Market to Women Differently Than Men

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If marketers really want to reach all consumers, they'd be well served to speak to women.

Here's a fact that may be lost by many marketers: Women control 80 percent of purchase decisions. This means women not only buy for themselves, they buy for others. And they're not just deciding what dishwasher detergent or pantyhose to buy. They're dictating computer and car purchases.

Here's another fact: Women outnumber men online. Women account for 51 percent of Internet users, and the number of women coming online each year is growing faster than the number of men coming online.

When you target women online effectively, you can raise your product sales and market share without alienating men to your brand. At worst, most men simply ignore advertising clearly not intended for them. Women, however, feel alienated by advertising aimed toward men.

Take Pepperidge Farm's Milano Cookie. In an effort to increase its market share of women, the company refocused its branding. Through research, Pepperidge Farm discovered a trend of women hiding their cookies. They viewed them as their little reward and didn't want their husband or children to have them.

So Pepperidge Farm created a Milano Moment campaign executed offline and online. The campaign reached out to women with a message that it is important for them to have time for themselves, to relax with something indulgent and enjoyable. A Milano Moment mini-site was created.

Cookie sales rose, but most tellingly, while more women were buying cookies, it wasn't at the expense of losing male customers. Men continued buying them as well.

What are some of the ways to reach women online?

Speak in a woman's voice. Women want to feel like they're being addressed by a friend who shares their problems and interests. In other words, someone who "gets" them. The online ad that asked women to transport their data to a new ISP was not talking to women. We've got addresses, we've got lists, but one thing we don't have is data.

Respect the way women use the Internet. Women do not like to click on banners and be taken off to another site from which they cannot find their way back. Women go online for solutions and are interested in finding what they need in one place. Banners are counter-intuitive to that way of working.

Picture a man with a remote control. Now picture a woman with a remote control. I rest my case.

Try humor, not guilt. I'm amazed by how many marketing messages are still skewed to the "woman who wants it all." Those women are depicted as tired, stressed and beleaguered.

If you spend your time listening to millions of women talking every day, then you know: Women are over with doing it all. Sure, they're still trying to cram a lot into their day, but they're not beating themselves up for what they can't knock off before the sun sets.

That's why Pepperidge Farm is cleaning up with the message that "if you want a cookie, don't just eat an ordinary cookie."

Remember: help, don't hawk. Women like to figure stuff out. And anyone, any place or any company that helps women out wins their loyalty. It is your choice: Talk to her like you get her and get bigger results, or keep talking to her like you never even pictured her and be satisfied with what the cat brought home.

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