Marketing to Moms: You’re Doing It All Wrong
BY Jeff Haden
Women control $13 trillion in consumer spending. But most of the assumptions you make about them in your marketing are way off.
Want to grow your business? Try marketing differently to women.
“Women make the majority of purchase decisions for almost every product category in the marketplace, and that includes automotive, electronics, and insurance,” says Kat Gordon, founder and Creative Director of Maternal Instinct, a marketing agency focused on helping brands connect with the mom market. “In fact, only three online purchase categories are driven more by men than women: music, auctions, and computer hardware.
“Even so, research tells us 71 percent of women feel brands only consider them for beauty and cleaning products. If your company sells something other than ‘mops and makeup,’ you’ve got a tremendous opportunity to catapult your brand to new places.”
How big is that opportunity? According to Gordon, women currently control $13 trillion of the world’s $18.4 trillion in consumer spending. And with more women working and an ever-narrowing wage gap, women’s influence over shopping decisions should continue to increase.
Here’s Gordon’s advice on how any business can better reach, appeal, and retain female customers:
How to reach women:
Skate where the puck is. Women are already online in droves, especially on Facebook. Find a community where your customer hangs out and sponsor or enable it. Don’t build a new community and expect her to change her habits. She’s too busy to bother.
Make it mobile. If your site isn’t optimized for mobile, make that your first priority. Moms in particular conduct a lot of business from their phones, and no wonder—research shows they spend 17 days a year in the car with their kids.
Video, video, and more video. Women are heavy video users; the average woman watches over 90 minutes of YouTube videos each month. Over 80 percent of moms look for online videos to see a product in action. If your product does something, find a way to show, don’t tell.
How to appeal to women:
Don’t “enter talking.” Earn the right to a conversation with a female consumer by making your opening line one of recognition, not sales. Gordon calls this a “bridge thought.” Think about what you would say to greet a friend, not to woo a prospect.
Do a humor check. Humor can be a remarkably effective way to connect with women, but only if it’s the right humor. What’s funny to men is often mystifying, or worse, insulting, to women. Before you run a new marketing campaign run it past as many women as you can.
Show diversity. Only 4 percent of households fit the June Cleaver blueprint: working father, stay-at-home mom, and kids under 18. Revisit the text and images on your website and expand how you depict women—and especially the assumptions you make about her life.
Run female-created work. When you hire an ad agency, chances are your campaigns will originate from a male sensibility since only 3 percent of creative directors are women. You’re paying the bill, so you call the shots. Demand female representation on your account.
Give back. When price and quality are equal, 82 percent of women report they are more likely to buy from companies that support a charitable cause they care about. Women also report they will try a product or switch brands if they feel doing so will help others. Find a cause you believe in that aligns with your brand, then highlight your donation, especially at touch points where you ask for a sale.
How to retain female customers:
Thank her. Few companies take the time to express genuine appreciation for a sale or referral. Be the exception. A sincere “thank you” is like catnip to women.
Offer outstanding service. List your phone number on every page of your website and never subject women to phone tree hell. Answer your phones and respond to emails and tweets. She will not just stay a customer—she will tell everyone she knows.
Practice story-selling. The more you put a human face on your organization, the more invested a female consumer will be in your success. Practice “story-selling” in your consumer communications, sharing rich details about your employees, community, and any lore around the creation of your products.
Ask for feedback. The most valuable insight about your product or service is yours for the asking. So ask. She’ll tell you.
JEFF HADEN learned much of what he knows about business and technology as he worked his way up in the manufacturing industry. Everything else he picks up from ghostwriting books for some of the smartest leaders he knows in business. @jeff_haden