This marketing to women case study first appeared in my book, Marketing to Women. I wanted to share it for two reasons:
- The marketing to women principles are still relevant and useful today.
- Direct marketing in the banking world has been revolutionized by the steps ACTON Marketing took. Slowly, most campaigns across the nation have evolved to use the insights we discovered.
“The Power of the Purse” also means the power of the credit card, the stock market, the checkbook, and all other financial instruments. Women are truly the financial services industry’s most important customers. From ACTON Marketing’s website, women are responsible for:
- 80% of checks signed
- 70% of branch visits
- 51% of online bill payers
- 85% read direct mail
ACTON Marketing, a company that creates direct mail marketing packages and promotional materials, and acts as a consulting firms to banks, enlisted my help when it realized that all bank direct mail looked alike.
“We were searching for a way to distinguish our banking clients’ mail in the box among all the look-alike clutter,” ACTON CEO Lynn Leffert said. “When we discovered Marti Barletta’s marketing to women ideas, we not only found our new look, we also found a new way of looking at the market.”
ACTON wanted to lead the way and leverage “the power of the purse”—just as it set the standard when it introduced Free Checking and a Free Gift strategy in the early 80s. ACTON’s strategy was to develop a whole new marketing to women approach for financial organizations, and I worked closely with the design and sales team to help them create the most gender-savvy communications materials, from direct mail to face-to-face training manuals.
When we did a Situation Scan, we saw that all of the banks’ direct mail featured lots of stats and facts, interest rates in big, bold type, pictures of irrelevant free gifts and comparisons of all of their checking accounts with small and confusing differences. Not at all female friendly! Now let’s take a look as what we did to realign their marketing materials with women’s values.
Gender Insights that ACTON Tapped Into
- People Powered – To women, people are the most important, interesting element in any situation. Banking, insurance and other low-involvement industries need to wrap their heads around the fact that women would be much more involved in their businesses if they just showed people and focused on the benefits to people. ACTON did just that—their direct mail gets opened more often because women see relevant, familiar, empathetic faces. They also communicate what’s in it for the customer with copy like, “It’s all in one… you have your own lifestyle and your own ideas what a checking account should do for you. That’s why you get so many convenient features packed into one checking account.”
- Storytelling/Testimonials – Women’s social currency is stories and personal details. Using these creates commonality and connections. Rather than focusing on facts and features, ACTON incorporated storytelling and testimonials into its direct marketing materials.
- The Perfect Answer – Women will go the extra mile in order to make the absolute RIGHT purchase—in order to find the Perfect Answer. Women have a longer list of criteria when it comes to the purchase process—they want all the same things as men… and then some! ACTON helps its clients create just the right banking approach to women by developing female-friendly “free gift” offerings such as digital cameras or gift cards. Furthermore, ACTON is helping to simplify the decision-making process by training its bank clients to communicate “the right account for you” instead of confusing potential customers with a myriad of checking accounts with minor differences. Listen and learn. And then give her the Perfect Answer.
- Corporate Halo – Women expect the companies they do business with to be good community citizens. And banks, who are charged with some of the most important responsibilities, and therefore need to earn tremendous trust, should be especially assertive when it comes to going and communicating their good deeds.
Marketing to Women Results
“Our first mail project using the new creative approach for one of our bank clients surprised even us,” Leffert said. “The marketing vice president told us they opened 12% more accounts during that mail cycle than they did during the same time the previous year. We learned that women want more information than men, presented so they can make a decision in the way that suits them.”
Leffert summarized the program, saying,
“This gives banks of all sizes the ability to get their message to the biggest and best audience using the best possible communications and measurement methods. After all, that’s what marketing is all about.”
I was thrilled to be a part of ACTON’s trendsetting marketing approach and loved working with them on getting women in the door, and keeping them happy once they become customers.