My office is overflowing with print magazines--fodder for future columns on my websites, and for blog content. The variety of reading material ranges from business publications I need to review for relevant technology updates (VARBusiness, Information Week, eWeek, CRN, Fortune, Entrepreneur, Business 2.0, Fast Company, American Demographics and more), to magazines designed to be read in moments of relaxation, or targeted primarily at women ( Reader's Digest, More, Time, Lifetime, the Smithsonian, the Atlantic Monthly, and others).
I've been reading most of the latter group of magazines for ten years or more. I used to include Good Housekeeping and Redbook in that group, and I do miss reading the New Yorker, but one has to draw the line somewhere. The business publications grew out of my work in technology and many of them are sent to me for free. Keeping up on what's happening in marketing and advertising is no mean task, believe me!
The one thing that strikes me about these magazines is that at any given time, many of them use a particular phrase that has more power--especially to the women's market--than any other. It's the "Mom test."
What, exactly, is the "Mom test?"
To keep it simple, the Mom test merely states that getting something past Mom, or in front of Mom, or approved by Mom, is the equivalent of hitting a home run. In the bygone days of the Dick and Jane world we left behind in the 20th century, Mom was the great arbitrator of the household; she was, in fact, the General in charge and everything you wanted (kids and Dads alike) had to be presented to her for approval. Today, I'm reading things like this comment written by Stephanie Stahl, the editor of a InformationWeek in the February 16th issue, "My 'mainstream' indicator [of whether or not a new technology has made it into the vernacular] is whether or not my mother has either heard of the technology or actually uses it."
The reality is, we all use the Mom test from time to time. It's a useful tool available on a 24/7 basis and it will never go out of style. My own Mom is a case in point. While she has always supported my writing, she never expressed excitement over my fiction the way she does over my non-fiction. Especially the writing of "Dickless Marketing: Smart Marketing to Women Online." And my mother doesn't even own a computer! She is only vaguely familiar with the Internet. But she's smart, she's savvy, and she's a strong supporter of her girls--my three sisters and myself. In fact, she's a staunch supporter of my brother, and all of her grandkids, male and female alike. She is the epitome of the American women, pre-hippie era.
Because of that, her opinion is important not only to me, but to the U.S. marketing world in general. She has influence and power with all other demographic groups and those companies who play off of that power are going to be the eBays, the Lowes, the Office Maxes, the Pier Ones, the "name your community grocery chain," winners of the new millennium.
Think Jane. Jane is somebody's mother. She is somebody's daughter. She is a sister, cousin, best friend, Aunt, acquaintance, business partner, colleague, of someone who has a Mother. According to the March 22nd issue of TIME magazine, the cover article written by Claudia Wallis, indicates the Mom test is alive and well. Stating that, "Caught between the pressures of the workplace and the demands of being a Mom, more women are sticking with the kids," her article shows that everything old is new again. Stay-at-home Dads notwithstanding, it's the women, the Moms, who are more likely to take on the task of staying home with the kids, than the Dads.
If you follow what's happening online as closely as you should, if you're an ecommerce site, you should know by now that Moms are into shopping online bigtime. And, they are more often buying for someone else than for themselves. You heard it here first. It's the prime reason getting your marketing message in front of Jane is so important.
Check it out. The power of Moms can be seen in a simple Google search. There are "about 1,580,000" hits on the search term "Moms online."
Easter is fast approaching. Which group of those Moms are you selling to? Consider your Mom your Chief Marketing Advisor. She'll be able to advise you on what works and what doesn't. The Mom test, like the Internet, is not going away. It's stood the test of time for generations. Use it to your advantage. Make it a part of your marketing mix, follow it with value-added information that supports your target market's needs and wants...and you'll make sales this year.
Now, what's not to like about that?