This is a two part series on “the art of marketing to women”. In the first part I will explain why it is important for small business owners and SME marketers or SMB investors to include marketing to women as part of their core business strategy.
In the second part I will advise on the “art of marketing to women” – I will write on the business strategies and tactics for a SME to market to women.
The art of marketing to women! Part (2) – What are the strategies and tactics for SMEs to market to women?
Be forewarned – pinky pinky donkey
Woe betides any small business owner or SME marketer who does not have a purposeful business strategy targeting women. I have often noted that small business owners and SME marketers ignore this most important macro segment.
Most small business owners and SME marketers assume that painting and glossing pink all over their business premises or marketing collateral is all they have worry about when marketing to and targeting women! Going pink is not a business strategy!
Small business owners and SME marketers should ensure that their propositions and services are targeted to meet the unique needs of women. This is not just about being pink!
I have observed that in many small businesses and even large companies, the folks in functions or areas responsible for marketing, sales and overall business leadership is almost always overwhelmed by the male species.
If you do not believe me, look around any business – the majority of owners, marketers, creative folks, advertising, design teams, product development, sales and service teams and others are all mainly men. Does this make sense? Why is this so? Aren’t we all missing some thing here?
Men really don’t get it nor do they understand the unique needs and perspectives of women. They assume that they could get away with just plastering pink all over the place and putting girlie stuff around, is enough to woo women to their business.
This reminds me of a famous quote from some unknown person – “a woman can say more in a sigh than a man can say in a sermon” J Imagine that sigh reverberating across the world of social networks and you get the picture! Ignore your women customers at your peril!
Why marketing to women is relevant for small business owners or SME marketers?
Small business owners and SME marketers should know that there are major global demographic, social, economic and technology shifts and marketing trends that are altering the traditional landscapes of small businesses. Understanding these changes are essential to the survival of your business and therefore the sustainability of your business model.
Look around you! There is a one in two chance that you will see a member of the “fairer sex”. Women make up about 48 percent of the population in the world. What this means is that one out of every two potential consumers for a small business is a woman.
Look around any business of any size. I am flabbergasted as to how we cannot represent in the work place of any business, some level of proportionality to the female population around us!
I am sure that you would also agree that ignoring or not really understanding half of your potential customers is definitely not a good business strategy.
In some age groups, globally women make up much more than half of that population group.
In the over 65 years in age group, women make up about 56% of the population. This could be explained to women’s longer life expectancy. This means that older women are healthier and more active in later life than men.
In many developed and developing economies, women over 50 have evolved from being a homemaker to being a purchaser of high ticket items.
This is not surprising and makes perfect sense, as once the college tuitions fees are paid and their kids move out, these older but healthier and empowered women have a much higher disposable income.
Who makes the purchasing decisions? – Who rules the roost?
Globally, women decide, influence or account for about at least 85 percent of all purchases.
This includes large ticket items like houses, cars, selection of health care and financial services providers to white goods and others.
Most men, (despite their personal experiences as a partner and or husband), assume that this is only for household and food items. This is certainly not true.
In fact women make the decisions or highly influence the purchase decision in almost anything ranging from vacations to purchase of technology items like PCs, healthcare and financial service providers to over the counter pharmaceuticals. This is not a truism for the developed economies alone. This is true for any part of the world. Women exert a high influence on any purchase.
Therefore, if you are a small business owner or SME marketer retailing or distributing almost any item, it behooves you to pay special attention to women.
Increasing number of women in the workforce
All over the world, from Dubai to Dhaka to Dallas, the number of women entering the work force is increasing.
What this means for small business owners and SME marketers is that women have independent and more disposable incomes and that they can spend more than ever before.
This also means that women have less time with their family. This has implications on how a small business meets the needs of household goods and grocery items versus “stuff” like clothes, handbags, perfumes and the like that women buy or use for their personal use.
This means that small business owners and SME marketers must differentiate the experience when women shop during work days versus the weekends. Given their lack of time and hectic schedules dabbling home and work life, affordability, convenience and efficiency should almost always rules the design of any proposition, when women shop for their household or “personal” items.
Given their busy schedules and as the gentle care provider and career women, it would be wise to note that women do appreciate their “own” time. Shopping during their “own” time will require small business owners or SME marketers to ensure designing a different experience.
Decreasing birth rates and increasing divorce rates
There are 2 other important and often ignored demographic trends that small business owners and SME marketers should note. They are the decreasing birth rates and increasing divorce rates in developed and developing economies.
What this means for the small business owner and or SME marketer is that the women have more time for or by themselves, higher disposable income and lesser influence by a third party.
Women are more detailed oriented
Women are more detailed oriented than men. They look at the finer details of a sale, a deal, or an offer. This is a double edged sword for small business owners and SME marketers.
As a small business owner or SME marketer, you will have a better chance of success at promoting discounts, coupons and trade-ins. It is a known fact that women are more likely to use coupons than men. However, if your proposition design is incomplete, they would also see the flaws in your proposition!
Women are digital
Most women in the developed and developing economies are digitally savvy. They use the internet for shopping, keeping in touch with their friends through emails and instant messaging. They are very active in social networks like FaceBook and Twitter.
This has a lot of implications for small business investors and SME marketers.
The obvious one is that a large number of women shop online at least once a day.
Given that women nurture relationships with friends better than men, they are more likely to pass on deals or savings that they have come across to their friends.
Women are more appreciative of a business’s intent to serve them better. Therefore women are more like to respond positively to requests to serve on a select online product or service panels.
This is important for a small business owner or marketer as women are not only your best chance for referrals but they can better help you improvise your proposition to serve them better.
Women are more loyal customers than men
Women focus on relationships better than men. Women see themselves as interdependent and connected then men.
Women will put in extra efforts to connect to people, society or even a business. Women focus on maintaining a relationship more than men.
Women are more likely than men to give a business a second chance than men. Women do not give loyalty to an organization but rather to people in the organization.
This has huge implications for small business owners and SME marketers. SMEs have a better chance of having close relationships with their customer s than large organizations. SME marketers should ensure that they treat women as individuals and encourage one-on-one relationships.
However, small business owners must be aware that retaining key service employees must be an integral part of a small business’s strategy.
A small owner or SME marketer has a better chance of promoting loyalty based propositions to women better than men.
Women feel misunderstood
Research has shown that women feel that misunderstood in most marketing campaigns ranging from food, healthcare, automobiles and financial services.
This is a tremendous opportunity for small business owners and SME marketers to garner insights and develop propositions that women understand and need.
Any small business owner or SME marketer who ignores purposeful, structured and targeted marketing to women is making a huge mistake.
Most SMEs have a tremendous opportunity and potential to market to women, irrespective of their wares.
A good start would be to hire more women in your workforce. Men don’t really understand women and women feel that most markers miss the mark.
So whatever your business is, please ensure that your business strategy and your personal leadership as a small business owner or SME marketer takes women into account.
As some unknown author/s said, “women get the last word in any argument. Anything a man says after that is the beginning of a new argument”.
A final note – Women really do rule the world. As the late and famous Greek tycoon said “if women didn’t exist, all the money in the world would have no meaning”!