Connecting to the female consumer is not easy, because there is no single magical way to target women. They are a diverse group, and in many ways it is harder to reach them than their male counterparts.
To follow up on part one of this article, here are specific ideas to increase your business with female customers.
Events and Giveaways With a Twist
Developing distinctive events is important. For instance, when I was handling PR for the Town of Addison, we created its first fireworks display for Independence Day. The twist we initiated was Addison held a Fourth on the Third celebration rather than compete with well-established shows in our area. Today, 20 years later, the fireworks are still done on July 3 and have one of the largest turnouts in the country. Addison achieved its goal of bringing people to the community to have fun and spend money with its merchants.
If you are a car dealership, your twist might be to bring women into the facility for things other than automotive-related sales or educational events. While programs like a car-care clinic and classes on buying versus leasing are good, they are common and won't differentiate you from the competition. To do that, you might consider having a local or well-know artist, author, or journalist speak on a topic of interest to women.
A mall's success is dependent on women's buying in their stores. One thing I did to increase mall traffic was hire the local pro football team's wives to do a fashion show in the mall court area, with outfits and accessories from various stores. They were paid half in cash and half in Mall Dollars—a way to entice our celebrity models to return and shop at the mall.
Additionally, many of their husbands and children attended the events to support the women who were in the spotlight instead of them: A real treat for the audience who loved seeing the famous players, their wives, and kids.
Does your mall have a well-decorated meeting room with a private bathroom and a variety of restaurants that could cater meetings? If so, you could offer organizations a free or inexpensive facility to host meetings. Could women book a small, but attractive room to get together with one or two other businesswomen? In today's virtual world, many women, even high-level corporate executives, are working from home and would appreciate having such a venue.
To set yourself apart, look at what would compliment your customers. For instance, if you are a fitness facility, perhaps you can have a chef demonstrate healthy, quick, but tasty dishes and provide recipes. Bring in a masseuse once a month for free massages to loyal females clients.
If you are involved in home furnishings, perhaps giving away a shopping spree at The Container Store, a closet makeover that includes built-ins, or other organizational items would be of interest to your targeted customers. Maybe have a contest or drawing for a year's free housekeeping services.
If you provide outdoor family equipment or landscaping, maybe a lawn service would be just the ticket. Consider a car service that would transport the kids to baseball practices or orthodontic appointment. Offer choices: either the housekeeping or the lawn/car service for a year. Anything that makes her life easier will be appealing.
Spend time brainstorming with some of your key customers and get some fresh new ideas that would re-energize both your employees and your customers. Remember, women have limited time and are very good at multitasking. Make your events serve many needs.
Family Oriented Versus for Women Only
Women tend to be very family oriented. Programs and events that include kids or the whole family are important to them. However, because mothers are usually juggling several things at once, they have very little time for themselves. Getting away for just "me" is something all women want at one time or another, but they have to have a good reason to fit it into their busy schedules without feeling guilty.
If you are a gym or fitness centers, think about what offers or programs your clientele could take advantage of before or after your workout. Women are more likely to come if they can accomplish more than one thing while there. It is just as important to cater to and retain current female customers as it is to attract new ones.
If you sell a big-ticket item, especially one that teens would want, you might donate one to the school district to raffle off once a year. For instance, a big screen TV, car, or wonderful trip could be showcased at football games, during travel from school to school, or at various locations within the community. The point is to get maximum exposure for the item and for your establishment in a very favorable light (you are donating the item and helping raise needed funds). Create a signature program you carry out year after year so that people relate to you and to the donation.
Get groups together that share a common bond. If you own a golf store that sells women's equipment and apparel, you can have events that bring women golfers together to share their stories or hear tips from golf pros. Or you can bring speakers who, for example, talk about how golf can benefit your business and career. (Oppenheimer Funds published a report titled "From the Locker Room to the Board Room," which focused on how sports played a significant role in women's rise within corporations.)
Many organizations focus on women's trips, some to beautiful spa destinations, others to more adventurous destinations. Perhaps giving that kind of a trip away, rather than the standard couple trip, would strike an accord with your customers.
Team up With Another Entity
By working with a compatible business, you increase your visibility with its current clients as well as yours. In addition, you can lower the cost and increase the interest level. When you partner with others, make sure their values and philosophy match yours on critical issues, such as customer service and product quality.
There are numerous ways you can do this. For instance, you can team up with companies that cater to your market but offer different products or services, or with a charity, such as the Komen Foundation. Many companies, such as KitchenAid, Wilson's Hope Line, M&Ms and Yoplait, have done successful, high visibility programs by using the pink ribbon to increase women's desires to purchase their products.
However, with the number of organizations tying in with the Komen Foundation, it may not be your best partner. Look around for a local charity that would provide you excellent visibility and PR value, one that would be great to work with and would benefit from this type of association as well.
Celebrity appearances draw crowds. But do they really make sales? Consider the bottom-line results before going this route.
A financial planner might pair up with an upscale jewelry store and do a jewelry fashion show, with champagne and an educational component. Or, combine a financial and a health seminar so you can address "Women's Physical and Financial Health," and how they work together.
Can you add another entity that would help women on a permanent basis? If you have a product that brings her to your facility regularly, can you add a dry cleaner, post office, basic food items, banking or other services?
Ask women in your organization for ideas. Talk to women who attend your kid's soccer games; women you meet at parties; your wife, daughter, mother and other female family members; and neighbors.
Get involved in the community, but be selective. Joining every organization, working on every issue, isn't the way to go. Focus on what is important to you, your company, and the women you would like as customers.
There are many tried and true methods, such as sponsorships, participating in trade shows, and providing financial support and volunteers, but the real question is what can you do that sets you apart?
- Create the plan.
- If you are unsure what to do or how to do it, get help from experts in the field.
- Set up measurable results, reasonable budget allocations, and workable time parameters.
- Stick to the plan. Give it time to produce positive results.
- Make sure you are accomplishing your objectives. Evaluate your progress and refine your plan, if necessary.
- When you have success, reinforce your actions rather than shifting money to other areas.
Since most women are time-stressed, they want to do business with companies that provide them with extraordinary service, convenience, and value. Make sure your products and services are designed for women's needs, and make sure that you are using creative, innovative methods to attract and keep your women customers.
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