and described it as “soft and durable.” This was a little jarring to Debroff. “Can you imagine turning to a friend and saying, ‘I’m really looking for some durable toilet paper?’” She knew what moms really want is bigger, endless rolls so they don’t have to buy it so frequently. “[Brands] represented to me the disconnect between marketing language and how we as moms think and talk, and really resonate with the things we’re looking for in making product choices.”
With this in mind, Debroff decided to launch her own consulting business in 2006 to help corporations reach the highly-coveted mom audience.
As DeBroff’s business expanded, social media entered the scene giving marketing firms and companies a whole new way to connect with potential customers. When it comes to buying items for their family and household, research shows word of mouth plays a key role in women’s decision-making process. Females tend to trust the voice of those around them – friends, acquaintances, trusted mom bloggers, etc… and social media offers a great platform for companies to spread the word about their brand and products. Not to mention it’s often a less costly avenue than traditional advertising.
“Moms have always been word of mouth, conversation driven,” DeBroff said.
“What used to be [conversations] over the picket fence or in the pick-up line in kindergarten now was happening online and could get very specific and niche.”
Customers can now demand companies come to them on their social networks to get their business, versus companies forcing them to come to their Web sites. Companies also realized they needed to listen to feedback in order to really connect with their customers. Brands started asking DeBroff’s company how they could infuse their marketing strategies with a focus on genuine connectivity and engaging in conversations --versus just push marketing, in a new age of what DeBroff calls “relational marketing.”
The multi-award-winning Mom Central Consulting has doubled in size each year and counts corporate giants including General Mills (GIS), Pepsi (PEP), Ralph Lauren (RL) and Fisher Price (MAT) as clients, but it also works with smaller companies and nonprofits. All clients represent products or missions that make the world better for moms and kids, in DeBroff’s view.
Companies are realizing “just how much social media can contribute to the bottom line and can increase brand awareness,” DeBroff said. “I think for us, we’re just really rolling up our sleeves and getting started.”
DeBroff offered the following marketing tips to on how businesses can appeal to moms:
1. Think about your business’s story and how you connect with mom consumers. A blog is a great way to do this, especially for small businesses - not to talk about their specials that week but rather to tell their story.
2. Use Facebook and Twitter to engage with consumers. A dry cleaning business, for example, can use these social media platforms to offer tips on the most effective, immediate response to get out coffee, grass or wine stains.
3. Use other trusted voices with an online presence to spread the word about your service or product. Instead of issuing a press release about your new restaurant, find people writing about food --bloggers or others--to come review your restaurant. Get samples or coupons into the hands of people who have power to influence.
“Can you create that experience so they will share and recommend it based on whether it’s family-friendly or being the ultimate getaway for the night out?” DeBroff asks.
4. Utilize youth. The best person you can go to for help with the technology and social media strategies is a college or high school students – they’re cheap and they know the Internet best, especially when it comes to mobile apps.
“You can’t afford not to be thinking Facebook, Twitter, blogging, influence or engagement, no matter the size of your business,” DeBroff stressed.
1. Alienate people. Even if you are on social networking sites, you can still distance your customers by being unresponsive and unauthentic. “If you don’t know what you’re doing, find somebody to help you get started and train you on the basics. Social media done wrong could actually hurt you.”
2. Summon Customers to Your Web site. If you have to pick one over the other, choose a Facebook page or a blog over a Web site – they are more interactive and people don’t want to feel beckoned. Come to them.
3. Get stale. Always make sure your advertising and marketing practices are up to date in addition to your latest product and service offerings.