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You want to know one of the worst ideas I ever had as a parent? It was taking my kid to Wal-Mart during the holiday season. Or let’s be honest: even just on a regular Monday. Because kids have a sixth sense for the things they want – and so I somehow found myself running after my little boys down aisles and aisles of toys, electronics, chocolate more.

In between the “no, you can’t have this” and the “maybe next time” responses I gave to my two kids, I had a few seconds to look around and think about how these products were grabbing my kids’ attention – and mine. Because after all, although some marketers may believe that their kids hold the keys to their wallet, the truth is Mom and Dad get final say – so marketers need to market to me, not just my kid. I’m the last line of defense and I (or my wife) decide if we buy it.

To sway parents over to your side (and make little kids happy all around the world), here are ten tips to remember when marketing to parents.

 

1. Let your product inspire parents

You’re not just selling an eReader, you’re selling the potential for a child to read Harry Potter and dream of a future as a wizard. Or read their first mystery novel and envision becoming a detective. Or perhaps their readings will take them on a journey to becoming a doctor, lawyer, or even the president.

The point is that you shouldn’t just focus on what your product can do but what it can help kids achieve – let your marketing inspire parents to believe your product can help their kid achieve great things.

 

 2. Sell the future

When your marketing to Moms and Dads, you need to sell more than just the features of your products – you need to sell a future. You need to sell why your product will make their lives better and their kids’ lives happier, richer, more fulfilled, more educated.

Sell happiness, love, laughter and friendship. Make those themes dominant in all your marketing messages. If you’re selling the latest tech gadget, you might show all the things kids will do with it (like apply to college). Or perhaps you’re selling a new beauty product and you focus on joining them on one of the most important days of their lives (wedding day).

 

 3. Act like the third parent

Before I had kids, I heard a rumour that parenting can be tough – my wife says labour doesn’t even compare to the grueling (yet rewarding) days of parenting. So in between the washing, cleaning, feeding, and running around, it’s nice for a parent to know that someone has got their back – and that someone can be your brand.

If you show you have their best interests at heart – your product is safe, healthy, useful, educational etc. – you’ll be the third parent they dreamed of having.

 

4. What’s that sound?

What’s one of the most frustrating things for a parent (or spouse)? When that other person just doesn’t listen. Don’t add your brand to the list of people who shout their messages in their face and don’t take time to develop meaningful connections and relationships.

Learn to listen to what parents are saying, wherever they’re saying it. That means being active on social media (and by that, we don’t mean pitching your product in every tweet, but joining in discussions and Twitter parties). Share tips with Moms on Pinterest, respond to reviews on Amazon, get in front of parents and show them you’re part of their inner social circle.

 

5. Moms matter – and not just on Mother’s Day

Ever give your Mom a Mother’s Day card and say something along the lines of how special they are every day and how they deserve the best every day, not just on Mother’s Day?

Well, you were right – Moms are not only the people we turn to when we need our best friends but they’re also often the household decision makers too. In fact, Moms influence over $2.4 trillion in spending every year and control 85% of household spending.

 

6. Dads matter too!

The “traditional” family landscape has changed and according to the latest census data, there are over two million single fathers raising children in the U.S. and over 25 million married fathers doing the same.

These Dads are shopping on-the-go, browsing your products while waiting in line grocery shopping and looking for brands that understand who they are – and not just the stereotypes that often get portrayed in the media.

 

7. Say hello to the millennial parents

Forget about marketing one message to one type of parent – personalizing your message and branding to the generation of parents you’re targeting is key if you want to be successful, because different generations of parents are looking for different things.

Millennial Moms, for example, spend more than 8 hours a day online compared to Gen X Moms who spend under 7; and for Millennial Moms, that online time is done across a variety of screens – desktop, smartphone and tablet. Millennial Moms are also more likely to make a purchase via mobile, compared to other generations of Moms.

 

8. You don’t need a celebrity but…

To convince parents that your product is worthy to enter their homes, you don’t necessarily need a celebrity spokesperson but you do need to show parents that your product is trusted – by other Moms they can trust.

You want to gain those word-of-mouth recommendations from parents and make sure they pass it along to your target demographic. You can do this by reaching out for testimonials on social media, getting in touch with Mom bloggers and having them review your products or staying connected to influencers in this space.

 

9. Don’t overlook retargeting

So someone visits your site once and doesn’t make a purchase? That doesn’t mean they weren’t interested or that your product isn’t good enough – it could just mean time and the kids on their laps got the better of them.

Launch retargeting ads to remind parents of your website if they haven’t converted yet – and make sure your ads are consistent and accessible across multiple channels and devices.

 

10. Talk to them, not at them

You’ll gain parents’ trust (and appreciation) if you talk to them, not at them. Listen to what they’re saying, take their concerns seriously, show you understand them and know that their time, money and energy is limited – but that you’re worth it.