Marketing to women? What she’s not telling you

If you market to women in any way, shape or form, run and pick up a copy of What She’s Not Telling You: Why Women Hide the Whole Truth and What Marketers Can Do About It . Written by three women who run a women’s marketing research firm and have done work for big global brands around the world, it’s chock full of advice on how not to let patterns women show in research lead you to launch a dud.

Chock full of case studies, the book guides you through the half-truths women tell, why they tell them and how to probe around them to get to the whole truth that will really benefit your brand. I adored this book and found it an easy and practical read.

The half truths talked about in the book are:

  • Good intentions – women may tell you what they intend or want to do, not what they will do
  • Approval seeking – they may just tell you as a researcher what you want to hear – or what those in the group with them will support
  • Martyrdom – ensure you speak to her specific “flavor” of martyrdom when crafting messaging that speaks to her needs (hint: Alpha Moms and Beta Moms have different types of martyrdom and if you land the right one with the right group, you will solve their problems without offending them
  • Ego Protection – women may speak from the person she wants  to be versus who she really is
  • Secret Keeping – women tell themselves little lies that a researcher could get lulled into thinking means their product or service fulfills a need that is not really there.

The book does a good job of showing how their research techniques have helped get around these half-truths and to the real whole truth for their clients. Lots of it is very “feminine” in nature (gaining trust, making yourself vulnerable before expecting your participants to do so, learning how to really listen to what she’s saying, etc.) and it sounds like many of their testing sessions actually evolved into therapy sessions. But overall, I found this book’s findings fascinating and, let’s face it ladies, quite true in the context of knowing myself and my own friends.

I particularly loved the example of how to take advantage of “green marketing” the right way with women. Hint, not very many women are as green as they claim, and you only find that out if you can video them or “dig through their cabinets”. Might be more practical to enable “green behavior” while still giving good value for the price and making it super easy for them.

If your business relies on marketing to women, you will want to check out this book.

Disclosure: I was not paid or even asked to write this review. I just enjoyed this book and wanted to share it with all of you. However, the link above is through my Amazon Affiliate program so when you buy, I get some coin. Not a bad trade for turning you on to a good resource, now is it?!

Customers are not scary

Why do businesses spend tons of money, time and effort on compiling market data, analyzing trends, conducting expensive focus groups with people who have never bought from them, or spend hours combing through research data, when they ignore a prime source right in front of them: their own customers?

Your customers, especially repeat ones, like you. They want you to succeed. They have found that your product or service fills a need for them, or your message has resonated with them. So when it comes to figuring out what will work for 2010 , just ASK them.

This can be as easy as sending an inexpensive (or sometimes free) online survey via Surveymonkey or Emma. If you have a store, offer an incentive to all customers who come in to fill out a quick questionnaire. Invite your customers to an informal focus group with some drinks and snacks and offer them a coupon as an incentive. If you’re an online or service business, offer a discount code, or 50% off their next service, or heck, even a drawing for a Starbucks card (worked for me). Always offer some type of incentive for their valuable time and participation.

Stop guessing about what you are doing right or wrong and ask them. People love to give their opinion, especially if you can incent them a little bit. Keep your questions unbiased, don’t ask leading questions. Try to keep any surveys to less than 5 min for a small incentive or 10 minutes if you’re offering a larger incentive. Even 5-8 questions can do the trick sometimes.

One client even just sent old fashioned emails direct to a select group of customers with an incentive to respond. Or you can use social media as a great way to get feedback. But you have to ask.

Focus groups or surveys with your customers (past or present) can be super easy to implement. Working with one client on her brand strategy, she was not sure of the primary reasons people came to her (of the many reasons she promotes in her marketing), so I had her send a survey and ask, “What caused you to seek out my services?” and offer 5 possible answers. She found some pretty surprising results that caused her to rethink her marketing messaging.

I don’t recommend testing actual ad creative with focus groups or surveys, as people will be consuming them in an unnatural way and the results will be skewed. No one dissects an ad in real life they way they would in a focus group session. But you can test ideas, messages, what they think of your brand, ask why they bought from you, ask them what you could offer or do better, what incentives would they respond to, etc. They are a wealth of information for making brand improvements so don’t fear them – embrace them.