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Marketing real estate to women – the evolving mommy factor

Many companies market to women, after all, they are the purchase decision makers these days, but companies use old information to reach out, thus wasting effort. Let’s dissect this…

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Mothers and babies playing in the park, photo by Peter Merholz.

The strength of mommies

There are many blogs and books devoted to marketing to mothers and in American culture, women play a pivotal role in real estate decision making. Women are no longer delegated to being pregnant and cooking in the kitchen, in fact, that hasn’t been commonplace in many decades. Women are empowered and in most houses, their opinion is just as valuable as a husband’s, so many real estate companies take advantage of this fact and spend a great deal of money attempting to reach these moms. A local builder in Texas has an ad campaign that shows a happy nuclear family on a sofa and notes that if mom’s happy, everyone’s happy, so come buy their product, generic mom.

There are many reasons to appeal to mothers, but many companies (not necessarily just in real estate) are doing so at the expense of non-mothers. The local builder ad rubs some women the wrong way, not because it’s cheesy, but because the definition of mother and of family is evolving and not only are women having children later in life, but many are choosing not to at all.

The White House Report on Women in America[1] reveals some shocking information on this evolution. First, more women than in the past have never had a child and in 2008, 18 percent of women age 40-44 have never had a child which has doubled since 1976. There has been a sharp rise in women age 25-29 who have not had a child, jumping from 31 percent in 1976 to 46 percent in 2008. The study reveals that the likelihood of a woman having her first child at age 30 or older increased roughly six-fold from about four percent of all first-time mothers in the 1970s to 24 percent in 2007, while 14 percent of first-time moms are age 35 and older.

What does this mean for the mommy factor?

The mommy factor is changing, there is no question. Women are waiting longer to get married and have children, but many marketers are running on the assumption that if a woman is of drinking age, there is a green light to market to her as a mother. Some women are choosing not to have children at all, not because of physical issues but simply as a lifestyle choice.

What this means for real estate companies is that marketing real estate to women under the assumption that they are mothers or even want to be mothers is wrong. Endless flyers mailed out proclaim, “moms, get an extra room for that new bundle of joy” or “if mom’s not happy, no one is happy.” In 50 years, we’ll look back and laugh on this flawed thinking, just as we now laugh at the idea of yesteryear that women should not go to college, rather, should be at home, barefoot and pregnant.

One motherhood status is not necessarily superior to the other, but motherhood in America is simply a evolving reality- the US Census reports that 46 percent of women in America are not mothers… and that’s just through age 44. Nearly half of all women being marketed to are not mothers yet get “Dear [insert lady’s name that lives at X address], we wish you a happy mother’s day and hope you enjoy your day. Love, Realtor People” emails and mailers.

Tapping into the mommy market is like tapping into the Oprah fan market- they’re golden. They’re loyal, spread brand messages well and often rely on peer recommendation for their own brand decisions. The problem is that the mommy market is only half of all women in America, but marketing professionals pitch ideas as if every woman is a mother.

The growing gray area

The gray area that most won’t talk about is that a growing number of women are not mothers, not because they chose a high powered career and shoulder pads over human creation, but because they can’t have children. Many women have spent years attempting invitro fertilization to no avail, others have had stillborn children and want badly to be mothers, and others are infertile. This growing group hurts deeply with every “Happy mother’s day” email and every “oh, your future children will love this house” comment, and that hurt can cause women to avoid the brand who committed the inadvertent pain, despite knowing it wasn’t intentional. There is a growing group of  ‘tweeners… women who want to be mommies but either cannot or have difficulty doing so.

Real estate professionals, there ARE smart ways to brand to women. One national real estate brokerage hires female bloggers age 25-30 because their digital presence is specifically targeting that demographic, so stories are told in a relatable voice. Because they do that, their chances of spreading the “you must be a mom because you’re female” message is slim. Don’t assume women are, want to, or can be mothers; try to keep it neutral as you pursue your marketing to the equal decision makers of today.

[1]White House Report: Women in America

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41 Comments

41 Comments

  1. JBond

    August 29, 2011 at 10:00 am

    Great demographic to target, but as you said not all women over the age of 21 are moms. Good to keep that in mind.

  2. Why not? Mommy bloggers tend to rule the blogosphere. It is smart to market to them, my wife makes as much as I do and she is smarter with our money than I am

  3. Property Management

    August 30, 2011 at 5:41 am

    Most effective marketers nowadays are women. And it will not be surprising if they will dominate the Internet in promoting different businesses.

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Business Marketing

10 must-listen-to podcasts for business owners

(MARKETING) If you’re a business owner and want to learn something…anything…give one (or all) these podcasts a listen.

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headphones listen podcasts

As podcasts grow more and more popular, it has become increasingly difficult to sort through the sea of excellent options out there.

From interviews with business leaders to industry-specific advice from experts, podcasts are an incredible free and convenient way to get a small dose of inspiration and knowledge.

This short list offers just a taste of the myriad of business podcasts available. Whether you’re an aspiring entrepreneur looking for some tips on breaking into a new industry or a seasoned vet hoping to get some new inspiration, we hope you’ll find something here worth listening to.

How I Built This, hosted by Guy Raz.

Podcast fans will recognize Guy Raz’s name (and voice) from TED Radio Hour. While that show can be a great source of inspiration for businesses, one of the most consistently inspiring shows is his new project that shares stories and insight from some of the biggest business leaders in the world. In just four months, Guy has talked to everyone from Richard Branson and Mark Cuban to L.A. Reid and Suroosh Alvi. While there are plenty of excellent interview-driven shows with entrepreneurs, if you want to hear about the world’s best known companies, this is your best bet.

The Art of Charm, hosted by Jordan and AJ Harbinger.

The Art of Charm is a business podcast by definition, but the advice it provides will definitely help you in other parts of your day-to-day life as well. With over three million listens a month, the incredibly popular show provides advice, strategies and insight into how to network effectively and advance your career and personal life.

StartUp, hosted by Alex Blumberg and Lisa Chow.

If you’re an entrepreneur, there is no excuse not to be listening to StartUp, the award-winning business podcast from Gimlet Media. The show’s talented hosts come from incredible radio shows like Planet Money and This American Life and bring a top-notch level of storytelling to the show, which provides behind the scenes looks at what it is actually like to start a company. Now on the fourth season, StartUp is one of those business podcasts that even people not interested in business will get a kick out of.

The Whole Whale Podcast, hosted by George Weiner.

One of the best things about podcasts is the wide variety of niche shows available that go in-depth into fascinating topics. One of those shows is the Whole Whale Podcast, which shares stories about data and technology in the non-profit sector. You’ll get detailed analysis, expert knowledge and can hear from a long list of social impact leaders from Greenpeace, Change.org, Kiva, Teach For America, and more.

Social Pros Podcast, hosted by Jay Baer and Adam Brown.

Navigating the surplus of social media guides online can be a nightmare, so look no further than Social Pros. Recent episodes talk about reaching college students on social media, the rise of messaging apps, and making better video content for Facebook. Plus, there are great case-studies with companies doing social right, like Kellogg’s, Coca Cola and Lenscrafters.

Entrepreneur on Fire, hosted by John Lee Dumas.

One of the original entrepreneurship shows, Entrepreneur on Fire has logged over 1,500 episodes with successful business leaders sharing tips, lessons and advice learned from their worst entrepreneurial moments. Sometimes humorous, sometimes heartbreaking, always inspiring, this show is sure to have at least one interview with someone you can learn from.

The $100 MBA, hosted by Omar Zenhom.

Think of The $100 MBA as a full-fledged business program in snack-sized portions. The daily ten minute business lessons are based on real-world applications and cover everything from marketing to technology and more. Cue this show up on your commute to or from work and watch your knowledge grow.

This Week in Startups, hosted by Jason Calacanis.

This is your audio version of TechCrunch, Gizmodo, or dare we say The American Genius. Each week, a guest entrepreneur joins the show to talk about what is happening in tech right now. You’ll get news about companies with buzz, updates on big tech news and even some insider gossip.

The Side Hustle Show, hosted by Nick Loper.

This is the show if you want answers for the big question so many entrepreneurs face. How do I turn my part-time hustle into a real job? Featuring topics such as passive income ideas, niche sites, and self-publishing, host Nick Loper is upfront and honest about the tough world of side hustles. The show features actionable tips and an engaging energy, and may just be that final push you need to grow your gig.

Back To Work, hosted by Merlin Mann and Dan Benjamin.
Focused on the basics that you don’t think about, Back To Work looks deep into our working lives by analyzing things like workflow, email habits and personal motivation. Somewhere between self-help, and business advice, Back To Work takes on a new topic relating to productivity each week.

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Business Marketing

Why your coworkers are not your ‘family’ [unpopular opinion]

(MARKETING) “I just want you to think of us as family,” they say. If this were true, I could fire my uncle for always bringing up “that” topic on Thanksgiving…

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family coworkers

The well-known season 10 opener of “Undercover Boss” featured Walk-On’s Bistreaux & Bar. Brandon Landry, owner, went to the Lafayette location where he worked undercover with Jessica Comeaux, an assistant manager. Comeaux came across as a dedicated employee of the company, and she was given a well-deserved reward for her work. But I rolled my eyes as the show described the team as a “family.” I take offense at combining business and family, unless you’re really family. Why shouldn’t this work dynamic be used?

Employers don’t have loyalty to employees.

One of the biggest reasons work isn’t family is that loyalty doesn’t go both ways. Employers who act as though employees are family wouldn’t hesitate to fire someone if it came down to it. In most families, you support each other during tough times, but that wouldn’t be the case in a business. If you’ve ever thought that you can’t ask for a raise or vacation, you’ve probably bought into the theory that “work is a family.” No, work is a contract.

Would the roles be okay if the genders were reversed?

At Walks-Ons, Comeaux is referred to as “Mama Jess,” by “some of the girls.” I have to wonder how that would come across if Comeaux were a man being called “Daddy Jess” by younger team members? See any problem with that? What happens when the boss is a 30-year-old and the employee is senior? Using family terminology to describe work relationships is just wrong.

Families’ roles are complex.

You’ll spend over 2,000 hours with your co-workers every year. It’s human nature to want to belong. But when you think of your job like a family, you may bring dysfunction into the workplace.

What if you never had a mom, or if your dad was abusive? Professional relationships don’t need the added complexity of “family” norms. Seeing your boss as “mom” or “dad” completely skews the roles of boss/employee. When your mom asks you to do more, it’s hard to say no. If your “work mom or dad” wants you to stay late, it’s going to be hard to set boundaries when you buy into the bogus theory that work is family. Stop thinking of work this way.

Check your business culture to make sure that your team has healthy boundaries and teamwork. Having a great work culture doesn’t have to mean you think of your team as family. It means that you appreciate your team, let them have good work-life balance and understand professionalism.

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Business Marketing

Market your side hustle with these 6 tips

(BUSINESS MARKETING) It can be hard to stand out from the crowd when you’re starting a new side hustle. Here are some easy ways to make your marketing efforts more effective.

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side hustle paperwork and technology

Side hustles have become the name of the game, and especially during these turbulent times, we have to get extra creative when it comes to making money. With so many of us making moves and so much noise, it can be hard to get the word out and stand out when sharing your side hustle.

Reuben Jackson of Big Think shared five ways that you can market your side hustle (we added a sixth tip for good measure), and comment with your thoughts and ideas on the subject:

  1. Referrals: Don’t Be Afraid to Ask!
    If you’re going to make a splash, you have to be willing to ask for favors. Reach out to your network and ask them to help spread the word on your new venture. This can be as simple as asking your friends to share a Facebook post with information that refers them to your page or website. Word of mouth is still important and incredibly effective.
  2. Start Where You Are
    Immediately running an expensive ad right out of the gate may not be the most effective use of your (likely) limited funds. Use the resources you do have to your advantage – especially if you’re just testing things out to see how the side hustle goes in the real world. You can do this by creating a simple, informational landing page for a small fee. Or, if you’re not looking to put any money into it right away, create an enticing email signature that explains what you do in a concise and eye-catching way. Check out these tools to create a kickin’ email signature.
  3. Gather Positive Reviews
    If you’ve performed a service or sold a product, ask your customers to write a review on the experience. Never underestimate how many potential customers read reviews before choosing where to spend their money, so this is an incredibly important asset. Once a service is completed or a product is sold, send a thank you note to your customer and kindly ask them to write a review. Be sure to provide them with links to easily drop a line on Yelp or your company’s Facebook page.
  4. Be Strategic With Social
    It’s common to think that you have to have a presence on all channels right away. Start smaller. Think about your demographic and do some research on which platforms reach that demographic most effectively. From there, put your time and energy into building a presence on one or two channels. Post consistently and engage with followers. After you’ve developed a solid following, you can then expand to other platforms.
  5. Give Paid Marketing A Shot
    Once you’ve made a dollar or two, try experimenting with some Facebook or Twitter ads. They’re relatively cheap to run and can attract people you may not have otherwise had a chance to reach out to. Again, the key is to start small and don’t get discouraged if these don’t have people knocking your door down; it may take trial and error to create the perfect ad for your hustle.
  6. Go Local
    Local newspapers and magazines are always looking for news on what local residents are doing. Send an email to your town/city’s journal or local Patch affiliate. Let them know what you’re up to, offer yourself for an interview, and give enticing information. The key is doing this in a way that your hustle is seen as beneficial to the public, and is not just an ad.

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