Market Like a Mother: What Motherhood Teaches Us About Marketing

5 minute read

Editor’s Note: This article was originally published in May 2017, but we loved it so much we wanted to share it again. We’ve updated a few stats and examples to make sure they’re accurate and relevant for 2024.

Is your marketing working like a mother? 

Motherhood is a masterclass in strategic maneuvers and tactics, not unlike the skills of great marketers. But you certainly don’t have to be a mother to market like one.

Read on to learn what “mom skills” can help you be a better marketer, no matter who you are.

Mom skill #1: Hit the right tone

There’s a certain tone that a mother learns to use in her voice. It’s a signal that you should take action. Immediately. With very few words or sometimes, no words at all, a mother can convey to her children they better get down the stairs NOW or else…

Or else, what?

We don’t know what our mother will do to us if we don’t come down those stairs, or get dressed, or brush our teeth, or go to sleep. That’s what gives this tone its power. It’s mysterious, and it forces us to engage our imaginations. This same strategy also works powerfully in increasing open rates in marketing email subject lines. 

The better you know your audience, the more you can speak RIGHT TO THEM.

Take email, for instance.

Instead of starting with:

  • Quarterly Market Commentary from My Co. or, 
  • Advice from Sue

(snooze fests)


  • 10 bizarre money habits making Millennials richer
  • 👀 Supermom shares the secret that finally got her kids enjoying time away from devices.

Do you feel that itch to click? Us, too.

Mom skill #2: Build on what’s working

Moms are masters of rolling with what works.

Found a way to get everyone dressed, fed, and out the door in under an hour? We’re doing that again tomorrow. 

Bedtime on-time for once? That’s the new routine.

If it works, keep going with it — but know, even the best tricks get old. 

The former CMO of Crocs, the popular rubber clog brand, leaned into what worked for Crocs after he moved to Stanley, a 113-year-old brand with working-class roots. 

Recognizing the potential of Stanley’s products with a new audience (millennial women), he was able to 10x revenue for Stanley in just four years. (We all know someone who has a Stanley Quencher in their cupboard)

By adding trendy, limited-edition colors and finishes to their water bottles, Stanley brought a newfound fashion appeal to their utilitarian product. They also leveraged partnerships and collaborations, teamed up with celebrities and retailers like Target, generated marketing buzz, and made their products relevant to the cultural zeitgeist.

Mom skill #3: Understand the role of cookies

As a mother, I have routinely used cookies as a persuasive tool. Chocolate chip, circus animal, homemade, storebought‌ — ‌it doesn’t matter. Any kind of cookie can help diffuse a difficult child-rearing situation and transform it into a peaceful, calm moment.

Up to a point.

After a while, cookies start to lose their effectiveness in the parenting realm. The reasons aren’t 100% clear. Maybe it’s due to changing taste buds as children age. Maybe they’ve discovered that grandparents will readily supply cookies without regard to behavior stipulations. Or, maybe they see through your little charade altogether and start demanding bigger, more expensive bribes. The point is they stop working. And the same is happening in the marketing world.

A mainstay since the mid-nineties, online tracking pixels (aka “cookies”) are being phased out by Google for Chrome users. Although the exact date is still unclear at the time of writing, ‌with privacy regulations changing across the world, marketers need to plan today for how we measure digital marketing efforts in the very near future.

It’s a complex issue and certainly one to keep an eye on as time goes by. But the bottom line is, you can’t rely on one solution to last forever. Stay ahead of the trend and keep your eyes open for new and different answers to the challenges ahead. (For me, in my home, that answer is jelly beans.)

Mom skill #4: Take it slow

I don’t know if they’re too lazy to string words together or if they genuinely can’t remember any of the events of the previous six hours, but my children seem physically incapable of giving me any response at all when I ask them what happened at school that day. Some other questions that don’t work include:

  • What songs did you sing?
  • What did you learn about?
  • Did you have a good time?

None of those work. But, savvy marketer mom that I am, I came up with a new tactic. Instead of many broad (okay, maybe boring) questions, I started asking just one of the below:

  • Did anyone get in trouble today?
  • Did anyone cry today?
  • Who did you sit next to at lunch?

Usually one of these works, and I can leverage the tiny details from one measly answer into another question, and then another. Eventually, I have a vague, kernel of a possible idea of what went down in their classroom that day. Success!

But what does this have to do with marketing, you ask? Everything, generally, and specifically, a little thing called progressive profiling. Progressive profiling is a lead acquisition technique where you ask for just one or two pieces of information at a time. As you build the relationship, you ask for more information. Instead of scaring away your customers with a lengthy online form they have no intention of filling out, they can answer your questions on a more relaxed timetable‌ — ‌and you’ll actually get what you want.

Motherhood has a lot to teach us about virtually every aspect of life, including marketing. Even if you don’t herd small humans on a regular basis, you can still put these hard-earned lessons to use in your marketing efforts. 

Need help getting your marketing to work like a mother? Reach out to the BSTRO team and let’s talk.

Original article by Katie Rottner, Senior Copywriter
Edits and updates by Talia Wiebe, Director of Content Marketing

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