Playing to our Strengths, & Marketing to Women
Yippee! This month BBC Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour launched a regular feature on women in business examining some of the challenges facing women going for growth in a tough economic environment. Three women business owners have been selected and matched with an experienced mentor who will support them over the next 12 months.
Women in business have joined the business mainstream after years of campaigning by organisations like Prowess, everywoman, and the Women’s Enterprise Task Force. They are no longer dismissed as running purely ‘life-style’ businesses. Indeed women are starting up in increasing numbers as an alternative career choice. Worldwide women in business are increasingly important for a number of reasons
- They are more likely to be cautious about the use of business finance, and their businesses tend to exhibit slower growth in the short-term.
- They are more likely to build a business taking into account their work-life balance concerns and family needs.
- They are arguably a better financial risk for lending institutions as their default rates are lower than their male counterparts.
- They are good for communities in that they have a positive use for wealth being more likely to spend on the family, care, health and education.
Marketing to women
Now more than at any other time, businesses are reappraising their approaches to marketing spend and selling strategies. Businesses marketing to women (those that are waking up to this emergent marketplace) are realising that purely traditional forms of direct print and advertising just won’t cut the mustard.
Word of mouth marketing, social and web-based networks are rapidly becoming a business ‘must-have’. This is especially effective when combined with a more niched or women-friendly product offering and packaging.
Why might this be the case?
- 70% of women learn about a new product from another woman.
- Women who have had a good experience recommend 21 times to others, compared with 2.6 times for men.
Why would business owners not want some of that!
And remember research shows that women are particularly interested in products and services that provide:
- support for their life choices and transitions
- opportunities to build trust and ongoing relationships
- an appeal to their inner values, as well as emotional needs
The female market place will spend more with a brand that acknowledges life and work-style challenges. When talking to a busy business owner recently about independent garages and their attitudes to the female market, she said it was a no-brainer to pay more for a service that collected and dropped of her car newly valeted. The fact that it had been serviced was almost incidental to the added value of collection and cleaning.
Having a strong brand positively ‘humming’ with subtle emotional qualities helps hold price integrity, what business guru Rene Carayol calls “Sexy Brands”.
He says that Madonna arguably can’t sing and can’t dance very well but is sold out within hours of tickets going on sale. He also cites the early IPOD with its incredibly annoying habit of freezing at the slightest excuse but which was phenomenally successful.
What do these “Sexy Brands” tell us, especially those of us tempted to compete on price as a way of getting customers in an increasingly overcrowded marketplace?
- That “expensive” indicates niche, especially if you have developed a devoted fan base.
- That “sexy” indicates an expensive and “expansive” market for your products and services, especially if you have tapped into the huge power of web, social and other forms of word-of-mouth networks.
- So what does your brand say about you, your business and its proximity to your target market?
- Can you improve how you tap into and exploit powerful word of mouth structures?
- What would it mean to your business to break the rules and be niche plus mass plus expensive?
Call to Action!
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