Why do Marketers still fear Marketing to Moms?

I have a favorite saying and one that stirs my business philosophy as much as my personal actions. It’s attributed to the bright man or woman referred to as Anonymous and goes like this: “If you always do what you’ve always done, then you’ll get what you’ve always gotten.” I wish I knew who Anonymous was because I’d give him or her the gold medal of marketing intelligence. If he or she only knew how many times I repeat their quote to a marketer who is exploring the mystical world of marketing to moms.

One would think after all the thousands of articles written on the buying power of moms that we would be well beyond companies “exploring” whether or not they should speak to mothers. Unfortunately we aren’t. Even with the $2.1 trillion spending power attributed to moms, brands are still hesitant to turn the conversation from child to gatekeeper.

So why write about fear and marketing to moms now? Having just returned from Toy Fair in New York, I have been pondering the question most frequently asked of me, “if we market to the moms, will we become uncool to the child?” It’s a question asked out of fear. The fear of talking to the financial gatekeeper- Mom. It’s a fair question. But I wonder if this same fearful marketer has asked, “who is paying for our product at the cash register?” My guess it’s not the tween, teen or toddler in the house. It’s the mother. So if your sales are flat or falling and you are debating whether or whether not it’s time to turn your marketing focus to the mother, I fondly quote Mr/Ms. Anynomous. “If you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always gotten.” It’s time to change the plan to include the Household CFO also know as mom.

Imagine what could happen to your sales if you purposefully set out to establish a relevant and valuable dialogue with moms about your product? Certainly you aren’t going to approach it the same way as you would her teenager or tween but can imagine if she knew you recognized her as your customer?

There are excellent examples of companies who successfully speak to moms and remain hip to the child. Nintendo Wii comes to mind. They did a wonderful job in teaching moms to play Wii while marketing to their entertainment-centric children. Build a Bear Workshop creates a fun experience for the child while speaking to the mom about values and philanthropy via social media. And of course, Zhu Zhu Pets engaged moms in hosting MommyParties while running commercials on Nick and Disney Channel.

Did any of these brands chase away their core target audience- the child? Not at all. In fact, I would argue that the engagement of Nintendo with moms made it a whole lot easier for Junior to convince his mom to fork over the $300 for a Wii. I also bet that the kids who got the first Zhu Zhu Pets because their moms had access to the product before anyone else, thought their blogging mom was super cool!

Fortunately for marketers gone are the days when one commercial had to fit the entire family. There’s a style, strategy and tactic for every segment of consumer. A conversation that a brand can have to multiple people with multiple interest via multiple platforms all at once. That’s the magic of social media and consumer generated content. With the magic of online marketing, social media and consumer generated content, marketers have the opportunity to get over their fears of marketing to moms and do something they’ve never done before in order to get the results they’ve never gotten before.