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Guest Column: Are You Relevant …to Women?


February 29, 2008
By Ross Shafer

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

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

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 per cent of all consumer purchases. 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 per cent were written and registered by women. When the transaction goes badly they get mad and stay mad. Their complaints register words like “embarrassed,” “hurt,” “crushed,” and “rejected.” Those are the same words many would typically use in an intimate, loving relationship, and that’s because women 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. Author Faith Popcorn 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 – versus 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.

Women Are More Loyal
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 “favoured customer cards” not reward points or discounts.

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.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.

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, 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 stereotypes. Not all women are 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.

4. Rethink your current strategies. Visit www.marketingtowomenonline.typepad.com. This organization has a robust website to answer your questions. You may not be a member of this group yet but you should be. You’ll be able to cross-pollinate ideas that could shatter your old sales records.•

Ross Shafer is the author of “The Customer Shouts Back, Nobody Moved Your Cheese,” and the upcoming, “Remaining Relevant: How Great Organizations Avoid Extinction.” Shafer is also one of the nation’s most popular convention keynote speakers on these subjects. To learn more, visit www.RossShafer.com


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