Why Marketers Should Hire Their Moms, Dads

It’s everywhere. Professionals over 40 can’t even get an interview even when their experience, achievements and proven skills put them at the top of the list of qualified candidates. And the rationale behind recruiters, CEOs and others seems to always be: cultural fit.

marketers with experience
“Parents,” Creative Commons license. | Credit: Flickr by Simon Rowe

It’s everywhere. Professionals over 40 can’t even get an interview even when their experience, achievements and proven skills put them at the top of the list of qualified candidates. And the rationale behind recruiters, CEOs and others seems to always be: cultural fit. CEOs and other executives skew younger than ever as start-ups continue to get backing by VC firms and angel investors that believe in new ideas dreamed up by young enthusiastic tech masters. And these young entrepreneurs tend to hire “friends” who reflect their age, lifestyle, attitude and, unfortunately, inability to stay in one place for very long as something bigger, better, smarter, faster, sexier, richer dangles within arm’s reach. All of the time. This matters, and this is just one of the mistakes young businesses and young leaders are making with their hiring decisions.

Success for start-ups and old-time businesses goes back to the old adage: Anything worthwhile takes time.

Time matters. And the amount of time a candidate has spent perfecting a marketing, finance, or IT skillset matters big if you want your business to stand the test of time. Smart hires are not those who hire someone who fits the “sorority” atmosphere of the office, but those who bring on team members who have spent time perfecting a process for growth, know how to test concepts affordably and effectively, know how to analyze results beyond just immediate sales bumps, and know how to grow a business over time — not just in the immediate quarter, to lure more investors. It takes time to know how to grow a business, and that time comes from career success over 15, 20 or even 30 years. It doesn’t happen over one cool social media post or event that generates a lot of shares, likes or overnight sales. Once.

Businesses that value “experience” more than “sorority fit,” are those that hire for candidates with the “Time” to really understand, perfect and build upon the following competencies:

Time in the following areas matter for business’s long-term growth:

  • Understanding and Building Upon Human Behavior: It takes time to study why we do what we do, and life experiences truly add to this knowledge. Being a mom, dad, manager of people for years, or even long-time volunteer adds to one’s understanding of why people do what they do, buy what they do, and like or dislike products and cultures they encounter. Knowing this from life experience over time adds substantially to one’s ability to solve problems successfully, rally people around common projects and causes, and lead others to success.
  • Patience in Expectations and Execution: Nothing worthwhile happens overnight or from one tweet, post, like, video or blog. It takes time to develop good ideas, test them, identify obstacles, develop and execute solutions; launch, refine, relaunch and build for sustainable growth. Workers in the 40s and 50s — yep, many in your parents’ age bracket, learned to develop and launch new products, business operations, or marketing campaigns by developing processes and timelines that enabled them to do it right the first time and in a way that would be sustainable. We learned to test ideas, to find champions that truly built sales not just buzz, that appealed to target consumers’ needs — emotional and physical, and we learned that it was okay if a campaign took a few months vs. days to develop, refine and execute. We didn’t have to do it overnight. It worked. Brands this “older” generation helped build, when patience and time mattered, are still thriving. Just look at how many brands have been around for 50-plus years vs. start ups that “boomed” overnight within the past five to 10 years.
  • Testing: One of the turning points in my own career was when I was forced to stop placing ads in expensive magazines or on radio shows when I worked for a Fortune 100 brand as an international marketing manager, and start testing new messages, personas, offers and campaigns, instead. For a year, my mult-million dollar media budget was frozen by the CEO of this large brand until we could prove which approach best built sales. It was epic. No one had to prove that ads really built sales before, including our world-famous ad agency that had our $200 million budget, which was a big deal at that time. We formed a committee of bright and experienced minds and came up with various appeals to human behavior to test. We tested thresholds for fear, the impact of humor, creative elements, offers, markets with various cultural influences, humor and so much more. We took what appeared to be winning sales and tested them again. At the end of several months — close to a year — we launched one of the brand’s most successful campaigns.

The knowledge gained by taking “time” to learn, and having patience to wait until we knew how to best use our resources to grow our business was a pivotal point in my career. I wrote my first book, “Big Business Marketing for Small Business Budgets,” as a result of what I learned from this process, and I’ve operated a successful consulting practice ever since, built on taking time to understand a brands’ consumers, attitudes toward a category and expectations. And to what types of experiences they are willing to assign their loyalty. I’ve created many tests across all channels — print, digital and social — to learn how to best communicate. And by taking the time to do it right and the time to learn over the years what matters most, I’ve achieved YOY gains of more than 200 percent for response, revenue and ROI.

So if you’re hiring or looking for new ways to build your business, look at your Mom, Dad, and that generation that might have built brands and businesses in the “old” days, when time mattered. Especially if you want your “new” businesses to still be around when you’re sending your kids off to college.

What Mom’s Thinking About Back-to-School Shopping

If you’re in online marketing today, you’re probably interested in how moms are shopping online, right?

If you’re in online marketing today, you’re probably interested in how moms are shopping online, right?

Moms have become a force to be reckoned with. More than 34 million are online — participating in social networking, researching products, making purchases and absorbing as much information as possible — according to a June 2009 report from eMarketer. And most marketers realize that mothers are usually the key decision makers for family purchases. The activities they participate in across the web influence household purchases greatly.

As a mother myself, I can tell you that I pull out all the stops when it comes to spending money on my kids, regardless of how tough the times may be. So the back-to-school market in particular can take on even greater value during down times like these.

So, what are moms thinking about back-to-school shopping? Despite the down economy, few plan to spend less than they did last year on back-to-school purchases, according to a survey of 1,400 mothers of school-age children across the country conducted by Mom Central Consulting, a Newton, Mass.-based social media agency that focuses on marketing to moms.

Findings from the study include the following:
* While 91 percent of moms worry about the expense of back-to-school shopping, only 17 percent anticipate spending less than they did in 2008. Nearly 50 percent anticipate spending much more than last year.
* 40 percent of moms doubt they’ll meet their kids’ expectations in order to save money; 38 percent expect to sacrifice by shopping generic over brand names.
* 92 percent of moms plan to save money by looking for special offers, both offline and online; 80 percent will use coupons, and 74 percent will reuse items from previous years.
* 32 percent of moms also expressed concern over how to balance their kids’ expectations and desires with today’s fiscal realities.

As a result, many moms will pursue shopping strategies like buying in bulk (46 percent) and making purchases at discount retailers like Wal-Mart (61 percent) and Target (57 percent).

Are you doing anything special to reach online moms during this back-to-school season? If so, let us know by posting a comment here.

What Mom’s Thinking About Back-to-School Shopping

If you’re in online marketing today, you’re probably interested in how moms are shopping online, right?

If you’re in online marketing today, you’re probably interested in how moms are shopping online, right?

Moms have become a force to be reckoned with. More than 34 million are online — participating in social networking, researching products, making purchases and absorbing as much information as possible — according to a June 2009 report from eMarketer. And most marketers realize that mothers are usually the key decision makers for family purchases. The activities they participate in across the web influence household purchases greatly.

So, what are moms thinking about back-to-school shopping? Despite the down economy, few plan to spend less than they did last year on back-to-school purchases, according to a survey of 1,400 mothers of school-age children across the country conducted by Mom Central Consulting, a Newton, Mass.-based social media agency that focuses on marketing to moms.

Findings from the study include the following:
* While 91 percent of moms worry about the expense of back-to-school shopping, only 17 percent anticipate spending less than they did in 2008. Nearly 50 percent anticipate spending much more than last year.
* 40 percent of moms doubt they’ll meet their kids’ expectations in order to save money; 38 percent expect to sacrifice by shopping generic over brand names.
* 92 percent of moms plan to save money by looking for special offers, both offline and online; 80 percent will use coupons, and 74 percent will reuse items from previous years.
* 32 percent of moms also expressed concern over how to balance their kids’ expectations and desires with today’s fiscal realities.

As a result, many moms will pursue shopping strategies like buying in bulk (46 percent) and making purchases at discount retailers like Wal-Mart (61 percent) and Target (57 percent).

Are you doing anything special to reach online moms during this back-to-school season? If so, let us know by posting a comment here.

How Moms Shop Online

In honor of Mother’s Day on Sunday, I thought I’d take a look at what moms are doing online today.

To do this, I turned to Digital Mom, a two-part report published earlier this year by Razorfish  and CafeMom.

In honor of Mother’s Day on Sunday, I thought I’d take a look at what moms are doing online today.

To do this, I turned to Digital Mom, a two-part report published earlier this year by Razorfish and CafeMom.

Razorfish surveyed 1,500 digital moms — or moms who used at least two Web 2.0 technologies and actively researched or purchased online in the three months before the survey was conducted in October 2008.

Razorfish and CafeMom’s goal was to learn more about the digital mom. How does she use digital technology? Do her habits differ by age? What are her motivations for engaging in social media and other emerging channels? How should marketers engage her?

The report was chock-full of interesting and surprising information.

One key finding from the report is that more digital moms today interact with social networks (65 percent) and SMS (56 percent) than with news sites (51 percent). And just as many can be found gaming online or via a gaming console (52 percent).

Which technologies digital moms use, however, depends on factors such as the mom’s age, the age of her children and motivation.

Moms less than 35, for example, are more likely to use newer communication platforms like social networks, SMS and mobile browsing. Moms 45 and older are more likely to use online news, consumer reviews and podcasting.

What’s more, online video consumption is highest among moms with children 12 and older — the group that’s also more likely to be online monitoring their children.

Online purchasing habits
Compared to nondigital media such as magazines, newspaper and radio, digital channels continue to influence digital moms in their purchasing decisions, according to the survey.

Answers to questions for digital moms who researched or purchased products online in the three months prior to being surveyed revealed the following information:

• the gap between TV and digital channels in creating initial awareness of a product is closing;
• Web sites, search engines and friends/family, along with social influence channels and magazines, are more used and trusted for research and learning than any other sources;
• social activities play an important role in influencing digital moms; and
• emerging channels like mobile and podcasting also influence different stages in the purchase funnel, although it varies by vertical, and penetration is still relatively low.

What does this all mean? If you’re an online marketer targeting moms, understand that this group is pretty Web-savvy. In many cases, digital moms are using some of the newest Web 2.0 technologies to communicate with friends and family and help make purchasing decisions. So go ahead, test a variety of these Web 2.0 tools when marketing products or services to moms. You may be surprised by the results.