Four lessons we can learn from top brands when marketing to parents

Need to get your products in front of a family audience? Here are four lessons you can learn from top brands when marketing to parents.

Parenting in the digital age is very different from parenting 20 years ago. When we were young, our parents were able to leave us in front of the TV on Saturday mornings, trusting that the cartoons were wholesome.

Today though, children and parents can choose from a wider variety of content – not all of it child-friendly – and are constantly bombarded with ads.

And if you’re an advertiser, it’s worth noting that while kids may consume a lot of content, it’s their parents who still hold the purchasing power. So you need to ensure that your ads are family friendly AND that your brand has great name recall from parents.

To help you here are some things we feel brands are doing right when it comes to marketing to parents, and what you can learn from them when you start your business

1) Provide support and useful parenting advice

People born between 1981 to 1996 are parents to over half of the world’s children. And around 1 million women in the age group become parents each year.

One common complaint of millennial parents is about the parenting advice that their parents or older relatives with children give. While much of the advice is no doubt valuable, some will not apply to the challenges that they face today. For example, the amount of screen time they give to their kids.

To find support, many new parents join parenting groups and forums. They want childcare advice that is thoroughly vetted by experts in child care and other parents. There is a clear demand here.

Your brand can appeal to parents’ curiosity by helping provide guides, how-to’s, and tutorials about parenting, child care, health, and household chores. Providing useful and relevant advice can help promote brand loyalty, especially during their children’s formative years.

The example above, from Lysol, does not even mention the brand or the product itself. Instead, it provides useful information about a seasonal illness and how to minimize the risks. 

Lysol takes a stand on the side of science by promoting vaccinations as a way to fight the flu. This makes the brand a credible source of information in the eyes of parents who always look for ways to keep their children safe and healthy.

If you’re providing healthcare products or similar, it makes good business sense to make your existing and potential customers feel that they are safe and supported.

2) Create a sense of community

It’s often said that the only people who understand parents’ struggles are other parents. The popularity of parenting groups and forums proves that parents don’t just look for advice. They also seek a sense of fellowship that comes with exchanging ideas with other parents. 

The same is true for your brand’s social media posts. A photo of your brand’s latest product, such as a new toy, excites both parents and their kids. A throwback photo of a classic product stirs nostalgia. Adding humor to your posts spurs discussion.

In the example above, Ford asks its fans and customers, “What does ‘don’t touch that dial’ mean?” This is something that every parent who’s been driving with their kids can relate to. The comments were predictably funny and had a lot of engagement. Even Ford’s social media manager joined in the fun.

As you can see from the Ford example, marketing to parents isn’t reserved to selling products for children.

3) Provide content for both kids and parents

While the parents are the ones that click on “buy,” it’s likely that the kids are the ones who tell them to buy certain items. So you might as well provide content that both could enjoy.

Crayola has mastered the art of providing content that appeals to both kids and their parents. For example, it’s proven that coloring at an early age helps promote eye-hand coordination and fuels the imagination. 

Their website offers free printable coloring pages for kids of all ages. But what would you color those pages with? Crayola conveniently places the “Shop Products” link right above the coloring pages for easy access to the shopping page. 

The link also appears in other places on the landing page.

Posting the link to the shopping page in multiple places makes shopping for crayons and other art material and equipment possible without having to scroll all the way up to the top of the page. 

Crayola also has free templates specifically for adults. We don’t really know how and when the adult coloring craze started. Still, the brand has done an excellent job spotting the trend and stepping up to the challenge of creating designs for adults. 

4) Create posts featuring kids using your product 

Your product may not exactly be “kids only.” Still, using some posts of kids using your products and including some useful facts and figures can help persuade parents to take a look.

Horizon Organic used an image of a kid reaching for a glass of their Growing Years whole milk. The overt message in the post is that Growing Years whole milk is so good that your kid will look for it. 

The subtle message in the post is that the product is safe so you won’t have any problem with your kid reaching out for it — no harmful chemicals or preservatives.

Also, the post’s caption lists the benefits of drinking Growing Years whole milk, such as better brain health and more nutrients to support your child’s growth. It claims that their milk has been approved by those who know best about children’s health.

Posts like those of Horizon Organic are good examples of marketing to parents by appealing to their nurturing and protective instincts. Parents only want the best for their kids, and presenting the product as something that their kids also enjoy hits two birds with one stone. 

5) Focus on brand authenticity and integrity

Before starting an ad campaign, take a long, hard look at your brand. Teens are very active online and very susceptible to all sorts of online marketing. Your brand should be very cautious about the content it posts online and the influence it can have on impressionable young people. 

First, ask yourself, what is the image your brand wants to project?

How do you want it to sound and look? Identify a core identity for your brand, one that is both genuine and unique. Avoid the temptation to resort to cheap gimmicks just to appeal to teenagers and younger children.

Second, you have to ensure that your brand can be trusted. Parents want to be assured that nothing will go wrong if they or their children use a product.

You can’t expect parents to trust your brand if you keep on bragging about how kid-friendly your new products are if you’ve been using lead-based paints all along. 

Your messaging should be consistent with your product and values. Your product and values should be consistent with the reputation you want to establish. You can’t consistently deceive your target audience and expect not to be caught out.

Make sure you create a successful parent-centered marketing strategy

Parents today are usually well-informed. Social media like Facebook and search engines like Google make it easier for them to find reviews and compare products. They are willing to try different brands to find something that they feel is ideal for their children.

To establish your brand’s credibility, keep parents informed about things that concern them and their kids. Be ready to offer help with everyday parenting challenges. Remind them that they are not alone in taking care of their kids and that your brand will always be a dependable partner in their parenting journey. 

Following the tips listed above will help your brand achieve name recall among parents and kids alike. Remember, your brand is not the star of the show. The kids should be at the center of your marketing campaigns.

Nico Prins is a SaaS consultant and the founder of Launch Space. He helps companies develop their digital marketing strategies.

He’s worked with everyone from Fortune 500 companies to scale ups, helping them develop content marketing strategies that align with their business goals. Follow him on Twitter @nhdprins.

Photo by Brianna Santellan