I would like to share my thoughts about my discussions with Marti Barletta and TJ Couzens over the weekend in Chicago. For those of you who don’t know about Marti, she is probably one of the most influential thought leaders and trend spotters when it comes to marketing to the world’s largest economy, women. She is a consultant to Fortune 500 companies, a very successful author (Marketing to Women), and CEO of TrendSight, a company devoted to helping marketers understand the women market. TJ Couzens is President of a new company, Brand X Research. They specialize in researching the women market and provide their clients primary research on insights about how women view their products and services and advise on marketing strategy and key messaging.
Marti is steeped in wisdom, insights, and energy. It’s no wonder she is the guru’s guru when it comes to marketing to women. One of the oddest statements she made to me during my visit was that irregardless of her reputation, her background, and her experience, the message she’s been delivering in the marketing world about women dominating almost all areas of purchasing power, is better received coming from a man than from a woman. To me, that’s insane. Though hardly anyone would doubt her experience and expertise, it’s just not well received because she’s a woman and the perception is that Marti is “man-bashing”. That is furthest from the truth. In fact, her mission is to try and help companies connect with women so they can be even more profitable and successful. Besides, who would know women better than another woman? Men often say to their women counterparts, “You wouldn’t understand, you’re not a man.” and no man seems to argue against that logic.
To me, the equation is not that in order for women to win, men must lose. It’s not a zero-sum game. It is a win-win game if marketers do it right. Women win by having their needs understood and communicated in a way that is insightful and respectful. Companies win (men too, since many CEO’s are men) by gaining a loyal customer base (women tend to be loyal for an average of over 10 years while men’s loyalty average is 2.5 years). Also, if treated well, women will tell, on average, 21.5 of her friends while men will only tell 2.5 others about your company. So this notion of man-bashing is nothing more than ego, pride, and unfounded fear by men and her critics.
Here are a couple of other insights I was able to glean from my meeting with Marti:
• Don’t “pink it and shrink it”– When it comes to creating an identifying color to your product or service that is women focus, don’t assume it should be pink and smaller. Many women, especially professional women, avoid pink in fear of being seen as “soft” and not being able to compete in a “man’s world”. Also, many women see this as a stereotype. According to her research, most women dislike pink as much as guys do.
• Men are simple, women are not. And both like it that way – Here is a mind zinger. Men ARE simple. We like it that way. In fact, we feel that is a compliment. Men don’t want to complicate things, issues, or their lives. Men like focus (read simple). Women are not simple. They like it that way. Women are complex with many facets. They can multi-task and be great at all of it. To women, multi-tasking is not being scattered-brained, but being able to handle a wider level of activities. To call a woman simple would be insulting. To call a man complex would be insulting. The point is to be aware of this and market accordingly.
If you are a marketer and haven’t really taken a hard, serious look at how you are marketing to women, I would strongly suggest you do so. If you are serious about improving the bottom line and making that balance sheet sing, you need to contact Marti Barletta, hire her, listen to her and implement her strategies. Your bank account will thank you and so will your shareholders.