Home Marketing Female Friendly Marketing That Works: How to Lead Your Firm In Capturing More Women Consumers

Female Friendly Marketing That Works: How to Lead Your Firm In Capturing More Women Consumers

by Guest Writter
Kathleen Burns Kingsbury

As CEO, you set the tone for the entire organization. With the increase in women’s economic power, it is vital that you don’t make the mistake of assuming all women consumers are the same or that all “female friendly” marketing involves is changing the color scheme on your product and website.

Women make 80% of their household’s purchasing decisions, control 51% of the personal wealth in the United States and are due to inherit $28.7 trillion dollars over the next several decades. Female consumers are important to your business and your future profitability. Marketing to them is no longer just a good idea; it is essential. The question is not “Do you want to attract more women clients?” but “How can you best go about it?” Marketing to women is complex and nuanced. To be successful, you must put in the time and energy to discover your ideal woman client, the ones that are the best match for your business and services, before developing your marketing plan and outreach strategy.

A prime example of leadership taking a wrong turn when it comes to women’s marketing occurred in the late 1990s when the ski industry decided to debut women’s equipment. Instead of doing market research and creating a well-thought out strategy for reaching out to female skiers, this male-dominated industry got lazy and only changed the color of their products. All of a sudden, every ski shop had a pair or two of ugly fuchsia (if you are color blind, read really bright pink!) ski boots. The boots were made for beginner skiers only, and other than being pink, were not much different than the previous models. Needless to say, these boots did not sell too well, as evidenced by the lack of ugly pink boots seen on the slopes today. The leadership that endorsed and approved this strategy literally paid for it.

In early 2000, ski industry leadership finally got smart and created boots and skis for women that factored in their unique physical needs and personal desires. Women are generally physically lighter than men and have a lower center of gravity. Therefore, the skis were made of lighter material and the bindings were set slightly forward to account for a woman’s physicality. The boots were cut a little wider around the calf as women generally have larger calves then men. Equipment was made for beginners as well as intermediate and advanced skiers and came in a variety of colors. Once these women-specific skis and boots hit the market it exploded. The ski industry for the first time, really understood what female skiers wanted and how best to serve them. The sales followed. Women-specific gear now makes up 28 percent of the products bought in the ski industry.

So if female-friendly marketing involves more than making product and services pretty, what is it? It is a way of approaching your marketing, messaging and branding that resonates with women. It is based on gender research but does not reinforce general female stereotypes. It speaks to your ideal female consumer and in many cases also her partner. It highlights how you want to understand her individual concerns, listen to her story and work with her to find solutions. It is also hiring and promoting women to leadership position, so your consumers see that you mean business when it comes to equality. If you as the CEO take your female consumers seriously, the rest of the organization will as well.

Female-friendly marketing is not transactional, it is relational. It involves selling less and connecting more. It shows that you and your organization are competent, empathetic and warm. Good women’s marketing invites her to have a relationship based on trust and her unique set of life circumstances. Women are intelligent and astute consumers, making good female-friendly marketing more of an art than a science.

Define Your Ideal Female Client

The first step in developing a sound marketing strategy is to identify your ideal female client. Ideal clients typically are the ones that you love working with, that value your products and services, appreciate your approach and pay you what you are worth without complaining. One business’s perfect client may be another’s nightmare, so be aware that there is no right answer, just the answer that makes sense for you and your firm.

Remember, women come in many shapes and sizes. They are corporate executives, entrepreneurs, stay-at-home mothers, inheritors and wealth creators. They are different ages, races, have different personalities and sexual orientations. Due to this diversity, you need to make sure that your marketing efforts specifically target the type of women you want to attract to your business. You must be able to see this ideal female client in high definition. If you don’t, you run the risk of alienating women by using overarching gender stereotypes that may or may not be true for your ideal female consumer. Find a niche within the larger group called “female clients” and focus your message on what resonates with them. As the old adage goes, know your audience.

The following is a series of questions to help you put your ideal female consumer into sharp focus. As you look through these questions, notice how they require you to go beyond the basics of net-worth, income, or geography. While these metrics may be useful measures for creating a sustainable business, your clients, especially your female ones, are not motivated to hire you or buy your products based on these financial benchmarks. Invest the time in building a three-dimensional picture of your ideal female client as this will lead to a better return on investment for your marketing dollar.

Snapshot:  Your Ideal Female Client

1.   My ideal female client or consumer is best described as…

2.   She lives, works, and plays…

3.   Three key characteristics she possesses include…

4.   Three of her most important life values are….

5.  She belongs to the following online and in-person groups, organizations, or clubs…

6.  Her biggest worry or concern that my company’s products or services can help solve is…

7. Other worries or concerns she has include…

8. My company’s products or services are a good match for her because…

9. She should work my firm over the competition because…

10. The one thing she does not know about my firm’s products or services that she should is…

Take a minute to review your answers and write up a brief description of your ideal female client or consumer. Next, ask yourself, “How many of these women does my organization already sell to or work with?” If you’ve made some headway already, ask yourself the following questions. What else do you notice about these women that can help you continue to define your ideal client? Are these women members of a couple, single, widowed, divorced or going through some other type of transition? Are they career professionals, stay at home moms, or women working in the family business? What personality characteristics do they possess? Are they loud and outspoken, quiet and demure, or just the right mix of both? What else makes these women easy to connect with, work with and sell to? Jot down what you discover.

The ideal client exercise helps you to create a very specific description of the female market you want to reach with your products and services. This enables you to guide your organization’s marketing efforts and not waste money chasing after 51% of the population without a strong communications plan in place. The more you know about your ideal female consumer, the easier it will be to market to her successfully and make her a champion of your brand.

About the Author

Kathleen Burns Kingsbury is a wealth psychology expert, founder of KBK Wealth Connection, author of several books including How to Give Financial Advice to Women, and a subject matter expert on being more female-friendly.  She serves on the CNBC Digital Financial Advisor Council and is a sought-after keynote speaker on the topics of women and wealth. For more information, visit kbkwealthconnection.com.

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