Flickr Creative Commons image from the wonderful babasteve.
I was reading a perfectly good blog the other day, and he started talking about the new(ly perceived) importance of marketing to women. The marketing mainstream is slowly waking up to the fact that women make a lot of buying decisions, and it might be a good idea to start communicating with them in a way they can relate to. So the blogger (a smart and reasonable person, who has many intelligent things to say) says something along the lines of, "And, you know, it's not just about putting more pink on the Web site. Some sites women like don't have any pink in their design at all."
My poor little forehead is just flat from banging it on the table.
So I am offering my loyal blog readers a great free gift. Take every one of my blog posts. Add the words, "To market to women," in the front of it. Optional step: slavishly follow all of my advice.
Voila, 115-page (including this one) tutorial.
That sounds flippant (ok, it's a little flippant), but it's not BS. I didn't set out to do this, but every technique you'll see me discuss on this blog works exceptionally well when you're marketing to women.
It's not that these ideas and techniques won't work on men. In fact, some of the most intense emotional customer reactions I've ever seen have come from men. But a lot of "traditional" or "interruption" marketing seems to work better for men than for women.
What's new marketing about?
Relationships, right? Connection. Community. Communication. Sincerity. Permission.
I entirely reject the idea that men don't care about these things. Obviously they do. However, traditional marketing based on interruption, bluster and one-way communication tend not to work too well with adult women. (They may work quite well with teenage girls, I'm no expert on that market.)
So all this time I thought I was writing about creating stronger customer relationships by improving communication with human beings, and it turns out women are human beings as well. Go figure!
Faith Popcorn and Lys Marigold, in EVEolution : Understanding Women--Eight Essential Truths (which I haven't read yet--if you have, drop a comment & tell us what you thought of it) write, “Women don’t buy brands. They join them.” Sounds kind of like Social Media Marketing, PR 2.0, etc., doesn't it?
Tom Peters makes much of how different men and women are. I agree (and this is well supported by research) that there are some important innate cognitive and communication differences between men and women. And frankly, given the numbers (check them out below), in most businesses it would make a lot of sense to pitch all of your professional communication to women.
But as the mother of a two-and-a-half year old son, I'm not quite ready to write off half the human race. Men hold up the other half of the sky, you know.
- All consumer purchases, 83%
- Home furnishings, 94%
- New homes, 91%
- vacations, 92%
- DIY projects, 80%
- Consumer electronics, 51%
- Cars, 60%
- New bank accounts, 89%
- Healthcare, 80% of decisions
He makes a great deal out of the colossal cluelessness of most big companies and their relationships with their primarily-female paying customers. And he's right. But the solution isn't just, "pitch to women," it's "create relationships with the people who buy your stuff--on their terms and in the language that works for them."
I do enjoy how pissed off Peters is about all of this, though. Incidentally, he did a Google customer search on "customer is king" vs. "customer is queen" and found about 1,000 times more pages for the first. (Edit: on rereading, actually it was 4,440 to 29 when he wrote the book. Today a healthy 6,000+ show up, so maybe the world is getting smarter. Or at least smart enough to capitalize on a potentially useful keyword string.) Maybe this post will turn up in that second search some day.
Peters also makes the point that there are no major female marketing gurus. So if you, my loyal readers, would like to elect me as the first, I would be proud to serve. Someone let Godin know so he can invite me to the good guru parties.
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