August 28, 2008

Special Report: Marketing to Moms, Part I: Use Blogs, Events to Conquer the Mommy Market

SUMMARY: Mothers are among the most coveted consumers in the U.S. market. Their buying power tops $2.1 trillion annually. They control 85% of household income.

Part I of this Special Report will show you how to interact with and advertise to mom bloggers, and use events to get the attention of all mothers. Includes tips, stats, and plenty of examples.
Remember one important thing while reading this Special Report on marketing to moms: It’s all about building a relationship. Traditional marketing and advertising tactics come second to strategies with an elusive ROI but a big impact.

Measuring success also takes on a different form. In particular, it involves monitoring what is being said about a brand or product in the “mom blogosphere.”

A growing number of moms participate in new media outlets. In short, the rules of the game have changed. For instance, companies, such as Whirlpool have had great success in the “mommy market” by running programs that have nothing to do with appliances.

Whirlpool has been doing weekly podcasts, “The American Family,” for three years. The podcasts get 25,000 to 40,000 monthly downloads, says Audrey Reed-Granger, Director Marketing and PR, Mass Brands.

The podcasts run 15 to 30 minutes on 16 major portals in addition to the brand’s website. Content includes interviews with experts on topics such as “shaken baby syndrome,” “workplace bullying,” “weight loss and management,” and “traveling with kids.”

Reed-Granger’s team records the number of feedback emails received by listeners and measures the number of impressions in the blogosphere year-to-year to assess their value.

Should you pay attention to moms?

During the past five years, mom blogging has gained momentum and attention from marketers. The appeal is the shear influence that these bloggers have on moms who read them regularly. The ROI is hard to measure, but several experts on marketing to moms say that a campaign for mothers is not complete without a blog component.

Consider these statistics from an online survey of 600 moms conducted by BSM Media:
- 60% read blogs
- 29% post to blogs

Other statistics from BlogHer/Compass Partners 2008 Social Media Study (sample size: 2,350 women) show:
- 53% women participate in the blogosphere
- 37% post comments to blogs
- 28% write or update blogs
- 46% have children at home

Interacting with Mom Bloggers

Step #1. Identify the right mom bloggers

There are about 10,000 mom blogs – all with their own spin. Marketers should choose those moms who share their interests and values, says Bailey. For instance, there’s a group of mom bloggers called “edgy moms” who use potentially offensive language in their posts. This group might not appeal to everyone.

TIP: is a good place to find mom bloggers. The website is similar to Digg – it aggregates blog posts based on the number of clicks they get.

Step #2. Read the blogs

This one is obvious. Before you contact a mom blogger, read her blog for at least a few weeks. It’s the only way to get a sense of what she values, and to start thinking of ways your company or product could bring value to her and her readers.

Step #3. Build a relationship before pitching

Build a relationship with a mom blogger before making a marketing pitch to her.

“These bloggers are looking for a relationship with companies,” Bailey says. “Treat them like a girlfriend. Ask them … can we engage with you? Is there something we can do together?”

Remember that mom bloggers have their own agendas. Be sure to find out what their goals are before getting into a pitching mode. If a mom blogger doesn’t want a relationship, ask her for suggestions on other bloggers who might be interested.

Have an employee who is a mom reach out to the bloggers because moms tend to want to help other moms, Bailey says. She’s witnessed campaigns fail because male interns were in charge of outreach to mom bloggers.

Step #4. Give them good content

Good content is still key. Include information that they’ll want to blog about. It could be something their readers can use or do, or just something cool they’d like to share. Some examples:

* PBS Kids *
PBS Kids provided good blog content to the attendees of the BlogHer ’08 conference. They recreated the set of Sesame Street in a special suite they rented at the conference and employed the puppeteers for Grover and Abby Cadabby to make videos with the attendees. They gave each attendee a DVD of the video to take home and show their kids. Many of the attendees ended up blogging about the experience and posting a URL to the video download on their blogs.

* TV Show *
Another TV show raised awareness among mom bloggers by inviting them to a screening of the show. Everyone got to meet and interview the star of the show. All bloggers received an edited video of the experience. “Each of the women got pure bragging rights and put these up on their blogs,” says Jory Des Jardins, Co-founder and President of Global Sales and Business Development for BlogHer.

* Whirlpool *
Whirlpool uses the mom blogosphere to spread awareness of its Mother of Invention Grant. The team shares information about the grant with mom bloggers. And mom bloggers share it with their audiences. The grant provides a grand prize of $20,000, a first prize of $7,000, and a second prize of $5,000 as seed money to get winning mom inventions off the ground.

“That is actually how the program has spread,” says Reed-Granger. “There is no advertising … It’s spread via word of mouth.” This year’s entries have exceeded the previous years’ with 2,300 entries.

Give bloggers a high-quality photo to go with the content. Or give them an offer, such as entering a contest to win an item. Some blogs (e.g., do this well. They always offer advice to readers about a product. At the end of a post, they’ll often offer a sample or contest for the item or a link to more information, says Skoloda.

“If you can equip them with things for their blogs or things for their homes or things for their life… then they’re likely to listen,” Des Jardins says.

How to Advertise with Mom Bloggers

Several mom bloggers run advertisements on their blogs. They’re usually part of an ad network, such as BlogHer’s Ad Network or the MomBlogNetwork. Here is a tip on advertising with mom bloggers from Des Jardins.

Create an event or campaign that gets bloggers engaged.

BlogHer’s ad network team runs banner ads on blogs. They create an event or campaign that engages bloggers and then use the banner to promote that engagement. Here are some examples of companies who have succeeded in accomplishing this:

* JCPenney *
JCPenney engaged 20 BlogHer bloggers with a new line of home furnishings called Linden Street. The store gave them $500 gift certificates and asked them to write about the experience of spending the gift certificates. The BlogHer team ran an ad that incorporated a Linden Street ad with a compilation of links to the BlogHer reviews.

“It’s a new step of engagement,” Des Jardins says. “We call it entering the conversations that the bloggers are having, versus just being there.”

* Unilever *
Unilever engaged BlogHer bloggers with the new Ragu Fresh & Simple Pouch. They created a survey asking, “How do you get your kids to eat well?” and a contest to win a free trip to the BlogHer ’08 conference. The BlogHer team engaged really popular mom bloggers by asking them to come up with questions to be included in the survey. That got the bloggers and their audiences excited, Des Jardins says. “They ended up coming to the survey by virtue of having their favorite bloggers involved,” she says. “Immediately, we got a very huge response rate.”

How to Convince Executive Management

It is difficult to measure the ROI of mom blog marketing. Companies often worry about this type of marketing because they can’t control what mom bloggers say about a product or service.

TIP: Test it first
Work with one or two mom bloggers. Document the kinds of reviews they write, the number of reader comments they receive, the content of those comments. Record the number of impressions (i.e., number of RSS subscribers they have to determine a measurable number of impressions). Or, ask the blogger for traffic statistics.

How to Measure the Success of Marketing Programs through Blogs

Whirlpool employs an agency, Competitive Insights, to measure and analyze everything being said about the company and its programs on the blogosphere each day.

These measurements include a breakdown of negative, positive, and neutral responses, and the number of mentions in general. Measurements are also broken down by program. The team compares numbers year-to-year to assess progress.

Reed-Granger’s team responds to negative comments if they contain inaccurate statements about the brand or its products. Sometimes, they don’t have to –another blogger or reader will leave a comment correcting the negative one.

Sponsoring In-Home or In-School Events: 3 Examples

Many experts suggest creating in-home or in-school events, parties, and mixers as a way to build positive relationships with alpha moms, mom bloggers, and PTO/PTA moms. Here are some tips:

In-Home Parties

One way to reach moms is by recruiting influential moms to host parties in their homes. Provide all the food, drinks and products you want them to sample. Add an activity. For instance, if it’s a food product, provide recipe demonstrations using the product as an ingredient, along with samples. Skoloda says Ketchum’s clients have found success with this. The following are some examples of triumphant executions of this strategy:

* HP *
HP sponsored 1,000 in-home events with mom influencers in seven cities to promote a partnership with DreamWorks’ ‘Kung Fu Panda’. The company provided everything needed, along with ‘Kung Fu Panda’ party boxes containing fortune cookies, HP activity disks, chop sticks, games and prizes, says Maria Bailey, co-author of “Trillion-Dollar Moms” and CEO of BSM Media, a marketing firm that specializes in marketing to moms. HP Photosmart Compact Photo Printers were available, so that attendees could print snapshots of the event. Moms could then take those snapshots home and use them to blog about being part of the event.

Test the effectiveness of the event by surveying party goers before and after the party. The surveys will help determine attendees’ perspectives and purchase intentions. Analyze the answers to help measure the effectiveness of the event.

For research purposes, the best way to find out where moms are in a local market is by finding “an online group of moms,” Bailey says. “Ask them their opinion because moms love to give their opinion.”

BSM Media uses this technique often. When planning an event in Minneapolis, for instance, the team finds a Minneapolis “mom group” and asks them for suggestions on where moms and toddlers hang out. “That’s where we find our best events,” Bailey says.

In-School Events

If there’s one thing aspect most moms have in common, it’s that they have children in school. Therefore, sponsoring an event for families to gather at their children’s school gets companies and products in front of the target audience. Some examples of this strategy:

*Family Night*
Target sponsors a Family Reading Night through School Family Media, a marketing and media services company. It is a free event for schools that order a step-by-step planning guide, equipment and supplies list, and professionally designed posters to promote the event. Similarly, Best Buy sponsors a Family Movie Night, Nestle sponsors a Get Movin’ Night for family exercise, and Kodak sponsors a Family Arts & Crafts Night.

* Proctor & Gamble*
One of the most successful examples of a program School Family Media did was for Proctor & Gamble’s new Tide with Dawn StainScrubbers, says John Driscoll, Vice President of Sales & Business Development for School Family Media. Driscoll’s team sent an offer to all the schools in their database. They told them that, if they had a carnival event between February and April, for instance, they were eligible to receive free samples of the new Tide product, along with professional thank-you notes to give to attendees at the event.

What made this event successful was the fact that it put the product in a relevant context. After all, carnival food is likely to create stains on clothing – especially when children are involved. Driscoll says the professional thank-you notes added value to the experience; the notes allowed parent and teacher group members who organized the event something to give attendees. That reinforced the group’s mission, which is to engage parents and encourage parent involvement.

Part II is coming next week. It’ll contain five critical components of effective messaging to moms, including tips for creating multi-channel campaigns. And the best way to segment the “mom market” and create a “mom panel.”

Useful links related to this article

Creative Samples from BlogHer:

Past Sherpa Articles:

New Study Data: Moms Spend 13.2 Hours Per Week Online (vs. 7.6 Watching TV):

How to Market to New Parents - Tips from Baby Einstein Founder Julie Aigner-Clark:

How to Change Your Web Site to Appeal to Busy Moms Shopping Online: Survey Results From Gymboree:

How Signed Up 400,000 Ultra-Busy Moms in Just Five Months:

Mom blog networks and ad networks:


The Mom Blogs:


BlogHer Ad Network:

Parent Bloggers Network:

Baby and Parenting BlogAds Network:

Social Networks for Moms:






Mom Magazines:

PTO Today



Print Magazines for Moms of Color:



Latina Magazine:

Online Network for Moms of Color:


Walt Disney World Moms Panel:


Whirlpool “The American Family” podcasts:

Whirlpool Mother of Invention Grant:

Whirlpool and OPI “I Don’t Do Dishes:”

Competitive Insights, helps Whirlpool measure responses in the blogosphere:

Maria Bailey and BSM Media’s Blog and Website:

School Family Media:

School Family Media case studies:


Female Factor:

Lucid Marketing:

The 85% Niche:

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