Q: When Does Online Life Mirror Offline Life?

A: All the time.

If you’re like me, you’ve heard the term “mommy blogger” enough times to make you gag.  There are just too many marketers out there missing the point when it comes to targeting this coveted demographic.  What exactly is that point, you ask?  A few for consideration:

  • For moms – and most people – online life mirrors what happens offline.  Think about this for a moment.  Where do you turn for advice; to people you know well or people who barely know you?  I’m willing to bet it’s the former.  Why would it be any different for moms?  Why would moms turn primarily to social networking strangers for child rearing and product advice rather than asking their closest friends?
  • Moms are women, too.  Childless women don’t need everything a mom needs, but the opposite doesn’t hold true.  Moms are still women.  They still care about taking care of themselves, and they should be considered more than just someone’s parent.  On the other hand, with women waiting longer to have children, there’s also a large contingent of 25-35 (+/-) year old women looking to interact with brands – they shouldn’t be ignored because they don’t fall into the “influential mommy blogger” category.  By heavily targeting one group or the other, marketers are leaving opportunities on the table.

A recent Media Post Research Brief article, “Product Recommendations Come From Friends, Not Networks,” shared the results of an interesting survey from MomConnection.  The article confirms that “Moms are four times more likely to turn to their personal offline network of friends and family than online social networks for product recommendations and buying advice.”  It goes on to say that moms are very active on social networks; but they’re not there for buying advice (are you?). 

What does all of this mean to marketers and PR professionals?  I'd like to see it as an opportunity to get creative.  Let's find ways to get into the heads and homes of women, specifically by recognizing that moms live online lives but seek advice in the real world.  Let's get away from giving freebies to mommy bloggers that promise to write about us, and instead create compelling products and campaigns that inspire women to sing our praises.

Given that it’s time to start planning for the year ahead, I hope we can call an end to 2009 as the year of marketing to the mommy blogger.  I look forward to a 2010 in which marketers learn to listen, and one where online moms are treated with the same respect as their non-mommy counterparts.  Are you with me?

For further insight into the demographic, I highly recommend checking out the AdAge white paper, “The New Female Consumer: The Rise of the Real Mom.”  The research provides a great perspective on what it is that women really want.

- Contributed by Gretchen Bender.  Follow her @gbender26