Did you feel that?
It was a subtle rumbling of the earth, a shifting of perspective.
I think it could mean the death of marketing to women.
Not that that’s a bad thing.
In recent weeks, a number of my blogger and professional colleagues have been writing and dialoguing about marketing to women and what it really means. Some feel that the term “marketing to women” is too broad a moniker for such a dynamic demographic; that it demeans an important arena in the marketing industry. Others believe that businesses should focus solely on the female market, since that’s “where the money is.” And still others claim that marketing according to gender is ridiculous; smart marketing is smart marketing and will have broad-based appeal no matter whether you’re a man or a woman.
When these folks talk I listen, because they are very smart, bold, and specialize in the topic at hand.
But just because I listen doesn’t mean I have to agree.
I’ve been chewing on these conversations for a while now, and my conclusions have compelled me to begin making some changes of my own:
1. I believe that the female customer is the most important customer you’ll see in your lifetime. Does smart marketing attract both genders? Yes. But should there be differences in how you approach women? You bet your sweet bippy. Between gender differences in brain wiring, response time of the five senses, and brain-based communication style, there’s no doubt in my mind that your campaign strategy, message, and in-store experience has to be developed specifically with women in mind.
2. I think the reason that “marketing to women” hasn’t been embraced on a wider scale (and why M2W books don’t sell all that well) isn’t because the term is too demographically broad, but because it’s too soft. It’s a feminine-based language style that takes a critically important business idea and softens the edges till they’re melting off the page. There’s lack of definition, which is tough to tackle in a left-brain, gimme-lists-and-bullet-points world. The best books, blogs, and articles on the topic have all been written by women from a right brain, “big picture” perspective that is just too amorphous for the general population. (Yes, I’m one of them.)
I’m currently hard at work on my next book (for Bard Press) and have been conducting some experiments over the last few weeks with writing style, leaning a little more toward left brain, analytical writing (like here and here). Between comments, emails, and syndication of the posts, it’s clear that information delivered in a more concrete, analytical style gets a huge response. You have spoken loud and clear – while I may occasionally falter and fall back into oogly-googly-isn’t-the-universe-grand language, I promise to quickly snap out of it.
3. It’s the female customer, stupid… not the women’s market. Again, I’m guilty as charged. We need to peel some layers off of this behemoth and get down to where we need to be – the individual female customer. Holly and I spent an entire book blowing up the myth of the Soccer Mom and detailing the how-to’s of understanding women from the inside out. It’s time I started talking about the female customer as an individual rather than a member of a grandiose, impossible-to-understand demographic.
That said, I am in the midst of transitioning my old website to act as a combination blog and information site for readers, which you can find here. I hesitate to send you over there just yet because the design isn’t quite finished, but screw it. One of the first changes you’ll see is in the header:
If I do keep the term “marketing to women” on the site from time to time, it will only be for search engine purposes (it’s a very popular search term and I’m not that stupid as to reject it altogether!). But know that my intentions are to focus on the female customer, with a little extra marketing news thrown in from time to time.
Rest in peace, marketing to women. Long live the female customer.