I was just listening to episode 138 of Manic Mommies, one of my favorite podcasts. The Manic Mommies are Erin Kane and Kristin Brandt, two funny moms from the Boston area who produce an hour-long weekly podcast about the traumas and triumphs of family life, career and kids.
Next month the Manic Mommies will host their second annual week-end Escape, a 3-day cruise with 100 or so of their listeners. Several marketers will sponsor the Escape, hosting on-board events, meeting the moms, running contests and promoting their products. Episode 138 included the first of a number of “Sponsor Spotlight” segments, featuring Quinny baby strollers. The segment for Quinny ran about 15 minutes and was remarkably different than your traditional hard-sell commercial sponsorship. It was more of a conversation than a sales pitch. And refreshingly honest.
The Intro: Here’s how Erin and Kristin introduced the segment for Quinny, who will sponsor a cocktail reception on the cruise …
Erin: Everyone needs to indulge with us for a little bit because our sponsors have stepped up to the plate and they have actually helped underwrite the cost of some of our events on the cruise. And Quinny, our sponsor that is sponsoring Friday night’s cocktail reception …
Kristin: … Open bar baby!
Erin: Need I explain more. Free drinks ladies!
Kristin: Well two things — open bar, AND they’re going to be giving away two of their Quinny Zapp strollers. So what we’re going to be doing this month is speaking, briefly, with each of our Escape sponsors in our Sponsor Spotlight.
I love how honest this is. Kind of like “Hey gals, these people are gonna sponsor our booze so let’s give ’em a break and let them tell us about their product.”
The Quinny Sales Rep: Well, she was anything but. And I mean that in a good way. The Manic Mommies introduced her simply as Lisa. Was she the Marketing Director? The Advertising Manager? The head of PR? Who cares? It didn’t matter. What mattered was that she talked like a human being, not like a marketing manager. In fact, the only time it felt odd was when she occasionally referred to “our target market” or “consumer.” In other words, when she slipped back into hackneyed and artificial marketing-speak. Okay. Nobody’s perfect. Old habits die hard.
The Sales Pitch: There wasn’t one. The style of the Manic Mommies is social, conversational, spontaneous, unrehearsed. So that was Lisa’s style. She joined the conversation. She shared stories. She was charming, spontaneous, witty. And she didn’t take herself, or her product, too seriously. She wasn’t a commercial interruption, she was a natural part of the podcast. All the while, we learned a lot of useful stuff about Quinny strollers — and enjoyed it.
The Close: Here’s what made it special. Lisa thanked the Magic Mommies for inviting her on the show, and you felt she really meant it. She shared how much fun it had been, although she admitted that she had really been quite nervous about coming on.
Erin: Did you have fun?
Lisa: I did have fun. I was very nervous. This is the first ever podcast for our company …
Erin: Oh my God!
… and somehow I got to be the guinea pig to do it.
Erin: The pressure!
Lisa: I know. It’s better than having video so I think this was fine.
Erin: Yes, audio is always much kinder.
The company spokesperson — vulnerable, imperfect, not slick, human. Just like most moms, just like all of us. What a nice reflection on the Quinny brand.
So what does this tell us as marketers about how to be effective in social media?
- Be conversational, don’t sell. That way you tap into the strengths of the space. Selling has its place, but it’s not here.
- Act and talk in a way that fits the style of the environment. Otherwise you’ll come across as an irritating and inappropriate interruption. That won’t reflect well on your brand.
- Be natural, be human — being perfect isn’t important. In fact, it’s probably a liability.
Well done Quinny, or should I say Lisa. Well done Manic Mommies.