The Parent Trap: Attracting the divided attention of parents

parenttrapGetting a parent’s attention is a difficult task. It is divided between work, kids and the possibility of a social life. For advertisers, and newspapers alike, it’s important to thoroughly investigate this target market in order to convey their message clearly. Though it may seem a tedious task, it’ll be well worth the effort — research shows that families are one of the largest consumer markets. Here are a few ways you can reach this spendy demographic.

Tug the heartstrings

Todd Browning, graphic design and advertising instructor at the Art Institute of Tennessee – Nashville, suggests that a compelling strategy for marketing to parents is playing on the idea of emotional guilt. Parents are always looking for ways to make their children happier and healthier, so by employing graphics and headlines that suggest a better life for children can play on the feelings of insecurity and inadequacy many parents have.


Jamie Dunham, brand strategist and writer of the blog The Lipstick Economy, investigates the buying power of American moms. She writes that about 73 percent of moms believe advertisers don’t understand them or their needs. She suggests that advertisers research the psyche of these moms by following local parenting blogs. She continues to say that today’s advertisers could target this special interest through blogs written by moms, for moms. That said, consider developing spin-off niche parenting website — be it online only and/or in print. This site should encourage local moms to write and share their experiences and stories. Sell sponsorships and advertising spots to local businesses that target to parents, including baby furniture, clothes, gifts, toys, etc. Utilizing crowdsourcing — which essentially means having the local community contribute the content to the site, rather than your editorial team — will keep both the costs and the labor low.

New parents

“Families outspend childless couples two-to-one on a variety of products and services,” reports They further suggest that email blasts and mobile alerts offering editorial targeted for those new to the parenting world would be the perfect vehicle for inserting coupons and deals for products that they may not have previously shopped for. Editorial could cover financial planning and security, as well as introducing them to any parenting niche publications, special sections or websites you may be offering.

Birth announcements

Birth announcements are a mainstay in the newspaper community, but look at ways you can breathe new life into this tried-and-true staple. As seen here with The News Tribune’s Birth Announcement ad (courtesy of Brenda Perkins), offering photos as an upsell is a great way to bring in a little extra cash. Consider adding further upsells as well to make these a truly great announcement, with the options of multiple photos, inclusion of the baby stats like weight and length, or utilizing the ever-popular Popmount to give parents and grandparents the option to purchase a decorative plaque to commemorate the special event. Look at other birth announcements that you can find online, like from or, and enlist the help of your graphic design department to step your announcements up a notch.

Back to school

Back to school is a favorite theme among advertisers. From school supplies to new clothes, this time is synonymous with shopping. Encourage local business to start their advertising campaigns early. Consider running a special section highlighting the hot deals, and hot trends, for the new school year. Also, approach the fall with a healthy point of view: Are your kids ready to enter school healthy? Everyone knows that kids spread germs, and parents want to avoid sicknesses as much as possible, so we suggest hosting a health screening for kids. Partner with local hospitals, doctors, dentists and optometrists to offer free services like immunizations, dental screenings, eye exams and more. Offer sponsorships to local businesses, which won’t want to refuse the goodwill they’ll acquire!  

Winter activities

For those in the north, winter is a difficult time with kids. It’s cold, it’s snowy and icy, and kids and parents alike are feeling cooped up. Offer a winter resource guide with family friendly events and activities that parents and children can take advantage of. Include indoor open gyms, snow-related events and day camps — anything that helps get the kids out of the house and offer some physical activity or a brief respite for parents. Also, consider including how-to guides for at-home crafts and activities that parents can do with their kids.

Summer vacation

With kids out of school, summer vacation is the most popular time for a seasonal activity guide. Parents are desperate for events and activities their children can do while they’re at work, or on the weekends. This guide should either start the season, or be a monthly comprehensive listing of what’s going on. This should include festivals, camps, sports, learning activities, lessons and playgroups. This is a great advertising opportunity and can easily be done in both print and online.


There are plenty of vendors to help you develop your family friendly section. Of course, we want to remind you that keeping it local is always best — it relates to those directly in your market. As we mentioned above, enlisting the help of local mom, or dad, bloggers would be a big advantage to acquiring both the ethos and pathos of your local audience. That said, enlisting the help of experienced vendors ensures content, and quality content at that. Here are two vendors that we know that can help you develop the perfect family oriented piece, be it online or in print:

• Family Features: A provider of free editorial content, Family Features offers media outlets articles that span a variety of themes. They work with nationally recognized sponsors to develop materials for your use; or, content can be customized to your needs. As they say, this eye-catching content drives readership and advertising in both print and online.

• KidsLinked: This is an online resource that offers family management tools and local information for parents. A partnership with KidsLinked could help you retain the parental audience, while adding new revenue at the same time. KidsLinked will provide you with a branded interactive website that offers such features as, an interactive family calendar, teacher/coach pages, wish lists, local activities, family friendly business directory and mobile apps. For parents, you will be seen as a link between children and fun. As KidsLinked’s Chief Executive Officer Greg Yoakam says, this service will keep parents coming back; while they may be returning to check the time for Jimmy’s birthday party, that’s not the only content they’ll be seeing. “They have a reason to come back, and then they’re getting exposed to the newspaper’s content,” Yoakim said. “We’re able to retain the community as well as contain it and make sure the newspaper gets its message out. We’re within their website, so we really support their brand.”