Nov 16, 2000
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Women launch the majority of new small businesses in America, so more companies are becoming interested in marketing to this demographic. But if you think you can market to women the same way you market to men, you’ll be throwing away your marketing dollars.
According to author and columnist Priscilla Y. Huff, who regularly receives feedback from female sole proprietors, the main challenge is understanding what motivates women to buy. Typically, women like to have a relationship with the companies selling products and services. Female entrepreneurs want two questions answered: Does the product/service have value? And, can she trust the company? If the answers to those questions are yes, then women business owners feel more comfortable in dealing with a company.
To that end, a company needs tell women business owners much more about itself than male entrepreneurs might be interested in. Women like to ask a lot of questions and therefore gain a lot of information. If a company isn’t forthcoming, it’s not so attractive to women business owners. Be honest and develop a sense of trust. Those attributes can go a long way in persuading women to buy a company’s goods and services.
What are the best approaches? Word of mouth referrals work the best with women. One woman can know a lot of women. If a woman business owner is impressed with a company, she will likely spread the good word about that company.
Online marketing approaches that have been successful include opt-in mail, banners that ask a question (but the banners need to be up for a long time) and short ezines (with a link back to a company’s site where a longer version of stories are available). On a website, have an area where a visitor can ask a specific, personal business question. Make certain that question is answered within 24 hours.
Successful offline approaches include postcards. Huff stresses that any offline marketing should always include the company’s URL.
Short questionnaires – online or offline – asking women what they like and don’t like about a product or service produce good results. But be certain to offer the customers a discount or a free service in return for their answers to the survey.
What doesn’t work? Short, terse responses to questions and anything written in all caps.
Huff’s latest book is HerVenture.com , published by Prima Publishing. The book gives tips on how to start an Internet business as well as featuring short profiles of women enetpreneurs (including the publisher of MarketingSherpa).