The Who, What, and Why of Marketing to Women
Much digital ink has been spilled in the attempt to understand marketing to women. Despite the fact that relevant marketing techniques from Jack Morton’s brilliant “Beyond Pink,” are common knowledge, more than 90 percent of women say advertisers don’t understand women. What are those advertisers missing? Women are not some alien race or mysterious force of nature – they’re people. And like a lot of people these days, they are tired of ham-fisted, awkward advertising that loudly demands their attention. They want brands to offer them something of value, to earn their trust and their loyalty.
Having established that we’re all just people (you, me, women, men, advertisers, and consumers), we need to also acknowledge there are differences. Not all people are the same. Male and female consumers don’t shop for the same things in the same way, and not even all female shoppers move in lockstep. So how are you supposed to market to this enormous pool of potential but diverse customers? The same way you effectively market to everyone else:
- Identify your audience
- Understand what they want and where to find them
- Offer them something of value
- Demonstrate your interest in what interests them
Once you get it – the fact that women are just people, that is – the solution really is that straightforward. To engage female consumers, you need to go where they go and talk about the things that interest them. This is exactly what content marketing is about. Below, we’ve compiled some of our best tips for engaging women through content marketing.
Be smart and selective
Having established that not all women are alike, segment women by the factors that affect their buying decisions: Income, education, location, age, and so on. You know which factors are most relevant for your business (and, if you don’t, you have some homework to do). Nailing down the precise target audience for your brand lets you put your marketing budget where it will be most effective.
Think about it: Making broad assumptions (say, for example, that all women love children) can easily wind up wasting time, money, and consumer goodwill. Yes, that message will appeal to many women, but there are just as many that it will not speak to at all. A 20-something, career-oriented single looking for the next promotion and fixated on a new pair of Jimmy Choo shoes isn’t going to respond to the same message as a 50-something empty-nester who has just taken up yoga and is trying to find ways to keep her newly retired husband out of her hair.
Throwing the same message at both not only wastes marketing money on an audience you aren’t likely to convert, but it also creates the impression that your brand hasn’t taken the time to get to know their audience.
The bottom line is that you can’t stop your market segmentation at “women.” You have to dive deeper – a lot deeper. If you're writing copy with women business owners in mind, try talking up the financial benefits of your firm, while keeping the risk assessment and inner workings of your company as transparent as possible. If you’re trying to sell a new tech product to young millennial women, try emphasizing the famous “fear of missing out” (FOMO) angle.
So yes, think about reaching women, but also think about the diversity of women as people with many experiences, varied lives, and a range of interests outside of the ambiguous and often mythical concept of “womanhood.”
Don’t deny the decision maker
Nationwide, women make 85 percent of all consumer purchases, control 60 percent of private wealth, and own 50 percent of all stocks. Yet, there’s still an idea out there that women don’t have money to spend; or, if they do, that it’s their husband’s money. If you want in on all that purchasing power, it’s time to ditch the stereotype and speak to the woman in the driver’s seat. How will your product make her life better? What problems or challenges does she face that your service can assist with?
To better understand what decisions women are making in relation to your type of service or product, try asking around. If you’re like most small or medium-sized companies, you don’t have the budget for marketing research focus groups, but that’s okay. Your research doesn't need to be formal — just thorough. Whether you survey employees, family members, neighbors, or friends, asking the opinions of the women in your life can go a long way.
Talk to as many women as possible. Pose thoughtful questions like, “What would make you want to buy this product?” and “How do you think we could better market this toward women?” Just avoid asking demeaning “As a woman . . .” questions. Once you figure out what different women like — what makes them feel valued by companies — then you can start implementing those strategies into your campaigns.
Create shareable content
Word of mouth is still a powerful way to build a brand following, but these days it’s more likely to come from posts, tweets, and shares than actual F2F conversations. Social media can be a powerful way to reach out to women across segments. Women dominate every social network except for LinkedIn and are more likely than men to share content with their networks. That’s especially important for marketers, because 65 percent of women use social media to get information about brands and products.
While social media platforms can present tremendous opportunities for reaching different audiences, they’re only really effectively when used properly and with care. It’s vital that you understand the best practices for each different network. You want your marketing efforts to go viral in a good way, not as a #epicfail. Social media management is another area where it makes sense to outsource to professionals: The learning curve can be steep, making it more efficient to bring in experts than to squander your team’s time and talents.
The secret to marketing to women is that there is no secret. The same rules apply here as with any marketing to any group: A smart, well-executed content strategy is what’s going to help you reach your audience and turn them into fans, buyers, and brand loyalists. Need help getting started? Just call us.