Sales & Marketing

Secret women’s business: How to satisfy a woman

5 min read

20 November 2007

A few days ago, I was topping up on the wit and wisdom of David Ogilvy, one of the marketing industry's early gurus. Fantastic stuff, though sometimes just a bit dated. Take his advice to advertisers of soap powders: "The consumer isn't a moron; she is your wife".

Wow, haven’t things changed? Madison Avenue is now full of top women copywriters, and women consumers are making the big purchasing decisions. After all – did you know? – in the UK women now buy more new cars every year than men do. Goodbye, soap powders.

The future is bright – the future is female

Just think of the statistics:

Women make 80 per cent of the purchasing decisions, they spend 50 per cent more than men and recommend ten times more than men. Besides that, women want to buy online. And they don’t buy brands; they join them. Not to mention the fact that 65 per cent of the wealth of our nation will be in female hands by 2025.

Let’s face it, women are a potent force in industry and are even more potent as big-ticket consumers. The feminisation of society has become a reality.

Any businessperson ignoring statistics like these is going to end up trying to push water uphill. The secret (and lots of feminists will cringe to hear this) is to recognise that women are different. Vive la différence!

BMW have recognised this fact and have captured an incredibly profitable female marketplace, without “polluting” their otherwise macho marketing stance. They launched a car that women love. It has curves, it’s cute, it’s practical, you even want to stroke it. It’s called the Mini. In August 2007, BMW managed to outsell both Mercedes-Benz and Audi, making it the world’s best-selling premium automaker. And it was mainly the Mini that was responsible for BMW’s increased sales.

The message for entrepreneurs

The good news for entrepreneurs is that very few multinationals and big companies have BMW’s agility. It will take them aeons to turn their oil tankers round. Meanwhile, entrepreneurs who can turn on a sixpence have a marketplace just waiting to be grasped.

Nearer to home, my own company Flowcrete produces seamless, concrete-based flooring – you’ll see it in airports, factories, and car parks around the globe, even at Space Age NASA and the iconoclastic new Wembley Stadium.

Last year, as entrepreneurs, we recognised a huge untapped marketplace for female-friendly commercial flooring: vivid, bright colours, metallic finishes with eye-catching, unusual effects to enhance the retail and leisure experience for the ladies. Next time you check in to Royal Ascot, 02 Arena, Selfridges or Westfield Shopping Centre, you will see how we have captured the designer, fashion and big name retail store marketplace. In just 12 months these new female-friendly products have added £2m to turnover – and you should see the effect on the bottom line.

Even before that, we captured an incredibly profitable marketplace in flooring that made previously threatening environments, such as multi-story car parks, so much more reassuring, safe and female-friendly.

And our own people are taking the message on board. One of our salesmen has embraced the positive benefits of recognising la différence; when calling on female architects, he wears bright colours and even dons a pair of stunning, ice-blue contact lenses. Does it work? He’s a top performer (but then, all our people are!).

How do you satisfy the girls?

People first

Women are more sensitive, more people-centred than men are – and mature women are especially interested in family ties, community involvement and global wellbeing.

Emphasise helpfulness, caring, closeness

These are values that mid-life ladies relate to.

Harmony not rivalry

Don’t bang on about being the best or how you’re defeating opponents – testosterone might be important for men but it’s a switch-off for women. Support and harmony is what a woman seeks.

Green for go

Women really do care about the environment, the future of the planet. It’s a hot button waiting to be pressed.

Honesty

Ethics are high on a woman’s agenda – she will stay faithful to a brand if she feels an ethical bond.

Stories, not statistics

Men love statistics, graphs and charts; women love stories. This is a fundamental difference that needs to be understood. Communication style is important to win with women.

So there you have it. The future is female and, for the entrepreneur who recognises it, the future is bright!

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