Thursday, May 21, 2009

Reaching Moms Through Schools

With more and more scrutiny being focused on advertising that is specifically directed to kids, many marketers are hesitant to even consider a through-school marketing program. What they might not realize, however, is that a through-school marketing program directed to moms (versus kids) is one of the most effective ways to build brand awareness and purchase intent for their products.

Annual spending on consumer goods (food, clothes etc.) for families with school-age kids is expected to reach $143 billion by 2010, according to Packaged Facts. Since moms make most of the purchase decisions for their families, consumer brand marketers must continue to look for new and more meaningful ways to engage the mom audience and make their brand message heard in this overcrowded, noisy marketing environment.

A through-school marketing program cuts through the clutter in the competitive marketing-to-moms space by putting a brand's message directly in front of a key demographic -- moms with school-age kids -- at a time and place when they are especially tuned in to messages and products that speak to their families' unique needs.

Why Through-School Marketing Gets Results

* Precision targeted with no missed hits - While traditional media and marketing options that reach the mom market cast a wide net hitting all segments of moms, through-school marketing directly connects consumer brands to an extremely targeted, captive audience of interested moms with kids ages 5-14.

*Relevant and receptive environment - Moms at school, or engaged in school-related activities, are in "full mommy mode" - specifically focused on their children's well being - making them particularly receptive to brand messages that speak to their challenges as a busy mom and offer solutions that will help them make their families more successful.

* Implied school endorsement and halo effect - When brands sponsor a family-focused school program, moms recognize and appreciate the brand's support of education and their school-family communities - and respond and follow through by patronizing the brands that support their schools.

* Grassroots brand advocacy - Moms attending a school-family event are in an ideal social environment to discuss and promote new products or services with other moms allowing mom-to-mom buzz and word of mouth endorsement to take place naturally.

Tips for Executing a Successful Through-School Marketing Program

Plan Ahead - It's important to know what a typical school's event planning cycle is for the year. Schools make planning decisions months in advance so be sure you allow enough lead time to build momentum and anticipation for your program before it is actually executed. For example, we sign schools up for our Back2School program in the spring before school ends and summer begins. It's critical to get schools signed up to participate in the program in spring so they are ready to execute it come August.

Make it relevant to moms - Make sure your program is relevant to moms in the context of the school environment otherwise you might lose the brand goodwill that you hoped to garner by sponsoring a school program. For example, we set up a through-school sampling program for a client who wanted to distribute detergent samples to moms. Moms were given these samples while attending the Spring Carnival at school, an event where kids are likely to get quite dirty.

Give schools a real reason for doing it - The last thing you want to happen is for your program to come across as blatant marketing with no real benefit to the school. Make sure your offer has value to the school and that your key connection in the school (the person or group who will execute the program) can clearly see how the school and the school families benefit from running your program.

(source:, John Driscoll, 5/20/09)

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