by Linsey Knerl
As a woman, I've felt the pressures to succeed in everything I touch: raising a family, being a spouse, running a business, and just being active and productive within my community. Is it any wonder that I'm looking to businesses to offer real-life solutions to help me get through my day? By capitalizing on the real needs of today's woman, small businesses have a unique opportunity to grow and thrive amidst uncertainty. Read how others have made it work, and start speaking to us in our own language!
1. Felicia Joy, Ms. CEO Media Inc. — @msceo
"Show an altruistic side. Small business owners who wish to appeal to women should think about linking their product or service, or a percentage of revenues, to a cause that women who might buy from them care about. According to the Ernst and Young 'Groundbreakers' report, women reinvest 90 percent of their income into their families and communities, compared to men, who reinvest only 30 to 40 percent. This is strong and compelling evidence that women care about spending money with companies that share their values and/or give back in the same way that they do. The fancy schmancy new official term for this strategy is 'cause marketing.'"
2. Marc Lawn, The Business GP
"Talk their language. If you are talking to mums, employ mums to write your articles and blogs, answer the phones, etc. If you are marketing to older or younger demographics, employ people that know how they act. The biggest mistake ever is to target mums and then employ someone aged 23 and straight out of college to copywrite everything."
3. Julie Bonn Heath, Julie Bonn Heath Marketing — @juliebonnheath
"I would definitely recommend influential mom bloggers as a big way to connect with women with most of the industries that I work with. Mom bloggers have a large impact with women. They were able to start a boycott and take down a Motrin ad campaign over a period of less than 36 hours. They are influential, not only to moms, but also to women who are not moms."
4. Stephanie Scott, 3LAB — @3LAB Skincare
"The best way to market our products is to be honest and 'un'market them. Instead of coming up with a campaign full of promises and hype, we simply tell our customers what our products do and why they are worth buying — because they really truly work. We value our customers and take their concerns very seriously. We answer all emails personally and really take a hands-on approach to meeting their needs. Everyone from the creator to the R&D scientists to the head of manufacturing is available to answer the customer's questions. We stand behind our products 100 percent and that is the best marketing that we can supply."
5. Amanda Johns, Author of upcoming "Selling to the Sexes: How to work with, sell to and manage the opposite gender" and rep for Southwestern Consulting — @AJ0725
"Without pigeonholing all women into one lump sum, there are two distinct ways that most women prefer to sell and buy:
Women who buy personality over product — These are more likely to buy from the company if they have good reputation, friendly service, inviting atmosphere, pleasant visual appeal. Women buy the experience. Sell the personality of the company, and you will attract women.
Women who are brand name buyers — It's not that they don't love a good deal, but overall, women buy a brand name. Companies targeting women need to brand themselves in their niche market. Whether it just be a local branding approach or a national approach, women will flock to where other women shop. This is because women compare shopping experiences and will try out what other women suggest, and they want to be a part of the action."
6. Kirsten Osolind, President of RE:INVENTION Marketing
"Financial providers, banks and credit unions wanting to connect with women need to begin by fostering a relationship with women — and they need to be patient. Women take a winding, holistic path to a financial decision. She can't be rushed. She'll have questions. She wants peace of mind, a plan, security, to be responsible. She will share good and bad experiences with her friends via tightly knit Social Media Communities via Facebook and blogs.
What WON'T Work: Facts, figures, numbers that mean a lot to industry insiders (not women) and not being upfront/direct about compensation and motivations for pitching certain products or solutions over others. What WILL Work: Stories and anecdotes that relate to a woman's own situation, making women comfortable enough to take their time to make decisions, educating women along the way, allowing for a longer relationship development process, and being very upfront about how you (the bank) are compensated."
7. Stacey Kannenberg, Cedar Valley Publishing — @StaceyKann
"Take out free 'Google Alerts' on your important keywords. Everyday, Google will send you a list of bloggers and reporters who used your keywords. I have found reporters interested in reviewing my books that has lead to media coverage. I have also found over 1,000 mom bloggers to review my books. These reviews are priceless because I have also developed genuine relationships with these amazing bloggers who have posted the most detailed reviews of my books leading to my high SEO rankings and over 65,000 copies of my books sold."
8. Andrea Learned, Learned On — @AndreaLearned
"Share your path to sustainable business operations/practices and how your products are developing along those lines. Today's most important consumer to reach is the one who is thinking about sustainability. Women, especially those who are moms, are the most demanding on that front. Serve them, and serve the broader emerging sustainable consumer."
9. Ronnie Manning, Mynt Public Relations — @RManning_Mynt and @MyntPR
"There are many excellent resources and online communities that are targeted towards women/mothers that offer a great communications tool for not only your product or service, but for yourself, as well. Twitter Moms and Mom Logic allow you to be in direct dialog with your target audience (via message boards, guest blogging, Q&A sections, Twitter, and other forms of social media), and the best part is that you are able to truly join the community, versus only pushing out marketing jargon. Join in conversations to offer your suggestions and experiences or start conversations to gain valuable insight from your audience. After time, you will be able to weave in the messaging for your products and services without losing credibility."
10. Laura Lopez, Laura Lopez & Company — @connectedleader
"Don't fall into the trap of stereotyping women. Women today are multi-dimensional, and if a business/service/product wants to appeal to today's woman/mom, they need to understand that many points of contact with a variety of messages will be needed. Today's woman/mom can be contradictory in her interests, and the smart business targeting women will learn to find the threads that aim to cover a woman's life in a 360 degree fashion."
11. Susan Wilson Solovic, Author of "The Girls' Guide to Building a Million Dollar Business" and CEO of SBTV — @SusanSolovic
"Your marketing strategy must be truly designed for women. In other words, many companies take their traditional marketing materials, add the color pink and tie it up with a frilly bow. That's not an effective approach."
12. Morra Aarons Mele, Women Online — @morraam
"The best way for small business owners to market their products and services to women? ASK women what they want! I am always surprised at how many marketers assume they know what works for women. Women aren't a monolith — we're all different, we want different things. Ask us. We will tell you."
13. Rosalind Sedacca, Women Helping Women Mastermind, LLC — @RosalindSedacca
"Thank and appreciate them with little things that count: send them a real card on their birthday or other holidays. Offer them a meaningful gift they can connect with as a perk for doing business with them. Send them a Thank You gift after a purchase — as an unexpected bonus! Have contests that reward your clients for their best ideas and inspiring messages to share with others. Create Clubs, special events or other ways to give your clients a sense of being part of your business 'community.'"
14. Natalie Bradley, Bride Attraction — @brideattraction
"The number one way I've found to market to women in both of our businesses is through an e-zine (or e-newsletter). With women, it's essential to build trust. They must like you and feel like they know you on some level before they will buy from you. In general, women buy based on feelings and from people they feel they have a relationship with. The easiest, most efficient, and effective way to do this is definitely through the e-zine!"
15. Danna Crawford, PowerSellingMom, Inc. — @PowerSellingMom
"I have had great luck by doing LIVE webinars. Once a month I hold a 'Virtual Tour' where I conduct a live webinar and visitors keep sending out the link for people to join me, while I visit a website and talk about all the details of the site."
16. Catherine Maino, Mosaic, Innovations in Marketing — @MosaicCatherine
"Stop talking AT them and start talking WITH them! Moms are finding the power of social marketing and the best way to not just engage them, but move them. To create an emotional reaction from them is to open a conversation. Women make over 80 percent of the buying decisions within a family. It's about time businesses learn how to market to woman! You cannot just talk, push information out there and think they will engage. Tell me a story…tell me how to solve MY problem! Stop telling me what YOU think is important and start learning what I think is!"
>17. Mary Dean, KickSkirt, Inc. — @KickSkirt
"Women are some of the busiest people on the planet, and they (like all of us) are bombarded with about 5,000 marketing messages a day. Breaking through that kind of clutter takes more than a strong message, it takes action. Here's an example. If you have a product that can make her life easier, then don't just tell her, show her. Kraft did this recently with great success. While other companies were trying to connect with women and moms by pushing out messages to her mobile phone, Kraft took action. Instead of pushing out a mobile message about how their products make meal time easier, Kraft created an iPhone app called "iFood Assistant" that actually made meal time easier by putting 7,000 recipes at their fingertips. This app quickly gained the hearts of women and soon held the No. 2 spot in the Apple App Store Lifestyle section. According to Kraft, more than 60 percent of the users are still engaged with the app six months after they downloaded it. That's the kind of one-on-one engagement with the brand that you could never get by simply talking at her."
18. Kimberly A. Cayce, KALYX Technologies — @goKALYX
"We have found that one of the best ways to market our products to women has been through establishing relationships with bloggers, especially blogs that focus on active moms. We supply the bloggers with products to test out and review, and, we also offer a discount code and sometimes a giveaway for the followers of each specific blog. It's been a great grassroots strategy for us, and, a very powerful method of generating awareness for KALYX within a highly targeted audience. Every blogger has their own way of presenting our products, and, we usually leave it up to them to take what information they want from our web site and media kit. It's equally helpful to us, as we continue to build our brand, to see what information about our company strikes a chord with the blogging community. In addition to the exposure, it's also helping us tighten up our message and refine our marketing materials."
19. Tammy Diane Sapp, Tammy Sapp Communications — @TammyDianeSapp
"Small business owners wishing to reach women who enjoy a variety of outdoor activities, including hiking, hunting, canoeing, kayaking, fishing, rock climbing, backpacking, camping, mountain biking, wildlife watching, target shooting and more, will get impressive and consistent results by running product and event press releases (including photos, logos and keyword links) in the "Wednesdays for Women" edition of The Outdoor Wire. The Outdoor Wire is a digital news service that is read by more than 150,000 subscribers every business day. Each Wednesday, The Outdoor Wire features female focused news, features and product and event information in the special 'Wednesdays for Women' section."
20. Stacey Smith, Success Within You — @LipstickGhetto
"Don't make the mistake of thinking that all women are the same. Your product or service must be positioned uniquely to women in your target market. There are demographic differences (such as age, education level, ethnic, and geographic considerations) that should be taken into account. Trying to be all things to all women will leave you being nothing to every woman."
21. Bonnie Buol Ruszczyk, BBR Marketing — @BBRMarketing
"Remember, women are people too. They just tend to be busier and have more irons in the fire at a time. Reach out to them with professionalism, and be concise with your pitches or responses. If you can make their lives easier in some way, help them with time-consuming tasks, or allow them to spend more time on their many other duties, they appreciate it. Twitter is a great way to market your services, or email marketing — concise and benefit-oriented — is a great way to reach them. But be clear with what you are offering. If there is any ambiguity, they will move on to the next service-provider that is clear."
22. Carol Meerschaert, Healthcare Businesswomen's Association (HBA) — @HBAnet
"Appeal to my intellect. I'm very smart and savvy. If your product and service is too, then we have common ground to build from. Save me time. That is the thing I have the least of and can't manufacture. Keep it positive. There is enough guilt and whining in my day. Think of successful campaigns like 'I'm worth it.'"
23. Selena Rezvani, NextGenWomen, LLC — @NextGenWomen
"When selling to women, mind your body language — particularly your eye contact. One of the easiest ways to undermine and repel a female customer is to give your eye contact — and your respect — to her male companion. Instead, make direct, friendly eye contact, keep an open torso (demonstrates that you are open and honest) and repeat back what you heard, showing her that you really listened."
24. Shirley Barr, Shirley Barr PR — @Shirleysbar
"Get your products featured on women's nonprofit sites supporting Breast Cancer causes or Susan G. Komen. I always buy products from those sites."
25. Isabella McPeak, ActionCOACH Seattle — @isabellamcpeak
"Women enjoy community with other women who share common interests (moms, business, industry etc.) We use Meetup.com to organize local women with common interests at convenient neighborhood locations and coffee places. It's a casual group concept where the business can provide education around a topic (child safety, nutrition, stress relief, communication, etc.). The concept can be applied to any industry/business and only costs $56 for hosting a Meetup group for 6 months.
The quality of the education, conversation and community brings women back and makes them raving fans. With Meetup.com, the on-line community makes the groups findable, provides continuity between meetings, and supports the face-to-face meetings."
26. Ali Brown, Ali International — @alibrownla
"One of my most effective ways of reaching women entrepreneurs is through marketing my products, programs and events on Twitter and my Facebook fan page, without spending more than an hour per week doing so. Use HootSuite and Ping.fm to streamline your social media marketing."
27. Anahid Lisa Derbabian, Integrity Communications — @AnahidLisa
"A vital first step in marketing to women is to strategically determine the 'women' you seek to target…as all women are created differently. Take the following steps to strategically and effectively reach your targeted women.
Begin by envisioning and defining the specific women that you want to reach — determine their age range, background, likes/dislikes, personal style, income, locations, etc. Then, ask important questions, such as what are their pains/challenges as to the products/services you provide, how can you best solve their problems and be seen as their hero, what specific messages will they want to hear/know, and in what form will they most appreciate receiving communications from you. This information will help you create specific messaging, design, and communications tools that speak to and inspire them to utilize your products/services."
28. Jim Grosspietsch, Studio G Interiors, Inc. — @studioginterior
"How do we do it? The Internet. From the beginning we invested in a professionally-designed website complete with professional photography and professionally-written text. (Nothing too flashy or burdened with corporate-speak, mind you. Women are not impressed by that.) What appeals to women is a message that speaks to their heart, and a look and feel that's easy to read and navigate. Women are too busy to fool around with complicated sites. They know what they want, so our goal has always been to accommodate them and their needs, rather than force ourselves upon them. Like many firms, we've expanded our online presence to include a Facebook fan page, Twitter pages, a blog, etc. But the foundation for our firm and our message has always been our website. And it has served us well."
29. Jane McEntyre, McEntyre Public Relations
"Women instinctively want to do it better: look better, be a better wife or mother, better student, better friend, better organized, better informed, better at her job. And it is no wonder: Whatever her circumstances, she's the glue that keeps the organization (the family, the friends or the office) together. She knows she needs to always be ahead of the game. Appeal to that instinct, be her partner, her advocate — show her how your product or service will make her and her life better."
30. Robbie Vitrano, Chief Brand Architect, NakedPizza — @NakedPizza
"Offer a real solution that eases the guilt of Super Woman. We have been successful, in part, by developing a strong and loyal following of women attracted to our mission to make an unhealthy and popular fast food healthy, raising consciousness about nutrition, health and the food supply, as well as the social impact and obligations of a modern profitable business. Fast food addresses a real need for women, especially mothers in charge of a household. It's not that the fast food model is bad, but the way it's executed. Our social media outreach includes regular, time-specific outreach that reinforces our health message, as well as a meal solution for the over-scheduled keeper of the household."
31. Sara Sutton Fell, FlexJobs — @flexjobs
"Market your products/services/company with a 'tone of voice' that communicates honesty, common sense, and warmth — and back it up with your actions. It's good anytime, in my opinion, but it's especially well-received in this day and age in which scams, identity theft, work-life balance struggles, recession worries, and terrible customer service are prevalent (among many other similar challenges)."