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News & Blogs: The Female Consumer

7 ways to get women to buy (your message)

Wednesday, July 08, 2015  
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By Marti Barletta

It’s clear to me that a lot of folks marketing to women could use a refresher course on how to portray women in their advertising and marketing.

Include some of these "Lucky 7″ elements and watch women flock to your brand:

Related: Marketing to Boomer women: A radical opportunity

1. Go beyond "respect" to "understanding." Articles about communicating with women cite countless studies, surveys and anecdotes, which all reveal that women feel marketers and salespeople don’t view them or treat them with respect. While that may be true, the term "respect” is so overused and under-defined that it's become generic and meaningless. What women mean by "respect”is more akin to being understood. She wants to be listened to and accorded as much response as if the communication were coming from a man: a man who speaks up for what he wants and expects to get it.

2. Remember, better real than ideal. Women want to identify with your advertising. Female culture is all about commonality and empathy, not differentiation and aspiration. She’s looking for that flash of recognition that sparks a connection between her and the real people, real situations, real product usage and real reactions that tell her you get who she is.

3. Cope with chaos. Today’s woman copes cheerfully with chaos (usually). She has to. She normally has a full-time job, primary responsibility for managing her household and plenty of church, school and community activities to amuse her in her "spare time.” The aspect many marketing-to-women campaigns neglect to portray is that women no longer feel torn with guilt at not being supermom. Their houses aren’t spotless. Their kids are sometimes mouthy. They have the occasional bad hair day. And that’s okay; they’re fine with it. It’s advertisers who apparently live on Planet Perfect, and when women visit there, they don’t recognize a soul.

4. Cast more women who aren’t 20-year-old glamour goddesses. A classic marketing-to-women study by Grey Advertising showed that 82 percent of women wish advertisers would recognize that they don’t want to look 18 forever. Forget the latest ditz-of-the-moment pop star and consider the attractive, normal-looking women of shows like Downton Abbey, House of Cards and the new, upcoming X-Files episodes (Gillian Anderson has never looked better!).

5. Choose your spokeswoman wisely. When choosing a spokesperson for your brand, keep in mind that women value empathy over envy in their role models. Women seem to like a role model better if she (or he) isn’t perfect. Oprah is one of the most widely admired women in America, and one of the things women like about her is that she struggles with many of the same issues they do. In other words, go for less Miss America and more for Miss Real.

6. Reflect the new definition of beauty. Advertisers are very conscientious about including ethnic diversity in their marketing communications, but only a pioneer few are even beginning to show the age and size diversity women are looking for. One of the cornerstones of female gender culture is inclusion, and women resent the rigidity of one standard of attractiveness. It’s time to let go of the "blondes have more fun” (and better looks, more money, higher status and better men) approach to beauty.

7. Tap into the "girlfriend factor." The depth and meaning of a woman’s friendships are among the most treasured elements in her life. According to the Grey Advertising study, 74 percent of women would like to see advertising show more women doing things together with their girlfriends, sisters and moms. Personal disclosure, constant contact and emotional expressiveness make up the core of the girlfriend factor, and each creates opportunities for emotional association with your brand.

How well is your company marketing to the women you know?

Marti Barletta has been called "the High Priestess of Marketing to Women” and "the Chief Rabbi of  the Sheconomy.” She is author of Marketing to Women and Prime Time Women, which focuses on the market’s high-spending sweet spot, Boomer women in their mid-life prime. Her Fortune 500 consulting clients have included Diageo, Ford, GE Appliances, Logitech, Pfizer, Volvo and others.

Views expressed in blogs, posts and user comments are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the Network of Executive Women or its Officers, Board members and corporate partners.

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