I read a really great article today in Customer Relationship Marketing magazine today on “The Feminine Marketing Mystique: How to Demystify Women’s Purchasing Behavior.” Author Koa Beck did an outstanding job.
When it comes to marketing to women – there’s no magic bullet, and there isn’t a secret formula. However, it does take thought, strategy, and taking the time and effort to gain a deep understanding of your customer.
I’m a woman, and I’m a marketing professional. While I don’t claim to be an expert (Who is? If you claim it, you are complacent and stop learning), I DO CLAIM decades of focused effort learning as much as I can about myself as a woman, about marketing and about messaging that resonates with its targeted audience.
On behalf of women everywhere, let me clue you in to a few secrets about women, and marketing to women.
- Adding a photo of children doesn’t mean it automatically rings my bell. Does it always have to be about them? We are each a person in our own right, aside from being a mother, and are complex, interesting individuals with many layers. Yes, we love our children and much of our life revolves around them, but we have needs and interests, too. It is okay to see photos of children when it’s appropriate. We expect babies if on a website for natural laundry detergent for babies, or reading a parenting article, and we expect photos of teenagers when flipping past an ad for a teen video game monitoring device or online safety product – but don’t put it in your marketing materials just because you think it will attract my attention. That’s über boring!! Keep it relevant, and show you understand me or care about me as a customer and an individual.
- Don’t assume we all live to shop. Some do, some don’t. We often make major AND minor buying decisions, because our men hate to shop, but respect us, empower us, educate us. Never make assumptions based on our age, income, lifestyle or other demographics. Don’t stereotype us, preach at us, talk down to us, speak to the man standing next to us like we aren’t there, or assume we have nothing to do but fluff our hair, compare shades of lipstick and shop for shoes. We do our homework, we research before we buy, and we sometimes negotiate like a horse trader. Never underestimate. We are highly savvy buyers in all ways. You should be aware that our bullshit meter is sensitive, and tends to ding loudly when you bore us. We’ll move on fast to someone else that DOES respect and empower us.
- Don’t think making something pink means we’ll want to buy it. Seriously? We have a brain, so treat us with a little respect. We love to surround ourselves with beautiful things, and can choose a product on a shelf simply because it has prettier packaging or an appealing shape, but product comes first. Pretty packaging doesn’t mean more than benefits – it may make me stop and look, but I promise I’ll look deeper before I buy. In fact, you can bet on it. I do like an attractive website that is professional, and I’ll make a judgement about your quality and competency based on that alone. If your website is amateur, an obvious template, badly done or has errors, I’ll assume your products and services are also amateur or poor quality.
- Tell us what others think to help our decision. It doesn’t have to be an expert (men love that) – it just has to be real. Instead of just a paragraph of fluffy marketing language, give us reviews, comments, ratings, social media resources (yes, even if I am not in my 20s), and a way to check in with our peers or community. I can tell when a review is written by someone in your company, so don’t try to pull the wool over my eyes. I want authentic, or you will lose my respect permanently. I won’t come back.
As Beck quotes so well, “the ideal is not to go to a site and think about it as women-friendly. The ideal is just to have a great shopping experience. You can’t just something, throw a mom and kids in it, and say there, ‘now it’s going to appeal to women.’ “