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Thursday, August 21, 2008

7 New Rules for Marketing to Women

That Marketing To Women... Online event I recently attended brought back memories.

Memories of the first major marketing to women event I attended: the inaugural Marketing To Women Conference - M2W - in Chicago in April 2005.

It was an amazing event during which I got to hear [and meet] Marti Barletta, President of the Trendsight Group and author of Marketing to Women: How to Understand, Reach, and Increase Your Share of the World's Largest Market Segment and Prime Time Women...

And Fara Warner, business journalist and author of The Power of the Purse: How Smart Businesses Are Adapting to the World's Most Important Consumers-Women. And, also Lori Bitter from JWT Boom - who turned me onto David Wolfe and Ageless Marketing: Strategies for Reaching the Hearts and Minds of the New Customer Majority.

I also got to hear Grant Schneider - CMO Time Inc. and author of She Means Business: 7 New Rules for Marketing to Today's Woman. He shared with us a early copy of the book, titled then "Seven New Rules of the Road: Understanding Today's Woman," published in 2004 and based on research from Time Inc.'s Women's Group publications and involving over 30,000 American women.

I recently reread the book and was struck by how relevant - four years later - the insights are. The seven new rules from my version include:

1. Keeping your balance - Still very true. "In seeking balance, rejecting the notion that they must makes 'either/or' choices in their lives, women are also rejecting the idea that life is a zero-sum game, where spending time on a career necessarily means being less involved at home. Instead of finding that one choice replaces another, one choice can enhance another..." In fact, this reminded me of the article that Thomas P. Woerner, Brandweek publisher, started off the Marketing To Women Online session with [by Becky Ebenkamp, titled "The Post Soccer Mom"] that states "balance is the new four-letter word."

2. Finding more time - Definitely still true. I feel breathless for more time. I'm tremendously proud that I'm able to handle at least four times more than I was doing four years ago [and it's not as if I was slacking off then], but also impressed with how little time -wiggle-room I now have to deal with unexpected developments. According to DYG Inc., when asked to "choose between gaining additional moderate amounts of time or of money, [women] picked more time by nearly two to one."

This chapter also addresses the The Paradox of Choice: Why More Is Less [a topic I address in Are There Too Many Choices?, The Problem With Too Many Choices - And The Opportunities, A Transcultural Perspective On The Retail Experience, Musings on Choice, Culture and the Retail Experience, and Lost in the Supermarket]. According to psychologist Susan Sugarman "humans as a species are not biologically equipped for the large number of choices we currently face." That explains a lot!

The perfect solution, then, to finding more time and dealing with the stress of too many choices is to consult others whom we trust. Schneider here mentions doctors and other moms. The marketing to women online seminar touched on community and virtual boards of directors. In a retail environment, it becomes a function of how we edit, package, merchandise and accessorize our product recommendations, and offer online resources for gathering information.

3. Feeling optimistic - This chapter explores the benefits associated with optimism. Fascinating and -for me- uplifting and inspiring as "an optimistic outlook is a trait common to women of all ethnic backgrounds and age groups." Real Simple magazine "found that women generally express high levels of confidence in the direction their lives are moving and in their ability to make choices that best meet their needs."

Optimism breeds success, improves self-esteem, and sparks creativity to overcome hurdles. Optimism is powerful! It also permeates our lives. Women of all ages tend to feel that the best is yet to come...

4. Earning trust - even truer now than it was then, and it was important then! Trust is what helps us save time and make better decisions. The sources we trust are reliable and authentic and tell the truth. They care about us, they listen to us, their insight is relevant to us, they don't try to do a hard sell on us. That's what makes word-of-mouth endorsements so believable.

For a retailer, that means embracing what Faith Popcorn describes as "anticipatory marketing... [which] requires having enough insight into a woman's life to fulfill her future needs without having to ask her for a blueprint." It also means "taking the needs of women into account when designing the physical shopping environment, adapting it to reflect the desires of women customers, not waiting for women to identify problems or trouble spots."

5. Expressing yourself - this rule combines trading up, treasure hunting, our delight in design [i.e., think what Target has promoted with 'cheap chic'], and our willingness to express our own inner creative diva. "Today, there's an emotional connection with style - it's the thing that moves women to buy. Purchases are less about conspicuous consumption and keeping up with the Joneses and more about how they make women feel, the emotional reward." At the same time, the purchase must embody value and quality.

6. Feeling in control - Women want to feel in control of what they buy, do, select.... "Feeling in control is integral to a woman's overall sense of well-being, extending far beyond her psychological health and directly affecting many aspects of her physical health. We live in a hectic and often confusing world where much seems beyond our control, so it is little wonder that women are looking for practical help in areas of their lives where they can exert real influence."

7. Connecting with friends and family - to relieve stress, to learn, to recharge, for grounding and for validation. The home is considered the "emotional center for connecting with family and friends." Furthermore, "we are creating and sustaining our homes in new ways, discovering emotional links between the abstract idea of 'home' and the material things it contains."

No surprise, then, to realize how important Web 2.0 has become in enabling the Age of Conversation, and even more connecting. And how important online tools like ratings and reviews and social networks are for enhancing connection, finding time, helping make sense of choices, feeling in control, supporting balance, generating optimism and earning trust.

Read the book for yourself and let me know how relevant you find the 7 new rules for marketing to women. I'm willing to bet you will be surprised and delighted.

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