If you want to find a baby, so the saying goes, you`ve got to find her yourself. And the way to do that is by rolling up your sleeves and getting the word out to everyone and anyone you know. Only then will you connect with your child — or your child`s prospective birthparents.
Mary and Andy know all about marketing. The Renton, Washington couple from our adoptive family profiles page work in the field. So I thought it might be interesting to find out how they`re using their marketing chops to building their family through open adoption and about what advice they have for others who are going down the same road.
1. What are some of the ways you’re trying to connect with prospective birthparents?
We’ve tried different paths to reach out because you just never know what’s going to work. We’ve tried print ads in newspapers (mostly free publications), networking with friends and family, websites that carry your profile, our own personal online blog and most recently, Facebook, Twitter, Imgur and Reddit. Our most recent efforts have been around getting our profile out there via Facebook. We are learning the power of social networking by getting visibility to friends of friends of friends. Its really amazing.
2. What do you think is the key to success?
Keep at it. You can’t be successful if you stop trying.
3. How have you translated that in your own networking efforts?
We keep trying new paths for networking. If one doesn’t work, we keep it going — consistency is important, but we’re always looking for other avenues.
4. Mary, you`ve been doing a lot of research into this. How has your marketing background helped you in getting the word out to prospective birthparents?
Two ways. I think my exposure in the marketing field has given me insight into how to speak to your “target market.” What I mean by that is making sure your profile really reflects who you are and how you plan to raise this child. I think women who are looking to create an adoption plan care about who you are, your values and want to understand how you will be raising their child. They want to ensure if fits with what they want for their child.
The other thing I learned was how companies were spending more of their media budgets on digital, or online advertising. We weren’t having much luck with our print ads, so we thought about shifting some of our budget to digital. The next step was how? We certainly don’t have the budgets these large companies have to spend. I started asking co-workers who were specialists in that field and they felt we should focus on creating profiles with paid adoption websites that can help us get visibility to our profile. Most of these paid websites do targeted ads on other sites where pregnant woman might be looking in search of information about adoption. They also suggested signing up for extreme exposure options, if offered, since it would allow us to get more hits to our profile, but under a controlled budget.
5. I know you’ve been trying out Adwords. What kind of experience have you had so far?
Andy and I wanted to see how creative we could get with our own online advertising so we checked into Google Adwords as an option. I’ll admit, this was so overwhelming at first. I knew you could take out ads with Google and you could narrow your ads to display to certain audiences, but when we found out the cost-per-click on words that included “adoption” we knew it would be risky and we could potentially end up with a bill for thousands of dollars. We kept digging and found out there are options where you can set up daily or weekly budgets. Right now we are just focused on “optimizing” our personal blog with common adoption search words that Google reports on having high search volumes.
6. What are some of the benefits of using Adwords for couples and singletons hoping to reach out to prospective birthparents?
Let’s say a pregnant woman is researching adoption as an option. She may search for information by typing certain keywords into the search line. By placing these same keywords into your site or blog, it will return “higher” on the Google search results list eventually. This is free folks!
7. What do you think is the biggest mistake new hopeful adoptive parents make when they’re just starting out in pay-per-click advertising?
Make sure you know how to set a daily or weekly budget. Make sure you narrow your targets to whom these ads are displayed. This is a tricky one. Don’t narrow your target too much. Both men and women can play a part in an adoption decision. Ages can range from teens to early 30’s.
8. What are the three things that hopeful adoptive parents need to know when creating an Adwords campaign?
1. Try to create an ad that has a picture of you with your contact information embedded in the picture.
2. Make sure you set a daily or weekly budget.
3. Assuming the ad will link to our blog or website, try to journal. If your site has been up for six months. Try to communicate what you’ve been doing since. It feels more personal.
9. What other networking tools are you looking at?
Facebook. We created a Cause page with information about us, links to our website and contact information. We like this because 1. it can be completely free; 2. we can get ongoing visibility to our adoption journey with our network of friends and their friends, simply by making regular status updates or comments on other people’s websites; 3. Facebook has an option for targeted paid ads that allow daily and weekly budget limits.
We’re also using Reddit, Pinterest, Twitter and Imgur but it has been limited so far. Since we’re not super active on these sites yet, we make sure our profile picture has a picture of us and contact information embedded.
10. How do you measure success?
We measure success a couple of different ways.
1. Unique hits to our personal site. The more people that know about us and our efforts to become parents through adoption will only help us in the long run. I keep saying “someone will know someone who knows someone…that’s just how it happens.”
2. We measure success on social networking sites by interaction. We can have several Likes to our Facebook page, but we’re only visible to those people for that one time. For ongoing networking, awareness and “reach” we need those Likes to interact with us. Here’s how: When someone Likes our page, we not only want them to see our future posts, but we want them to Like those posts as well. The more times they Like something we post, the more often it will show up on their Facebook page and their friend or friends of friends will see it. Be careful here though. People might get tired of hearing about your adoption journey if you post every day, several times a day. Heck, we’d get tired of us too!
The key here is posting something the reader will be compelled enough to Like. You can only say so many times that we’re trying to adopt on a status update. We are still learning, but a good way to get continued interaction is to (1) post frequently, but not TOO frequent. Once a week feels about right; (2) Make your posts short and sweet – and consider a cute cartoon or picture, relevant to kids or adoption; (3) make sure you post on days that are most active for the social site you’re on. Example, if Monday is a high use day, post on that day so more people will see you.
11. What do you tell yourselves when one of your adoption outreach plans doesn’t get the results you were hoping for?
We struggle with this one. Waiting is so hard. Since there’s only so much budget to spend on outreach, we try to focus on keeping the consistency going with the lowest cost and most outreach. Again, we’re learning how social networking sites give you the most bang for your buck and you have some control over how and what you say to keep people interested.
12. What are the most important things you’ve learned about yourselves since you started the open adoption process?
1. Keep it real. We are who we are and that’s either going to appeal to someone or its not. We learned while writing our profile its simply not going to be “all things to all people.” We know that our profile will appeal to someone, someday, and there may be no explaining why we spoke to them. It will just happen.
2. Be patient. We work on this one every day. Waiting is hard. But the best things in life are work waiting for, right?
3. Keep living your life. Have you been putting off planning that trip? Book it now. What’s the worst thing that could happen? You get matched with a potential birthparent and have to postpone or cancel? The benefit seem worth the cost of a couple plane tickets to me.
4. Don’t take it personally when you have to keep waiting. You’ll be matched with the right family at the right time.
5. Journal. Journal. Journal. Followers like friends and family genuinely want to know how your journey is going. We suggest doing this on your blog. In addition, a prospective birth parent might also be reading your blog and while not ready to reach out, would probably love to learn more about you since you posted your page months ago. Make it upbeat and make it real.