#116 Fourteen million monthly page views – Mamamia’s Mia Freedman explains exactly how she does it.

#116 Fourteen million monthly page views – Mamamia’s Mia Freedman explains exactly how she does it.

Let’s cut to the chase. Check out Mia Freedman’s bio:

Mia Freedman is the editor and publisher of Australia’s fastest growing women’s website Mamamia.com.au. Having built her career around creating communities of women in magazines (as Editor of Cosmo and then Editor in Chief of Cosmo, Cleo & Dolly), Mia began Mamamia in her lounge room in 2007 and today it employs 30 people and has Mamamia has 500,000 readers and more than 14 million page views per month. It is also a national daily radio show on the Today network, Mamamia Today. Mia continues to write a newspaper column that appears in News Limited Sunday newspapers, she appears each week on The Today Show and is the author of three books, The New Black, Mamamia: A Memoir Of Mistakes, Magazines & Motherhood and Mia Culpa: Confessions From The Watercooler of Life.

So, for damn good reason, I was wrapt when Mia agreed to come on my show. And I must say SBBM’ers, she did not disappoint. In fact, she takes us right inside the Mamamia phenomenon and shares how she’s gone from blogging alone in her lounge room in 2007 to running a multi-million dollar blogging empire today; one in which even the Prime Minister makes the odd visit!

Listen to this interview if you want to:

  • Be inspired.
  • Become a content marketer.
  • Sell to women.
  • Love a success story.
  • Learn about the marketing concept of an emotional entry point (this is gold).
  • Love Mia Freedman.
  • Discover how to build a profitable community of raving fans.

Grab a cuppa, pen and paper at the ready and hit play. You wont be disappointed.

Be sure to leave a comment below and tell me what you thought.

Episode Transcription

Tim: Now let me read you Mia Freedman’s bio because it is astounding and I am excited to have Mia on the show. Mia is the editor and publisher of Australia’s fastest growing women’s website, right? Mamamia.com.au but prior to that she was the Editor of Cosmopolitan, Editor in Chief of Cosmopolitan, Cleo and Dolly and she started Mamamia from a lounge room in 2007 and she is going to explain exactly how she did it and how she’s growing it to this huge empire it is today. She employs, well in her current bio that I’m reading it says that she’s employing 20 people and has 500,000 readers and twelve million page views per month. Those numbers have increased significantly and Mia is going to share the updated numbers with you. They are astounding. The number of page views per month that she will share with you in mind boggling. Give me 10 percent of them! She’s also got a national radio show off the back of Mamamia. She’s a newspaper columnist. She also presents on The Today’s Show and she’s written 3 books! Mia is a marketing machine and I got to tell you guys, Mia shares some marketing goal. There is one particular insight Mia shares in this interview called the emotional entry point and I got to tell you I love it. It’s one of the best marketing insights I’ve heard in recent times and she gives a great example of how she use that in order to create great messaging and you know how big I am on getting your message right before you worry where to put it. Guys, seriously, grab a cupper, grab the nearest comfy chair or of you’re jogging or walking or whatever you do keep doing that for the next half hour or 40 minutes or so. Pen and paper at the ready or ever note open, capture these ideas because they are dripping from the small business big marketing HQ’s ceiling in this interview. Here’s Mia – Mia welcome to small business big marketing.

Mia: Thanks for having me.

Tim: Absolute joy for having you at small business big marketing headquarters. Now in the spirit of honesty and transparency on this show, I got an email from your production manager early today saying can we push the interview back an hour? Because Mia “has an unexpected lunchtime meeting” Now Mia, lunchtime meeting or busy 1984 style lunch?

Mia: Oh my God, I didn’t even have a busy 1984 style lunch in 1984 because I was still at high school but no, I will be completely honest in saying I was grabbing a sandwich across the road with my brother which I haven’t seeing for quite some time.

Tim: Good on you! Family first, I say.

Mia: Family first. I wanted to catch up with him before our family Christmas thing.

Tim: Oh, wow okay well I think we should go there. Plotting and planning, is there some kind of lines in the sand being drawn and you’re getting some what to say and what not to say in place?

Mia: No I think that sometimes when it comes to your parents and your family dynamics, only a sibling can understand.

Tim: Oh yeah, coming from a family of six, I hear you.

Mia: Yes sure!

Tim: I hear you; I still don’t know whether we’re going to see each other on Christmas day anyway.

Mia: Family bunkers, there’s no person in the world that can quite understand how bunkers your family is and that’s your sibling I think.

Tim: Correct and that’s very important. Now Mia, this show, this small business big marketing show downloaded in 94 countries including Kazakhstan so there’s a few people listening…

Mia: Kazakhstan?

Tim: Yeah, correct, like what are they doing listening anyway in the first place, good on them.

Mia: I’m kind of used to and I know a little bit about Kazakhstan because when I was editing Cosmo, Cosmo was in something like 64 countries and in countries like Kazakhstan, there is a Kazakhstan Cosmo and every couple of years we all get together with all the editors from all the different countries would meet.

Tim: Tell me you’ve been there

Mia: It was a really interesting exercise in how you can take one brand and make it applicable in everyone from Muslim countries to America.

Tim: Have you been to Kazakhstan?

Mia: Never

Tim: Oh wow. I’ve interviewed Bryan Singer from Rip Curl and he’s got a store there.

Mia: Wow!

Tim: Yeah! Hello, what’s that about? Not even a wave, there’s not a wave in Kazakhstan as far as we know but the reason that I say that is because not everyone that’s listening will know of or understand this phenomenon called Mamamia. Can you explain it?

Mia: Someone will probably wonder why we’re talking about an Abba song. Basically when I’ve been involved in media my whole adult working life, I started in women’s magazine when I was 19 and work in women’s mag for 15 years and then briefly had a disastrous flirtation with TV and then really found myself moving as a content creator, which is what I consider myself and as a consumer, I found myself being increasingly drawn to online because that’s just seem to be where it’s happening. I was able to react quickly. I like the fact that it was very authentic. It wasn’t sort of glossy and packaged and Photoshop and I suppose as I risen up through the ranks in magazine and media over my 15 years in working for a big company, I’ve gotten further and further away from what I love to do which is communicate with an audience and create a community. I started in 2007, I started just a blog. The domain name Mamamia.com.au is available. It was never going to be a mommy blog or Mamamia didn’t refer to fact that it was going to be a parenting site. It was more of an in joke in an Abba song and I didn’t even know particularly what it was about. I knew I didn’t want to write a mommy blog, I knew that I didn’t just want to write a blog about myself, I didn’t want it to be a fashion blog because I was interested in so many different things. What it just became was whatever I was interested in that day and it went on to there from now thing, going to a personal sort of blog to a women’s website. We now have about 800,000 readers a month and we have something like 14 or 15 million page views a month and we also have a sister website called ivillage.com.au which is slightly different to Mamamia, more parenting focused. Together, they rate about 1.2 million women in Australia every month.

Tim: That’s insane. First of all, well done!

Mia: Thank you!

Tim: I guess coming from a magazine environment, even magazine is a single minded like I’ve come from an advertising background and kind of got drummed into me from an early age about single minded communication, so when I go to something like Mamamia.com.au and look at it, I go “wow there is so much there” and I guess the single mindedness of your site is that it’s targeting in women and everything women are interested in, yeah?

Mia: Exactly and it was for a long time because first it was just me and my husband would say “what’s your elevator pitch? What’s Mamamia about? What’s the tagline?” and as a way it sort of challenged me and I couldn’t answer him and for a long time I mistakenly and he mistakenly assumed that that’s its weakness, that you couldn’t say what it was about in 140 characters but I kind of realized and explained to him and understand myself that it was actually it’s strength because the way women talk is they talk about everything. They go talking about gun control to a celebrity who’s got divorced to talking about their pelvic floor after they have a baby, talking about feminism to talking about climate change and that would probably be in the first 5 minutes and it doesn’t matter whether they know each other or not and that’s very, very different to the way men communicate. It also was at that time and is still very different to the majority of websites out there that are directed at women because you have parenting sites, you have fashion sites, you have news sites which the news sites tend to be very male dominated and absolute fit-fights in terms of the level of commentary but I know as someone who’s a parent and someone who’s interested in fashion and into news, none of those or all of those sites are too specialist for me.

Tim: When you were content creating in the early days because now you got a staff of how many?

Mia: We’ve got a staff of about 25-30.

Tim: Okay, so you got 25-30 people who are creating…

Mia: They’re not all creating content, we have 6 or 7 of us creating content.

Tim: Okay so you got people creating content in specific areas but in the early days, where you the one farming the content? Where you creating it? Where you farming it, like getting it from other sources? Was it just you?

Mia: Yeah it was just me so I was posting 6 times a day and the way we work now and every post was from me so I was creating 100% of the content. Now we’ve got 6 full time journalist and staff, we got a couple that work part time and that accounts to probably 70% of our content, 75% of our content and the rest comes from contributions from everybody, from the prime minister to a mother who’s child have drowned and wants to write about that experience, the opposition leader to a celebrity, to anyone you can imagine who really want to access our platform and our community of engaged women.

Tim: I love it! You have the PM write for Mamamia?

Mia: Yes she’s came in a number of times. She’s written quite a few times for us. She’s came in to the office to live blog with our readers a number of times. Tony Abbot has written for the site quite a few times. He gets threatening to come in but I think he’s a little daunted and constantly we’ve got ministers, we got a post today by Tanya Plibersek calling out Tony Abbot about something. Increasingly, politicians are using Mamamia as a way of creating and not just talking to women but also as a way to listen to women. For example, Cayman blogged about the budget and Cayman answered readers question about the budget and Joe Hockey write a beautiful piece for us about how he really struggles with not being around for his kids as much as he’d like to.

Tim: Wow. Mia I want to talk further about how you actually go about targeting women, I hate that word targeting but creating marketing to women but before we do that, I think the idea of where this came from is interesting. In 2007, you’re the Editor in Chief of Cosmo, Cleo and Dolly magazines and then in some point you go “you know what, I’m going to go and work from my lounge room” you’ve gone from the corner office, mahogany? White tiled corner office to lounge room? Is that what happened?

Mia: Pretty much, I mean I took a bit of detour via channel 9 which is hellish for a whole bunch of reasons but that all came, I was done with magazines, I was looking for my next challenge. I probably should have gone straight from magazines to this but instead I sort of diverted.

Tim: With the channel 9 thing ego?

Mia: My ego?

Tim: Yeah like you go because you could go “I’ve been worded by a TV station, that’s really going to…”

Mia: That’s interesting, for sure there was part of that and also ICP wouldn’t let me out of my contract because I was still signed so they would let me move to channel 9 but I was still contracted to them. They were not keen for me to go. Everyone in senior management at ICP at that time from James Package and Alexander, they were all very supportive of me going to channel 9, they really encouraged me and I thought it could be fun. I’ve always thought TV was kind of interesting, maybe it will be interesting to be on this roller coaster and I know I’d be pushed out of my comfort zone and after 15 years of being in the warm bosom of women’s magazine, I was ready for something a bit different.

Tim: As an observer and consumer of media and the reason I say ego before, when I see radio people get to TV show, never works. Looking at you, your career, clearly you’re the magazine chick and that direct line straight into blogging made so much sense.

Mia: Fundamentally I’m a writer so I’m not that interested in being an executive and walking around and also the job I went to, I have to take responsibility for it. The job I went to didn’t really exists. It was a very amorphous job so I was stepping into a role that didn’t really exist and there were a lot of people who didn’t really want me there and fair enough because I have no TV experience. They say that you really have to have a bad relationship before you recognize the right one and I had to have this really bad job experience and career experience before I was forced to find the thing that was right for me. It wasn’t the trimmings and the lack of personal assistance and not being invited to things anymore because none of that I was interested in anyway. I always got my eye on coffee and sent my own email, that wasn’t a problem. It was more about what’s my identity because at first Mamamia wasn’t anything and I always worked for a big media company and I enjoyed that and I enjoyed working in a team and I didn’t know what I was doing and I was working all by myself and I was working at home alone so it was very isolating, I was very unsure of what I was doing. I like being good at things so having to start all over again and feeling that everything I’ve worked for in my career for 15 years had sort of gone up in smoke which is what it felt at that time. That was really tough.

Tim: You’re in the lounge room, it’s 2007, you got the creaky desk on, you’ve made this big career change. Tell us about, there must have been a moment where you had a meltdown and you’ve gone “what have I done?”

Mia: There were many but it wasn’t my choice. What I did next is I fell accidentally pregnant and had that not happen I think that I was finding it so tough, I would have probably just desperately jumped back on the media merry go around and gone back to being some senior executives just so I didn’t have to push through with this discomfort and reinvent myself but as it was I got pregnant so I had to push through and then ultimately ended up being a great thing. When I left ICP I had 75 staff and about 75 requested areas with magazine and I remember one point sitting at home pregnant and I done some and it was when I was starting to get commercial office for the website and I was giving away movie tickets or something like that and there’d been 10 readers who won movie tickets and I was sitting there with my at that time 3 year old daughter and she was helping me put stamps on envelope so I could post out the winning ticket to 10 readers. It was ultimately fantastic to get my hands completely dirty, building a small business as anyone knows. You just have to do everything yourself.

Tim: Yes, tell me then, at some point something must have something – the classic Malcolm Gladwell tipping point, what happened where you’ve gone “hang on, we’re on to something here”

Mia: Traffic had started to grow, about a year or two down the tracks, traffic had started to organically grow. I dip my toe into the world of social media, so Twitter and Facebook, I was starting to understand how to pull those social media leaders to drive traffic back to the site and to increase engagements. Comments were going really well. I was starting to get some approaches to people who wanted to advertise on the site but it was still a personal blog. I was still providing 100% of the content myself and I just didn’t have the time to explore anything. I was making no money; I was making like $5 a year on Google Ads or something like that. My husband, who at that time was looking for his next – he sold the business that he was in around the time that I left and started Mamamia. He spent a year or so doing a hard course and now he’s just looking around for investments and he one day just sort of twig to the fact that he’s looking at these other companies to invest in and maybe there was a business opportunity in his lounge room.

Tim: Oh wow!

Mia: He went well what if we give this a year and I try to monetize this business and if it doesn’t work after a year, maybe it’s time you move on to something else because I was working 16 hours a day, working my guts out for absolutely no tangible benefits. He came on and that was the tipping point for the business. I understand that when you’re running a small business you’re so consumed on the day to day and on the treadmill that you don’t have the time or the head space to be strategic or to work out how to get the business to the next level. That’s not my forte anyway; I’m a content provider, that’s what I love. I love content. The fastest way to get my eyes to close over is to say the word strategy.

Tim: Yeah I hear you

Mia: I just want to cry but he had those skills. He immediately took over the business side and the technical side and really spearheaded this transition from my personal blog to a women’s website that was edited and published by me and we’ve never looked back.

Tim: Where’d the money go? Into website development or bringing staff in to create content on top of what you’re creating? Where did the money that first 12 months of dough go?

Mia: He didn’t invest anything but his time. He didn’t put in any money, he just – ah we put in a little bit of money to rebuild the site, that’s not true, we did put in a little bit of money to rebuild the site but it was really just saying it was 2 people working on this full time and that meant that we could move forward and lay some grounds. He needs to monetize the site, we had to restructure it technically and we had to reposition it. He identified that when you have a personal blog you don’t have an asset that can never be sold.

Tim: So much, I need a hubby like yours. I’ve been doing this show for 3 years, it’s all mine like I am in my lounge room, not right now but you know I have done it in my lounge room. I do love creating content and I think so many of us are being held back by the fact that we’re not adding people to the team, whether it be our hubby’s or our wives or whoever it might be to do the stuff that we’re not good at.

Mia: It’s interesting I’ve always been very, very clear about what I’m not good and also just what I’m not interested in. I’m very clear and I tend to not be good at with stuff I’m not interested in. Having him spearhead that and we had to had some pretty tough conversations because it was things like “babe you’re the single point – you know business can have a single point of failure and you are the single point of failure of Mamamia” and I’m like yeah I can get that but when you’re that close to it and you’re that absorbed in the man you tie, it’s really, really hard to make those calls yourself.

Tim: Does your hubby call you babe in business meetings?

Mia: Through every new state of business.

Tim: Does your hubby call you babe in business meetings?

Mia: Yeah

Tim: I love that!

Mia: It was really funny; we went to a meeting with some people who were doing some consulting work for us and it was like a briefing meeting on the site and we sort of got to the end and they said “how did you two come to be working together?” and he said “we’re marrie”

Tim: I started sleeping with her

Mia: either our chemistry is really bad or we’re really professional.

Tim: That’s right, clearly. All those people that you met with just have no intuition at all.

Mia: Occasionally in a meeting I reach over to give his hand a little squeeze or something. I did that the other day and half the staff nearly vomited.

Tim: It must be testing, there must be times where that you got to have a strong relationship to also have a business relationship I’m sure.

Mia: Yeah you do and you got to have very, very clear boundaries about I know what he’s good at and where I completely relinquish control to him and vice versa. I think if we had the same skill set or we’re trying to do the same thing then we might clash. We do still occasionally clash but surprisingly infrequently like literally we come to work separately, we work in different ends of the office. We often wont even see each other during the day and we go home separately and then often he’ll come home and I’m like “how’s your day?” It does put pressure on your relationship but at the same time there’s a lot of pressure on running a small business anyway and I’ve got friends who have two small businesses running on the same family; she’s working on one and he’s working on another and that’s far tougher because then the businesses are competing with each other.

Tim: Hey Mia, when did those start coming in the doors then? You talked about $5 in Ad Words a year, that’s not going to get you reach. When did you realize that you figured out the way to monetize this bad boy?

Mia: That’s funny, I think probably within, again with the things that I don’t care about I just literally shut out. It’s the only way I can get through everything that I have to get through every day so I don’t have a good handle in figures or numbers because I’m just not interested but I figured – obviously everything that came in we reinvested into the business. We became profitable within 6 months of him starting. He turned it around.

Tim: What did he do? Did he go out and seeks sponsors? Did he up the Google AdWords presence? What did he do?

Mia: The first thing he did, at first he was quite daunted by not knowing a huge amount. He never worked in a media before. Obviously he’d done a bit of B to B, he’d been in a liquor industry before and he established a really good B to B website for his business but he was really daunted at first and it was really soon that he realised that because this in online, digital is an area that’s moving so fast, you just got to get on the train at whatever stop you’re on because everybody is learning. You just jump on whenever you jump on and everyone is learning as they go and so he picked up an enormous amount of knowledge in a really, really fast time and that left me to just refine and keep working on the content because I instinctively know how to create communities of women and I instinctively know how to engage women because I know how women like to communicate. The first thing he did was to restructure the site so it wasn’t just a blog; it was more of a website. The second thing he did was appoint an ad network, seller ad space which is something we did externally because we just weren’t set up to do it ourselves. We had to get our traffic to a certain point to be able to do that because the ad networks that sell on behalf of smaller websites, you have to have a baseline level of traffic to make it worth it but that was a good way for us to start. Obviously that was going to be intended because you want to be in control of your revenue and you don’t want to be sharing it so ultimately he knew that we need to get our traffic to a point and our revenue to a point where we could start building our own sales team which is something we started doing about a year or two ago. We just sort of gone from there and the other big turning point in our business was about 18 months ago, he became aware that our traffic was good and it was growing really well but if you look at the list of top ten women’s website in Australia, there were only 2 that were independent; not owned by fear facts or news limited or anonymous end or Yahoo and that was Mamamia and an American website called iVillage.com and that’s the biggest women’s lifestyle website in the world. They’re a little bit like The Women’s Weekly meets Cosmo. They’re kind of like the headlocks of like any women’s magazine – food and parenting and cooking and shopping and craft and relationship stories and career stories, all of that kind of stuff. He approached them and said we’d like to, in market, sell your Australian eyeballs which basically means that we would then be in market selling the Australian advertising for their site and then they said “that’s a coincidence that you called because we’re just about to come to Australia. We’ve decided we’re launching iVillage in Australia. We’ve already have iVillage in America and the UK and Canada. Australia is our next market that we want to come in to and we’re looking for a media partner to do it with us so we’ll put you on our list of interviews when we’re there” they came with all the big players – Channel 10, FearFacts news, anonymous end and etc and we were their last meeting and they said to us months later “we walked into that meeting with you guys going clearly we’re not launching in Australia because there was no one here that they’re prepared to do business with” and we just hit it off and they were really impressed with the way that we could demonstrate our level of engagement with the readers through comment numbers, through shares of post and through social media instructions and so we launched iVillage Australia about 6 months ago and what that did is that it meant we were then able to play with the big boys or rather girls. Big agencies, we were booking Toyota’s advertising or Nissan’s advertising or the government advertising. They won’t deal with 10 small independent publishers. They only want to deal with a few big ones and because we represent 1.2 million women in Australia in a month, we can now get on their schedules.

Tim: What a great story! Did you buy into iVillage or what’s the relationship?

Mia: We have a licensing agreement with them. We pay obviously for the license to publish iVillage in Australia and we work very closely with them.

Tim: You’ve spoken a lot about – by the way listeners, I am talking to Mia Freedman who’s the creator of the Mamamia.com.au phenomenon and also iVillage.com.au?

Mia: Yup!

Tim: Now Mia you have spoken about targeting to women and marketing to women and building communities of women and I know there are a lot of listeners who would love some insights into ways of marketing to women because it’s different to blokes.

Mia: Yeah it’s different to blokes. It’s really interesting. It’s something that I’ve had to step out of myself and try to put it to words because a lot of what we do is kind of just instinctive but the most important thing is authenticity and that was the reason that I was really moving away from magazines because I just that they weren’t authentic. I felt that they were – sorry that was just a boat.

Tim: In your office?

Mia: My yacht, no it was a ferry. Magazines and lots of forms of media don’t communicate with women in authentic ways and what Mamamia does is and the best thing when you’re trying to communicate with women is to try to find an emotional entry point into something. I’ll give you an example – there’s an ad at the moment for dishwashing tablet, a new dishwashing tablet, Finnish dishwashing tablet and they’re running an ad with a blogger for kids’ spot which is like a parenting website and its got her in her kitchen, standing in front of the dishwasher going “I’ve been using these Finnish dishwashing tablet and they are just so amazing and my dishes have never so shiny and look at the shine and I just cant believe it and I’m going to tell all my friends about it and they wont even believe how shiny my dishes are”

Tim: Is this an ad from 1953?

Mia: That’s exactly right! Look at it! Finnish approached us a little while ago about this new dishwashing and so we don’t just run display advertising although we do. Something that we do that’s incredibly popular is we offer this social media packages which is about integrating content and engaging – you can’t just flash an ad at a woman and expect her to engage with it. You got to embed it in a conversation and they came to us and they said “we’ve got this new dishwashing thing and it’s got this new ingredient and it’s going to do this one” okay well that’s all very interesting for you but there’s no emotional entry point to having shiny dishes. I don’t know anyone, if any friend of mine tried to tell about how shiny her dishes, I’d call an ambulance.

Tim: That isn’t a friend of mine.

Mia: What we said was “okay let’s talk about dishwashers. What’s the emotional entry point of dishwashers?” we worked out that in every household there is someone who is the dishwashing police. There’s someone who knows the perfect way to stuck a dishwasher

Tim: That’s me; by the way, you’re ringing my bell here

Mia: Immediately when I tell that story, everyone will go “that’s me, that’s my flatmate, that’s me husband” and what it does is it embeds this information about this new dishwashing thing in conversations about who’s the dishwashing police in your house and suddenly you have all these comments when people are engaged rather than just passively watching someone talk about their shiny dishes and some new ingredient. Who cares about a new ingredient in a dishwashing tablet? It’s how is this relevant to my life and how is this authentic. That’s what I love about online. It enables you to talk directly and authentically to women about anything.

Tim: I love the concept by the way Mia, emotional entry point so what’s the process at Mamamia HQ to find emotional entry points for brands? Do you sit around and talk about the product and then see where that conversation goes and in the conversation in the case of Finnish dishwashing liquid went to, the fact that stacking the dishwasher is that’s where it’s at, is this what you do?

Mia: Exactly. People also really like hearing real life stories. We had life insurance come talk to us and we were talking to life insurance company about “what do most people do when they hear about life insurance and those ads for wheels and funerals” the first thing you do is block your ears or change channel because it’s like “la la la la la” when you think about that, it’s too scary. We sort of started to talk about what are the issues around that? Income protection, what happens if someone in your life suddenly wasn’t there, what would happen? We then find someone who that’s happened to and we let them tell their story. We encourage people, people love talking about themselves more than anything. You really try to just talk. A client might come to us with a dishwashing tablet or life insurance or a new drink that they launch, whatever happens today and we will sort of once we understand what they want to achieve, we will then come up with options for social media packages which we then write in an editorial style but always disclosed and we then send that to our social media army which is over 120,000. That’s the other thing, you can expect, I see so many people think that social media is about “we’ll start a blog on our furniture store website” and it’s like “no one is going to come. It’s not a case of build it and they will come with online. You have to go to where the people are and that’s really the key.” I encourage people to see social media as like imagine if you have a small business, just imagine you’ve got a farm and you’re selling tomatoes and outside when you go for those drives in country rides and there will be a little stall outside someone’s farm and it will say “bag of tomatoes, leave $5 in this box” and the people that come to your house, your friends and relatives, they might but some tomatoes from you. You’ll get the occasional person that’s lost and driving past your farm and they might buy some tomatoes but if you’re not also selling your tomatoes and telling people about your farm down at the local market where everybody else is selling their wares and everyone in the community is going to buy their coffee and have their chat, then you don’t have a hope. You can’t rely on people just wondering past. If you look at that in terms of your website is that little stall outside your farm and social media is the grower’s market where you want to be luring people back to your farm to buy more of your product.

Tim: Fish where the fish are.

Mia: Exactly

Tim: Just to finish off that finish dishwashing liquid one, what you identified was the dishwasher stacking Nazi within the household. What did you do then? Did you go into Facebook and started discussion around that? Is that you? Who’s the dishwasher stacking Nazi in your house?

Mia: We wrote about that, we wrote about it along with talking about – we used two hooks actually because the first hook was around the time Master Chef when Master Chef was really big and we’re saying “it’s awesome in Master Chef but who does the washing up? Who stacks the dishwasher?” because can you imagine the dishwasher stacking after Master Chef? Four and half thousands samples to give away, not entire boxes but literally four and a half thousand individual dishwashing tablets and we were sort of full of provato and said to them “that’s fine we will give those away” thinking oh my God we were going to have boxes of them in the garage and in actual fact they were gone within 24 hours. There were dozens of comments; people were sharing things on their Facebook page and retweeting it.

Tim: What do they have to do? Do they have to retweet or like or leave a comment in order for them to receive a sample?

Mia: We were advanced at all. All they have to do is sign up and put in their details but people even if they didn’t get a free sample they wanted to engage in that post and to the dishwashers and it sounds hilarious but everyone wants to share the story of the dishwashing Nazi in their house and then there were threads that were going on about “this is the correct way to stack the dishes” there were facing up, facing down, what do we think about trays on top of dishwasher. It was really interesting and you should never underestimate the things that people are interested in talking about.

Tim: Absolutely not and coming from a magazine background like you have, I mean you’d known that. Some of the most superficial kind of conversations are the ones that get the most traction. The articles that talk about nothing in particular fill out days.

Mia: you wouldn’t know and advertisers wouldn’t know because it’s not a two way conversation, it’s just a monologue and that’s what traditional advertising is and that’s what old media is, it’s just monologue. It’s someone standing on the stage with a megaphone telling you stuff but what women not just expect but demand is a conversation. When we write a post, whether it’s a sponsor post for a product or something from the Prime Minister, that’s just the starting point – it’s not the end, finish or stop – it’s like what do you think? Women love to talk. They love to exchange information; they love to say what they think about things. Often it’s how they work out what they think about things by reading what other people think.

Tim: I met a man; he is the professor of marketing at a university Mia and he has identified a study that proves that women have 7,000 words to use everyday and men have 4,000.

Mia: I would have thought that numbers would be even further apart actually.

Tim: I agree, in fact I would have thought that women’s number would be higher and the men’s number would be lower because I don’t know whether a grunt is considered a word these days. Anyway, that’s interesting in itself.

Mia: Now I understand why women need so much information because you talk too much so you choose to.

Tim: Correct, correct. Mia, this is gold. I know you’re busy; I’ve got a couple of questions left but thank you so much for sharing what so far has been – there’s marketing gold dripping from the ceiling of small business big marketing HQ let me tell you. We talked about targeting women; I love that emotional entry point. Building community, I think it’s all part of it; is Mamamia always going to be just a written word or are you looking to – is content creation going into podcast, is there video, what else?

Mia: We were approached about a year and half ago by Sky News with the view of turning it into a weekly TV show which we did for about six months. I don’t want to set the world of fire but more to the point I didn’t really enjoy it. I didn’t feel that it was a natural extension of what we did because we had sort of people sitting around talking about things but again it was a little bit one way traffic and about six or nine months ago we got approached by Australia radio to do Mamamia as a radio show. They were looking for a new afternoon radio show targeted at women and that has been such an example of a perfect synergy. Radio has so much in common with what we do because it has no barrier between you and the audience. There’s a talk back which is the same as comments; its opinions so you throw things back and forth and what’s great is that we’ve been able to tackle the diversity of contents. You can have a really light-hearted conversation about Brazilians and men getting into practice and then you can have conversation about gun control or about a particular ad in whether it is racists or whatever it happens to be. I love that it can go that gamut, that light and shade because that’s really how women communicate and women like to feel things. That’s another thing you got to remember when you’re communicating with women. Women like to feel things.

Tim: What do you mean?

Mia: It’s interesting, when a woman is moved by something, she will say I’m crying or I am in tears. Even if she’s not, she will say that so that you’ll know that you’ve affected her with whatever it is that you said or whatever it is that you’ve written. We have that a lot. If someone writes a really moving post, a lot of the comments will be people just saying “I’m crying right now”

Tim: Right

Mia: And that’s not a bad thing, like I heard you go “what do you mean?”

Tim: What do you mean?!?

Mia: And I’m not saying you necessarily want that if you’re trying to sell a product but in terms of women feeling emotion, that’s positive and they’ll go “this is amazing” and I’ll share something that’s made them cry.

Tim: Yeah okay, often on this show we talk about branding, every visit. You earn a brand, you don’t just buy a brand but you earn a brand if you’re a marketer and it’s all about getting that emotional attachment between you and your audience.

Mia: Absolutely.

Tim: In fact Sam Cavanagh who introduced you and I, he is one of the producers of Austereo. He’s coming up on a future episode of small business big marketing and he’s talking about this concept of taking, turning your listeners into fans or actually not turning them but treating your listeners as fans which once again is all about emotion, isn’t it?

Mia: Yeah

Tim: Mia, tell me Mamamia it’s a phenomenon, what are you most proud of? Everything you’ve done since 2007, what’s that one thing where every now and then you get to look back at it and cross your arms and go “I love that”

Mia: Small business owners will tell you there’s not a lot of back patting to be done when you’re running a small business. In fact that actually almost never happens because you’re always aware of the 8 million things that you haven’t done compared to the 2 or 3 ones that you’re proud of. I suppose if I’m forced to sort of step back and look at it from the outside, having the Prime Minister come here twice in two months was pretty awesome. I got quite over-excited and I invited all of my family to meet her like it was my weeding or something, including my kids’ friends and everyone came in and met the PM. That was pretty awesome and I’m pretty proud of the sort of advocacy and activism work that we do in terms of agitating around against there’s an organization that works actively to not have children immunized. We do a lot of pro-immunization stuff, pro vaccination stuff. What I’m most proud of is giving the platform that enables people who would otherwise never reach the audience that we provide and just letting them tell their stories. That’s not the Prime Minister, that might be someone who’s had a still born baby or someone who’s partner had a chronic illness or someone who recovered from an eating disorder, whatever it happens to be or who’s triumphed over bullies or whatever it happens to be – to just allow them to tell their story…

Tim: How do you allow them? Do they approach you and say “hey I’d like to write a guest post” or how do you allow them?

Mia: Yeah they do know, occasionally we approach someone and say “do you want to write?” but we get hundreds of contributions a week but we can’t use them all of course but we had a family that approached us. This woman had a brother who is a missing person and he’s been missing for a long time, a number of years. They wrote a post about him in the fact that he was missing, we published it on Mamamia and it was shared hundreds and thousands of time over Facebook and it resulted in a confirmed sighting of him somewhere. That was the first sort of bit of hope they’ve had in years. We had someone else who wrote a letter on her sister on what should have been her 26th birthday but she died the year before. Just watching people, because writing can be very cathartic and for women sharing stories and talking can be very cathartic. To write and then to have all the comments and people really either saying “I know what you’ve been through or I’ve been through something similar or you’ve really touched me or thank you so much for helping me to feel that I know that little boy a little bit better that you lost” that to me is what I’m most proud of.

Tim: Well done, well done. I got nothing more to add to that, you got any questions? That’s wonderful, you should be very proud of that. Pat on the back of Mia Freedman.

Mia: That’s great. For us to be able to give people the opportunity, it sounds really perfect doesn’t it?

Tim: It’s awesome. Mia Freedman thanks so much for sharing the marketing love on small business big marketing.

Mia: I can’t wait to get a bit of marketing love back, I’m going to be listening and taking notes.

Tim: We come in through loud and clear, thanks so much Mia, see you!

Mia: Thank you also, see you later, bye!


Links & Resources Mentioned In This Episode.

Netregistry – Check out these three exclusive packages for SBBM Listeners. Each one designed by myself and Netregistry to help get your online marketing sorted.

Mia’s Mamaia website.

Mia’s iVillage website.

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20 thoughts on “#116 Fourteen million monthly page views – Mamamia’s Mia Freedman explains exactly how she does it.”

  1. Christopher Bergeron

    Wow.. Listening to the podcast now and as a guy who’s got a wife starting her own business I’d love to hear a mirror interview with her husband to hear the same story from a different point of view. What a great story.

  2. Nice idea, Christopher. Mia’s away at the moment, but I’ll put the question to her in a couple of week’s time. What specific questions do you have?

  3. Christopher Bergeron

    For her husband I think, how do you find the balance between lighting the fire and not stepping on toes. Clearly he has helped to market and build the infrastructure to let his wife shine. And if he had been too strong he could have done more damage, so that balance. I’m curious. She is clearly the content creator but from hearing her talk he has clearly done quite a bit to help lift her up and aim the spotlight at her.
    (and as an aside we’re a “Finish” house.. their line should be “so easy your husband can do it”)

  4. OK, from now on I’m going to ask myself: What would Mia Freedman do?! I loved that interview; love her insights into marketing to women and her passion for interacting with her audience – so inspired right now!

  5. What a wonderful story. As a young woman, recently having entered the crazy world of Marketing and PR it was great to hear some of Mia’s tips. I can completely relate to her inability to do tasks that don’t interest her! Data analysis is not my friend.

    Luckily, I work in an amazing company that encourages everyone to do the things that they enjoy as they understand that we do those things best. I hope more and more workplaces embrace this philosophy!

  6. Michelle Brown

    Well done Tim! Great interview – Mia is so articulate and passionate and it’s SO refreshing to hear women being treated respectfully and with brains!!

    [And I stack the dishwasher in my household!]

  7. Love it, Jen. I imagine that interview was full of marketing gems for a business like The Wall Sticker Company. Go get ’em, girl!

  8. Arn Betteridge

    Timbo, that was your best show ever, outstanding.

    As the CMO of a business run by women with a 90% female market, I just struggled to get into my headspace where to start.

    Mia was so generous, gracious, knowledgeable and real.

    PS. I think Christopher’s idea of a mirror interview is brilliant, really would love to hear the male side of the story.

  9. Arn, you’re very kind. I agree, that interview was up there with the best of them. Clearly one we should have done long ago.

  10. We Shoot Buildings

    Hey Timbo

    I agree with Arn one of the best mate, I was extremely impressed with Mia and her understanding of communicating with women, it was a great insight, (especially for a nieve man who I think being a self employed one man band speak far far less than my quota of 4000 words per day mind you).

    Great perspective on advertising using conversations I thought that was a massive direction for her to help pioneer a new way for big companies to effectively market themselves. i’ll have to think I can apply this to my own business to communcate with builders.

  11. Hey Timbo

    I agree with Arn one of the best mate, I was extremely impressed with
    Mia and her understanding of communicating with women, it was a great
    insight, (especially for a nieve man who I think being a self employed
    one man band speak far far less than my quota of 4000 words per day mind

    Great perspective on advertising using conversations I thought that
    was a massive direction for her to help pioneer a new way for big
    companies to effectively market themselves. i’ll have to think I can
    apply this to my own business to communcate with builders.

    cheers Grant Kennedy – WeShootBuildings.com.au

  12. MIa Freedman

    Hey Jen, when you find out “what would Mia Freedman do?” can you let me know? I am a Libra and sometimes indecisive…..

  13. MIa Freedman

    Hey Chris,

    Jason loves to be a man of mystery….not really but he mostly stays out of the media whenever possible. We had a few wrestling matches early on in our working relationship….I wasn’t used to having anyone give me input and as much as I craved it, I fought him on almost everything at first (and in almost every instance he was 100% right. I’ve since realised his vision is usually spot-on.)

  14. I think the stronger your brand is, the less decisions you should have to make – perfect for a Librian! I think Mia Freedman would do exactly what you’ve just done and start a conversation!!

  15. Hey Mr R,

    I had to spend what would have been the dullest hour of my life this year in traffic this morning on the way to my day job. Luckily I had the good sense to have this interview in my earbuds.

    Thank you for delivering one of the top podcasts that I have ever had the pleasure to stream through my iPhone.

    This one is really poignant for me as I am developing a site for a client that is predominantly targeting women.

    I shall certainly be applying the “emotional point of entry” principle to the content aspect, as this is one of the best insights to follow when creating content to engage with an audience.

    By the way, I am Mr Dishwasher Disruption at the office and have also been known to swap the knives and forks around in the cutlery drawer.



  16. no_bulls#it_please

    Someone needs to fact check these stats. On what planet does Mamamia generate 14 million page views a month? Are we in the business of making up numbers now?

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