Thursday, May 21, 2009

On Defining Expertise

Quote of the day, from an internal presentation by a vendor: “…I mean, you don’t take product advice from strangers. You’re going to trust the recommendations of your friends more than you are from someone you don’t know personally…”

Oh. I am? And tell me more about me, Mr. Man, please. Introduce me to myself. Tell me what goes through a mom’s mind, from your personal perspective.

Because a few months ago, when Hubby and I were on the hunt for a new digital camera, from whom did I seek product recommendations? Virtual strangers. Moms whom I’ve never met personally who blog and post pictures on their blogs. Pictures that I like. Using cameras that apparently take good pictures. And we spent several hundred dollars on a camera recommended by such virtual strangers. With beautiful photography as evidenced here.

So there, Mr. Man. Welcome to the world of mom authority.

A common danger in marketing is that marketers sometimes like to answer a question or approach a problem from a personal place. “I don’t like that ad concept because it feels a little too [insert personal emotion here].”

But what does everyone feel? Maybe not what you feel. Are you marketing to a person like you? Or are you marketing to a market?

And what do men know about women? Ah, the age old question. How about a new one – what do women know about moms? Can you be a marketer to moms if you are not a mom? Yes, of course. But as many times as I say that, I find myself not completely believing in the statement.

A man can be an OB/GYN. A Caucasian person can be a professor of African-American history. But is their expertise restrained to surface level? A book level? Would personal experience make their authority stronger? As biased as it sounds, I think so.

More and more dads are blogging. Men are of course marketing to moms. Men are even creating social networks for moms to engage with each other. Like this one. That's right, the CEO of the second-largest and fastest-growing social network for moms is not a mom. Nor is he a dad. He is not even married. He is an entrepreneur to saw an unmet need for the mom market and pounced. But if he were a mom, would his personal experience being part of the target audience better inform his marketing decisions? Perhaps. Do I trust the authority of a mom who is telling me about moms more so than a 30-year old single male who is telling me about moms? Absolutely, 110%.

Being a mom does not make someone an expert in marketing to moms.

And being a marketer doesn’t either.

But being a mom marketer and a marketer to moms? I’d like to think that’s formulating something.

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