By Susan Guillory
When it comes to marketing, we’ve come a long way, baby, but unfortunately, not far enough. We’re still seeing brands marketing to mythical women who stay home all day fretting over which toilet bowl cleaner to use (have you met one of these women? I haven’t.). We still see far too much use of pink and flowers and roses and kittens. Again, have you met the woman that this kind of marketing is geared toward?
It’s time to really understand what women want and deliver it through effective marketing to women that makes sense in today’s world.
Know your audience
I honestly even hate including this as a tip since it should be a no-brainer, but given the marketing messages I’ve seen lately, I feel like I need to harp on it just a bit.
Think of your mother. Wife. Sister. Female friends. How much do they have in common personality-wise? How different are they? Your mom might be a mountain-climbing yogini, while your sister is a conservative knitter. How on earth can you use the same marketing campaign to reach both of them?
I’m going to need you to pick a side here because you can’t create a blanket marketing campaign that’s going to resonate with every woman out there. You just can’t. So narrow your demographic to exactly whom you want to reach.
Now get to know them. Actually, physically meet with women in your demographic. Talk to them in focus groups. What are their likes and dislikes? Where do they learn about new products? How do they decide what to buy?
For me, as a woman in her 40s, I abhor commercials. I’m more likely to buy a product recommended to me in my Instagram feed (which is tailored to my tastes). I talk to my friends about products, and I sometimes read reviews.
All this is imperative for understanding the female consumer you’re trying to sell to.
Tell a compelling story
I don’t know the science behind it, but women like stories. They want to connect with a brand emotionally. I used to always cry when a particular ad for cotton fabric came on years ago. Ads with animals make my heart swell.
But sadness or love aren’t the only emotions you can tell through a story. Humor is a great asset in marketing. Here’s an example that makes me giggle (although it’s not for everyone): Squatty Potty takes something that no one wants to talk about (poop) and makes it fun while educating the audience with a little body science. Plus, unicorns poop rainbow ice cream! Fun!
You can tell a story that has nothing to do with your product, the way medicine ads often do (“Now I can do so much more since I’m taking Med X! I can ski! Hug my grandson! Dance with my partner!”).
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You can tell a story about your brand. Social media is great for this because you can share photos of your employees making your products and give a little behind-the-scenes look at your company. I know when I find a connection with a brand’s story, I’m more likely to buy from them again and again.
Here’s a great example of a brand telling its story: Fuschia Shoes. The brand came across my Instagram feed and I clicked because I liked the look of the shoes and the fact that they are ethically made by artisans. Okay, okay, I clicked because they were cute! But once on the website, you see a video of the founder explaining why she wanted to elevate the overseas shoe industry, which often exploits workers and has harsh working conditions. You see photos of the people in Pakistan who make the shoes. That’s a great story.
Practice what you preach
It’s not enough to market to women. You also need to use them in your ads. In photos on your site. Have them on your team. No woman is going to feel like a company run by a bunch of men really gets her the way other women will.
Remember that women aren’t cookie-cutter. They want to see women who have the same shade of skin as they do or who have wrinkles. They want to see real women in ads, not airbrushed models. Being real is what attracts women, lumps, bumps, sunspots, and all.
Set selling aside
If you have salespeople in your company, retrain them on how to sell to women. We are extremely leery of a sales pitch. Whenever a salesperson calls me, I’m already shut down against whatever his message is because I know he’s not calling with my best interest in mind.
Women want to build relationships. We want you to genuinely care about who we are and ask about how our family is doing. We want to chat about the last vacation we took or what our plans are for the summer. We do not want to be sold to, but if you actually care about us, we just might buy from you.
Women aren’t cryptic puzzles waiting to be cracked. We’re people. Market to us understanding that none of us wants to be lumped together and treat us like the unique individuals that we are.
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