Tag Archives: The Spiral Path

Marketing to Women Requires Focus

There are a million great marketing tactics you could use to target women. But not all of them will work for your brand. And you can’t afford them all, anyway.

To help women identify your brand as The Perfect Answer, your marketing team must identify the one or two stages in the purchasing process that have the most opportunity for increasing your business. I call women’s purchasing process the Spiral Path (Unlike men, women spiral through each phase of the decision-making process, and may revisit previous steps when she learns new information).

Women’s Spiral Buying Path

How Women Buy: The Spiral Path

Concentrate most of your marketing tactics on the most important stage, rather than spreading your marketing budget across the entire decision process. Nobody has enough money to do a good job across the entire process.

There are a million great marketing tactics you could use to target women. But not all of them will work for your brand. And you can’t afford them all, anyway. To help women identify your brand as The Perfect Answer, your marketing team must identify the one or two stages in the purchasing process that have the most opportunity for increasing your business. I call women’s purchasing process the Spiral Path (Unlike men, women spiral through each phase of the decision-making process, and may revisit previous steps when she learns new information): Concentrate most of your marketing tactics on the most important stage, rather than spreading your marketing budget across the entire decision process. Nobody has enough money to do a good job across the entire process. Use your chosen strategy as your screener—unless a tactic has a laser-like focus on the purchase path you decided would do your brand the most good, don’t bother with it. It will only defuse your message and defuse your marketing efforts. And it can be quite freeing to have the power to say “no” to a tactic. For instance, if your brand would benefit most from a focus on Activation, use tactics that will awaken the need for your product in women, such as consumer education workshops, sponsorships or article placement. Tactics such as special offers and loyalty programs probably won’t be effective at this stage of the decision-making process. Or, say your most important marketing goal is Retention and Recommendation—helping the customer stay committed to your brand and improving your customer relationship. You might engage in a referral benefits program or improvements to your customer support call center. In this case, you might ignore mass-market advertisement altogether. The bottom line: do your research; pick your marketing strategy and stick with it. If your brand has a consistently appealing message to women in the most important decision-making stage, women will take notice and reward you with their purchases.Use your chosen strategy as your screener—unless a tactic has a laser-like focus on the purchase path you decided would do your brand the most good, don’t bother with it. It will only defuse your message and defuse your marketing efforts. And it can be quite freeing to have the power to say “no” to a tactic.

For instance, if your brand would benefit most from a focus on Activation, use tactics that will awaken the need for your product in women, such as consumer education workshops, sponsorships or article placement. Tactics such as special offers and loyalty programs probably won’t be effective at this stage of the decision-making process.

Or, say your most important marketing goal is Retention and Recommendation—helping the customer stay committed to your brand and improving your customer relationship. You might engage in a referral program or improvements to your customer support call center. In this case, you might ignore mass-market advertisement altogether.

The bottom line: do your research; pick your marketing strategy and stick with it. If your brand has a consistently appealing message to women in the most important decision-making stage, women will take notice and reward you with their purchases.

[VIDEO] Women Are Really Annoyed by Websites that Do THIS

Here’s one website design style that drives women nuts! Women have a longer decision-making process than men, which includes lots of web-based research. Make her research easier to speed up the sale.

Watch the video: Women Are Really Annoyed by Websites that Do THIS

Selling to Women: ‘I’ll Think About It’ Doesn’t Mean NO

No means NO. But when a woman says “I’ll think about it” to a salesperson, financial advisor or service provider, she is not politely dismissing you and your products.

In male gender culture, “I’ll think about it” is usually the polite way of telling a nice or persistent salesperson that the sale is not going to happen and the relationship is not going to move forward. For male salespeople, financial planners and financial advisors, they often take this phrase as a signal to move on to the next prospect.

Selling to Women: 'I'll Think About It' Doesn't Mean NO

But to women– saying “I’ll think about it,” means (surprise!) that she’s going to think about what you’re offering. With her Spiral Path purchasing process, women have to do a lot of thinking before arriving at the Perfect Answer (Especially if she’s considering a complex purchase, like choosing a financial advisor).

How Women Buy: The Spiral Path

So don’t be like the Canadian financial advisor who attended one of my Selling to Women programs who suddenly realized, “Oh no! I can’t believe how much business I’ve left on the table, because I never called back the women who told me they would think about it!”

Call those women back! Ask for their perspectives and prepare to answer the many questions they likely have after “thinking about it.”

Banking Made Better: Marketing to Women Case Study

Banking Made Better: Marketing to Women Case StudyThis marketing to women case study first appeared in my book, Marketing to Women. I wanted to share it for two reasons:

  1. The marketing to women principles are still relevant and useful today.
  2. 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.

Opportunity

“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

Marketing Strategies

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.

The Spiral Path

Every consumer’s purchase decision process can be simplified into five stages:

  1. Activation – The awareness there’s a need to be met.
  2. Nomination – The selection of various choices to evaluate.
  3. Investigation and Decision – Learning about and evaluating the choices before actually buying.
  4. Retention – Using the product/service and deciding upon repeat purchases.
  5. Recommendation – Referring (or warning against) the product/service.

But marketers rarely discuss the different ways men and women go through these stages.  Men typically complete each stage in a linear fashion, with the goal of reaching a good solution. Women, on the other hand, follow a spiral path – looping through the stages, asking around and investigating more options. Their goal is to reach the perfect answer. See the graphic below:

Spiral Path

See a larger version of The Spiral Path

Almost all marketing departments approach consumer decision-making from the linear path. But there are significant differences to how the spiral path should affect your efforts. These are the four key disparities on which to concentrate:

  1. Women start the process differently by asking around.
  2. Women pursue a different outcome by seeking the perfect answer.
  3. Women seek more information and investigate more options.
  4. Women’s influence on your sales success doesn’t end with their purchase, as the spiral path contains a feedback loop.

Is your marketing department equipped to handle the differences between men and women in decision-making? How do you think this is affecting your ability to compete in the marketplace?