According to the Census Bureau, there are 43.5 million mothers in the United States. Research suggests that the mother is often the primary influence in a child’s religious experiences, especially in interfaith homes. Consider the sheer number of mothers and their combined influence, and it is obvious that churches should want to reach moms. Marketing to attract moms goes far beyond honoring them on Mother’s Day. How can you better market your church to mothers? Here are a few “dos” and “don’ts.”
Do: Offer practical solutions to everyday problems
To get a mom’s attention, help her solve a problem. The problems a mother faces are unique and often related to the age of her children, but there are some common denominators.
- Time management. Mothers are busy women. Whether employed or staying at home with their children, most have their hands full. How does your church help moms save time or manage time better? Consider highlighting how your church uses online forms to register children for various activities or mobile check-in processes for nursery and Sunday school.
- Children’s safety. Whether they have toddlers or teens, moms are deeply concerned for the safety of their children. What safe sanctuary policies do you have for your children’s programs? Do you offer classes or resources to help parents monitor internet safety? Let moms know!
- Finding time for herself. All moms are working moms. Finding time alone or with other adults can be difficult. How does your church help? Do you host a Mother’s Day Out or Mothers of Preschoolers (MOPS) program? Do you offer special child care services during the holidays? Make sure these programs are included in your marketing campaign.
- Loneliness. She may be a new mother who is alone at home all day with a crying infant. Let the mothers in your congregation know how you can help when they feel lonely. Tell them about your women’s programs, Bible studies and outings.
Don’t stalk them
Yes, it’s true; moms love their media. The great majority are on social media with Facebook being the most popular. And yes, many advertisers try to use that to their advantage. But, here’s the thing. Moms get on social media to connect with and find support from friends and family. They already face an onslaught of advertising messages that seem to target their every “like” or Google search. They are bombarded friends hitting them up to buy the latest make-up, kitchenware, or essential oil they are selling. They are tired of feeling stalked or pressured to buy another product. So, if you are going to use social media to advertise your church, follow Elmer Fudd’s advice and “Be careful. Be vewy, vewy careful.”
When marketing your church to moms on Facebook or other social media sites, do so in a way that benefits them. Remember, moms are looking for support, encouragement and connections. So, offer that. Post a meme that will make them laugh. Write a short post that gives “10 Quick Ways to Help Your Child Learn to Pray” or create a short video that demonstrates “How to use toys to teach a Bible lesson.” Use Instagram to give them a glimpse of your children’s or women’s ministries. Include links to parenting resources or to the women’s or children’s activities that your church is promoting. Whatever you do, don’t make it feel as if you are asking them to “buy” something. Give them something — something that suppports, enocurages and connects them.
Do: Get to know them
If you want to connect with the women in your community and draw them into your church, you have to demonstrate that you relate to them. How can you do that?
- Talk to the mothers in your church. When designing a marketing plan which targets moms, get the opinions of the mothers in your congregation you already know. Ask them about what aspects of church life are important to them. Talk to them about things that they find offensive in current advertisements. Ask them what they value. What do they fear? What are their struggles? What are their dreams? Talk to moms who are of different ages, races and seasons of life. Look for common denominators.
- Capitalize on areas of common interest. When you find common denominators, latch onto them. One thing you can almost always count on is that mothers typically relate to other mothers regardless of any language, racial or cultural barrier. Most mothers are concerned with the plight of all children, not just their own. If you want to attract mothers to your church, let them know what you are doing for mothers and children outside of the church. Let them know how you are in mission with mothers in developing countries. Share stories from the after-school tutoring program that your church hosts for local elementary students.
- Concentrate on the positive. Affirming and negative advertisements are effective for different reasons, but to attract moms, you may want to put a more positive approach. Mothers are acutely aware of all the bad things that are happening in the world, and frankly, they get a little tired of hearing about it. Encouraging advertisements appeal to their hopes, dreams and desires instead of targeting their worries and fears. For example, if you are trying to help a mother understand the importance of getting her teenager in church, consider pointing out the benefits of attending youth group instead of talking about the statistics of rising teenage alcohol abuse.
Don’t stereotype them
Most mothers today are in the labor force, but millions are stay-at-home moms. Some are part of two-parent homes, but others are single mothers and the sole providers for their children. Almost all mothers in the United States have at least a high school diploma; many have college degrees. They are conservative and liberal, religious and not religious. Some moms are into organic foods and healthy living; some live off fast-food and eat most of their meals in the car. In addition, a mom is not just a mom. She may also be a daughter, sister, wife or friend. Mothers, like all other human beings, wear many hats.
Mothers don’t just fit one mold. A mother is not one-dimensional, and the “mom” group is extremely diverse. Stereotyping, while often a part of the marketing business, is a dangerous road to travel when trying to reach moms. So, don’t do it. Don’t lump all mothers in one basket. When marketing to moms, acknowledge the diversity; don’t ignore it.
Interestingly, many marketing campaigns that target moms do so in one of two ways. They make moms out to be “saints” or they talk about what a tough “job” motherhood is. But moms don’t see themselves as saints, and they don’t see mothering as a job. Motherhood is a relationship — a complicated, emotional and challenging relationship, but also one that is very rewarding. To reach moms, show them how the church can add value to that relationship.