By Jennie Wong The Charlotte Observer
This week's "Ask the Mompreneur" features an interview with Samantha Kurtzman-Counter, president and co-founder of The Mother Co., which specializes in safety and social skills media for kids.
QUESTION: A lot of companies would love to tap into the mom market, but your company really puts "by moms, for moms" at its very core, right down to the name. What advice do you have to folks like myself who are trying to capture the attention of this incredibly important consumer?
ANSWER: As a company fully founded, funded and focused on moms, it has been our utmost priority to establish a strong, authentic connection with the mom market. We are The Mother Co., after all.
In the very first year in business as a startup, we took the pennies we had, packed up all our office furniture, pulled the pictures off the wall, and drove ourselves to BlogHer in order to decorate our tiny sponsor booth.
We were competing for attention in a cavernous convention hall with all the biggest brands: Procter & Gamble, PepsiCo, Ford, Johnson & Johnson ... and us. And you know what happened? When mom bloggers walked by our booth and saw our little comfy couch and coffee table and our framed "Helping Parents Raise Good People" poster, we watched over and over as they exhaled, smiled, took a seat and asked, "Who are you?" They were so happy to connect with a brand that is honestly dedicated to cultivating a deep and meaningful connection with mothers.
And we know firsthand that mothers are tough customers. They're extremely hard to reach through traditional advertising, have very little time and have to be extremely savvy in order to protect the integrity of family budgets and navigate the high stakes of making sure we are purchasing the best-quality products for our children.
We need companies that really resonate with us and make our lives easier. We hate being "sold to," and statistics show that over 64 percent of moms trust other moms as the most credible resource in making a purchasing decision. With moms representing a $2.4 trillion market, we are understandably in hot demand.
And of course, moms are not all the same. So how can a small business or startup penetrate this juggernaut? Here are a few tips from the mamas of The Mother Co.:
DEVELOP A UNIQUE VOICE IN SOCIAL MEDIA: Moms may not watch commercials or read magazines much anymore, but they spend a lot of time on social media.
Eighty-four percent of moms visit social media sites like Facebook (versus 74 percent of all adults.) Get tweeting and posting right away and develop a voice that is engaging and unique. What tone does your brand have? Are you smart? Funny? Irreverent? Thoughtful? Uncover your brand's personality from the get-go and steer clear of being too "sales-y."
FIND THE BEST MOM AMBASSADORS FOR YOUR BRAND: Seventy-four percent of moms have purchased products as a result of promotion mentioned in a blog, and we've found much more success in the mom blogosphere when we've been really targeted about our blogger partnerships.
Sending a generic email to a large quantity of bloggers may yield some reviews and giveaways, and those are valuable for brand awareness to an extent. But we've had a way higher conversion rate when we've partnered with specific bloggers who have strong followings that are truly aligned with our products, mission and tone. Do your research and reach out directly to the bloggers that really make sense for you specifically. And be prepared to pay them, they are running a business, too.
BE HONEST: Moms can smell baloney a mile away. Be honest with the bloggers you engage. Be honest with your customers. And be honest with yourself. Does your brand or product really fill a need in a busy mom's life?
Is your strategy working? Test your products and strategies and continually check in with your plan to figure out how you need to evolve it. Moms don't have time for things that don't work or solve a real problem.
LISTEN TO YOUR MOTHER: It is essential to listen to the needs of your customers. We are always listening to our community of moms. They tell us their top priorities and we answer them: We polled hundreds of moms, who told us that safety, tantrums, conflict and sibling rivalry were their biggest concerns; so our first children's shows were "The Feelings Show," "The Friendship Show," "The Safety Show" and "The Siblings Show."
We also recently announced our latest safety book for kids, "A Little Book About Safety," in honor of June being National Safety Month.
And remember, these mama customers are your eventual ambassadors, too – if they like you or your product, they will spread the word far and wide through social media. Customer satisfaction has never been more important.
EMPOWER MOMS: Moms ultimately trust other moms most, so they are essential to the fabric of your business. Don't just offer lip service, but have moms on your board or as high-level employees with power and agency; that is the best way to gain respect from the community you seek to impress.
Bring them into your brand to be an indispensable part of it. Or if you're a mompreneur yourself, more power to you. In the end, just remember: Moms do know best, so we need to empower moms in order to nurture our new businesses in the best way possible. ___ ABOUT THE WRITER Jennie Wong is an executive coach, author of the e-book "Ask the Mompreneur" and the creator of the product quiz website www.ABorC.com.