Motherhood changed me as a marketer

Today I opened my bathroom drawer and a Lego man was staring up at me. It seemed a perfect portrayal of the juxtaposition of my roles in life: woman, professional, mom. It got me thinking, and during my morning walk, it struck me: becoming a mom changed me as a marketer. On the surface, this pivotal life event ultimately led me here, to starting my own business, but I became a mother 9 years before I took the entrepreneurial leap. In retrospect, my entire motherhood journey sparked new views on so many of the elements marketers carefully design and communicate every day.

If you’ve ever found yourself thrust into a new group that other marketers are aggressively targeting, you’re going to know what I’m talking about. As soon as I announced my pregnancy, an onslaught of retailers, manufacturers and service providers were vying for my attention with promises of solutions for calming cranky babies to smoothing my soon-to-be post-baby tummy. From playing on my fears and tugging at my insecurities, to approaching me as an ally and offering words of encouragement, the communications played at my already turbulent emotions.

You don’t have to have been through the experience of raising babies, though, to be able to look at how you’re being marketed to and reflect upon what resonates and what turns you off. College student, car shopper, senior citizen, mom… all are included in carefully crafted personas detailing demographic and psychographic attributes of target customers that marketers are trying to reach. We marketers want to effectively communicate and demonstrate how our solution/product/service can enhance the target’s life or solve a problem. How it’s done, though, is a delicate balance of art, science and gut.

My son is now in the twilight years of elementary school and my daughter the axis of junior high. In the years before my name seemed to change from “Tanya” to “Abby and Charlie’s Mom”, I had never experienced such a constant onslaught of information in printed fliers in folders, google drive accounts, apps, teacher and school websites, email newsletters, texts and carrier pigeons (ok, not really, but honestly, at this point, it wouldn’t phase me). I have grown even more appreciative of a well-structured message, information presented in a hierarchy, and a clear call to action (if there is one).

graphic design information hierarchy
Design for easy readability and information hierarchy

If I vocalized my internal dialogue while opening messages from seemingly countless sources, it would be a bit like: “Who is this coming from? Tell me what I need to know. Quickly, please. Less distractions. If I need to do something, make that clear. Oh, and a reminder is always helpful.” Say that in marketing terms, and you’ve got some good marketing 101’s: strong brand, clarity, hierarchy, call to action, repetition. Life as mom has just given me a whole lot of examples of how ineffective and stressful a poorly crafted message can be. (The images above are fake, created quickly by me to make a point. The one on the right has more information than the one on the left, but a clear hierarchy, calls to action, etc).

Life is all about learning, and raising my kids has surely been a learning experience. Looking at these personal experiences through a different lens, a professional one, has opened my mind to how powerful a marketer’s message can be… or how it can land flat. Have you looked at an experience or phase of life this way and come away with some eye-opening takeaways? I’d love to hear about them.

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