How to Sell Men On Marketing To Women

by Holly Buchanan

There you are, laying out your presentation. You’ve explained why your client needs to market to women.  You’ve shown the stats on women’s purchasing power. You’ve explained how your client needs to market to women. You’ve shown the research and real life examples of what advertising messages and channels women respond to.   You’ve shared your own personal success record in marketing to women.

Slam dunk, right?

Wrong. The client decided to pass on your marketing to women initiative.

What happened? Why do so many attempts to get clients or even your own company to buy in to a marketing to women initiative fail?

This was the question I posed to BeBranded’s Tony Fannin. I wanted to know how we can do a better job of getting more men on board. It seems like a no-brainer to me. If women are an important part of your target audience, why wouldn’t you implement a plan to do a better job of marketing to them? Why is this sometimes such a hard thing to sell to men?

Here’s Tony’s response:

  • “Because they feel threatened.”  Some men (especially those in marketing and advertising) think they’re going to get displaced, that you’re out to get their job. Also, no one wants to be proven wrong. If you come in and show them that their current efforts aren’t connecting with women, they can get defensive.
  • Because you’re not addressing the non-believers.” So often, those in the marketing to women world are preaching to the crowd. The folks that read our books, attend our seminars, seek our advice are already convinced they need to market to women differently. They respect us as leaders. But for those companies and marketers who aren’t convinced they need to market to women, you have to find a different way to start the conversation. You have to start with something they do believe in. You also need to include folks on your team who they do respect and listen to.
  • “Because you’re relying on female communication style rather than male communication style. ” Tony works with clients on “how to pitch the boss.” Understanding how men think and men’s decision styles is crucial when selling your idea to men on the team or in upper management who need to sign off on the project.

I really appreciated getting a guy’s perspective on this. I fully believe if we’re going to do a better job of marketing to women, we need women and men to work together on the effort. So here are some suggestions for how you can sell men on your marketing to women initiative:

  • Stress the fact that men can create successful marketing to women campaigns.  Some of the best marketing to women initiatives I’ve seen were created by men.  Being a woman doesn’t necessarily mean you can do a better job than a man.  Not all women think alike.  Some women make the mistake of thinking all women have the same preferences they do.   The secret to success is understanding your audience, not necessarily being one of them.
  • Start with something you all agree on. If your starting point is that men and women have different buying processes, or different design aesthetics, and your client or company doesn’t agree, you’ve lost them at “hello.” I’ve found that starting with examples from people’s personal lives is a good starting point since you are focusing on something they’ve experienced personally and know to be true.
  • Beware of the focus group of one. I can’t tell you how many time I’ve heard “Well, I asked my wife.  And she liked the ad.”  Or, “We asked around the office and none of the women had a problem with it.”    Stress that not all women think alike, and make sure you do statistically valid testing of any concepts.
  • Get buy-in from a leader they respect.  Include someone on the team they already respect and find credible.  Even better, get buy-in from someone at the top whose opinion the organization trusts.   The easiest way for you to gain credibility is to be backed up by a trusted leader within the company.
  • Understand how to “pitch the boss.” To put it bluntly, learn male communication style.  Tony Fannin works with his clients to create a separate proposal/presentation for the ultimate decision maker.   Men want you to be direct, get to the point, and tell them how this will affect the bottom line.  Long presentations, thick reports and too many details are the kiss of death.   Hit the most important points, be confident and be brief.

If we want to see more marketing to women initiatives implemented, we need to get men AND women on our team.   Here’s to all of our future success.

Holly Buchanan is the co-author of The Soccer Mom Myth – Today’s Female Consumer: Who She Really Is, Why She Really Buys.  You can read more at her blog Marketing to Women Online.

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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.

7 Responses to “How to Sell Men On Marketing To Women”

  1. Holly
    Great article. Tony suggests some very interesting points. I agree. What might seem obvious to the person pitching the women initiative concept, may not land on the eyes and ears of the listener as they intended. Considering the listeners’ communication style, thoughts and fears is definitely important in closing the deal. Many people feel that the status quo is safe and making changes, even for the better, involves more risk. However, you and I both know the risks can equal great rewards.

  2. Gerry, You are so right about the risk-reward aspect of changes. I believe that if you are standing still, you’re already behind. Your competitors are not standing still. They are improving, creating, evolving. To me, there is no risk in getting better in marketing to women. In fact, it is the REAL power in the market place.
    Tony

  3. Gerry – I’m totally with you and Tony on the “taking risks” thing. I know some companies have gotten burned in their efforts to reach out to women. (Can you say Motrin Moms). But when you take the time to really do your research, and take steps, even small ones, to better cater to your female clients, the results can be huge. (Best Buy did. There’s a reason they’re still here and Circuit City is not)

  4. Holly – This is a great article! Of the hundreds of decision makers in marketing that I have worked with over the past 26 years, 96% of them have been men. And I for one have been much more convincing when dealing directly with the owners. There is more of a common goal and less concern for job security.

    I do think that one of the biggest roadblocks is that even if men believe that women are their market, they still want to maintain the control of implementing it. And because they simply do not “understand” what women are suggesting be done, men cannot relinquish the control. And because they cannot relate, ego and insecurities often trump rational and objective thinking.

    • Sheconomy – Thank you for taking time to read Holly’s blog entry. You’re right, Holly definitely knows what she’s talking about. I think at the core is what you said in the last sentence, “…cannot relate…” A lack of understanding contributes to defensiveness and insecurity on the part of many men. If they don’t understand, they feel threatened because they are suppose to “know everything” and not admit they don’t know what you’re talking about. That prevents them from asking questions so they might learn something.

  5. I admire your blog , it has of lot of information. You just got one perennial visitor of this blog.

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