If there’s one characteristic moms have in common, it’s that they love to talk. That love has led many of them to become winners in the 2009 Leading Moms in Business competition.
Picture all the soccer moms chatting on the sidelines at Saturday morning games; or stay-at-home moms at the gym discussing babysitters, recipes, play dates and the latest must-have stroller. This need to socialize, network and interact transfers directly to how they make decisions, shop and especially run businesses.
Although social networking and direct marketing are nothing new in business, moms are making the most of it: blogging about their kid-friendly bath products, posting coupons on their company’s Facebook profile, Twittering about their recent a-ha! moment, or blasting out a monthly email to their enewsletter database with a special offer.
Tricia Meyer is one of those. She uses social media extensively in marketing her two-year-old business, Sunshine Rewards (ranked No. 18), an online savings community where members can earn rewards for shopping, completing surveys and participating in contests and other activities. Because her Indianapolis-based business requires her to constantly be in contact with her community of members, she uses Facebook and Twitter incessantly. On its Facebook fan page, Sunshine Rewards posts contests, promotions, video blogs and photos. “We also encourage our members to post about Sunshine Rewards in their statuses to help spread the word,” says Meyer, 33. She also runs contests and “some of our best coupons” on Twitter.
The result of this mom “socializing” has led to significant increases in membership. “We’ve also been able to increase loyalty from our members by getting to know them more personally through their Facebook pages,” Meyer says. “By encouraging members to be honest about their experiences with us, we’ve added new members who are more likely to understand our business from the very start.”
Some of the company’s best results also come from email marketing efforts. The site’s member base receives regular, targeted emails, coupon alerts and event notifications, which combined have led to increased traffic on the site. Through these efforts, customers have the opportunity to share demographic information, “favorites” and special event dates so Sunshine Rewards can better target and serve its customers.
Email marketing such as this is a primary marketing vehicle for Glynns Thomas and her San Francisco advertising consultancy, Advertising Spark (ranked No. 52), which she launched last year. Drawing from 20 years in advertising and marketing, Thomas, 42, consults businesses, conducts courses and offers an online tutorial, Low Cost Advertising. In order to gain leads, she uses marketing tools from VerticalResponse combined with website forms to collect contact information. “I can then create different list segments so I can be more targeted and therefore more effective in the communications I send out,” she says, adding that it has saved her time as well as boosted both her prospect list and sales opportunities.
“Email marketing is affordable, viral and trackable,” says Erin Jacobs, director of marketing at VerticalResponse, emphasizing that anybody—from a startup to an enterprise—can leverage the power of email marketing. By creating a professional looking email marketing campaign and consistently communicating with customers, “you’re showing them you’re capable of handling their business and presenting an image that you’re larger than you are,” Jacobs says. “You lose your audience’s trust if you’ve got a shoddy campaign.” As part of the Leading Moms in Business competition, VerticalResponse offered contestants 30-day free trial memberships, allowing them to test out the marketing tools and encourage customers to vote in the contest.
Advertising Spark’s Thomas also vied for votes using social media, gaining a total of 1,328 votes. Using social media in her marketing has earned her more traffic and business on her site, just like Meyer’s experience with Sunshine Rewards. Like Meyer, Thomas uses sites in addition to StartupNation, like Facebook and Twitter as well as Blogger, Delicious and LinkedIn. “Social networking is an incredible source of information and, although time-consuming, absolutely worth it,” Thomas says. “Collaborating with and supporting others is key for me to keep motivated and inspired. Whether it’s how to do a specific task, having an outlet to discuss business with other like-minded folks or how to balance business with home life, I can’t imagine going it alone without all the worldwide communities I’m involved in.”
Whether building up a customer member base with email marketing, blogging about recent events or offering coupons on Facebook, moms are simply doing what they do best: socializing. And this need to network and social savvy keeps customers coming back and their businesses moving forward.