By Jim Schutze
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"You can't just go after mom bloggers, you have to speak to moms through multiple channels, inclusive of Twitter, Facebook, in online communities—even at the playground," Bailey says. She regularly holds Mom Mixers where moms mingle, have a beer or three and get the chance to sample and review products. Seems to me that big brands might be afraid to host these types of sampling opportunities, for fear that if the moms hate the sample, they might trash the products. But in Bailey's experience, "Moms appreciate the fact that the brands are finally asking for their opinions," and so it's actually very rare that these moms talk smack about the products. "Usually, if moms like something at one of these mixers, they'll gush. If they don't like it, they'll just be quiet." They want to be called again to voice their opinions, after all.
Her company's most recent success was marketing ZhuZhu Pets, which apparently became the Tickle Me Elmo of the 2009 holiday season. ZhuZhu Pets are battery-powered hamster toys that sell for about 10 bucks a pop. You can buy ZhuZhu hamster tubes and all kinds of other accessories for this toy that make it just like owning a real hamster. Only, you don't have to own a live, dumping, barfing, stinking, peeing, sad-to-be-running-in-place-on-a-wheel hamster. That right there is a good idea. Mom gets to appease her kid with a "pet" without ever having to pick rodent feces out of her couch cushions. Sure, it's not a "real" pet, but are real hamsters real pets? You want a pet, get a dog.
When Bailey heard that she was at the top of this "Power Pack" list, she says, she was "quite humbled." She says this list has been great for moms in general because it's brought attention to moms as influencers, and it gives marketers an idea of how to market to moms in a more targeted way. "It's about identifying the power moms in your segment."
Bailey is right. There are certain types of moms in every circle who are hard-core, all-in about being a mom, and they tell everyone they know about every product they love. These people had these personality traits in the first place (ya know, that "I wanna be the best in my field at what I do no matter what it is that I'm doing" thing that some people just seem to be born with) and now are just translating that to being a mom. Just like the rock-star mom I met at Target.
It's obvious that there's been a shift of power from advertisers to moms. A couple weeks ago, there was even a Mom 2.0 Summit in Houston. A summit. This year was the second year of the conference, and full registration for the event went for $450 a head, with a cap at 300 attendees. (It was just like the movie 300, if you sub out the CG-abbed warriors for their moms.) Moms spoke openly and directly to marketers about exactly what they want and exactly how they want marketers to approach them. And this was hardly a one-of-a-kind conference. As a targeted group, moms have gone from having no influence at all over messaging to having marketers beg them to tell them what they want so that marketers can go create it.
If I'd had the 450 bones, I so would've been first in the mom-line in Houston telling marketers what toys to make. I'd be like, "Listen, Robin Williams from Toys, you make me some wooden toys for my baby that won't make her all BPA-ified, are big enough that her crazy everything-eating self won't choke on them, oh, and let them have rounded corners so her giant, 99th percentile head won't get stabbed when she forgets how standing works."
Bailey says marketing to moms only really works when you "identify the influencers in your segment and talk directly to them." And that's what she does on Twitter. On January 1, 2009, she tweeted that she wanted to have a Mom's Nite Out. From that one tweet, 8 million moms went out that year at 800 parties across the country. This year, they're looking to have 1,500 events sponsored by 55 Simon Malls across the country. You know how much white wine that is? Loooooooots. And all this from one tweet. Let's hope Bailey keeps tweeting about partying and never decides she wants to have a Mom's Go Batshit Nite. This Mama Bear has some serious influence.
Speaking of influence in the world of mom bloggers, Heather Armstrong of dooce.com is Oprah-famous. She's actually been on Oprah and also ABC News Nightline, NPR, PBS, ABC World News Tonight and The Today Show. Her book, It Sucked and Then I Cried made it to No. 16 on The New York Times Best-Seller List. She's got a brand new design opportunity in the works with HGTV, and she has more than 1.6 million followers on Twitter (that's way more than the Dalai Lama).
She's also the numero uno mom on Nielsen's Power Pack list. Visit her blog and you'll immediately see why: Her honest voice breaks through a world of Pepto-pink, a baby is a gift and everything about being a Mom is perfect. And whether they agree with her or not, millions of people are reading. Armstrong was famous pre-momhood for blogging so much about her co-workers in the late '90s that she was fired from her job. She had a ton of readers before she got pregnant with her first daughter. "When I had Leta, I thought I would give up my Web site," she told me. "Who has the time, right?" But she says that from the time she announced her first pregnancy to the time she gave birth, traffic on her site quadrupled. Just by talking about pregnancy and impending momdom, she gained a whole new pack of readers. Armstrong says, "These women, they came to my rescue." As she blogged about the stresses of being a new mom, "all these women came out of the woodwork to help me. I truly believe this audience saved my life." Sounds like a big ol' Internet kumbaya moment, right?