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9 posts from November 2006

November 30, 2006

Consumer, Heal Thyself and the World will Follow

Global warming - overflowing landfills - pesticide filled food... ish! The lists of things that need to be fixed are endless. Luckily the solution starts and ends with you, the consumer, and in particular the female consumer. In case you don't know...

  • The majority of America’s GDP, Gross Domestic Product is made up of consumer goods.
  • 80% of consumer products are purchased or “influenced/specified” by women.
  • Capitalism knows no borders, what happens here goes global.

For women of a certain age (me included), remember those idealist days of our 20s when anything was possible? The influence of student and political protests helped to end the Viet Nam war. Title IX put equality into our schools and we began receiving equal access to education and work. We ARE the product of those years and rather than accept our mother’s retirement package  we're rediscovering our strengths.

Good for us. The world needs our balance and hindsight, but what can we do at that can truly change the world? Become consumer consultants.

A what? Ok, I just made up the name “consumer consultant” and yet that is precisely what women are becoming on the Internet. Check it out. Go to www.epinions.com, www.judysbook.com or Google “COMPARE ________”... you’ll get tons of sites that will not only offer product comparisons, but provide ways to leave your opinion about a business, product or service behind for others to read. Quicken 2007; the software for personal finances, will connect you directly to their consumer commentary site www.zipingo.com. As you’re checking off payments, you can write whether the experience was worth it. Would it surprise you to know that the majority of people who write up multiple reviews on Judy’s Book are all women? Probably not.

Why do women write more reviews? Because as the head of household purchasing, we buy more and when we buy more, we have more to say about the buying/using experience. We also write more because frankly, we like to tell others about the great deal they got or warn others away from something that stinks. We do it everyday in face-to-face situations; the Internet just upped the exposure and made it available long after the spoken word goes silent. That kind of word of mouth sharing, layered on top of yellow page type directories is called “social search.” You search for what you want, but with it, you also get opinions – that’s the social side.

How can these opinions possibly change the world into a better place? One reason - women's values now rules consumer business and business will do anything to win us over.

Being cut-throat isn’t a women’s value. Helping one another is. Don’t believe me? Ask yourself why all these women-helping-women organizations are popping up when we’ve worked so hard to be “equal”? Surely something must be lacking in society at large. Having safe, ecological products for our homes and the planet are also in line with our values.

We live in a time whereby capitalism rules the world. Even communistic China is living under the rules of capitalism. Nothing affects social change faster than messing with someone’s bottom line in a free trade world.

Need more proof of how well this is working? Before the Internet, companies ran focus groups and pushed out products that were less than female-friendly because “some guy” at the top of corporate thought it was cool, i.e. the racy advertising we’ve been forced to look at for the last 3 decades. Today, those ads are disappearing, products are becoming more practical and services are more female-friendly because women are publicly speaking their mind. It happened in less than 3 years for the Super Bowl to clean up it's act.

Why is this working now?

Women have always been the majority buyer and they’ve always spoke their mind when it came to goods and services. The only difference today is that the Internet is capturing and amplifying our voices, forming a permanent record of discontent. No one wants to have a black mark forever on their product. No one wants to have a poor rating that can’t be removed only pushed to the bottom of the reviews by more reviews that are hopefully good. Put a black dot on a white piece of paper and that’s all anyone sees regardless of all the white that surrounds it. Put a bad rating up on a company and it takes A LOT of good to offset it.

It’s not natural selection at work, it's self regulation.

E-Bay doesn’t have any “rules” to obey and yet everyone does their best to be good business citizens. If they aren’t, they aren’t in business. Do people try to cheat the system? Sure, but they don’t last for long. Someone ferrets them out and goes public. In the end, honesty IS the best policy and consistency IS the best marketing practice.

How can you change the world? The next time you love a product or hate a service, let others know. At the same time, rant about over packaging or "throw away convenience" that we later pay for in a landfill.

It takes a couple minutes of your time and you’ve helped a company get understand how to make their offerings better. (and all the other competitors reading their reviews) Imagine how fast you’d straighten up your professional act under these circumstances. This works on big and small companies.

There is no place to hide in this transparent world. Even sales people are being retrained how to really take care of their customers. That’s where you come in again. Sales training has always been geared for men selling to men. Companies are having a hard time knowing how to sell to women. Help them out. Tell them what you like and kindly give them a warning shot on what disturbs you. Everyone deserves a second chance. Give them ONE second chance to make good, then don’t go back and go public with what happened if you’re still upset. 

Small acts of enlightened consumerism can change the world.

Meditation, prayer, politics… all help, but only purchasing and posting your opinions will have a fast, cumulative effect on a company’s reputation and bottom line.

Do you want to change the world? Change your buying habits and watch how fast capitalism will follow the money.

November 29, 2006

I passed the Dove Video on, did you?

Dear Gal Pals... I'll admit, I received the Dove Video via a blog and then passed it on to others in a blatant act of consumerism. Many individuals add up to big residuals and that means higher profits for the right reasons. Do you want to change the world? Start with the SEND button.

It's a profit thing. Low advertising cost (as in NONE for word-of-mouth) means more cash to companies. To get that, however, companies must provide a product and a message that people will want to spread. Are you a consumer word-of-mouth activist? If you passed along an "ad" you are, and that little act of "endorsement" can change the world faster than politics. Companies have no borders, they want products that will resonate and sell globally. What we buy here, defines what the rest of the world is offered as well. The higher the pass along rate, the more companies will want to do whatever resonated with the consumers.

Here's how Vox Marketing summarizes the numbers...

"Dove Evolution," a 75-second viral film created by Ogilvy & Mather, Toronto, was uploaded to YouTube on Oct. 6 and has been viewed over 1.7 million times since, Ad Age reports. While that total is impressive, it pales in comparison to the sudden traffic spike the site Campaign For Real Beauty has enjoyed from the viral success of the "Dove Evolution" film. According to Alexa, the jump in traffic earlier this month more than tripled the surge that Unilever enjoyed from Dove's 2006 Super Bowl spot.

The buzz generated for the video has also been fueled by bloggers, who have made the video one of the Top 15 most-linked-to videos among bloggers, according to blog-tracking service Technorati. The popularity of the film has spilled over to mainstream media, with featured segments on television shows "The View," "Ellen," CNN, "Entertainment Tonight" and Fox's "Geraldo," all within the last two weeks.

The numbers that will definitely grab advertiser's attention is that a 30-second spot for the 2006 Super Bowl cost $2.5 million, but there was no cost for Dove to upload "Evolution" to YouTube.

Lessons learned for consumers:
- Numbers talk.
- Participate in the pass-along world only if you want to vote for a product. Numbers send a message regardless if you passed it along for the entertainment value or want to endorse the product - high numbers get noticed.
- KNOW that the moment you pass along an item, that you are endorsing a portion of it.
- If you don't agree with the message. DON'T pass it along.
- Low numbers talk, too.

November 24, 2006

Animal Testing - would you buy or not if they do or don't?

I just added a new link under Culture Shifters (left) for animal testing. The site lists tons of companies who use animal testing and many more who don't. The Animal Defense League made the list because NOT using animals to test products, is a big selling point for women. (Reader beware, the site also has a lot of information regarding the raising and eating of meat, etc. It ain't pretty.)

I recently purchased Bare Escentuals makeup because A) I loved the way it looks and B) they don't use animal testing. I support products that use humane manufacturing methods. It's not a big political statement, just a small act of putting my money where my values are. Bare Escentuals is on the above list of those who DO NOT use animal testing. It's also written on their label.

There is enough cruelty in this world without adding to it for the sake of my inner or outer beauty. That's too high of a price for me.

November 16, 2006

Don't be a Larry... Be a Roseanne

My homepage is set to the NY Times, but I get the grassroots news I can really personally use from my RSS feed. Today my personal newsfeed brought me exactly what women of a certain age (the age of experience) need to get off their techNO and get on with their techYES. It came from Steve Rubel's blog posting "King of the webless millions"  Steve was flagging a video he saw that was posted on Think Progress featuring Larry King and Roseanne Barr.

(For those of you who don't know, if you click on either highlighted sections, it will take you to the other posts including a definition of what RSS means. This is the beauty of blogs, they let everyday people exchange thoughts.)

To save time, skip to Think Progress and view the video or read the transcript. Then write me and tell me if you want to become part of the conversation or let others do the talking/thinking for you. This isn't about Roseanne's politics, it's about getting YOUR conservative/liberal/whatever voice out there as part of today's society and conversation. You know what they say, "Be there or be talked about...."

There seems to be a huge gap between the boomers who can still change the world and their grasp of a basic tool that could amplify their voice globally and allow their thoughts to be recorded on the Internet cave wall. Instead of being a footnote in a history book, Boomers, could continue to create history, locking in the changes that they started so long ago. They could also help the next generations find their footing and give hope to guys like John Mayer who sang on Oprah that he's Waiting for the World to Change... His lament sounds like it could have been sung during the Viet Nam years.

Me and all my friends
We're all misunderstood
They say we stand for nothing and
There's no way we ever could
Now we see everything is going wrong
With the world and those who lead it
We just feel like we don't have the means
To rise above and beat it

So we keep waiting (waiting)
Waiting on the world to change
We keep on waiting (waiting)
Waiting on the world to change
It’s hard to beat the system
When we're standing at a distance
So we keep waiting (waiting)
Waiting on the world to change...

(for the full song go to here)

This bugs me... the kids are still confused and those who have answers can't talk to them. So here's the deal. Do you want to be a Larry or a Roseanne?

If you want to be a Larry, do nothing. Pour yourself a tall one and go watch the sunset. There's nothing wrong with that. If you want to be a Roseanne, however, and need a tiny push over the information edge Email me that you want "The Nudge." I'll gladly give you an orientation via a teleconference - Blogging software is free, I'm willing to do it for free and if you're free to learn, let's learn together. Mary@InWomenWeTrust.com

Go ahead and pass this around to others... that's what blogs are for as well. And if you want to link directly to this post, click on PERMALINK and then use the URL that happens in the address line. Confused? Come get The Nudge.

November 15, 2006

Today at 5:30 NEW Enterpreneurs

Are you a member of NEW Entrepreneur? If so come hear me speak today, Nov. 15 at 5:30 PT. We'll be discussing the new social search tools that are popping up everywhere and how to make yourself search proof.

Join NEW and get into the conversation in this very supportive group geared for those just staring out in the business world.

November 14, 2006

Worthwhile becomes "What's your Motto"

Motto What's your motto? is the question asked throughout the first issue of Motto, the rebranded Worthwhile Magazine. Apparently the Worthwhile name wasn't worth the while or money to fight about; they'd rather switch than fight. Wow, now that's progress.

Motto's "motto" is Purpose, Passion, Profit or being a good global citizen first and then make a living as well. It's a very inspiring publication and makes everyone want to be a good guy - to which I would like to say, "Welcome to the club," guys. It was refreshing, to see page after page of men doing the right stuff for the world and for business.

Women were there as well, but then, we've always been there. The fact that women "give" and incorporate the giving into their business isn't news, it's normal.

This is where women and men can learn from each other. Women have to learn not to give it all away - that it's OK to make a profit and men need to learn that giving defines how truly successful you are.

What's your motto? If you don't know, read Motto until you do.

November 09, 2006

Full Market Integration is the Key

Britt Bravo's post over at Have fun / Do Good today is worth the read for marketers who want to add another layer of "what women want" to their thinking. In fact all of Britt's post are worth the read in that respect. Do me a favor though, don't read her stuff to pick out nuggets to use as marketing ammunition, use it as enlightenment into what works not only for women, but for the betterment of the world.

Britt's post today includes We Got Issues which started after 1000 younger women (18-40) were interviewed to see what was on their minds. What's on their minds is how to preserve, repair and protect families, communities and the globe. They are using the arts as a way to bring their issues forward.

As I'm reading through their stuff, I'm both saddened and encouraged. Sad - because the issues we faced in the 60s and 70s have only slightly improved. Encouraged - because what boomer women think is STILL relevant for all age groups. We aren't as out-of-the-loop as we are being lead to believe. What we think is worth hearing.

White_house Which is also why this election was such a big deal for both age groups, while We Got Issues is bringing issues forward artistically, women on the hill or in the governor's seats are now in place to do something about them. For the record, according the The White House Project:

The Democrats took control of the house, and as a result, Nancy Pelosi is poised to become the first ever female Speaker of the House.  This would be the closest a woman has ever come to the Oval Office, as her new seat is second in the line of succession to the presidency.

Wins from Claire McCaskill in Missouri and Amy Klobuchar in Minnesota helped tip women’s representation in the Senate to an all-time high of 16.  Klobuchar is now the first woman senator of Minnesota.  Minnesota elected its first Latina State Senator, Patricia Torres Ray, and it's first female Attorney General, Lori Swanson.

Incumbent Senator Hillary Clinton, a probable ’08 presidential contender, had a sweeping victory over her opponent John Spencer, pulling in about 70% of the vote. 

Sarah Paulin of Alaska will join the ranks of women governors, pushing that number back up to its high of 9.

If you're doing the math or the marketing, those numbers represent advances and a trend that business will want to track, and it's all good, for society and business.

Best Buy found that as male/female ratio inside the store got closer to 50/50, which is what the outside of the store's population looks like, that the profits went up.

If you think I'm mixing apples with oranges, I'm not. It's all about balance - in politics, in business and at home. The more integrated a place is, the happier people are and the more peaceful and profitable and rich we become as a nation - in so many more ways than just money.

November 06, 2006

This year, I'm voting what I write

300pxgreatwar_030_v51 So shoot me.... and in another country you probably would.... This year if the choice is between a man or a woman in an office, and I don't have any strong feelings one way or the other, I'm voting for the woman.

Maybe I'm just reacting to the latest round of news regarding women's lack of rights around the world. Or maybe it because I'm finding that the average woman works harder at making this globe a bit more livable. All I know is that something has to change more than just switching parties. For me, that means putting more women into the decision making position.

November 03, 2006

INSIDE: Dining for Women with founder, Marsha Wallace

Marsha_wallace In our quest to understand how new women’s groups work together and what business can learn from them, we’re talking with the group’s founders. Today, we hear from Marsha Wallace the founder of Dining for Women which has been featured on Good Morning America plus in magazines such as Women’s Day, Quick and Simple and in Real Simple, which ironically is how she first got the idea.

The Start?

“In 2002 I was reading an article in Real Simple about a group of social workers who decided that they liked getting together for dinner. Rather than go to a restaurant, however, they potlucked at someone’s house and then took the cash they saved and put it towards a charity. They had so much fun that they did it every month. I thought about it and knew that I had to expand the concept and use it to help women in third world countries. I started Dining for Women with a small group here in 2003.”

Why third world projects?

“I chose to focus on the third world because so much is already being done here in the US and there are few social support systems overseas. These are women and children who are desperate for food, water, shelter, medical attention or just a chance to learn a marketable skill. Also, the money we raised wouldn’t go far here, but it makes a massive impact there.”

Just how big is Dining for Women and how much do you raise each month?

“So far over 75 people have applied to start their own groups and we have 35 nationwide chapters running. At this time we’re averaging $3500-5000 a month, after pooling all the contributions together. Then we send 100% of the cash to that month's highlighted organization."

So how do you chose the recipient and what is a meeting like?

“If you go to www.diningforwomen.org, you’ll see an overview of what each chapter leader gets - it starts with research. We want to make sure that the money will be well spent and make sure that 75% or more of the cash goes directly to the program. Some of the organizations we’ve funded are Childreach, Growth Through Learning, and Trickle up… there’s a whole list on the site. We then put together a Program Fact Sheet that includes: information about the country, demographics and the mission of the project. We also want to know how they measure success. 

For fun and to help us better connected, we add recipes from the country; maybe provide links to tangible items they sell like the Rwanda Peace Baskets. Ultimately we want to provide maybe a DVD or a short video they can watch… these are the kind of things that connect women on a deeper level. The educational component is really important to our mission and efforts to connect women and not perpetuate the victim/helper mentality."

So how do you manage operational expenses?

“This is a volunteer organization, me included, but I want it to be sustainable and so we’re looking at grants and sponsorships to keep it strong. The money that each individual woman gives, however, goes directly to the monthly cause.”

Do members have to participate and pay a set fee?

“No, we like to make the dinners easy, fun and optional. We’re just happy that the women are coming, learning about other women around the world and are willing to contribute towards their future. Groups range from 10 to 125 people and there is no minimum or maximum on how much you can give or how often you have to participate. Groups are fluid, women come and go as their time permits. We have a new group running in Corvalis, OR that happened because of a woman who wanted to meet like-minded women. She had recently moved to town and didn’t know anyone, so she posted fliers, held a potluck and now she has lots of new friends."

Do you have a success story to share?

“We help one, tiny little organization in India called Matrichaya for mother and child. It has no paid employees, and was started by a woman whose husband had died. It’s very grass roots. For example they have a vocational program that teaches women how to make things out of bamboo and then sell them. They also teach food preservation so that they can keep or sell what they raise. The DFW provided money to start these two programs."

How rewarding is that to know that you had a hand in making that happen?

“It’s very rewarding. I was at a point in my life where I needed something to do more than look after the home and family. I have two grown kids and two at home along with a nephew that’s staying with us. I was restless to do more with my life.”

What do you need now, besides more chapters, to further this good work?

“I’m looking for a volunteer to become a chapter development person – someone who can put leaders into place and stay connected with them. I can’t do it all by myself anymore.”

Thanks Marsha for the good work you and your members are doing and for giving us an idea of what pulls women together.

Lessons learned: A) Make education and fun core to the program. B) Give 100% of money collected to the program's focus. C) Be flexible, let women give what they can of themselves and cash.

If you’d like to start a chapter, Marsha can be reached at info@diningforwomen.org or by calling 864-284-6577.