By: Stacey Mathis
There is no question the landscape for marketing has changed . . . drastically. Social media and the advances in technology are largely responsible for the most recent surge. The mom marketing gurus are correct in saying things like social media marketing is key; the bottom line is: corporations no longer are completely in charge; or to a rapidly increasing extent, the customer is in the driver’s seat. It’s true that corporations can no longer market to moms and that they now have to market with moms.
However, as a copywriter for the mom market this fact rang true until I stepped back to write a report about social media marketing with African-American mom consumers. Suddenly, something seemed a little less accurate. After several starts, I realized why I couldn’t move forward no matter how hard I tried. As an African-American mom consumer that premise felt imprecise. I was forced to put the project on hold. This article needed to be written before I could go forward with a report on social media marketing and black moms.
In talking with other African-American moms my gut was further affirmed. Finally, after attending a multicultural-focused social media marketing event (with speakers representing Latino, Asian, Indian, and African-American markets), the imprecision was confirmed – multicultural moms, including African-American moms, still don’t mind being marketed to. Yes, social media is extremely important in reaching all moms; however, traditional marketers need not completely forgo their traditional marketing efforts when attempting to reach black moms. There is a vast bevy of African-American folks (moms in particular) whose mindsets, if you approach them correctly, welcome and still gravitate toward traditional media marketing.
The operative phrase is “approach them correctly”
Immediately paint a picture of the benefit of your product to the African-American mom. Copywriters are all taught this elementary tip. This is great, standard advice. However, bear in mind that African-American moms often repeatedly envision the benefit they want. Many have reached the point where they are merely looking for the solution to bring about the benefit in the forefront of their minds.
If your product or service addresses a problem she has, mentioning the features up front will not always be a disadvantage to you. For example, The Behr company has a traditional television commercial that promotes its paint with primer product. They are apparently targeting people who need a paint job and/or are in the market for painting products. These prospects, undoubtedly, have some knowledge of what such a project entails. When you mention the primer/paint feature, the African-American mom shopper sees the benefits; she’s just been waiting for the product to be invented. You’ve successfully removed a necessary expense from her budget. That primer guy she considered hiring is no longer needed. For the self-painter, her primer knowledge no longer needs upgrading or a refresher course. For both types of mothers, the primer shopping is no longer necessary. You’ve improved her busy schedule, taken something off of her plate and reduced her stress level . . . immensely!
For black moms, showing her the benefit may just be as simple as reminding her of the benefit. Don’t be afraid to occasionally let the visual sell the benefit (the freshly painted, stunning apartment) and hit her up front with the most important feature.
Black Mom Consumers Aren’t Dark-skinned White Mom Consumers
Don’t simply put a commercial or ad together, insert images of African-American folks and think that it’s going to appeal to the African-American mom consumer. As marketers and copywriters do with mainstream marketing, it is important that you understand the thinking of the African-American mom market. African-American moms are incredulous about advertising in that they know the bottom line of the marketing effort is the company’s bottom line. They may not use terms like brand awareness or lead generation strategy but black moms (as do all moms) know that the marketing and advertising ploys, even subtle ones, are ultimately about getting mom to remember the brand when she opens her purse.
She is amenable to exchanging her money for your product or service, but you must: (a) know and appreciate the current values of the African-American mom segment you are marketing to (b) clearly understand your brand purpose so that it carries through your entire marketing message, genuinely; and (c) align these two factors, so that your marketing copy’s messages mirrors this harmony and is authentic and therefore speaks to her value-driven emotions.
Keep Your Copy Relevant.
Don’t rely on old research data, because what follows are stale, outdated approaches that miss the mark. Contrary to popular belief, black moms evolve. Additionally, it’s important to understand how black people view themselves. Stay in-the-know by reading professional, marketing research data – Target Market News (the Black Consumer Market Authority) Warc.com, BSM Media. Don’t just stop there, however. Examine, firsthand, unfiltered and raw views, opinions, fears and desires of African-American moms by visiting blogs, forums and groups like Mochamoms.org, BlackMomsClub, Mommy Too Magazine, etc.
You can’t put a commercial or ad together (make it stereotypically black) and expect to appeal to the African-American mom consumer. We don’t see ourselves as all the same, and your marketing copy and images shouldn’t either. However, as with other cultural groups, there are certain nuances and “no-no’s” inherent in the African-American moms’ ethos that a significant percentage of us relate to. Some include:
-Don’t make light of God. Embracing a higher/authority (God, Allah, Buddah, Jehova, etc.) is still very important in the black community, even though today, God has many permutations and applications. Marketing text, for example, shouldn’t challenge, doubt or disrespect God.
-The black mom is iconic. This includes others’ respect for our individual mothers or of an African-American woman, who could be someone’s mother. It does not matter if she is an affluent stranger or a babyboomer-aged bagwoman, if she looks like she could be someone’s mother, tread carefully when creating text referencing the image.
-Don’t let your marketing copy sound like it is debating or judging the African-American race, plights or achievements.
-Patronization is taboo. Don’t allow your copy to compliment an African-American achievement to get on the good side of a black mom consumer. There’s enough genuine data out there that will smoothly align with your marketing campaign. It behooves you to find it and work it into your copy. Patronization will work against you. It makes you, and everything you say from that point forward, suspect.
-Don’t get too comfortable such that you write comments that you hear black moms exclusively make with other black people.
-It’s perfectly okay to say and show you understand certain things that are important to African-American moms, like her hair, hair care products, her babies, her home, her, or her time, her car, her personal care issues, her money and her budget. African-Americans appreciate that understanding.
-Always, use easing-going, conversational language. Don’t be flippant, which is insulting and causes deviation from the focus of the ad. Don’t add irrelevant observations, because you think you need to “keep it real.”
Finally, make sure your copy:
- is written from the African-American mom’s point of view;
- speaks to the African-American mom as if you are talking to one person;
- is specific about what you are offering;
- includes an offer that black moms value and not something merely to comply with the copywriting 101 rule about including an offer;
- is written in straightforward language; and
- includes testimonials or information to lend your message credibility.
Stacey Mathis is a mother, freelance copywriter and owner of TargetMommy.com. As a copywriter, she writes marketing copy for businesses that target moms in general, as well as businesses when they need to focus on African-American moms. She has crafted and/or edited marketing collateral and advanced websites for organizations that include: a day care center, an image consultant, life coaches, physical trainers, a school, a children’s sports center, a leading online business women’s organization, networking business women, sales trainers, an after-school program, etc.