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Tuesday, August 26, 2008

She Is Woman, Hear Her Floor!

Shopping Formation Display Team originally uploaded by About tricky™.

Too often in the flooring industry the [woman] consumer isn't given her due - particularly at retail. So, it's delicious to encounter perspectives that passionately promote how best to market to this consumer, as I have here.

A two part series in National Floor Trends by Patricia Flavin, senior vice president of marketing for Beaulieu of America, a carpet mill, titled "I Am Woman, Hear Me Floor" instantly caught my attention and inspired this post.

Part I speaks directly to flooring retail salespeople - many [maybe even most] are men - offering advice for selling to women.

- Women are wired differently: we pay attention to all of the details. "Women's brains are more like spaghetti - a twisting, interwoven and relational stream of facts, interpretations, intuitions, comparisons and emotions..."

- Women raise shopping to an art form: our search for 'the perfect answer' [to use Marti Barletta's expression] means that we are relentless in our shopping. Our expectations are extremely high. Exceed those expectations and you will reap rewards with all of your customers - women and men!

- Women are shopping online more than ever. Oh, yes. If you don't believe this, read Marketing to Women Online. Online is available 24/7 allowing her to research and shop on her time, when it's convenient for her. Make sure, then, that your online and offline experiences match up and are "consistently female friendly."

- Women are in a hurry. In the 7 New Rules for Marketing to Women, rule #2 was Finding More Time. Here, Flavin brings up shop-at-home services [read Jon Trivers - How To Create Your Own Flooring Empire] for "perceived time-saving convenience and immediate gratification of next-day installation."

- Avoid "Pink Thinking." In other words, beware of stereotyping women. Focus instead on offering the best service possible in the most "simple, shopper-friendly presentation that feels warm and inviting" possible.

- Be master of the Web-to-store cycle. This goes back to women being online now more than ever. "Women respond to websites that are easy to navigate and excite her with decorating ideas and possibilities."

Part II relates these rules of selling to women to Flavin's own experience selling her own line of skincare essentials and botanicals on a home shopping network for 17 years.

- Don't keep her waiting. "The waiting time is by far the single most important factor affecting her opinion of your service."

- Be an environmentalist: create a store environment that engages customers and draws them into your store. One that helps tell a story about you, your store and your products.

- Be mindful of details. Remember that women notice details and that all of your store details communicate information about you and what she can expect from you. So pay attention to your store details, the bathrooms, the music you play...

- Listen, then speak. Don't start showing her product until you've listened carefully to her story, to what she's trying to create. Lis Calandrino says she's not buying product, she's buying solutions. The better you listen and understand her life story, the better you'll be able to establish a relationship of trust and respect and multiple transactions.

- Give her space. The more space a woman has to shop a flooring store, the more likely she is to relax, spend time, browse and eventually buy. The more cramped [and cluttered] your store, the less likely she is to even enter, let alone buy.

- Guys are a bonus. Create a retail store experience that successfully appeals to women, and it will also appeal to men. There is no-downside.

Flavin refers to Lisa Johnson's and Andrea Learned's book Don't Think Pink: What Really Makes Women Buy -- and How to Increase Your Share of This Crucial Market. I also recommend Andrea Learned's e-book titled Marketing to Women for the Common Man, and Andrea's most recent post in MarketingProfs Daily Fix Walking Like a Man (But Buying Like a Woman).

These resources will give you much to think about as you reconsider your retail experience from your customer's perspective.

BTW, I'll be meeting Patricia in September and anticipate a spirited discussion.

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