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How to Market to Moms with a Web Company: Part 1

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Reaching moms has been the bane of advertisers for many years. And it’s not hard to see why. It’s no easy task to reach a consumer that has only an hour free a day, broken into 10-minute time chunks. And moms are notoriously prickly about what they will listen to. I am a mom of twins, and can shed some light onto why: we have no time. My BS meter is in a constant state of vigilance. You have six seconds to get my attention, and you’d better use it telling me about how you’re going to solve one of my biggest problems. If you don’t, I’ll race straight past you, trying to manage the million things going on my life.

    Advertisers have been courting moms for years, trying to crack what gets to us, often with frustrating results. Many moms resent a lot of the advertising sent their way, and buy products in spite of it, based on need alone. Trust and reassurance resonate, but can’t be forced on us. The reason? That BS meter I mentioned before. I’m not going to believe you that your Swiffer is going to make me smile and dance around my kitchen no matter how many moms you put on my TV with big grins plastered on their faces while they sweep. That just makes me think you think I’m an idiot. But if it breaks and I call you and a human immediately answers and solves my problem, you’ve won me. This kind of mindset is quite troublesome for big businesses that are stuck in the Mad Men advertising era. Having to live the message you’re selling can be harder than it sounds.

    Online companies have a definite advantage in several ways, when reaching moms. First, they are infinitely scalable. Often, just by changing some code, you can solve a problem fast. Also, since you save costs on physical things like warehouses and product, you can use that for an in-house customer service team. And if you are serious about serving moms, you’d better have one of these. Finally, there’s a lot you can do to grow an online company that comes with no cost at all. Since mom has traditionally not had all of her problems taken seriously, she’s had to band together with lots of other local moms in her area to figure out solutions. What works for one mom, therefore, has the power to be spread virally through many other moms in her network within a quick time frame. Companies like Sittercity have tried for years to track the viral marketing effect that moms have, with limited success. But it’s there, and it’s huge. Think of it like dropping water on a map.

    However, online companies face challenges, too, when reaching mom. Online companies are hard to personalize. When you’re looking at a web site, you see something in cyberspace, not the humans behind it. This can make you harder to trust, which is a key part of reaching moms. Mom’s buying is also often sporadic. For instance, she buys a ton of equipment and supplies when she’s pregnant, and has time to research without screaming kids needing her attention. But once they are born, she moved into a need-based buying mentality, and only makes purchases when she is at an aspirin or morphine level of need. Only that level of need would make her surface from the miasma of the first year after baby.

    But there is a formula. I’ve been teaching a class on this formula in 1871 and a number of classmates suggested that I turn it into a series of blogs. In the next series of articles, I will break down the marketing tactics and approach you need to reach moms in the hopes that other moms and women will take it and solve more problems that we face. So listen up, mamas. We have work to do.

    Genevieve Thiers is the founder of Sittercity.com and a co-founder of Contactkarma.com and OperaModa.com. She lives in Chicago, IL.