Many marketers think if they put bling on an item or advertise to the “harried soccer Mom” that they will cut a large swath through the female purchasing demographic. In this day and age, that’s marketing at your own peril. Women make up the majority of the consumer purchasers and marketers should look for ways to focus on specific segments and their needs instead of lumping all women into the “Mommy-sphere.” Some of this marketing trend is the result of the influx of influential Mommy Bloggers, but while they are a legitimate and vocal part of the female demographic, they do not represent the majority of all women. Marketers need to remember that.
What do women want?
Quite simply, women value relationships. They want to be treated like adults with brains. They prefer to engage in a conversation instead of being lectured. They like to create relationships with people they do business with and they want to feel like they can recommend the businesses they use to their friends and colleagues.
This is a paradigm shift for many men who are typically more transactional. A good example of this is frequently seen at business networking events. It is not unusual to be introduced to a businessman and have him hand you his card within the first 15 seconds of meeting you. From his perspective he is simply being efficient and courteous. If he happens to hand out his business card to people who have no interest in his goods or services, he thinks, “maybe they’ll hand it someone else.”
Conversely, you may stand and have a conversation with a businesswoman for 15 minutes before she asks if she can give you her card. From her perspective, she doesn’t want to hand out her card to someone unless she wants to continue to build a relationship. She’s being efficient and only handing her card to those with whom she wants to consider doing business.
For many salespeople this is an uncomfortable place to be. They are trained to meet, greet and ask for the sale, all within 5 minutes. Taking any longer means you might be missing out on the next sale.
A simple example comes from a client I was meeting with one day. We were discussing the sales process he used when meeting with women and he said, “And then at the end I overcome all their objections.” If you are a woman reading that, you just took a mental step backwards. As a man, you may not have even noticed his faux pas.
Most women are looking for someone who will “answer their questions” not “overcome their objections”. They want to be an equal partner in the conversation, not be subjected to a sales pitch. They also value sincerity and don’t like to be rushed.
The next time you are at a business networking event, take a few minutes to eavesdrop on some of the conversations going on around you. Listen to both same-sex groups and mixed sex groups talking and note how they behave differently. And if you really want to market to women, spend some time actively listening to what they are saying before you ever open your mouth.