What Modern Brands Can Learn From A 75 Years Old Russian Motorcycle Brand?

Ural motorcycles have been around since 1942 even though most people in the U.S. have never heard of them. Urals are basically reverse-engineered BMW R71 from WW2. The Russian probably thought, “this Blitzkrieg thingy is not going to work for us, we can build those rigs too”. But just out of precaution they moved of their factory to Irbitz in central Siberia, where the rigs are still being built today.

Army troops on Ural motorcycles

Most people have never heard of them and their current worldwide sales numbers are fairly low I would guess. However, the brand is witnessing some sort of revival and its popularity is growing extremely fast despite the company’s extremely limited marketing budget.

The design has barely changed since 1942 (one of the appeals of the brand). Same with the technology and safety features. They are quirky to ride, heavy and underpowered. But they are extremely robust, easy to work on and fix, and the 2WD version will get you through snow and mud better than a Jeep. They are basically utility motorcycles built for the battlefield, not for comfort riding or highway cruising.

The product should have died a long time ago and yet the brand is witnessing a revival, allowing for a few lessons about modern brand management.

Stand-out or disappear:

It’s almost embarrassing to start with this point but just look at a grocery store aisle, a parking lot, or simply at the advertising you get exposed to day in, day out. All you see is a giant sea of sameness. My favorite is still the shampoo aisle at Target. This observation even applies to newer, fast growing categories like the craft beer category with its 5000+ breweries in the US.

“Standing-out” has always been a key success criteria for brands, and therefore maybe lacks a bit of sex-appeal and novelty in today’s marketing conversation. But it is more relevant than ever. In fact, Microsoft scientists have shown that the average human attention span has apparently decreased from 12 seconds in 2000 to 8 seconds in 2014. Goldfish have supposedly an attention span of 9 seconds, but don’t ask me how Microsoft figured that out.

A Ural motorcycle just stands out. The fact that it has a sidecar and because of its unique, old school design that has barely evolved in the last 75 years, it’s impossible not to notice the rig, even in a parking lot full of motorcycles. I’ve noticed that people even give me the right of way more often, simply so that they can check-out the rig or take a picture.  

Start your story with the product:

Urals are so different and the brand’s history is so unique that everyone wants to talk to you about them, ask questions or share their own stories and dreams with you. The product acts as conversation starter (just like Tesla by the way). It’s what is known in the community as UDF, or “Ural Delay Factor”, the extra time a rider need due to all the people that will walk up to him or her to ask about the bike, take pictures, etc.. Ural riders even joke that you shouldn’t get a Ural if you are people-shy.

The importance of the product (the modern buzzword for that is now “experience”) and its story is becoming more relevant for modern brands again, not the least thanks to Amazon and it’s product reviews (55% of all online product searches start on Amazon) and to Youtube and its consumer generated product videos.

Going back to the essence of your product, its look and feel, its origin, its uniqueness, why it was created in the first place, how it works, etc., and then trying to understand which of these elements still hold relevance today or what could be a modern re-interpretation of the original product essence will create new growth opportunities for brands.

The product has always been an important contributor to a brand’s perception and equity (just think Apple). The industry just seems to have forgotten about it for a while. Interestingly, and based on our analysis of over 1200 case studies of successful brand building (www.positioning-roulette.com), of the 26 universal triggers of successful brand positioning, 40% are rooted in the product.

Or as Jeff Bezos said: In the old world, you devoted 30% of your time to building a great service and 70% of your time to shouting about it. In the new world, that inverts.”

Build a community around a lifestyle and a passion:

Another distinctive element of Ural is its community of owners. When I decided to buy a Ural, I placed an ad on Craigslist trying to find other riders here in town to teach me how to ride one. These bikes are quirky and have their own riding dynamic that is very different from a 2 wheel motorcycle. So I wanted to find out if I’d even enjoy riding this motorcycle (the product experience again) or if I even could. A few (non-Ural) riders told me at the time that I won’t be able to find anyone to help me, since bikers don’t like to let other people ride (or even touch) their bikes. Well, three people here in Minneapolis responded to my ad, one of which gave me several riding lessons for free despite my repeated efforts to compensate him for his time. Try that with a Harley Davidson or even a BMW owner.

The online community of Ural owners is one of the most active and supportive I’ve ever witnessed. And most of it is not even managed by the brand itself. People are passionate about their rigs (and probably the fact that they are so rare), exchange tips, tricks and how-tos in discussion forums, but more importantly they like to share their rides and adventures. Ural understands that and primarily uses consumer generated content about rides and adventures to promote its brand and newest models (not unlike GoPro).

Leverage your non-owned (digital) communication channels

Ural operates on a very tight marketing budget and seems to focus the majority of its efforts on social media and direct emails. They also seem to be able to get some good press coverage now and then, which I believe comes back to my first two points about standing out and having a story built into the product.

I am always surprised by how little attention marketers pay to their brand’s communication eco-system that isn’t owned by the brand. I am not talking about monitoring online conversations through social-media listening tools even though that is important too. I am referring to the fact that you can find consumer generated videos, especially on platforms like Youtube, that provide reviews, specs and personal experiences –and therefore help inform your decision- about every single imaginable product out there. I, for example rarely buy anything without checking the consumer generated videos on Youtube. And apparently I am not the only one. To quote Google’s CEO Sundar Pichai “People turn to YouTube and they want to research, buy or fix a product”.

Brands always seem to want to focus on the big influencers and most popular Youtube sensations rather than the dozen of content creators in any given category that in my opinion are way more influential and credible. I understand the “scale” argument and the fact that this require more efforts. One brand that understands this and has leveraged this approach to fuel its growth and success, especially amongst Millennials, is LaCroix sparkling water.

So, what can Ural, this 75 years old Russian motorcycle brand teach brands that want to succeed in today’s increasingly chaotic environment?

  1. Stand-out or disappear
  2. Start your story with the product
  3. Build a community around a lifestyle and a passion
  4. Leverage your non-owned (digital) communication channels

Advertising To Moms: The Average, The Good and The Great (Or Is Cultural Relevance Sufficient To Turn Around A Declining Business Nowadays?)

I recently came across three different advertising campaigns targeting moms that allow for a nice comparison between what I believe is average, good and great advertising to moms.

The framework I use to evaluate the ads is simple yet timeless. It considers two core dimensions to determine the appeal and effectiveness of an ad:

  1. The “what” is said or the strategic relevance of the ad. Is the message meaningful, does it reframe the brand and help consumers think differently about the brand, does it address a relevant need state or benefit? And is it well branded, i.e. recognizable as being specific to the advertised brand?
  2. The “how” it is said, which focuses more on the execution, on how the brand is brought to life in its execution. Is it engaging? Is it insightful and relatable? Is it catching the viewers’ attention and interest and is it worth sharing and or talking about?

The assumption obviously being that great advertising need to be both strategically relevant and engaging, i.e. fall into the top right quadrant. Or as advertising icon Dave Trott puts it -and I paraphrase- to make a great tasting salad you need fairly plain and boring ingredients such as lettuce, tomato and cucumber (the “what”) and mayo to add taste, flavor and excitement (the “how”).

Now let’s look at the three campaigns:

  1.       Target
  2.       Yoplait
  3.       Red baron

Target

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Target’s ad feels the most traditional in its content and its format. It’s all about the branding and the actual products offered, with very little insights to promote engagingness, memorability and cultural relevance. It’s not an ad worth writing home or talking about really. In a sense it just reminds the viewers that all their summer needs can be satisfied at Target. Duh! Because of this, this ad would fall in the lower right quadrant, i.e. strategically sound (I’ll assume that Target knows that the viewers would be interested in these products), well branded but not really capturing the viewers’ attention.   

Yoplait

Yoplait’s ad is interesting and almost the opposite of the Target ad. I would argue that it is culturally extremely relevant, tapping into a lot of relevant mommy insights and issues. In the process Yoplait demonstrates that it understands what it is like to be a mom and in many ways validates the way many moms feel. So executionally the ad is fantastic and is probably going to get moms to notice and talk about it –for a brief moment- especially with all the social media activities planned around the TV spot.

The challenge however is that strategically it doesn’t do much in my opinion. After viewing the ad I am still not quite sure what needstate Yoplait would satisfy or what differentiating benefit it would offer in the highly competitive yogurt category. Further, it doesn’t really make me think differently about the brand or the category. Last but not least, the integration of insights and the brand’s promise is not very strong. The ad could work for a lot of brands targeting moms. I suspect moms will love and talk about the ad but not remember which brand it actually is for. Or worse, attribute the ad to market leader Chobani. In any case, I doubt that “cultural relevance” without “strategic relevance” will help Yoplait turn around its declining business. As a result, I’d put the ad in the upper left quadrant of the model. High engagingness and cultural relevance, little strategic relevance.

Red Baron

The third ad is for Red Baron frozen pizza. Now, I might be a bit biased here as I’ve been closely involved in the development of this campaign created by Minneapolis based agency space150 for Schwan’s. The ad is highly engaging as, just like the Yoplait ad, it taps into relevant mommy insights and truisms. Moms can relate to the ad and can identify with it, the brand clearly demonstrated that it understands moms. It is culturally relevant. But the ad is also very relevant strategically in that it addresses a clear need state and promises a clear benefit to moms, recognizing that “carving out a few minutes in the day to have a second of ‘me’ time (something every mom craves) is something that pizza really can help provide.” Lastly the ad is unmistakably branded making a mis-attribution very unlikely. As such, I’d put the ad in the top right quadrant: strategically relevant and culturally relevant.

A few years back, and according to a MtoMoms.com survey, 80% of moms thought that advertisers were doing a poor job at connecting with them. That’s 4 in 5 moms. I’d like to believe that things have evolved since then and it is interesting to notice an evolution from a more stereotypical type of advertising to a more engaging and culturally relevant form of advertising that is more reflective of today’s moms’ realities.

The question the Yoplait ad raises however is whether cultural relevance is sufficient in today’s attention economy to turn around a business or has the bar of effective communication been raised even further, requiring both strategic relevance and cultural engagingness?

I’d be curious to hear what you, the readers, think.  

To better understand how to communicate with moms, click here.

 

Your Corporate Culture: The Last Untapped Strategic Asset Of Your Organization

This is the latest article I’ve written for the Public Gaming Magazine, published in the August/September 2016 edition.

Lottery agencies face a unique set of business challenges which we’re all familiar with and trying to tackle on a daily basis. They include:

  • Player fatigue with big jackpots,
  • Difficulty identifying and reaching the next generation of players.
  • Rising operating expenses mean that each dollar of incremental growth comes at a higher cost
  • Cracking the code on successful digital engagement
  • Better utilizing digital throughout the POS experience

However, there is an even more important challenge most lottery agencies face and that directly influences the performance of their business. I am referring to an agency’s corporate culture, and the fundamental role it plays in driving innovation, growth, profits and employee satisfaction.

In fact, a lottery’s ability to tackle its business challenges is directly related to the strength of its corporate culture.

So, what exactly is a corporate culture?

When in doubt, we can start with Wikipedia:

Corporate Culture (or organizational culture as it is often referred to) represents the collective values, beliefs and principles of organizational members and is a product of such factors as history, product, market, technology, and strategy, type of employees, management style, and national culture. Culture includes the organization’s vision, values, norms, systems, symbols, language, assumptions, beliefs, and habits… Thus, organizational culture affects the way people and groups interact with each other, with clients, and with stakeholders. In addition, organizational culture may affect how much employees identify with an organization (Source: Wikipedia)

So: the corporate culture represents the unique style and policies of an organization as expressed by the beliefs and values of its employees. As well, and perhaps most important- the corporate culture is also seen in the official and unofficial behaviors deemed as acceptable or desired inside the company.

The peculiar and sometimes dangerous aspect of corporate cultures is that they don’t have to be consciously created in order to exist and seriously affect a business, for better or for worse-they can just as easily be a remnant of a past management legacy.

Or perhaps, the corporate culture is not clearly defined at the top of the organization or changes too frequently because of constant management changes. Then, subcultures will take over that are usually more driven by the preservation of a department rather than the thriving of the organization. And that makes sense! In absence of a clear vision and a clear set of values and accepted behaviors, it is human nature for employees to default to behaviors that create a subculture that will help them preserve their own domain and jobs.

Jeremy Gershfeld, founder of Corporate Culture & Communication firm Quartet Approach (http://quartetapproach.com/) believes that it is not easy to get a concrete grasp of a company’s corporate culture. A analogy Jeremy likes to use to describe corporate culture is the unique way one’s own family might do things and interact with each other. For example, think about visits with your family over the holidays. At a large family gathering, you might notice how family group habits can distort your own behavior. You might observe, over, say, Thanksgiving dinner, how different members of the family do things very differently, and how this affects the group’s behavior as a whole, especially when the full group is brought together.

Of course, the stakes are different in a professional environment, where individual and group goals are different than getting along with your relatives for a few days. However, the culture still exists, and the group is often bound by its social dynamics.

The lasting value of a strong corporate culture

Harvard Business School Professors Jim Heskett and Earl Sasser and coauthor Joe Wheeler assert in their new book, The Ownership Quotient, that strong, adaptive cultures can foster innovation, productivity, and a sense of ownership among employees and customers. They also outlast any individual charismatic leader.

While all these benefits are highly relevant for lottery agencies the last one is particularly salient, as lottery Executive Directors will change every few years and each new ED will bring their own sets of priorities, values and styles of doing business.

As Catherine McIntyre-Velky, a project management and process consultant who has worked with First-The-Trousers on a process optimization project for the Arizona State Lottery says: “One cannot under estimate the power of culture and its influence on productivity, especially in an environment that deals with regulations. A good strong corporate culture is as much a part of the process as the process itself. In order to successfully navigate deadlines and approvals, you must be able to speak the currency and understand the communication exchange.” 

“Your culture is your brand.” (Tony Hsieh, CEO of Zappos)

The idea that corporate culture is a strategic asset has become increasingly popular over the last few years. The most shining example, of course, is Zappos: the world’s largest online shoe store, known amongst other things for its “Wow” customer service and its philosophy of delivering happiness to both employees and customers.

Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh captures his beliefs in this quote: Our belief is that if you get the culture right most of the other stuff like great customer service or building a great long-term brand or empowering passionate employees and customers will happen on its own. He should know: his company was acquired by Amazon in 2009 for $1.2 billion.

“Culture eats strategy for breakfast”

This quote is from Peter Drucker, management consultant and business thought leader whose writings contributed to the philosophical and practical foundations modern companies perhaps more than anyone else. He argues that having a strong corporate culture is actually more important for a company’s success that a well thought through strategic plan. In the same vein, Harvard Business School Professor Emeritus James L. Heskett (and author of “The Culture Cycle”) finds that as much as half of the difference in operating profit between organizations can be attributed to effective cultures.

As such, improving ones corporate culture should be seen as an opportunity for an industry, like the lottery, that struggles with operating costs growing faster than sales and the resulting pressure on profits and revenue contribution.

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But, lottery Agencies face unique cultural challenges

Lottery agencies face two unique challenges with regard to their corporate culture:

  1. Lottery agencies are government agencies and therefore cannot incentivize their employees based on their performance like a private organization would. This in turn has a direct impact on employee morale.
  2. Every few years a new Executive Director is appointed to head the lottery agency directly impacting the agency’s culture in ways that may be surprising. Many of the lottery employees we’ve talked to across the country over the years describe their tenure with the agency not in numbers of years (“I’ve worked here for 15 years”) but by the number of Executive Directors they’ve worked under (“I’ve had 9 Executive Directors”). This point matters because of the crucial role the corporate leaders have in defining and implementing the organizations culture.

These challenges can leads to “dysfunctions” within a lottery agency that directly impact performance, employee motivation and profits. Some of the symptoms of a weak lottery agency culture are:

  1. Lack of clarity within the agency with regard to the agency’s objectives and how to achieve them. While the core objective of a lottery agency is clear, or should be (increase the revenue contribution to the state) Executive Directors tend to provide their own interpretation of the agency’s objectives and how to achieve them. This interpretation, of course, has an immediate impact on the culture and the priorities set by the broader organization.
  1. Intra- and inter-departmental silos and lack of alignment: A lack of unified culture that everyone can live by often leaves each department or even each individual to pursue their individual objectives. This leads to subcultures that may not necessarily be aligned with the organization or with other departments (but that are aligned with their understandably natural need for job security). This often leads to a lack of coordination and collaboration between and within departments which again directly impacts the overall business performance.
  1. Lack of communication & accountability. A weak culture is also often defined by a lack of transparency or accountability in the decision-making process. Employees in one department don’t know for sure what people in other departments do. Critical information is often poorly documented and not easily accessible. The default behavior becomes to only share information if needed or if actively requested.
  1. Lack of appreciation for subject matter expertise. Another symptom of weak corporate cultures is often a general lack of understanding or appreciation for how others do–or could–contribute to the mission. On a personal level this often means that individuals do not feel appreciated or valued for their roles and contributions.

Improving ones corporate culture.

The first task for any organization looking to improve its culture is to actually try to define its current culture and assess its strength by asking a few basic questions:

  1. Is the agency’s vision and core values clearly defined and consistently understood by everyone within the organization (can everyone within the organization tell you in a few words what the vision and core values are)?
  2. How motivated are the agency’s employees? How valued and appreciated do they (really) feel?
  3. Is there transparency and cooperation within and across departments or is the cooperation hampered by formal or informal silos?
  4. Does information flow freely within the organization or it is “hoarded” by specific departments or individuals?
  5. Is the decision making process (RACI framework) within the organization transparent and it is clear who is accountable for what decisions?

These questions are basic yet fundamental. And while you’d think or hope that he answers to those questions are obvious, the reality is that they often are not. However, I am always surprised, and I’ve talked to many people working in the lottery industry over the last 5 years, by how open and willing employees generally are to share this information candidly when asked (though maybe they are more willing to open up to an outsider).

Imagine your organization is a music group

Undertaking an objective self-assessment of ones’ corporate culture can be difficult. Because of that, understanding how to evolve your corporate culture isn’t easy either.

For example, imagine your organization is an orchestra playing a symphony. How would it actually sound? Does your group sound like a harmonious masterpiece that transports you into a different world or does it sound like the cacophony of uncoordinated and un-synchronized noise (think first-grader annual Christmas concert)? Be honest with yourself.

The illustration of how a quartet can either produce beautiful music or just noise based on how well coordinated and in-synch the quartet members are is at the core of Quartet Approach’s consulting philosophy. Based on an upfront audit which identifies the strengths and weaknesses of your organization’s culture, Jeremy Gershfeld and his team let you actually experience what your organizational culture ’sounds’ like now and what it could sound like in the future. In Jeremy’s own words “The Quartet Approach personifies what happens when the rehearsing and performing group of four musicians plays a substantially better group performance when the elements of their culture are healthy (as well as hearing/observing what happens when culture is not). It becomes very clear what happens when, for example, a lack of clarity in the group’s roles create a psychologically unsafe setting”.

Translating the strength and weaknesses of an organizational culture into music often creates an “aha!” moment and the discussions that result from these insights of one’s organizational culture can help determine alignment, communication, and expectations.

To conclude

Corporate culture has become an increasingly relevant subject in the business world over the last 10 years as companies have come to realize the role it plays in sustaining a competitive advantage and building a business. It is especially relevant in the lottery industry which faces its own specific challenges that could be overcome with decisive movement toward a stronger corporate culture. This type of corporate culture exploration and refinement might therefore be worth exploring as an opportunity to improve the performance and revenue contribution of lottery agencies.

Positioning-Roulette: The Value Of Identifying An Enemy For Your brand

Know thy self,
Know thy enemy.
A thousand battles,
A thousand victories.

Sun Tzu

Most good stories, including brand stories, include an antagonist, a rival, an enemy that the hero (and his followers) has to go up against and sometimes fight. Cain had Abel, Luke Skywalker had Darth Vader, Tom had Jerry, and Apple had IBM.

Identifying and taking a stand against an enemy can be a very effective mechanism to grow and differentiate a brand or to associate it with a broader world view.

Think_Small

An enemy can be a potential threat (real or assumed) consumers might not be aware of (think freezer burn which is made up or all the invisible bad germs threatening your children), another segment or sub-segment in the category (for example Mini positioning itself against the big gas guzzling SUV when it was launched in the US) or a cultural or social belief, convention or behavior that may be relevant to your category and brand (for example the beauty standards used in media versus Dove’s campaign for real beauty).

The options are limitless and will be best defined by your brand unique situation, its competitive and cultural context as well as the values of the people you are trying to appeal to.

Identifying and taking a stand against an enemy can help create relevance for your brand, provide your customers with a sense of coherence and belonging, provide validation in the brand choice and create a sense of urgency to act. It can also help re-frame and increase relevance of an argument as demonstrated by the anti-smoking organization American Legacy Foundation (Truth) which successfully focused on vilifying the executives of the large Tobacco companies as a way to prevent young adults from smoking.

truthbillboard

Identifying and taking a stand against an enemy to create more energy and traction for your brand is just one of the 26 universal approaches to successful brand positioning development and storytelling. The other 25 can be found here.

Positioning-Roulette_Logo_FINAL

5 Untapped Opportunities to Connect with Moms

rosie_the_riveterThe evolution of the internet has given moms the tools (blogs, micro-blogs, fan pages and social media in general, Pinterest, Instagram, etc.) to express their individual and collective voices and to find, bond and connect with like-minded moms. In the process, they have created their own massive sub-culture expressed by the stories and experiences they share, the values around motherhood they communicate and their behaviors.

This sub-culture is not that new though to be honest (at least not in internet years). But this culture still remains largely untapped by marketers. It often seems as if brands mainly look at this cultural eco-system as a media or distribution channel rather than a source of learning and insights on how to engage and communicate with moms. It is therefore not surprising that, according to M2Mom.com (LINK), 73% of moms feel that advertisers don’t really understand what it’s like to be a mom and that 80% of moms feel that brands are doing a poor job at connecting with them.

So what are some of the elements that define this (mommy) culture and how can brands leverage those insights to better connect with and engage moms?

1. Don’t be so serious, Laugh with them (not at them).
“I shall maintain a sense of humor about all things motherhood, for without it, I recognize that I may end up institutionalized. Or, at the very least, completely miserable”. It is no coincidence that the need for humor is the first point captured in the popular “Mommy Manifesto” written by Jill Smoker, the mom behind the very successful “Scary Mommy” franchise. In fact, humor is a great “mechanism” most moms use to gain some distance from their everyday reality, bond and connect with others moms or just maintain their sanity. Insightful humor is also one of the most powerful ways to create engagement on a social media platform like Facebook. And yet most marketers seem to insist on portraying the serious, caring, multi-tasking aspect of motherhood.

2. Take a stand, represent a point of view, but avoid being patronizing:
Marketers know how important it is for their brands to have a clear point of view. That’s even more important for brands targeting moms. In fact, new moms have so many, often confusing, decisions and choices to make about everything that they will naturally gravitate towards brands that embrace a clear and relevant point of view and purpose and thus provide a welcomed short cut in this decision making process. The danger however, like with any point of view, is for the brand to unintentionally come across as patronizing. Polarizing is good. Patronizing is not. The line between the two is extremely thin, especially with moms. That’s the difference between Toys R Us (toys are more exciting than a field trip), a company you’d expect to know moms, and Goldieblox (empowering girls to become engineers).

3. Emphasize “personal stories and experiences”:
Ask the editors of the HuffingtonPost or simply look at what type of stories resonate most in the HuffPost Parenting section and you’ll learn that personal stories resulting from personal experiences are the new social currency. Personal stories and shared experiences are also the primary form of content on most mommy blogs. They are the means moms use to share, express themselves and bond with others without being patronizing or judgmental. They provide the content other moms can identify with (or not) and help create a sense of community most moms crave.

4. Celebrate the anti-hero and stop using idealized stereo-types:
Every mom will tell you that parenting is really hard and far removed from the ideal vision she had before getting pregnant. But most moms will also take a certain pride in the daily struggles of motherhood. A simple look at the stories moms share online makes this obvious. They celebrate the imperfections, struggles, embarrassments and mistakes they experience daily and find comfort in knowing that the others moms struggle too. The new ad from Coke Green from Argentina demonstrates this point brilliantly.

In that context, continuing to use idealized stereotypes of the perfect mom is the best way for a brand to distance itself from the reality of motherhood, act tone-deaf and fall in that category of brands “that don’t understand moms”.

5. Focus on the woman, not the mom.
Have you ever wondered why there are so many moms who blog out there? I believe the short answer is that after focusing for 6 months of 24/7 feeding and changing diapers moms crave a creative outlet for personal self-expression. That’s also why so many mommy bloggers actually dislike the term mommy-bloggers (and prefer “bloggers”). Subtle but significant difference. Moms are one of the most targeted audiences and brands are willing to pay serious premiums for a share of their attention. Yet some of the strongest, and unfulfilled, need states a mom has are personal and relate to her as an individual, not in the context of her role as a mom: the needs for “me-time”, for escapism, for validation and comfort and for self-expression to name only a few. “Moms Who Need Wine”, a wine distributor built a very successful business around this simple understanding. So instead of trying to communicate your brand as a means to perfect motherhood, it might be worth trying to establish it as the solution to an individual need most moms have (while still helping her fulfills her role as a mother). So instead of looking at a meal your kids will love as the expression of good motherhood, look at it as a way for a mom to get a 15 minute break and me-time (which she will if the kids eat and love what they eat). She’ll reward you for this understanding with her business.

Understanding Moms & How To Connect With Them (The 5 MN Version)

mom

As we all know, moms are big business. The 85+ million moms in the US represent a spending power of $2.1 trillion (Babycenter.com) and there isn’t really a category that isn’t directly or indirectly influenced by the way a mom feels about it.

The challenge is that most advertisers do not understand moms. In fact, that’s what moms themselves will tell you if you ask them. According to M2Moms (www.M2Moms.com):

  • 73% of moms feel that advertisers don’t really understand what it’s like to be a mom
    • 60% of moms feel like marketers are ignoring their needs
    • 80% of moms think advertisers are doing a poor job at connecting with them.

The speed with which the current environment has evolved makes this problem even more pronounced. Who would have guessed two years ago that mobile and social platforms such as Pinterest would play such a dominant role with moms today? Who knows what they will gravitate towards in two years. In that environment it is crucial to have a finger on the pulse on what is going on in moms’ lives.

Prior to launching First-The-Trousers, I co-founded http://www.wemothers.com, an online community catering to the emotional needs of moms. I created an online community of 10.000 moms on a $0 budget, purely through developing engaging content and by connecting emotionally with moms in social media. Through doing so, I gained an intimate and in-depth knowledge of this highly valuable and influential consumer segment.

I applied this understanding to a blog entry I wrote for the HuffPost titled “24 Clear Signs You’re a Mom” which within 72 hours was viewed by over 4 million readers and generated over 300K “likes” and 100K “shares”, a clear sign that it resonated with the readers, most of them moms. So, while we shy a little away from self-proclaimed expert status at FTT, we’ve learned a little about creating content that can reach millions of moms and can apply this knowledge and expertise by helping brands better connect with moms.

If you’re interested in getting a quick immersion in today’s mommy culture and want to understand what resonates with moms:

1. Read this blog entry entitled “5 untapped opportunities to connect with moms” which shares some of our experience building a community of 10.000 moms.

2. Read through this Slideshare presentation

3. Or, watch these “9 Most Popular Advertising Campaigns for Moms in 2013″, a list we compiled for and published on the Huffington Post (click on the picture).

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Is your core audience moms? First-The-Trousers can help you position your brand is a way that will resonate with moms, develop new product ideas they’ll find valuable and useful and develop communication strategies across channels they’ll find engaging and share-worthy. To find out how we can help you, please contact us here.