A man’s view of marketing to women

by Tony Fannin, president, BE Branded

I’ve been in communication with several people about pitching to women prospects who are VPs of Marketing and who’s company markets to women. My conversations have been with women who do what I do, integrated marketing. The angles and subjects were quite interesting. Here are a few highlights from one particular conversation with Holly Buchanan that seems to encapsulate the other’s as well:

• What are your thoughts about how genuine can men be marketing to women? I know that if I was pitching against myself, I would make a point about “how can HE understand a woman better than another woman can?” A reply from a woman marketer stated, “Some of the best marketing to women I’ve seen was created by men. Really great marketing is about truly understanding your customer. The further away you are from your target market, the harder you have to work to understand them. So it may be that men might have to work a little harder and put their own preferences aside. But can they do it? Absolutely. A great book that addresses this subject is Re-REnder the Gender by Tom Jordan.” Another statement that was made was not all women think alike. Just because you’re a woman doesn’t mean you automatically understand your target audience. Women need to do their homework as well. In the end, a smart marketer will get deep in the “understanding” and get at the underlying “why”.

• How much influence do women have in the B2B world? From those I’ve talked with, there is great potential. As one woman states, “There is a HUGE opportunity here. And I do mean HUGE. While you still don’t see enough women in top positions, you DO see a lot of women in HR, procurement managment, office managers, and women business owners are growing at a more rapid pace than male business owners.” “Enquiro has a fabulous webinar series on the B2B buyosphere. A lot of B2B is about mitigating risk (women tend to be more risk aware than men)  building long term relationships (another important factor in women’s buying process) and instilling trust. I believe B2B marketers could benefit greatly from marketing to women and including a more female communication style into their marketing efforts.”

• Is there prejudice against men pitching to women in power positions? Here is my thoughts. I think if your team is made up of all men when pitching, especially to a woman executive, I believe there is a subjective strike against you. But by having smart, capable women on my team does help. Now where I do find an advantage of being a guy, is I get to ask the “stupid” questions and not get penalized for it. I find this helpful because I don’t like to assume any answers, no matter how simple they may seem on the surface. I’m always surprised at what I thought was a pat answer, they replied with something different that was totally unexpected. One other advantage I see being a man is that I can offer my insights on how to help package the presentation or proposal to their superiors if they are male or the “boys club”. This way, the proposal is in a language and tone that her superiors or male colleagues can understand. This helps in consensus building and speeds up the approval process.

Here’s what another woman had to say; “I love your point about being able to ask the “stupid” questions. I do work in marketing to moms. I’m not a mom, but I find that works to my advantage because I don’t assume all moms think like me, and I get to ask questions that a marketer who is a mom might not ask. You are so right, it’s often those “stupid” questions that give you the best answers.”

“Many of the women in the business world – they can have what I call a “male communication style.”  or, in Myers Briggs type the “NT” personality type. It’s why the “office focus group” often leads to unreliable feedback as to what messaging will resonate with women.  (aka – you have a campaign or idea and run it by the women in the office, and they think it’s great, but then it bombs in the real marketplace)   This goes back to the “not all women think alike” issue that too many people overlook.  The “well, I asked my wife, and she said” kind of research is going to miss the mark.”

• Is there any thing that women marketers say that doesn’t resonate with me? This one was aimed at me. One point that reinforces the “not all women are the same. Many of our contacts who have hired us are women. From my experience, many of those who achieve C-level do think more like a man than a woman. They are either that way already or have adapted to their environment. So, in that sense, you do need to alter your perception. Some of the toughest business people I know are women and they drive their objectives with equal skill with no room for fluff.

For me, it was wonderful to talk to women marketers and get their perspective. One take away was that men can be as effective as women when it comes to marketing to women. We just have to work harder, that’s all. The other point is no group is exactly the same, so by varying your key messages to appeal to core groups within the group is vital. Ultimately, being authentic, truly understanding what would make their life better, and letting her know she’s not alone and that we can do it together, will go a in earning the support and loyalty of women customers. Women don’t buy brands, she joins them.

I want to give a special thank you to Holly Buchanan. My conversation with her was enlightening and very cool. Her blog is Marketing to Women Online. She is also the author of “The Soccer Mom Myth”.



About Be Branded

Tony Fannin is of President of BE Branded, an integrated marketing firm who helps clients BE Somebody to their customers. If you aren't somebody, then you are commodity.

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