Marketing with women, not at them

Marketing to women has traditionally focused on demographic groupings that just don’t work any more.

The way brands market to women is finally changing. Thank God. No more ‘release the product in pink and she’ll buy it’ - although I’ll miss some of the brilliant, funny responses to those products. (We’ve all been reminded of Bic for Her thanks to Bic SA this week!)

Actually, scrap marketing to women altogether. Brands whose customers are predominantly women are waking up to the power of marketing with women.

Marketing to women has traditionally focused on demographic groupings that just don’t work any more. We don’t fit into convenient categories; ‘stay at home mum’, ‘working mum’, ‘career woman’, ‘superwoman’. We’re ambitious, intelligent, mindful, creative, funny, entrepreneurial, powerful… Our roles, personalities and aspirations are fluid and not – despite much of the advertising out there – confined to having a clean house and a happy family (or even having a house or a family at all).

marketing with women Research shows women are natural storytellers.

Research presented at the M2W conference in Chicago this year highlighted a number of trends that are important for brands whose products are bought by women. In particular, women are natural storytellers. We share our experiences, insights, complaints and helpful information with our friends. We listen to and learn from each other, and trust recommendations from friends, family or peers to influence our purchase decisions above everything else. We also do our research – on average, women refer to 10 different sources of information before a purchase (this compares to an average of two sources for men).

This makes word-of-mouth (WOM) marketing a critical part of a brand’s marketing strategy to reach women. A robustly planned and executed WOM programme harnesses this natural human behaviour, technology enables it to be driven at scale.

But it has to be collaborative to work effectively. If women are prepared to share their stories, brands must listen to what they have to say. We know from our own experience of building a network of millions of people, that the communication must be two-way – by engaging with companies at eye level women are empowered to share the inside track on products with their friends, and are given the confidence and means to give feedback to brands.

The best bit? It’s win-win. Given the chance we genuinely enjoy being welcomed into the inner circle of our favourite brands (and the social currency it bestows) and companies benefit from an infinitely huge marketing force spreading the word about their products.

Tapping into a network of women who will help you market your product means ditching some of the old methods of marketing to women, and focusing on collaborating with them, instead. Here are my top five considerations when creating a WOM marketing programme for women:

1. Identify the women who are already your fans through your own branded community, rather than on social media (so you’ll own the data). If you don’t have your own community, use an existing WOM network that can identify your influencers for you. Drop the marketing stereotypes, and instead, look at interests, skills, influence and personalities.

2. Make them feel special. Give them the tools they’ll need to become experts on your brand and keep them in the loop, so they’re always the first to hear about new products and have lots of interesting topics to then share with friends.

3. Let go! Try to control how, where and what is said about your brand and you’re guaranteed to lose credibility. Instead, be the enabler. Empower women to share honest experiences and opinions with those around them, and then ask them to feed back to you.

4. Listen to what they say, act on it and then thank them for it. There is nothing more rewarding than knowing your voice is heard and valued, and these kinds of rewards reap much higher returns when it comes to loyalty than a price promotion ever will.

5. Amplify and integrate your WOM campaign across all of your media channels. Insight and testimonials generated as a result of a WOM campaign are hugely powerful assets and will resonate with your audience, because they’re the words of real women, just like them.

First published 3 September 2015 on Netimperative

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