Are You Relevant …To Women?

By Ross Shafer

If you are losing your market share or not meeting sales projections, chances are you aren’t relevant to the most important sex: Women.

So much has been written about the powerful female consumer you would think the “men folk” in your organization would realize women are the root of all profits. Yet, still so many companies live in denial that women account for over 80 percent of all consumer purchases. How can anyone ignore that the $5 trillion women spend annually is staged to gobble up new homes, healthcare, consumer electronics, investment advice, automobiles, vacations, bank accounts, and do-it-yourself projects. In fact, their financial heft is so significant that any business would see an instant spike in revenue if they adopted a “no-more-marketing-to-men” attitude.

Women Complain For A Reason: Research indicates that of 1,000 random complaints, more than 80 percent were written and registered by women. When the transaction goes badly they get mad and stay mad. Their complaints register words like “embarrassed,” “helpless,” “out of control,” “hurt,” “crushed,” and “rejected.” Those are the same words many would typically use in an intimate, loving relationship, and that’s because women don’t differentiate a personal interaction from a business event; business is personal and emotional to them.

Women Started Viral Marketing: Not only do women tend to complain about the perpetrator, but they also tell everyone else about the experience. Faith Popcorn, author of, “EVEolution - Understanding Women,” says that the average satisfied female customer will recommend a service, shop or client to 21 other people. Since women speak an average of 20,000 words a day - vs. a man’s 6,000 - women were indeed the first “viral marketing” machine. Therefore, when women have a good feeling about your company, it can create a vast army of female unpaid spokespeople for you. Can you do better than that with traditional marketing?

Women Are More Loyal Customers: If you make an effort to understand the emotionality of a woman’s purchase, she will start to form a relationship with you. This is critical because an emotional bond is the only factor that breeds true loyalty; not “favored customer cards” not reward points or discounts, not even repeating their name in a friendly manner. Women don't want  “service” from you, they want empathy. They want to be understood. Once women feel you have understood and appreciated them, you have not only a loyal customer, but a referral engine as well.

Offend Women And Die: When you scorn or offend women, look out. Consider the detrimental effects to the Tom Cruise movie, “Mission Impossible III.” It was largely thought to be the best film of the trilogy, yet when Cruise blathered in the press insisting his then-girlfriend Katie Holmes have a “silent birth” as prescribed by Scientology, his immense female fan base stayed home. Opening weekend ticket sales dipped over 30 percent. Don’t mess with women or their sisterhood.

Women Get Stronger With Age: The largest purchasing body is baby boomer women. They are rich and powerfully influential. Ken Dychtwald, author of, “The Power Years” says that by 2015, at least $15 trillion dollars will land in the hands of baby boomer women. Wouldn’t you like them to be spending some of that money with you?

How Do You Get Into a Woman’s Wallet?

1. Think like a woman. Behave like a woman: Understand that women crave appreciation for their immense buying power and influence. Know that they want you to succeed because they love to introduce amazing new discoveries to their friends. Behave in ways that are caring and honest. Showing her attention and empathy will cause her to become your advocate; an unpaid spokesperson for your company.

2. Be emotional: If you sell a product, write emotional content that speaks to her heart and reasons for her to own what you sell. If you sell a service, get personal and sell yourself. She wants to buy from people who won’t make her feel helpless, anxious, embarrassed, or vulnerable. The Nordstrom clothing chain has been wildly successful because the salespeople are warm, friendly and personal. There is also no risk in buying from them. Nordstrom will let you return your purchase for any reason, at any time. Nordstrom breeds trust and confidence.

3. Don’t try to suck up to women: Don’t pander to women or try to exploit the obvious media stereotypes. Not all women are shoe fiends and show biz tabloid readers. If you take that tact, you’ll offend the Mensa moms, as well as the shoe fiends and tabloid readers. Women want authenticity from you. They don’t want hype or false promises. They would also like you to be socially conscious - which may mean that you donate some portion of the sale to famine relief, the environment, spousal abuse, or another heartfelt concern. They respond to empathy; both to her and her causes.

4. Rethink your current strategies: Visit the blog This organization has a robust Web site to answer your questions. They also hold an annual conference complete with big name speakers and workshops to help you navigate these tricky waters. You may not be a member of this group yet but you should be. Join this organization as an associate member and you’ll be able to cross-pollinate ideas that could shatter your old sales records.

Read other articles and learn more about Ross Shafer.

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