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October 05, 2009

Marketing To Women..... Some Common But Costly Mistakes

Ap_woman-in-car Women account for 85% of all consumer purchases including everything from Autos to Health Care and they spend about  $5 Trillion annually which is about half of the USA GDP.  It is predicted than over the next decade women will control two thirds of consumer wealth in the United States and be the beneficiaries of the largest transference of wealth in on our country's history.  And yet, some establishments have difficulty attracting and retaining the female consumer's business.  Why?

Let's begin with the basics and that is THE ENTERPRISE.
Before you invite the female consumer into your place of business, do an inspection.   Women notice when the establishment is not neat and odor free.  Are the floors and furniture clean and free of stains and debris?  How about the items that are on the walls and windows, are they inviting or could they cause offense to your customers or to your female employees?   What about those bathrooms?  Are they inviting or ????  Does your employee base reflect the market in which you do business?  Are all of your employees treated with dignity and respect and aware of what is acceptable behavior in the workplace?  Are your employees trained to communicate more effectively with women?  Women are relational buyers and men are transactional buyers.  This means that women and men communicate and make decisions very differently.  Before any time and money is spent on marketing, make sure that you and your employees are ready to invite the female consumer into your place of business.  THE ENTERPRISE needs to be clean, neat, and the employees trained and prepared.

Ap_woman-with-keys Next let's look at THE MARKET.
WOMEN ARE THE PRIMARY CONSUMER IN THE UNITED STATES.  They are not a Niche Market. They make 80% of all consumer purchasing decisions.  They have become the majority consumer with large ticket items like homes, automobiles, electronics, and personal computers.  They represent 52% of the population and are becoming more educated with 41% having undergraduate or graduate degrees.   Ask yourself what portion of this market is your fair share.  If your business generates $50 million per year and women purchase or influence 80% of all goods and services, women are a $40 Million factor for you!  Don't make the mistake of thinking that women are a specialty market and require less of a marketing budget.   Make sure you have a fully dedicated budget behind your marketing plan and the continued commitment to not only attract but retain their business.  What does your marketplace look like?  Who are the primary consumers?  Where do they get their information before they make their purchases?  Demographic information can be found with your local Chamber of Commerce which is a great starting place for planning how you are going to get more than your fair share of the female market.

DO NOT DISMISS THE IMPORTANCE OF THE WEB.  Women have become the majority of Web users and do the most on-line shopping in the USA.  22% shop on line at least once a day.  92% pass along information about deals they find to others.  The majority of women turn to the internet to do their research before they enter into a place of business AND they rely on those from the social media like Twitter, My Space, Facebook, and LinkedIn for reliable information about products and services.  Are you utilizing these sites?  Do you have your own BLOG? Women use the Internet for shopping, researching, AND connecting.  Is your web site Female Friendly?  Does your site provide an easy and non-threatening way for women to shop your place of business?  Is your site connected with other sites that females would ordinarily visit to look for information?  Are you doing any co-branding or linking to sites that are also female friendly?  Do you have any coupons to offer for sales or service at your place of business?  Social networking is here to stay so make sure you are utilizing it properly to reach the women in your marketplace.   Not participating in all the media effects your bottom line.

Ap_woman-with-keys2 But, if I market to women WILL I ALIENATE THE MEN?
FOCUSING ON WOMEN WILL DELIVER THE BEST TO EVERYONE.  Women tend to stop and ask for assistance, which means that they will demand more in terms of customer touch points, from products, from services, or from marketing campaigns.  So if you incorporate more information-delivery into products, services, or into your Web site, you are sure to give men more than they thought to ask for.  It is worth noting that designing marketing materials that "focus on women's color schemes or women's topics" alienate both women and men.  Everyone wants good information to make good decisions and to be treated with dignity and with other words "Treat Everyone Like Mom".  Make sure that you have identified the best ways to strengthen your customer touch points to the higher standards of women to ensure that they gain approval on their own merit as plain and simple customer service or marketing enhancements.

Remember to MEASURE!!
Most people in the business world track their marketing and sales results but very few TRACK THESE RESULTS BY GENDER.  There can never be too much time spent on measuring effectiveness.   It is one of the most important pieces of marketing and if you are not doing this, then you are wasting valuable resources.  We all want to know the ROI-Return on our Investments so why not measure ROW or Return on Women? 

In summary:
    -Make sure that your enterprise creates a safe and comfortable environment where women (and men) feel welcome
    -Analyze your marketplace and design the best integrated strategy for your place of business
    -Utilize all forms of communication especially the Internet and the Social Media
    -Measure, measure, measure your results

As you begin to attract, sell, retain, and increase loyalty among women, you will see a financial increase in your ROW-Return on Women.

Patricia_Roberts_GM_askpatty Patricia J. Roberts Director of Business Development

Prior to joining AskPatty.Com, Patricia Roberts was the General Director- Women's Retail Initiative on the General Motors Vehicle, Sales, Service and Marketing Staff in Detroit, Michigan.  She was responsible for programs to increase the number of females in retailing for General Motors.  This included the recruitment, training and appointment of female dealers, working with dealers to attract more women into automotive retailing positions, and to provide an enjoyable selling and service experience.

Patricia has more than 39 years of experience in the Automotive Industry to include increasing the number of women who own, who work in, and who shop in automotive businesses. 

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