Marketing to Busy Parents: Best-Kept Secrets

Meet the writer: Karen Pieper

Hi, I'm Karen! I've been in the industry for 18 years and can't wait to share my perspective on all things direct mail. I'm currently the Digital Marketing Manager at Letter Jacket Envelopes and deal with tasks from managing the website, facilitating conversations with customers, and much more!

We’re kicking off a best-kept secrets series, and starting it with a target audience that might be on your radar: busy parents. From lunch menus to doctors appointments to work meetings, parents are bombarded with official information they have to remember all the time. If you’re marketing to busy parents, chances are, what you’re sending their way is optional knowledge. How do you make your message appealing and memorable among all the other verbiage coming their way on screen and in print? Here are our two cents on standing out and being seen when marketing to busy parents.

Marketing to Busy Parents


Keep it reaaaaaally simple

Parents, like other customers, know the fine art of scanning. Except in the case of busy parents, they’re often thinking about urgent needs and thinking kid-forward: “Does this matter, really matter, right now, to my kid?” They’re not as likely to be thinking, “Am I interested in this intriguing new purchasing opportunity?” unless it’s already on their list of needs or they’re in vacation mode. Take your basic scanning principle, and move it up to triage level.

As you make your marketing materials easy to scan for significance, put yourself in a busy parent’s shoes (if your own shoes aren’t already just those shoes). “What’s the point?” and “Does it matter to me?” are your guiding questions. You’re not winding up to tell a story. You’re thinking very practically: here’s this offer, here’s this coupon, here’s the youth group schedule. In other words, here’s how to get what you need for your family.

We’re not implying you go all utilitarian, necessarily. An intriguing image or catchphrase is great; it just needs to be clear exactly what you’re offering, and how this relates to an immediate need or desire. In other words, make sure you draw an obvious link between your lead and your product or service. A jewelry or car ad can provoke a sense of mystique. An offer for summer SAT tutoring shouldn’t.  


Keep it quick!

Between juggling work and the family’s schedule, busy parents don’t have time to play around—unless it’s with crayons or playing catch. So honor their time by not wasting it.

Some ways to make print marketing, social media, and direct mail more scannable include:

  • Using bold, italics, color, or empty space around words to emphasize the main points. Like we just did here. See that?
  • Illustrating the message or offer with a clear, simple, colorful image. If a picture is worth a thousand words, the right image will increase your ROI by increasing reader relevance. This means not everyone will find it relevant, but your goal is to get the right audience to listen up. A picture of a middle-schooler studying can indicate relevance (or not!) to your target audience immediately, without the need to read a single word.
  • Indicating clearly that you have their children’s age group in mind. Appeal to the kind of household that has children of a particular age group, if that’s where you’re targeting. In a way, you need to pretend you’re marketing to that group of kids. Marketers targeting infant households will often use soft colors and go for an overall soothing feel. It expresses “We understand infancy.” Marketers to parents of teenage boys will probably not take the same tack!
  • Making it shareable and refrigerate-able. Prepare for your materials or message to be saved or passed on quickly. Are you making that easy to do? A short but sweet tweet about a sale, a punch-out coupon, a Facebook insight about organic baby clothes, or a simple tutoring calendar are all perfect for the fridge, the side table, or the “share” button.

Make it relatable

Take some time to study and consider the lifestyle and daily schedule of your target groups. Are you appealing to someone who’s in the house all day, or checking Facebook at 3 a.m.? Are you appealing to groups that can afford the extra expense, or not? Are you speaking to homemakers, double income households, households of a certain culture? Are these first-time parents, eager for all kinds of new information, or are you working with parenting veterans who have a pretty good idea at this point about what works for them?

From there, you’ve got to make it relatable. If your main message is, We’ve got what you need, then you need to indicate We know where you’re coming from!

Think about the old trope of a dad with kids running amok around him (very popular in 1980’s marketing for some reason!). While that image of fatherhood is not exactly accurate (shout out to awesome dads), it does say loud and clear, “Hey, parenting is hard—we feel you!” It’s funny, and it catches attention. However you decide to be relatable, hook into a real experience or feeling that your target audience regularly has, whatever your tone.

This is where authenticity can shine. Relatability is where marketing intersects with empathy. There are tactics and tricks for connecting with folks, but it’s all about understanding and empathizing with your audience. This is usually easy to find because it typically comes from your origin story. Your organization or business most likely started in order to meet a real need.

One more final note here: lots of marketing to parents will leverage anxiety. Don’t do that… too much. Worry can lead to a smart purchase. Then again, it can just lead to more worry. You don’t need to stir up negative emotions in order for your product or service to get the attention it needs. Whenever possible, keep it positive and help make your prospects’ lives just a little more peaceful.

We hope these tips are helpful!

Now for envelopes! When it comes to marketing to busy parents, attention-grabbing packaging that gets to the point is just as important as the messaging inside. For a parent to open your envelope and take action, it needs to speak volumes to your target audience. Letter Jacket Envelopescustom-printed envelopes come in all different sizes, and we can even give you a nudge or two in the right direction. Send us your great direct mail idea today!

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