What Would Mum Do? Five Tips On Marketing To Mums, If You Must

What Would Mum Do? Five Tips On Marketing To Mums, If You Must

In this guest post, Filtered Media’s CEO Mark Jones (pictured below), says there’s more than marketing to mum than a pair of slippers and a bunch of cheap carnations…

Friends, in the spirit of Mother’s Day and attempting to rescue it from Hallmark oblivion, I give you life and marketing advice from the World’s Best Mum (mine, of course).

Mark Jones Portait

It’s self-evident that the hard graft of motherhood unlocks some deep truths about human nature and taps into instincts and insights that make the world go round.

Think about the hardest moments you’ve faced from childhood until now and there’s a good chance the Mum Factor was at play. Better known as WWMD. No, it’s not a weapon of mass distraction, but What Would Mum Do?

Sadly, the WWMD factor has been twisted over the years by errant marketers attempting to appropriate Mum’s powers for commercial gain. I give you smiling, happy women lifting starched white shirts from the washing machine.

Or even better, that gentle yet supremely smug smile she offers to her “silly” husband in the TVC. If only DH knew thy ways.

The data tells this story. As many as 63 per cent of Australian mothers don’t believe that advertisers understand them, says CEO and founder of Marketing to Mums, Katrina McCarter.

“Marketers can make an awful mistake by trying to depict this perfect life. And it’s real suicide for a brand because mum immediately turns off,” she said in a recent interview on The CMO Show.

Make no mistake, we’ve oversimplified and objectified one of the world’s great gifts. So here’s an attempt to right wrongs in the marketing world. I give you Mum’s top five tips for life, because she’s right and I’ve learned these lessons the hard way. Sharing is caring, after all.

Lesson #1 – Just take one day at a time

Overwhelmed, stressed and anxious? It’s wonderful emotional fodder for consumer engagement, social content and TVCs. We love instant fixes and the promise of emotional freedom.

But here’s the thing, the real world remains complicated and hard, and it only gets harder if you try to conquer the world in a day. So don’t do it.

Be present today, in the moment. It’s about time we saw more of this in our marketing – a celebration of the now, not the future. Some call it mindfulness but Mum’s been thinking about this since the 70s. Just take one day at a time and you’ll get there.

Lesson #2 – If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all

No, really. Just don’t say anything. I’m talking to you, internet trolls and social media hacks. What happened to being polite, learning to listen without jumping in, and giving people the benefit of the doubt.

I’ve tried being sharp, snappy and aggressive. It doesn’t work in life, and it certainly doesn’t work in marketing or communications. Cheeky or assertive, yes. Snarky, no.

Lesson #3 – Own your own dream, not your mother’s (or father’s)

Shia Labeouf was onto something with Just Do It – but I reckon he stole the line from his Mum.

A central tenet of marketing is fostering awareness and desire. If I buy this thing, then I’ll achieve my dreams. Automotive, fashion, FMCG and technology brands are great fodder for the personal dream machine.

Rene Girad nailed it with his thesis on mimetic desire. All desires are borrowed from other people. We see their nice shiny car or incredible watch, and we want it.

Mum was onto this one too. She knows it’s much better if you don’t borrow someone else’s dream, even if it’s hers. I remember asking her for career advice, and she turned it back around on me – what did I want to do?

Own your own dream and you’ll be a much happier person. If you’re a marketer, stop for half a second and ask whether you really understand the hopes and dream of your target audiences. Data, research, talking to real humans and design thinking is where it’s at folks.

Lesson #4 – Try not to think about money

Dreams first, money second. It’s great life and marketing advice and Mum’s got this one sorted too. It’s not that she’s super wealthy and has the luxury of ignoring the world, it’s just that she’s got more important things on her mind.

We marketers talk much about “being human” and “authentic.” But what does it look like in the real world?

Take a tip from Mum. Help someone, phone (don’t Facebook) the grandkids or your friends on their birthdays, and go for walks in the bush or on the beach. Regardless of your age, if you foster your dreams and look after yourself, the money will follow.

Lesson #5 – It’s not about you

One of the tough lessons one learns in family life is that it’s not about you, it’s about us. It’s not that you don’t matter, it’s that we all matter.

Mothers get this because if you’re blessed with more than one child, it’s virtually impossible to play favourites.

Marketers, on the other hand, face an entirely different dilemma. We market to an individual because transactions are typically the act of one person. We swipe, transfer money, or sign up for a subscription.

So how do you market to many? Well, Mum’s got this one covered too. People love to join things, like families and community groups. And how do you join things? Often it’s an invitation. So here’s a tip. Think about the many, rather than the one. We are, after all, tribal people who know where we came from. Thanks Mum, you’re the best.


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