I just read an article by Dee Dee Myers, the first female White House press secretary. She was noting that the women in the U.S. Senate, despite party affiliation and diverse backgrounds, found a way to work together when their male counterparts struggled.
Myers, while saying her observations don’t provide an air tight argument, concludes women are more interested in consensus, less interested in score keeping, and more interested in listening to others’ opinions.
While generalities are never 100 percent true, I agree with Myers observations. And it made me think that women do not only work differently together, or lead differently, but they also shop differently.
Before anyone starts guffawing at what seems to be obvious and common knowledge, let me finish. For my observations tell me that many companies don’t really get it; they don’t know how to market to women. That is not to say no one gets it, for Kellogg gets it, Curves and Wachovia get it. Apple gets it.
Some companies think if they treat women the same as men, that is to say with the same level of respect and interest, they are doing a great job of appealing to the purchasing power of women. Well it’s just not that easy, nor obvious.
Women’s decision-making process is different than a man’s. The credibility they give information resources differs, too. And guess what, the process takes a little longer.
Women are information gatherers. The first step in sales to women is to offer information and answer questions. You absolutely should not expect to close the sale on a first visit, unless she has previously done her information gathering. Of course, we’re not talking about purchases of the level of a tube of toothpaste. But don’t be fooled, she’s probably researched toothpaste.
Developing a relationship and trust are what it takes. Yeah, yeah, sales to anyone is about relationships. With women, it has to be authentic, sincere and on target. And in your sales toolbox, you better have some satisfied women customers. For women will believe their mothers, sisters and friends before they will believe any expert, doctor, mechanic or technology geek. Credentials just won’t measure up to the experience of the ones they trust.
Kellogg understands a woman’s day, her fight to maintain a healthy weight, and how the two fit together. Their product line is driven by this understanding.
Curves understands the single most important driver to a woman trying to get or stay in shape is her kids.
Apple designed a new store layout just for women. It’s not filled with just product to buy but product to try. The sales staff knows it is there to answer questions, with a sale possibly coming after several visits. And the isles are extra wide, to accommodate strollers. A children’s play area is next to the check-out counter.
Yes, indeed women are different. And that can be a real plus in the work place. And it can be great for a marketer, if they truly understand the differences.