(See part 1 here.)

To design marketing plans that are effective in attracting and selling to more women, you have to know where you are today. In other words: To get the right answers, you must start with the correct questions. As your company focuses on developing appropriate strategies, here are some questions you should consider.

  • What is your company's current status? Is a program in place to attract more women consumers?

  • How does your company stack up with others in your industry? With others not in your industry, but vying for the same dollars?

  • Do you have well-defined strategies and goals?

  • What are you currently spending for this initiative? What is your ROI?

  • Is someone clearly in charge of this effort—and held accountable for results?

  • Where can you turn for help?

    • Search the internet to get more information on women, marketing to women, and consultants who work in that arena.

    • Attend conferences on the subject.

    • Read books or professional articles on the topic.

    • Take a brief marketing quiz to see how you stack up.

The help is there. You don't need to figure it all out yourself or with women in the company who are not specialists in marketing and selling. All you have to do is ask for it. You will be surprised at how much you can improve your bottom line by making this an integral part of your marketing action plan, setting goals, and holding the persons in charge accountable for results.

Women as Purchasing Agents and Multitaskers

One of the most important things that marketers, retailers, and salespeople need to remember is that women make the vast majority of purchases in almost every category. As a wife, mother, or single woman, she purchases for her family. As a business owner, she is frequently involved in buying decisions, especially large-ticket items. And many women staff purchasing departments in companies.

As multitaskers, women frequently combine their various purchasing roles into one trip. They may enter an electronic store to purchase a computer for their child, their husband, their home-based business and/or to expand equipment in an existing office. Yet women are frequently ignored in electronic stores. Recently, I purchased a big screen TV, with all the latest bells and whistles, in spite of the sales staff rather than because of them.

I advise women that, when it's practical, they should leave stores where they are ignored, patronized, or given the runaround. And that's exactly what many women do. They leave and buy from your competitor.

What Are Women Looking for?

Women want respect; they want knowledgeable salespeople who are professional and who will take the time to answer their questions. They want someone they can build a professional relationship with, someone they can come back to when they need more products and can refer their friends to.

Women want common courtesy. Yet stores continue to poorly train their personal, or worse, stay in denial about how things should be. Instead of fixing the problems, they continue to argue they do a great job with women and advertise that they provide the best service in town. Women are many things, but one thing they aren't is stupid consumers.

Though they are price conscious, women are also more value-oriented and will pay to get what they want. They understand that retailers need to make a profit to stay in business, but they also recognize price gouging, erroneous information, and outright lies some salespeople tell to make the sale.

Women are looking for products that are designed with them in mind and fit their needs. For instance, if it is sports apparel or equipment, don't just make it smaller and pink. Create the product for your target customer. A woman is not just a smaller man.

Strategies for Attracting Women

Many companies have realized the value of women and are beginning to react in an appropriate fashion. Others do it halfway, and then wonder why it doesn't work. For instance, TV ads, during football games and particularly during the Super Bowl, are being targeted more to women. Although Football 101 classes for women were sellouts, the League failed to implement a concerted effort to continue and expand these immensely popular events with an interested and worthwhile market segment. Why?

"Nike has recently released a golf ball with features that are specially designed to appeal to women golfers," according to Cindy Davis, General Manager of Nike Golf, USA. They are focusing more time and energy on women's golf products and apparel. Manufacturers have finally realized that color isn't the number-one factor in women buying their products. This July will be the sixth annual NGCOA sponsored "Take Your Daughters to the Course Week."

In spite of the 6.9 million women golfers, little has been made to increase the number of women who work in the field. Nearly 99% of the personnel in the golf industry remain male.

10 Tips and Techniques

Whether you are just starting a program aimed at women customers, expanding one you already have, or are happy with the results you are getting from your current strategies, it is a good policy to annually reexamine your plans and budgets and fine-tune them to the changing demographics of women consumers.

Here are 10 tips to help your marketing efforts:

  1. Pay attention to what women tell you. Ask open-ended questions and listen carefully to the answers.

  2. Train your staff to be professional and knowledgeable and to deal will ALL customers with integrity.

  3. Build rapport and trust. Then ask for referrals.

  4. Be more concerned with her worth as a lifelong customer than just her transaction today.

  5. Appreciate and value women as customers, and let them know you do.

  6. Treat women fairly. Little things are often big things to women.

  7. Over-deliver and under-promise. Provide exceptional customer service.

  8. Be sincere, not too aggressive or pushy.

  9. Realize that women today are savvy, informed shoppers with money.

  10. If your product isn't primarily sold at a mall (e.g., electronics, cars, office furniture and supplies, etc.) know that if a women is in your store she plans to make a purchase. She is not there to kill time. If you don't make the sale, your competition will.

To Ensure Success

Focusing on this diverse, valuable consumer just makes good business sense. While budgets are a part of the business world, don't just think of the cost to implement the program, but also about the lost revenue if you don't.

There is no doubt that if you don't concentrate some of your efforts and resources on this crucial market segment, you will lose market share and revenue.

In summary, there are four things to keep in mind when developing marketing and sales programs designed to appeal to women:

  • Make sure there is buy-in at all levels, especially at the top.

  • Allocate enough resources, both dollars and people, to get the job done, and done correctly.

  • If necessary, hire a specialist so that you understand what to do and how to avoid costly pitfalls.

  • Develop a comprehensive strategy with goals that hold all involved parties accountably for its success.

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Gerry Myers is CEO, president, and cofounder of Advisory Link (www.advisorylink-dfw.com). She is co-author of Leading the Way to Success and specializes in marketing and selling more effectively to women.