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Conversations are the new black; at least when it comes to marketing to mothers.

According to Nikki Hills, founder and managing director of Mouths of Mums, brands are waking up to the fact that mothers are the decision makers when it comes to spending money.

“Whether it’s black goods, white goods, the family car, the family holiday, the family budget or the weekly shop, mums drive the decision,” says Hills.

She believes that participating in conversations with mothers is an ideal way to create awareness around your brand and to influence purchasing decisions. Hills has built a community of 50,000 mothers across Australia and works with brands to provide mothers with free samples and products to review.

She has worked with a diverse group of clients including Toyota, Weetbix and Tefal, who have all been keen to “participate in conversations”. But what does this actually mean?

What influences decisions?

The media landscape has evolved and, like many people, mothers often go online to research a product before making the decision to spend their hard-earned cash. They will read product reviews on blogs, review sites and so on. So if you want to get in front of mothers, don’t just throw big bucks into advertising. You need a campaign to ensure that your product is reviewed.

Hills says: “This may take the form of a product review campaign where mums receive your product, trial and then review, a competition where mums need to engage with your brand to enter and then have the opportunity to win or product sampling.”

If you want to connect with mums, there is range of services available including Mouths of Mums, Digital Parents Collective, or directly through bloggers who have a large readership.

Genuine conversations

However, Hills warns that participation in conversations must be genuine. “Mums can smell a product plug a mile off so be transparent,” she says. “Develop contact protocols around your social voice when participating in existing communities. For example, your rule of thumb may be that one in six interactions are able to mention a product while five in six interactions should be genuine, empathetic and relevant.”

Hills founded her business in 2006 and now employs seven people. Her husband Warwick joined the company as general manager finance in 2011. Last year, it forged a distribution partnership with Yahoo!7.

She is riding high on the mummy renaissance that’s been spearheaded by brands, many of whom are recognising that they can bypass traditional media channels and connect directly with mothers who may become advocates of their products on blogs or social media.

However, this is not a phenomenon unique to Australian mothers. Hills recognises that her business model could work effectively in larger, overseas markets. This week, she is attending the Dell Women’s Enterpreneur Network in Istanbul, Turkey.

“I’m open to exploring other markets and opportunities so it’s great to be able to connect with other women from all over the world at an event like this,” says Hills.

She is constantly telling brands their biggest mistake is assuming that all mothers are the same.

“A mum’s life stage plays a huge part in how they want to be marketed to and what they are interested in,” she says. “Brands need to understand that mothers seek opinions from their peers. They want to know that someone else, just like them, can recommend the product.”

After all, if there’s one thing that all mothers do have in common it’s the love of a simple conversation.

Valerie Khoo is an journalist, small business commentator and entrepreneur. She is national director of the Australian Writers’ Centre. You’ll find her personal blog here.

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Valerie Khoo

Valerie Khoo

Valerie Khoo is founder of <a href="http://www.SydneyWritersCentre.com.au">SydneyWritersCentre.com.au</a> and co-founder of <a href="http://www.SocialCallout.com">SocialCallout.com</a>. She is an adviser and investor in businesses and startups. Valerie is author of the new book Power Stories: The 8 Stories You MUST Tell to Build an Epic Business. <a href="http://www.PowerStoriesBook.com">www.PowerStoriesBook.com</a>

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