Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Maria Bailey Delivers Moms

Mom 3.0 guru is hailed as franchising's link to this trillion-dollar market


Published:

How do you solve a problem like Maria? Well, when Maria Bailey is given a problem—such as how to entice moms to check out a client's franchise opportunity—she doesn’t hear the sound of music , but rather the texting-away of her vast network of moms. Bailey reaches her niche through a variety of social media, including MomTV,  Mom Talk Radio, www.BlueSuitMom.com, her Twitter followers and her friends on Facebook. Could moms be the new corporate refugee when it comes to populating the franchise sales pipeline?

If the name Maria Bailey doesn’t ring a bell, you’re probably not a blog-reading, vlog-viewing mom. So why should you care about what moms are texting to one another?

U.S. Moms spend $2.1 trillion, says Bailey, who has consulted for companies as diverse as Disney and Fantastic Sams hair salons. Not surprisingly mothers make the vast majority of buying decisions for the family, plus an estimated 10 million moms own home-based businesses.  And don’t forget many of those corporate refugees looking to invest in their own businesses are moms looking for that coveted balance in their lives.

Twelve years ago, Bailey began preaching to corporate America about the need to focus on marketing to moms. “In the ‘90s, marketing to women was a big thing,” she says, so the concept of drilling down to the “mom” level was something male marketers had a hard time embracing. At the time, Bailey was working for entrepreneurial whiz Wayne Huizenga at Blockbuster. “I had three children under the age of 3,” she says, and she was the go-to person for friends and business acquaintances when it came to advice on how to reach moms with their products or services. (She now has four children old enough to make her promise not to share any information about their personal lives in her various venues.)

Her marketing background, plus access to mothers just like her, caused Bailey’s business life and personal life to converge. She researched the ins and outs of marketing to mothers, and published “Marketing to Moms: Getting Your Share of the Trillion-Dollar Market,” in 2002. It was followed by “Trillion-Dollar Moms: Marketing to a New Generation of Mothers” in 2005 and “Mom 3.0: Marketing With Today’s Mothers by Leveraging New Media & Technology” last year. She’s the founder of www.BlueSuitMom.com, a Web site that targets working moms, and travels internationally talking about the mom market. In essence, she is the go-to person for marketing to women who have brought a lot of life into the world.

There’s a method to marketing to moms, if you don’t want to make them mad. Moms are a participatory group which thrives on real-time conversations, Bailey says. They like two-way communication, and are more likely to trust a message or recommendation that comes from one of their own. Reading blogs or following other moms on Facebook is a way to stay connected, especially when you’ve left the office to stay home full time or for a few months. “It’s a way to stop feeling isolated in Boise, Idaho,” Bailey explains.

According to research by BSM Media, Bailey’s research-and-marketing company, 65 percent of U.S. moms use five or more forms of technology every day, including cell phones and instant messaging. They also blog to create real-time diaries of their days, and to reach out to other moms feeling the same frustrations, exhilarations and degree of tiredness.

If moms are so busy, how do they have time for a virtual life?

Moms are masters of multi-tasking. Social media has replaced other activities in a mom’s life, such as watching TV, reading parenting magazines or driving around to several stores to find the best deal on diapers, Bailey points out. Connecting via the Web makes them more efficient, she says. For instance, “if they’re looking to buy a product, they send out a tweet (a message on Twitter) to other moms,” she says. And moms all over the country tweet back. According to Bailey’s research, 70 percent of moms purchase products based on another mother’s recommendation.

“It’s word of mouth on steroids,” she says of blogging and tweeting.

How to tap into motherhood

Companies often provide “mothers of influence” with the latest products to test—from new cars to trips to a reformulated diaper cream—in hopes they’ll recommend it on their blogs. While critics question how unbiased these product testimonials are when they’re in essence written about gifts, Bailey defends the practice. If it looks like the blogger is doing a commercial rather than being candid, the reader will move on, she asserts.

 

Bailey and her cat busy at work.

Social media has some degree of transparency, she explains. Bloggers need to be up front about who they are and what their agenda is. Since readers follow the blogs of people they’ve come to know and trust, the blogger can’t afford to deviate. Or so the premise goes.

What social media provides that other advertising and public relations methods can’t always guarantee is an instant measure of success.

“You can watch and see (the message being spread),” Bailey says. “Social marketing allows companies to see that networking play out.” For instance, how many times did other bloggers link to the product endorsement? How many people responded favorably—or less than favorably—in subsequent posts? How many re-tweets were there?

Put your money where your mouse is

Welcome to a brave new world, franchisors. Because it’s not just child-centric concepts that need to pay attention to the world’s first profession—mothering (and yes, it is a profession and a darn hard one at that).

According to Sherri Fishman, CEO of Fishman Public Relations in Chicago, all her clients could benefit from Bailey's expertise—whether they’re selling handyman services or franchises. Which is why Fishman formed an alliance with Bailey’s company. 

 



The Baileys compare schedules in their kitchen (check out the amount of info on the refrigerator

“I’m not going to be a specialist in social media,” Fishman says, “but I’m not going to ignore it as a PR agency. We’re all not sure where it’s going, (which is why) we’re bringing in the best people to help us.”

There’s a lot more to social networking than setting up a Facebook page, Bailey says. Before a company can approach a blogger to write about its products or services, it has to know who the blogger’s audience is.

It’s just as easy to make a major blunder on the Web as it is in traditional marketing. Remember the one about the car manufacturer who tried to sell its Nova model in Mexico without doing the research to find that “No va” means “no go” in Spanish? An online version of that disaster would be the egg company that sent out public relations material about decorating Easter eggs to Jewish mom bloggers, Bailey says.

That aside, “bloggers want to develop relationships, they don’t just want PR (e-mailed to them),” she says. As far as her franchise clients, Bailey plays a variety of roles from teaching about social media to helping get it started, to managing the program.

It’s not easy. Just when you think you think you’ve tapped into a trend, blogging is being replaced by vlogging, the video version of keeping in touch. And who knows what’s next?

Right now we have “tweets,” texted messages on social media site Twitter, which are 140-character missives. Think of them as non-poetic haikus, where you have to employ language judicially—and colorfully.

Facebook pages need to engage moms, so they’ll have ongoing conversations. Moms want to know a company “understands” their unique needs and has customized its offers—such as not sending baby samples to a mom who blogs about teenagers. Or offering a free a two-seater convertible for a year to a mom blogger with twins—OK, that’s a marketing gaffe a mom—or her husband—wouldn’t mind.

“I’m not going to be a specialist in social media,” Fishman says, “but I’m not going to ignore it as a PR agency. We’re all not sure where it’s going, (which is why) we’re bringing in the best people to help us.”

There’s a lot more to social networking than setting up a Facebook page, Bailey says. Before a company can approach a blogger to write about its products or services, it has to know who the blogger’s audience is.

It’s just as easy to make a major blunder on the Web as it is in traditional marketing. Remember the one about the car manufacturer who tried to sell its Nova model in Mexico without doing the research to find that “No va” means “no go” in Spanish? An online version of that disaster would be the egg company that sent out public relations material about decorating Easter eggs to Jewish mom bloggers, Bailey says.



 

Maria Bailey is a writer, radio host (notice the head phones for a home-based broadcast), blogger, vlogger, businesswoman, wife—and yes, busy mom, just like her core audience. Her children have become accustomed to her flying to airports around the country for lunch or dinner meetings and then returning home to check their homework. And while the four kids are willing to share their mom with the world, they’re not as willing for her to share anymore stories about them on her blogs.

That aside, “bloggers want to develop relationships, they don’t just want PR (e-mailed to them),” she says. As far as her franchise clients, Bailey plays a variety of roles from teaching about social media to helping get it started, to managing the program.

It’s not easy. Just when you think you think you’ve tapped into a trend, blogging is being replaced by vlogging, the video version of keeping in touch. And who knows what’s next?

Right now we have “tweets,” texted messages on social media site Twitter, which are 140-character missives. Think of them as non-poetic haikus, where you have to employ language judicially—and colorfully.

Facebook pages need to engage moms, so they’ll have ongoing conversations. Moms want to know a company “understands” their unique needs and has customized its offers—such as not sending baby samples to a mom who blogs about teenagers. Or offering a free a two-seater convertible for a year to a mom blogger with twins—OK, that’s a marketing gaffe a mom—or her husband—wouldn’t mind.

And be nice. BSM Research found that a mom will tell up to 20 other moms about a product or brand that doesn’t live up to its promise or bad customer service where she was treated poorly. On a blog, that 20 could easily swell to hundreds.

There are five core values that matter to moms, according to Bailey’s book, “Mom 3.0”: health and safety, family enrichment, value (worth the money), simplification and time management. Define what your product, service or franchise opportunity does to address one or more of these core values and you’ll have a loyal following.

To that end, Fishman introduced her client, Children’s Orchard, to Bailey.

Targeting moms wasn't exactly new for the children’s clothing resale chain. “We’ve been marketing to moms for 30 years,” says Children’s Orchard CEO Taylor Bond. But moms have changed over the years. “She ain’t June Cleaver anymore,” Bond says of the pearl-wearing, iconic TV mom from the  ‘50s television show, “Leave it to Beaver.”

Bond partnered with Bailey to create a social networking element to Children’s Orchard’s  ongoing national Moms Night Out, a promotional event where moms are invited to the local stores to shop and be pampered. “It’s to thank moms for what they’re doing, (plus) an opportunity to build goodwill,” Bond says. It’s also an opportunity to sell merchandise at discounted prices and to introduce moms to other retailers’ services, such as massages and manicures.

“Maria brought her bloggers into it,” Bond explains. In addition to sending out invitations to the event via social networking sites, up-to-the-minute messages were being tweeted during the event. All this created buzz. In addition to inviting the bloggers to the party, Bailey also provided Boogie Wipes and other free merchandise from national retailers. (As an aside,  the tag line for Boogie Wipes, saline-infused tissues, is “Snot your average wipe.”)

Hailing from traditional marketing roots, Bond looks at social network marketing with a jaded eye. “I’m not big on jumping out and getting a Facebook page,” he says. “Ask (someone) ‘what it’s doing for you,’ and no one really knows what it’s doing for them. So what if you have 50,000 fans?” How does that translate into dollars? What the next step using Bailey’s resources will be for Children’s Orchard is still up in the air. “She’ got a bunch of ideas and I’ve got a bunch of ideas,” Bond says. 

While Bond is teaming up with Bailey on the retail side, Fantastic Sams is employing Bailey to help it sell franchises.

A cutting edge opportunity

Last year, after it noticed that about 40 percent of its current owners were women, Fantastic Sams started to research alternative channels to market to prospective franchisees, says CEO Jeff Sturgis. The company began by looking at its lead flow and determined that about 40 to 45 percent of leads were also from women—Sturgis admits this was not a scientific survey. “We looked at the first name,” he says, and recorded those that seemed like female names. (Not an easy task with the current trend of giving babies unisex names.)


 

“Our research led us to media channels, but we didn’t want ‘Good Housekeeping’ or ‘Oprah,’” he says. When they came across Bailey’s Web site, www.BlueSuitMom.com, they started asking questions. What they determined, Sturgis says, is that by using social media they could target the very women who would make good franchisee candidates. Fantastic Sams franchisees can be absentee owners, they don’t need to be licensed cosmetologists to operate a salon—they hire those positions.

Their social media message is not how rewarding it is to cut hair, but rather franchise ownership is an opportunity to achieve work/life balance, Sturgis says.

In addition to Fishman for traditional PR, Fantastic Sams hired a social media PR firm for a variety of tasks, including “search and optimization” functions for its Web site and to ensure the company’s name pops up at the top of the list for franchise opportunities in its category. It pays a monthly retainer, with milestones that are implemented each month.

Making strides with exercise

When Maria Bailey first contacted Lisa Druxman, creator of Stroller Strides, an exercise class for new moms, “it was like having a celebrity call me,” Druxman says.

Druxman already had her finger on the pulse of mothers as she ran them through the paces of her exercise program with their babies in strollers. But Bailey had some more ideas for her.
“Maria kept telling me I needed to tweet and I kept resisting it,” she says.

Druxman now has a team of five moms who spend a couple hours a week each, blogging about Stroller Strides. “They were hand selected because they were already writing about us,” she says. “Now it’s three times a week, not just once a month.” Her marketing person, who spends about 60 to 70 percent of her time on social media, gives the bloggers topics to write about. In addition, Druxman also has a blog, and the content from that blog are distributed to other sites through links or tweets with her articles as attachments.

They also created 12 different videos on how new mothers can get back into shape and posted them on YouTube. “We’ve seen our videos pop up on franchise opportunity sites and we didn’t pay for it,” she says. Videos need to be “ageless, short and well produced,” she adds.

There’s a difference of opinion on whether videos posted on YouTube should look slick and professionally produced or amateurish. Which approach you take will depend on your audience and your subject matter, experts say.

Another part of the process, Druxman says, is monitoring the Web to see what conversations are going on, and then joining in on the ones that will benefit your company. It’s time consuming, but then much of marketing is.

Not all social media takes place online. In one of her vlogs for www.BlueSuitMom.com, Bailey gives companies some offline ideas for marketing to moms.

One idea was to find an influential mom— leaders in the PTA or community, soccer moms, moms known for being in the know—to host an in-home party for her friends and online contacts. The company then provides a kit, including party favors, samples of the products  it wants distributed and prizes. The host can blog and tweet about the party, and then do follow-up on what guests thought. One of the cardinal rules for marketers is to provide bloggers not only with products to try, but additional products or a prize to give away to readers of the blog to attract traffic to their site.

What’s in it for the bloggers?

Some mom bloggers like to write, others like the prestige of being “influencers,” others want to document their journey. Some hope to make money running a blog. And then there are perks in the form of free products to try out and report on.

“In some ways it’s like freelancing,” Bailey explains. Those seeking a financial reward, Bailey says, sell advertising space on their blogs, or find sponsors or affiliates. Vloggers, the video-making moms, are the communicators who want to be seen and heard.

“Moms have always shared information with other mothers,” Bailey says. “Now with blogging, they can share it with thousands, even millions.” Like it or not, we live in a technology-based world. “Because it’s changing so rapidly, some companies don’t even want to get into the game,” Bailey says.  What’s a company to do? Take baby steps. 

Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Find Us on Social Media


 
Edit ModuleShow Tags