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13 posts from April 2006

April 29, 2006

Word of Feet

Celia W. Drugger of the New Times writes about the effort of 50,000 Napal women going door to door to eradicate measles. Their goal is to get 250,000 for the next healthcare campaign.

"In the impoverished kingdom of Nepal, 50,000 mothers like Mrs. Gurung, most of them illiterate, are foot soldiers in one of the great unfolding public health triumphs of modern times: the global push to slash the number of children who die from complications of measles."

Why is this important to marketers in the US?

Because it wasn't 50,000 fathers going door to door to protect the next generation, it was the mothers. And, it wasn't rich mothers with time on their hands, either, it was mostly illiterate women "who volunteered... delivered invitations to each household by hand, then followed up the night before with a reminder visit, shouting their message like town criers."

As the markets become more global and marketers look for ways to "resonate" with women across international lines, they don't need to look much farther than at the common elements that all women share. In this case, both parents care about their kids, but it's the mothers who are literally taking the extra step.

It's a trust thing. Communication whether by the phone or foot, will always work when people know each other first and care about a common cause. How are you "known" by your consumers? What steps are you taking to make life more livable even if it has nothing to do with making a profit? Those are the things that will be remembered and appreciated by your female customers.

April 27, 2006

In Moms - they trust each other

Blogads took a survey of 56,000 blog readers to get a feel for who the readers are and what's important to them. Check out a great summary by Kate Kaye on Clickz News.

I was interested in the women's side (of course) since there are so few reports that take the time to break things out by gender. The ultimate point was to figure out if blog readers are buyers of "stuff" and which demographic buys the most stuff.

"The mom blog crowd, a 90 percent female bunch reading motherhood and parenting-related blogs, is a bit more blog-crazed than their gossip blog sisters. Over 12 percent read five blogs daily and more than 17 percent spend two hours a week reading blogs. They also buy lots of clothes online: 72 percent did in the last six months, and 46 percent spent over $100. A large majority, 83 percent, purchased books on the Web; 36 percent spent over $100. Forty-six percent contributed to a cause or campaign, and 23 percent bought toys. More than 45 percent of mom blog readers are 22-30 in age, more than 73 percent have a college degree, and over 21 percent have a family income of between $60K and $90K.

The more important message of this summary is that Moms are turning to Moms for information on parenting. "The mom blog crowd, a 90 percent female bunch reading motherhood and parenting-related blogs..."  "Forty-six percent contributed to a cause or campaign"

Once again, what happens offline, will happen online. Human dynamics don't change just because the tool to communicate changes. Moms depend on their over-the-web counter parts for advice and support on everything. They also care MORE about what happens in their global community.

Marketers already know that Moms are a hot demographic and are doing everything they can to court them. So Moms - help them out, when you're posting a blog or commenting on one, keep in mind that Big Brother is watching and taking notes on what Big Mother is saying.

April 26, 2006

Giving Thanks (to your new friends)

When was the last time you received a thank you note - a personally written, thank you note? Last week I received two - both from women. (men take note)

I didn't do anything exciting to get these notes except meet two new people at networking meetings. They did what women do, took my card, chatted for a bit and then sent a nice follow up note talking about our conversation and opening the door to further contact. One of them happened to be the owner of a custom car service station. That's where it gets interesting.

Two weeks before, my car's head gasket dried up in the California sun and allowed coolant into my oil pan - not good. I went to my husband's car dealer for an engine transplant - cost? $3100. Ok, my bad for not replacing the car sooner. Here's the irony, the car dealer that got $3100 of my cash sent me nothing - not a "thanks for your business", "happy to help you", "please come again" nada. The car service dealer who just met me at lunch, sent me a thank you note.

I'm a person first. Because I just shelled out $3100, I now feel obligated to drive the car a few more miles. Because the dealer now "knows" my internal issues, I also feel somewhat obligated to use them should anything else happen in the immediate future. BUT I'm telling everyone to check out www.custom-motors.com and tell Barbara Page I sent them. And, when I get that new car, she'll be the one I go to for help. I trust her to take a personal interest in my car like she took a personal interest in me. A little kindness and appreciation goes a long way in starting and "keeping" a relationship.

I know, it's a girl thing to send thank you notes and to express appreciation, but it could be the difference between getting a new customer or not. Whether you're a gal or a guy (owner or sales person) the extra effort gets noticed.

One last note, if you can't be sincere, don't do it. Nothing smacks of manipulation like insincerity. Like Mom said, if you don't have anything nice to say, don't say it at all.

April 20, 2006

Trust in the future?

One of the trust points for women is "thoughtfulness", doing things beyond the call of duty or showing concern for the greater good. For many being thoughtful may seem too "girly" for business. According to a report presented by Genette Eaton, the CEO for HomeAid , supporting a "cause" adds to the bottom line as well as improving the future of someone less fortunate.

In Genette's case, HomeAid is the "cause" for Pardee Homes a builder of high quality homes in the California. While Pardee builds homes for those who can afford them by day, they also build shelters for temporarily displaced people on their off hours. It's an acknowledgment that some people have money, some don't, but both need a roof over their heads.

Genette reported the numbers. Being a "giving company" meant that customers were three times more loyal, employees were five times more likely to stay both of which made shareholders happier as well. (You can grab more facts from a 42 page report found on CECP's site (CorporatePhilantropy.org) Good matches build better futures for both the cause and the company.

She stressed that the key reason some companies get "cause marketing" right and some get it wrong is if the CEO is completely behind it. It also helps to have the "cause" work hand-in-hand with their business like it does for Pardee where it became an extension of the Pardee Personality.

Marketers: Be on the look out for longterm projects that match your business the best.

Women: As the group that does the most volunteer work, it's up to you to let companies know how your organization would be a great fit for them. Don't call companies up and ask for a donation, instead ask their marketing department to lunch and look for how you can both benefit from a long term relationship.

In Word of Mouth We Trust

Our thanks to Andy Sernovitz at WOMMA for his 5 points in How to conduct ethical Word of Mouth campaigns. He focuses on exactly what we've been trying to tell companies - trust is where is all starts and ends for women.

As we noticed while interviewing our gal pals, women will fall in and out of love, but they don't fall in and out of trust - when it's gone, it's gone!

If you compare that to advertising, we all fall in and out of love with ads too, they're entertaining after all, but do we trust their message?  What we trust is the company behind the ad (or not). Ads aren't much more than the clothes you put on each day.The clothes draw attention, but doesn't make that you more trustworthy.

Women already tend to trust each other more and in fairness men probably trust other men more as well. Unfortunately, men aren't buying or specifying consumer goods and services like women are, (over 80% of sales). Since women are only a small percentage of upper management, that leaves the task for creating female-friendly trust points on the guys in upper management. I'll do my best to give them to you in this blog.

Women are the canaries of commerce, like the carnaries who warned miners of gas leaks in mines, they'll warn other consumers when a product or service stinks. Keep them happy, and everyone will be happy.

April 18, 2006

The New Girls' Club

Men - stop reading now, you're not going to like this.

I was in the mood for lite girl talk today, so I went online and looked for groups meeting for lunch. I ended up at For You Network and met a lovely group of gals. I also stumbled upon www.teamwomen.com and sent an email off to them. I hadn't heard of either before this surfing exercise.

Judi Finneran of TeamWomen quickly returned my email with a full page summary of their history. As it turns out, they had their first meeting in March 2005 and now, a year later, they have 700 nationwide members. Judi joined because she was tired of making cold calls for her company www.gotgreatwine.com and decided that networking was a better approach.

Here's the part men won't like - TeamWomen is for just women. I can hear the backlash coming from men now saying, "Wait a minute, we had to open our doors to you, why don't you keep your doors open to us?" I'll let TeamWomen explain their position. The fact is, even if they did let men "inside" would they know how to behave and be one of the gals? Could they go along to get along, like women learned to do when they went into corporate jobs? Maybe, but not without going against their male behavioral grain. You might as well ask men to start hosting Tupperware parties.

If men don't like being turned away, they won't like the second part of the message, either. Women are forming these groups faster than you can say "I'm done with being left out." They want to feel good about themselves and their lives and their professional friends and if it takes forming their own groups to do it, they will. So far millions have done just that.

And there is a third message - these groups are where women find out who they can trust and who they can't. If your business is dependent on good referrals, understand that these New Girls' Clubs are where the referring is happening. If women buy or specify 80% of consumer products (and they do) it won't matter if men start forming their own clubs or not, they still aren't buying enough "stuff".

Marketers: your new task will be to become an integral and trusted part of these New Girls' Clubs. These groups aren't going away and are increasing in size daily.

Women: Guide those individuals and companies who want to learn "the women's way". We had mentors who helped us find our footing in corporations, now it's our turn to help corporations find their footing with female consumers.

April 17, 2006

International Museum of Women

Do you want women to trust your company or simply "you"? Look globally for the universal answers.

I just added The International Museum of Women - Imaging Themselves to the Culture Shifters section of this blog. There you'll read the thoughts of women in their 20s and 30s as to how they view their life from all points of the world, and what they are doing to make things better.

Contributors include: Local gals Lisa Ling, a reporter for National Geographic, Carrie Schwab Pomerantz, a vice president at Charles Schwab as well as Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy, journalist and film writer from Pakistan and many others. Being thoughtful of others on the planet and not just yourself isn't a marketing "trend" that will go out of favor in a few years. Helping others is what women have always done and will continue to do. Align with their values and they'll value you as one of their own.

For marketers, pay attention to the things to the issues they are flagging, they are the issues that your consumers care about as well.

For women readers, take additional inspiration from them and go forth to create your own culture shift in your community.

April 15, 2006

Women's Standards are Deming's Standards

Thank you Paul Hawken for writing in this month's Worthwhile magazine about the origin of Deming's manufacturing techniques. You've addressed two of the items featured in Chapter 6 of "In Women We Trust" - Acknowledging what women bring to life and how those achievements often get swept out of sight.

Under full disclosure, I've worked in industrial marketing for 10 years. I'm very familiar with Deming's work on Statistical Process Control (SPC) which kicked off TQM (Total Quality Management) and ISO 9000 manufacturing standards. During those 10 years, however, I never knew that women's working style was the basis of Deming's process.

According to Paul:

"... the source of this idea was Deming's observation of women working in a wartime munitions factory. In segregated production lines, the women produced more than the experienced men, and their work had fewer defects. The mystery as to how the women did it was elegantly given to Deming during the breaks: Women sat down in a circle and talked and listened.... Deming's techniques (really women's techniques) are now gospel. The collaborative qualities women brought to their jobs changed all of industry."

I found that very ironic. The backbone for manufacturing operations came from how a group of women worked together to get a job done - and then that part of the story disappeared from manufacturing lore. Even my husband, a manufacturing engineer, hadn't heard it.

In Chapter 6, I write about "The Big Dismissal" and how women are still overlooked and dismissed for no other reason than because they are women. What a waste. One of my new friends is a highly savvy sales trainer who conducts selling seminars for those talking to CEO's. She admitted how she too "disappears" in the public's eye if she isn't wearing a business suit. She becomes "just another woman" as if her job was the only thing that defined her and what she has to offer the world.

For the women who are reading this. It's time to speak up as consumers and let companies know what works for you. Don't settle. Your ideas are needed.

Conversely if you're in consumer management, do more than a focus group when determining what women want, make your system mimic theirs. If the women's way could return order and productivity to hard core machine shops and factory automation, think what it could do when you make the women's way an integral part of how you conduct business with your female consumers.

April 11, 2006

Where AIDA fails

In marketing terms, AIDA means Attract/Attention, Interest, Desire, Action. That worked really well in the pre-Internet world, consumers were just waiting to be "snowed" by the latest zippy advertising. That's changed. First too many snow balls to the left temple helped with the "education" process and then the Internet came along to make research easy and fast. AIDA now looks like AIDTA - Attention, Interest, Desire, TRUST, Action. More precisely, the ordering should be TAIDA.

Women especially are working overtime to become better shoppers. Just because something is seen, has a women's interest and makes them covet it perhaps, does not exactly mean "action" if they don't trust the source.

In a business to business world (which many women are in) anything they buy has to stand up to more than just "likability" - even if it's the coolest thing they've ever seen. Once they become aware, the next light bulb that lights up is them asking themselves, "I wonder who else does this and how much it will cost... and can I trust them...?"

I don't use the Post Office anymore for anything that's important. They may be cheaper, more convenient and I even like the guy behind the counter, but I can't trust their service to deliver it on time, or ever in some case. Further, their post-mortem on lost packages is pathetic. At Christmas time, who mails all those packages? Women. I'm betting the many are like me and now elect to send them via the private services like UPS, Fed Ex, or others.

If the US Postal system put more time into what makes a person TRUST their services, they would spend a lot less on advertising getting people to use their services. A little reliability goes a long way with women who don't want to go anywhere else unless they are forced to.

How about your company, are you losing customers before you start? What's your reliability rating?

Tomboy Tools bring Fun to Work

We asked that question to a panel of women and one of the surprising answers was "Learning" - not in the traditional, go-to-school way, but learning by experiencing. The women liked the feeling of taking on a challenge and becoming competent.

Businesses have been trying to use "consumer education" as a way to position their brands for years. Where they may be missing the boat, however, is "how" to educate women. Throwing a website at them or a book is nice for starters, but then help them get their hands and brains into it.

Tomboy Tools completely understands how to deliver fun. First they provide tools that a woman's hands can handle without dumbing down their power or giving them a silly color. Second they are facilitators of local trainers, much like Mary Kay Cosmetics has local makeup reps. Tomboy trainers do more than show off tools, however, they actually show how to do a job with the tools. (Now that's useful information.) No time for a training program? Women can also come onto the site's chat rooms and ask all who enter how to do the job.

Tomboy's success is in it's give and take of information for women and by women. It provides education both in a cerebral and physical form. It also provides a virtual and physical social experience. That makes any job, even plumbing, more fun.