Sales & Marketing

Venus vs. Mars: How gender impacts SME marketing – and how you can cater to the differences

7 min read

14 October 2015

Given the differences in the way men and women shop, it’s not really a surprise to learn that the genders have very different ideas when it comes to marketing their businesses. With that in mind, 99designs branding experts asked over 700 male and female entrepreneurs their opinions about the importance of various marketing elements; and the results were fascinating.

How does this help you market your SME, you ask? If you gain a greater understanding of what men and women want in terms of marketing, it’s fair to say you also learn how to market to each gender. If your business has more male customers than female ones for example, you may need to change your marketing models based on the findings below.


While the modern entrepreneur is coming to terms with the importance of branding it seems females are savvier than males in terms of acknowledging this fact. Some 63 per cent of female SME owners think a logo is crucial in terms of customers making purchasing decisions, against 53 per cent of male business owners. They are, of course, completely correct as a logo can resonate with your values and can be emblazoned on all your marketing material. The result is an image that not only becomes associated with your brand, but also your industry. The fact that BP paid an estimated £136m for its logo speaks volumes.

Again, female business owners came out on top when it came to creating professional websites, with 78 per cent saying that a high quality business site is important for SMEs, against 72 per cent of men. A well designed website is part of your brand, provides important information, helps you be seen as an authority in your industry and enables you to make sales. A cheap website reduces credibility while no website at all reduces exposure.

Furthermore, 55 per cent of female owners realise the necessity of being memorable, compared with 50 per cent of males. Both figures are worryingly low however; if your business is not memorable, how can it hope to succeed in such a crowded marketplace?

Overall, according to male SME owners, branding needs to work and it must be efficient. Female business owners say branding has to be beautifully designed and be a true reflection of the business.

Getting started

The message is loud and clear; female SME owners need to be more like their male counterparts when it comes to taking action!

Only 17 per cent of male owners have a logo, against 31 per cent of females. Without a logo, consumers will see you as just another generic company with no personality. Just 24 per cent of male bosses have thought of a company name, against 28 per cent of females. Picking a name for your SME is branding 101 so it’s incredible that so few entrepreneurs actually do it.

Read more on marketing for different genders:

Male SME owners are more active when it comes to marketing research, with 26 per cent conducting marketing research of some kind, against 18 per cent of females. Without research, you are effectively taking a shot in the dark in terms of finding your target audience.

Just 44 per cent of female bosses engage in any kind of marketing activity, compared to 51 per cent of males. Again, no marketing means a very slim chance of attracting customers.

And while 66 per cent of female SME owners actively find customers, men trump that figure with 74 per cent. Unfortunately, customers won’t come to you so get active!

Industry trends

According to female SME owners, faith in branding is highest in marketing, which makes perfect sense. Male owners on the other hand believe it’s important to give a little in order to get a lot. 

Some 94 per cent of women placed advertising and marketing as the biggest industry trend; food and beverages was in second place with 88 per cent; construction, machinery and homes was third with 72 per cent, while finance and financial services was next with 64 per cent.

There is only one industry trend in common amongst the genders; food and beverages at 82 per cent was number two on the men’s list, behind non-profits with 88 per cent. Manufacturing was third at 67 per cent, while education was next on 64 per cent.


So what have we learned? It appears as if more female business owners have their finger on the pulse with regards to understanding the growing importance of branding. Women know the necessity of having a professional website and logo. On the other hand, male business owners appear more likely to not only perform marketing research, but actively begin a marketing campaign to seek out customers.

At one time, entrepreneurship was a male dominated pursuit but this has changed dramatically in the last decade or so. Between 2008 and 2011, women accounted for 80 per cent of the new self-employed and in 2013, there were approximately 1.5 m women in self-employment in the UK.

This should be seen as great news for entrepreneurs in general. Now that it is possible to analyse how both genders view marketing, it should be easier to create strategies tailored to men and women – which should ultimately increase your overall customer base and profits.

Camille Franc is marketing manager at 99designs and is passionate about digital marketing and small business branding. In 2014, he joined 99designs where he heads up European operations, creating strong brand identities for thousands of small business by connecting them with a pool of over 900,000 graphic designers worldwide.