RELATIONSHIPS KEY IN REACHING WOMEN: EVEOLUTION STRATEGY SCRAPS IDEAS LIKE USP AND GENDER STEREOTYPES

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At the end of the movie "The Candidate," a victorious Robert Redford turns to his advisers and asks, "OK, what do we do now?"

A similar panic is gripping corporate marketing and advertising departments across the country-around the world, actually. Having identified the economic strength of women, and the billions of dollars of purchasing power they command, the question is, "What do we do now?"

Perhaps the most obvious reason marketers are stymied is that they haven't been trained for this. Check out business school curricula-not a single, credible course on marketing to women.

Perhaps it's better for business schools to stay away. After all, it was traditionally trained marketers who dreamed up such female-friendly innovations as a limited edition of the Ford Mustang, in pink.

Today we know that marketing to women requires not just new learning, but un-learning. We call it EVEolution, a whole new acoustics of marketing.

EVEolution defines a shift from a male-centric transactional selling to a female-centric relational marketing model. Marketers will need to create a rich series of connections and bonds rather than episodic consumer collisions.

EVEolution has Richter-scale implications for marketing and selling to women. Here are some untruths to be forgotten forever.

The first thing to unlearn: It's possible to market to women on product differentiation alone.

Give it up! No longer is Unique Selling Proposition the Holy Grail of marketing. Once it was as simple as adding lemon, more lemon and finally vine-ripened lemon; today, we must get off the product-superiority treadmill.

Women want a relationship. They'd rather buy a dishwashing liquid with less lemon from a company that sponsors after-school programs. In an EVEolved world, relationship innovation is just as important, if not more so, than product innovation.

The second thing to unlearn: Products are finite.

They aren't. As far as women are concerned, products don't come in a box-either literally, or metaphorically. The most profoundly EVEolved marketers will create an ongoing dialogue.

Every communication vehicle needs to become a two-way exchange: traditional advertising, direct mail, the Web, an 800-number, even a coupon.

The third thing to unlearn: Women like to shop.

A Wall Street Journal study found 60% of all women now classify shopping as a negative experience. And that includes the supermarket. Catalog companies recognized this years ago; innovative revolutionaries such as online grocer Streamline are creating a meaningful, relational consumer direct channel. But traditional retailers are still trying to lure women with the same raggedy old strategies.

The fourth thing to unlearn: You can bet your business on single-exposure research.

That could be a fatal gamble. Any single-exposure methodology, whether it measures memorability or persuasion, is doomed to failure with a female target. It's not possible to gauge the ability of an ad message to build a long-term relationship with one artificial, isolated viewing. Single-exposure research simply perpetuates the superficial, transactional links that prevent brands from turning into bonds.

The fifth thing to unlearn: Corporate policies are opaque.

Your values and your market share are becoming one marketing mosaic. In the future, they will be even more inseparable.

The sixth thing to unlearn: Service belongs to the service department.

Not on your life. Service, that rich reservoir of continuing interaction, is the ultimate marketing function. Yet how many marketing plans treat service as the critically important customer-creating function it truly is?

Fully EVEolved businesses will invest in service with the same passion they fund research and development.

The seventh thing to unlearn: Women aren't entrepreneurial risk-takers.

Wrong. Women are starting businesses at twice the rate of men. Female-owned businesses employ more people than the Fortune 500 combined-globally. And that's been done in the face of credit discrimination and virtually no corporate support. Just think how loyal they'll be to the brave companies that reach out to them now.

Ms. Popcorn is chairman of BrainReserve; Mr. Hanft is president, Hanft Byrne

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