Previous Post
Next Post

Getting Past The BS: Marketing To Moms

Kelly Rabinowitz By Kelly Rabinowitz

An Empathetic Wake-up Call

I have been working in advertising for 15 years with 9 of those years on brands that market almost exclusively to moms. I KNEW the target. I’ve witnessed the focus groups, participated in the ethnographies. I developed positioning statements that tap into the shift in values I KNEW that moms go through the moment their little bundles of joy emerge into their lives.

Then I had a baby of my own… and BAM! All of the knowledge I acquired over the years has been replaced with a deep, deep understanding and empathy.

My daughter is now 7 months old, and I think I can speak candidly about the permanent shift that occurs when you’re no longer responsible for just yourself, but for another tiny, dependent being. It’s not just a temporary shift in priorities; it’s a permanent shift in values. Things and activities that I used to enjoy, even loved, like shopping and cooking, have taken a permanent backseat to my newfound appreciation for easy experiences and time spent with my daughter.

So I’m speaking to all of you marketers, manufacturers, service providers, and retailers who know that my loyalties are up for grabs right now. I am relying on you more than ever to make my life better, and you better deliver. In these short 7 months of motherhood, my bullshit meter has suddenly ticked up 20 notches, and you don’t get a second chance at securing my business. Some companies seem to recognize and respect this, and others seem to have missed the point entirely.

Going Above And Beyond As The Cost Of Entry

Here are examples of one niche retailer that didn’t deliver and a mass market online retailer (guess who) that has raised the bar.

Zulily: Small Indiscretions Erode Trust

As a “leading deal site for moms,” Zulily is fresh on my radar. I downloaded the app, and for the first few days I thought, “OMG, this site is amazing!” I loved the easy Pinterest-like experience, the ah-dorable baby clothes, the impossibly cheap clothing for me. It truly felt like the site for everything I need as a new mom! What’s not to love? Turns out… a lot.

  1. Shipping and return policies that don’t deliver: For my first (and only) order, I had to pay for standard shipping – almost $20 for 2-day shipping, which rubbed me the wrong way since I’m now spoiled by Amazon Prime. And they only allow for return of damaged items, which they charge return shipping and restocking fees. Any new mom knows, sometimes stuff just doesn’t fit!
  2. Smoke and mirror “deals”: The expiring “deals” aren’t real. The day after I placed my purchase for a few expiring baby and clothing “deals,” the products appeared again, just in a different “deal” section. New moms need to trust that you have their best interests at heart. This situation didn’t exactly build my confidence.
  3. Shopping without reviews: There were no product reviews, and ultimately I was disappointed with my choices. Had I been able to get a POV from other moms, perhaps I would have made better choices and had a better experience. Transparency is so essential in building trust.

The moral of the story for Zulily: by not allowing for flexibility and being less than transparent with both your deals and lack of product reviews, you eroded trust instantly. As a new mom, trust is shorthand for loyalty. The ball was dropped on what could have been an ideal relationship with a brand that has the niche products I need and has an otherwise engaging social presence I enjoyed interacting with.

Amazon Rises Above On Empathetic Experience

Oh Amazon, you’ve done me right. As a new mom, Amazon Prime is THE BEST $100 a year that I’ve ever spent. EVER. Here is what makes Amazon so great at meeting my needs from the perspective of being a new mom:

  • Content that reaches me: ALL THE CONTENT! The shows and music were a lifesaver during my maternity leave. I binged Transparent, and Alexa still plays my sing-along playlist while I dance around with my little girl. Love you Amazon Boo!
  • Giving without thinking: Using Amazon Smile makes me feel good. I get to show a little love to the ASPCA without any extra time, especially since my responsibilities have stacked up so high between being a mom and a full-time employee that I just don’t have the time I had before to engage with the charities and causes that are important to me.
  • Saving time and money with subscriptions: “Subscribe and save” is the best time saver. I’ve now signed up for 6 different “subscribe and save” products for my child and my pets. No more lugging pet food home!
  • Seamless shipping and returns: Who does returns better than Amazon? I’d venture to say no one. When I received a defective unit of the pacifier my daughter loves and I wanted to send it in for a replacement, you told me to just keep the old set, even though only one of the two-pack was defective. Then you sent me a new pack without having to return the old. Why, thank you, Amazon! Also, 2-day free shipping with Prime. Need I say more?

Thanks, Amazon, you’re my savior.

Be A 360-Degree Partner For Mom And Win Her Heart

At the end of the day, moms need you to make their lives easier, and that means saving them time and energy. I’m aware that this is not a new insight. I mean, that insight has been part of every brand messaging platform I’ve worked on. But I can’t emphasize enough how this must not just be part of the messaging strategy, but needs to infiltrate the product, customer service, and all touchpoints with your moms. Otherwise, that bullshit meter is going to ring like a bell, and you’ve lost a customer.

Does your brand get it?