Yesterday was Mothers Day in the US, and the well-deserved tributes to moms and all they do to contribute to their families – often with little or no help – got me thinking about how moms have come up with some of the most creative ideas when it comes to side jobs to help make ends meet. In past generations, moms would plow and harvest fields, take jobs as housekeepers or work in factories – and still take care of the kids and home. In the more recent downturn, many of my friends and relatives have started direct sales businesses like Mary Kay. My wife is a photographer, in addition to being an incredible mom to our little girl and the usual domestic stay-at-home-mom stuff (which is a full-time job in itself).
One of the more popular income contributing options lately has been the advent of the “mommyblogger.” The popularity is no surprise. Emarketer estimates there’s nearly 40 million moms online, and with the ease of creating and maintaining a blog with tools like WordPress, combined with easy ways to add advertisements to the blog with tools like Google’s Adsense, it’s not hard to see why this is such a popular option for stay-at-home-moms.
That said, many find the very idea of mommyblogging annoying. The stereotype is of a bathrobe-clad mom pecking away at her computer, describing every last detail about her baby’s development as if the rest of the world were logging in daily to see what Baby will do next. And even if we’re willing to admit that it’s probably not terrible for moms to document their kids’ formative years and their experiences as a new Mom, why is that of any interest to the rest of us?
We’ll get there, but trust me – as a marketing professional, it’s far more important to your marketing than you may realize.
What is a Mommyblogger?
If you’re not familiar with the term, a mommyblogger is, quite simply, a mom who blogs. I’m sure you know some. Most start a blog as a means of journaling the formative years of their kids so that friends and relatives in different cities, states or even countries can keep up with the little ones. In previous generations, if the parents moved away from the grandparents, odds were good the grandparents would miss out on most of the details of their grandkids’ first years.
But mommybloggers are more than that, despite the stereotype. Mashable posted a great Top 10 Misconceptions About Mommybloggers last year. Apparently, the New York Times didn’t read it, since they recently published a rather unflattering piece that did nothing for the industry, titled, “Honey, Don’t Bother Mommy, I’m Busy Building My Brand.” It describes an internet marketing seminar for mommybloggers, and doesn’t exactly paint mommybloggers as a serious internet marketers. Liz – the mommyblogger behind Mom-101.com – wrote an eloquently feisty response:
I guess it could also have been titled Honey Don’t Bother Mommy. I’m Making Ends Meet for Our Family in a Tough Economy but that doesn’t seem as enticingly condescending. Also, then it would have to go in the business section and not fashion + style and that would just mess up everything!
She goes on to defend the industry,
In the piece, [the NY Times author] describes a conference called Bloggy Boot Camp that I don’t know much about:
The topics on that day’s agenda included search-engine optimization, building a “comment tribe” and how to create an effective media kit. There would be much talk of defining your “brand” and driving up page views.I know I wasn’t there and all, but here I’m wondering – how is the agenda here any different than that at any tech conference anywhere, and why does that warrant a mention in the Times?
Oh wait..because moms were there.
Why Marketers Should Care About Mommy Blogs
Even if you still don’t think mommybloggers should be taken seriously as internet marketers, you still need to pay attention to them because your job most likely depends on reaching their audience. Moms control an estimated $2 Trillion of spending in America, which means in just about any household buying decision, you’ve got to convince Mom. This is not particularly easy, either, for what should be obvious reasons. As Avi Savar wrote in imediaconnection:
…marketers need to forget everything they know about marketing. They need to stop selling and start listening. They need to lead with her agenda first and not theirs. The first mistake many brands make is considering moms to be a singular, two-dimensional archetype. Understanding moms is not as simple as bucketing women into age brackets: Gen Y or Gen X versus boomer moms, for example. Moms are much more complicated than that, and they would appreciate you demonstrating this fact.
Brands need to know who Mom is, what she likes, and where she spends her time. You also need to know what she thinks about and what she’s interested in — because when Mom wakes up at 6 a.m., she’s not thinking about your brand. You need find out what she is thinking about and how you can be useful and relevant to her in the context of her life. This requires brands to think like publishers — to create meaningful content that helps or entertains first and sells second.
While it’s a little surprising to me that Mr. Savar apparently thinks that creating “meaningful content that helps or entertains first and sells second” is a marketing approach unique to moms, his larger point is big: moms ultimately aren’t paying attention to marketing, because they’ve got LOTS of other stuff on their minds. I’m amazed at how many household and family details my wife manages to keep track of, and she’s not particularly unique in that. If you want to make moms aware of your product, that’s a big hurdle to overcome. Mashable has some great tips to help you connect with the mommyblogger community.
Mommy Blogs: The Ultimate Info-Marketing E-Business
As an internet marketing guy, these “mommy blogs” strike me as the ultimate info-marketing business. Except unlike most info-marketing websites, they’re offering actual information, instead of just selling an ebook on how to become an info-marketer. Moms share useful information, make buying recommendations, review buying experiences, and in general educate and persuade their audience. Moms are also incredibly social. An emarketer study found that 78% of moms who blog reviewed products they’d bought. Odds are good mommybloggers are reviewing your product or commenting on the buying experience – important things for any marketing professional.
Mommy Blogs take the info-marketing idea to a much higher level. Mommybloggers make their money off trust. They’re selling expertise and credibility, not hype. Like most ebooks, the mommybloggers are not creating new information, they’re simply aggregating it and adding their own opinions. They’re becoming a resource. Look at Jennifer Perkins‘ following as a “craft guru,” for example. What blog – or business website – couldn’t benefit from that kind of link-building, product-evangelizing referral-base?
As online marketers, we can learn a ton from mommybloggers.
And if you’re a mom considering how to break into the industry, stay tuned for an awesome guest post from Emily.