Business Library

Making the Pitch

Rebecca Eppelmann - The Troy Record

For many women – some of the most savvy consumers – it’s hard to believe that marketing affects how they shop. Female shoppers are often convinced that they buy products like deodorant, makeup, and even clothing based on price and previous experience – not because someone sitting in a corner office had them “figured out.”

However, many studies point out that this independence in consumers is a fallacy. Even if you don’t have yourself figured out, companies devote a great deal of their budgets and staff to researching consumer patterns. And as the primary financial decision-makers in the household, marketing targets women on a widespread basis.

And marketing departments have us figured out. Whether you are sad, happy or scared to find that out, they know – sometimes before you do.

Nowhere is this realization more evident than in Elizabeth Pace’s The X and Y of Buy. Pace begins by comparing the minds of men and women to files. To men, their minds are categorically clean, with each “file” placed neatly in a filing cabinet. If you ask your husband or brother or father about the lawn mower, he will pull that file and replace it once the conversation is over.

Women’s brains, however, are more similar to a large table. Files are laid out in groups, touching one another. While men replace their “files” after a conversation ends, women are constantly thinking about multiple things, “seeing, processing, and connecting all things on a 24/7 basis,” according to Pace.

While selling to men, consider that they are more likely to prioritize, while women are more likely to maximize. Pace believes that for men, buying is about the quest; for women it is about the nest. Additionally, men value and are motivated by respect; for women, a big motivator is self-esteem. Objections raised by men should be seen as an opportunity to prove yourself; conversely, when selling to women, it’s important that you not knock the competitor.

It’s true that none of the above is likely to shock or awe you – most of us are familiar with gender relations. However, just because men and women think – and shop – differently, it doesn’t mean that you need to completely rework your business or marketing plan to better prepare yourself for female clients.

The Web site www.startupnation.com posted an article entitled “Seven Powerful Insights for Marketing to Women,” in which they make a powerful argument that while – yes – men and women are different, a good product can draw both genders.

“We think one of the best examples of a great company that gets it right with women is Apple. Terrific design, easy-to-use technology, and a passionate lifestyle brand message hold strong appeal for women and for consumers overall. No need to invest money in making and marketing herPod when iPod is pretty damn great the way it is.”

While many companies believe that women must be marketed to separately, Apple proves that it’s not always in the company’s best interest. Creating a separate brand for women runs the risk of alienating male consumers, but marketing a strong product more to women – either by tweaking your message or targeting your ad placements so women see them more often – is a sound strategy used by businesses nationwide.

While Apple enjoys success built on its strong products, other companies do find success by adjusting their strategies for women. On the Miamore Communications blog (www.miamorecommunications.blogspot.com), recently acknowledged this power, recapping a networking event for women that illustrated the success of marketing to just one gender.

The event was presented by Ameriprise Financial Planners and a local liquor warehouse. Participants attend the networking event, but made emotional connections while there – they laughed, they cried (because they were laughing so hard), and though the event ended at 8:00 p.m., they were still there at 8:30 p.m., and most opted to stay longer.

Although no deals were made that night (financial- or liquorrelated), the proper market was targeted: the female financial decision-makers. Relationships were built in a low-pressure setting, and the local businesswomen who attended the event left feeling confident that they had connected with their hosts.

And down the road should they – or friends via word of mouth – need a financial planner or are shopping for wine, these women will stand confident in their ability to make a strong recommendation, because the companies had created a unique event designed to tap into the financial strength of women.

It’s certainly true that every business is different, and that no two women (or men) are exactly the same, but it doesn’t mean that you can’t market to the masses. There’s a plethora of information available, but for a strong overview into the insights of marketing to women and men, Pace’s The X and Y of Buy is a great place to start.