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Good question. And one that marketers all over the world are struggling to answer. No, I'm not talking about late- night strolls by the sea and diamonds; I'm talking about the future of marketing. And women, it seems, hold the key. Women buy (or influence the purchase of) 80% of today's consumer goods. And the trend is continuing online with more women surfers and buyers than men. So, how do we target this feminine segment of the buying population? Think soft. Think informative. Think gossip.

WHISPER

Let's imagine that a woman is planning on purchasing a new car. Two ads run on television: one with a red-faced salesman screaming the prices and promising the best deals in town, the other is an ad that uses a soft-spoken announcer who calmly tells the audience that there is a sale going on, and that it just might be the right time to buy a car. Who do you think gets the sale? That's right, it's the softer ad. Nothing makes a female purchaser run faster toward the competition than an in-your-face ad. How does this apply online? Your Web site is the announcer. Does it "scream" at the customer with harsh colors and pronouncements that claim to be the best game in town, or does it create a calm relaxed atmosphere that makes the browser want to pull up a chair and stay awhile?

TELL IT ALL

Men mostly make their buying decisions based on price and availability, and while these play an important role in women's purchasing decisions as well, the need to be informed is just as important. Have you ever been with a woman while shopping for a sofa? Not only is the style and color important, but also the fabric content, the manufacturer, the inside contents, the warranty, and the return policy. While men tend to make buying decisions based on a few facts, women want the whole picture--all the information available so they can make an informed decision.

Again, how does this apply online? We all know that information is what drives the Internet, and the most successful sites have articles and tips that allow the consumer to walk away with something that they didn't know before. But how organized is the information on your site? Do you clearly spell out your return policies and delivery times? Do you offer online pricing, or even comparative prices from your competitors? Do you provide all of the details (and photos) of your product and then offer a way for consumers to ask questions and get immediate responses? If not, you're probably not doing all you can to make female purchasers feel comfortable enough to buy from your site.

SPREAD THE WORD

Women talk. That's not a biased statement, it's a fact. And we like to pass along helpful information to our friends, which can be great for a company that just happens to offer a product that we need or desire. The challenge for any company who wants to use this form of viral marketing is two-fold: to sell the right product or service that women can get excited about, and then to help them spread the word. If you have such a product, you might consider setting up a message board on your site, or creating a newsletter that can be passed on to friends and family. Another way to help spread the word is to send emails with tips or advice on your particular area of expertise containing your site's name and address, which can also be passed on. (Opt-in only, please!)

So you see, we women aren't that hard to understand. All we require to make a buying decision is an ad or site that doesn't offend our eyes and ears, all of the available information on a product or service, and a reason (and possibly an avenue) to pass along your name. And who said we were impossible to figure out?

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