We'll Say It Again

This is from Marti Barletta, marketing-to-women guru, and one of our Cool Friends:

My thanks to Steve Yastrow for his mention last week of the Marketing to Women—M2W—Conference in Chicago, hosted by PME Events and chaired by yours truly. As we all know, marketing to women is one of Tom's hot topics, so although he wasn't able to join us this time, he was gracious enough to send along some remarks to open and close the conference for us. To keep the ball rolling, I thought I'd share five key themes that resonated for everyone who attended the conference.

1. Women are the World's Big Spenders

While every CMO nods his head that women are an important consumer force, surprisingly few companies really get it or know how to act on it. It's surprising because at 51% of the population, women are hardly a "niche"—they're the majority. More importantly, the woman of the house has taken on the role of Chief Purchasing Officer for almost everything, meaning she's spending not only her own paycheck, but most of her husband's as well. And that includes many traditionally male-oriented big-ticket categories. From cars to computers to consumer electronics—women buy more than men.

2. Women Really Are Different

In the past two decades, there have been hundreds of studies—in anthropology, biochemistry, human development and neuro-anatomy, to name a few fields—revealing myriad ways in which men and women are radically different. Critical to marketers is the finding that the way men and women reach decisions and make buying choices is 180 degrees apart—polar opposites.

And this changes everything. Research methodologies, marketing messages, media, sponsorships and sales practices all need to be refocused to align with the way women do business. Marketers seeking sales success need to step away from the "business as usual" mentality and change their outlook to engage this audience. (Or, they could keep leaving piles of cash on the table for their competitors to rake in ...)

3. The Target Marketer's Golden Bulls-Eye: PrimeTime Women

Over the next two decades, the over-50 female is going to become marketers' most sought after consumer. Why and how? Actually, Tom and I have a book coming out in June that addresses this very topic—look for Trends in bookstores this summer! For the moment, suffice it to say that people over 50 spend per capita at 2.5 times the rate of the average consumer. And like women in most U.S. households, women over 50 make about 80% of all buying decisions. So when marketers say "Show me the money," I point them straight at PrimeTime Women.

4. This Ain't Rocket Science

We're not talking about developing special women's products, or "painting the brand pink"—that generally sends women running as fast as it alienates men. And we're not talking about an incremental marketing budget. Instead, we're suggesting you direct the budget toward the people who buy most of your product: women.

It's simple: if you want to communicate with and motivate women, you need to speak their language, focus on things they care about and deliver your message in places they're likely to see it. Pretty much the equivalent of saying, if you want to effectively reach the Hispanic market, create Spanish-language ads, aligned with Hispanic culture, and run them in Latino media. Not exactly radical thinking. Common sense? Yes. Common practice? Not so much.

5. Industries Across the Board Are Waking Up to What They've Been Missing

Considering this was the inaugural event of the new M2W Conference series, we had certainly hoped for a good deal of attention and attendance, but the response to this conference blew us away. In hindsight, it's a shame we only had 250 seats, because we had to close registration and tell people to come back next year.

Attendees signed up from top companies across a wide range of industries—including McDonald's, McNeil, and the Minnesota Twins, plus other traditionally male-oriented companies like Miller and Motorola—and that's just from the "M" list!

Those companies that "get it" are starting to learn how to act on it. Speakers at the conference provided lots of actionable, detailed advice on tapping into this $7 trillion market, including specific tactics for developing more female-friendly media, creative, research, packaging, and point of sale materials. And conference attendees had great opportunities to network and exchange best practices.

All in all, a terrific two days! Hope everyone will join us next year!