I was recently honored to attend the 2009 WNBA Inspiring Women Luncheon on behalf of the M2Moms team Presented by Meredith Corporation and OfficeMax, this year’s honoree was political commentator for ABC News, senior news analyst for NPR News and bestselling author Cokie Roberts, who—by her own admission—“is the least athletic person she knows.”  Said WNBA president Donna Orender, “This award celebrates inspirational and motivational women who are role models and ignite the dreams and aspirations of women, men and young people. Every aspect of Cokie’s life – from being an Emmy-award winning journalist to best-selling author to being a proud mother and grandmother – has impacted the lives of millions. The WNBA is proud to recognize her for all her accomplishments.”

It was an amazing afternoon of inspiration, one of those rare events where you really don’t want it to end.  Story upon story took you beyond what was being done on the basketball courts and gave you insight into the individuals that were playing the game.  I sat there as a marketer, a writer, a woman—but also as a mom.  This organization was a tribute to all that is right with marketing to moms—and watching their story unfold gave me some key insights into how other brands could do the same.

Talk About the Moms Behind Your Brand

In addition to being amazing athletes, many of the WNBA players are also moms—a fact that has not gone unnoticed.   As recently as last March, ESPN magazine had a very pregnant WNBA star Candice Parker on its cover and last May, the brand had a special Mother’s Day feature on its site where players shared their favorite Mother’s Day memories and gifts.  Moms like to feel connected to other moms and when you show the “real moms” (or the real “mom” relationships) behind your brand, it creates a strong bond that can last a lifetime.

Don’t Forget the Children

Yes, it is always good to remember the woman inside the mom, but sometimes brands go too far in that direction and seem to forget about the kids.  All moms—regardless of income, ethnicity, culture, etc.—want what is best for their children and brands need to help them meet this need.  The WNBA experience gives moms the opportunity to spend quality time with their children in an environment that is not only fun and inviting, but is cost-effective.  In addition, the WNBA is filled with great role models who not only excel on the court, but in their local communities as well—which really hits home through their WNBA Cares program.

Show Some Diversity

We realize not all moms are created equal and nothing shows the diversity of the mom group better than the WNBA.  In addition to having players representing various ethnicities and cultures, players also represent moms of different sizes and abilities.  And watching them all come together and succeed as a team is an important life lesson for all.  Allowing mom consumers to see some diversity in your brand gives them the opportunity to truly connect with you on a more personal level.

Engage Her

Tapping into the social networks of moms is an important part of any marketing-to-mom strategy.  Recently the WNBA partnered with One2One Network to engage moms in a new and exciting way by offering readers of top mommy blogs the opportunity to experience a WNBA game at a great discount.  It’s a smart move—they are taking their messaging where the moms are and have made it relevant to their audience by providing moms a fun, cost-effective way to spend time with their family (see “Don’t Forget About the Kids” above).  This appears to be just the tip of the iceberg as the brand continues to expand its social media ventures.

After attending this luncheon it really isn’t surprising to see why the WNBA has been so successful.  The love of the game and the passion to make a difference in the world came through loud and clear—earning them at least one more fan (and her family) in the stands.