Some Thoughts About Marketing to Women
Ten years ago, ACTON Marketing “discovered” a new idea that was being promoted by some marketing researchers called Marketing to Women. After a year of study, consultation, and our own research and testing, we introduced the pioneering concept to our financial services clients.
There was some resistance. More than once, a banking executive told us, “All our customers are men.” Other clients who disbelieved would take informal polls in their branches and find the statistic that says 89% of all banking choices are made or influenced by women to be a reasonable profile of their customers.
Recently, one of my colleagues forwarded a post from a marketing blog that argues you can’t market to women. In it, the writer says you need to take the gender, age, income, life stage and such into account if you want to successfully market your product to consumers.
That’s true in many instances. Look, for example, at the ads and TV spots that are obviously aimed at teens and twenty-somethings. Those aren’t the style of ads you’d use to market something like a weather radio, term insurance, diapers, or a luxury sedan.
But banks and credit unions aren’t marketing those age-appropriate products. People of all ages need checking accounts, savings accounts, loans, and so on. Your advertising needs to appeal to everyone.
So where does Marketing to Women fit in?
Well, women make a majority of buying decisions, even for categories like computers (66%), consumer electronics (51%), and new cars (88%), which are typically assumed to be male domains. But let’s remember, I might need a different type of checking account with different features and benefits than a college student, but in spite of the age and lifestyle differences we BOTH want a checking account. We BOTH need the same auto loan, even if we drive distinctly different vehicles.
Here’s what I learned early on about Marketing to Women. Men and women shop differently. I’m the stereotypical male shopper. I decide, for example, what kind of shirt I want to buy. In the store, if I don’t see the shirt I want, I leave and go to another store. Quickly, I tire of shopping and go home, unless I picked up a shirt that was “close” to what I really wanted. A woman might visit many stores and comparison shop, even after she finds the “right” item. After all, she might find a better one. She probably buys other items while shopping, and visits stores that don’t have the item that was the basis of her shopping trip.
The woman wants information so she can evaluate and make the best purchase. I just want to find a stupid shirt so I can stop shopping.
For me, the core concept about Marketing to Women is this: Give women the kind of information they want to make an informed decision. Men will look at the same information, take what they want, and ignore the rest. Using Marketing to Women techniques doesn’t offend your male prospects.
Some marketers erroneously think Marketing to Women uses a special language to speak to women that men won’t understand. They’re wrong. As Marti Barletta, an early and leading Marketing to Women consultant says, “Don’t paint it pink.” Don’t try to use special language you think women will “understand.” Give them information so they can make a decision.
For financial marketers who want to reach all their prospects, use Marketing to Women techniques and you’ll not only reach your best prospects, you’ll be speaking in a way that influences the majority of prospects of all ages, genders, life stages and attitudes.
But understand, language/information is only part of the Marketing to Women strategy. Format, photographs, social issues and other components play roles. That’s why when someone in another creative department says, “Tell me how to use Marketing to Women for this project,” I feel like saying, “Ya got a year?”
Still, if you use a Marketing to Women strategy for your financial campaigns and hit all the right points, your message will appeal (sell) to women with their shopping processes while communicating (selling) equally well with men.