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Guys, Knowing That Women Are Your Market Is Only Half The Battle. Now, The Race Is On To Figure Out How To Connect With Her Effectively.

Video excerpt: Holland+Holland partnered with Porsche® to discuss marketing to women

Female car buyers are making up a larger customer base for some of the top domestic auto brands, but none approach the gains that Porsche has made with women this past year.

Of all automakers Porsche® has made the largest relative market share gains among women nationwide over the past year, according to an analysis from Edmunds.com, the premier online resource for automotive information. From January through August 2011 23 percent of Porsche buyers were female, compared to 19 percent during the same period last year. The growth accounts for a 21.1 percent proportional change, year over year.

Knowing that the female is your market is only half the battle and Porsche® Cars of America understands that.

Responding with effective product and marketing changes is what places them at the top. They get that all women are not alike.

Porsche® has not only added the Cayenne SUV and Panamera 4-door sedan models, they know that some women love their sports cars, too.

I was very fortunate for the opportunity to participate in creating one of the sales training modules titled, “Demystifying the Female Market,”  for the launch of the 2012 911 Carrera S. With more than 200 dealers across the nation on board to better understand the female consumer, Porsche® is most likely going to continue to speed past the competition when connecting with women.

And, since “Cars” ranked 2nd highest of product categories in which women are most dissatisfied, (according to to a 2009 study published in the book Women Want More by Michael J. Silverstein and Kate Sayre,) the automotive industry has vast opportunity to drive revenues up by marketing to women.

 But beware. It is not simply knowing that the female is your market that counts. You must listen to her before you can meet her needs.


Stephanie Holland is President and Executive Creative Director for Holland + Holland Advertising,Birmingham, Alabama. Working in an industry that is dominated by men, she is one of only 3% of the female creative directors in the country. Stephanie works mostly with male advertisers, helping them successfully market to women. Subscribe to She-conomy by Email

When Marketing to Women, Don’t Be A Man: Ask For Directions

To know that brands must target women is great. But can you still mess up? Absolutely.

Dawn Billings, founder of The Heart Link Women’s Network, polled women small business professionals from three countries to find mistakes made by businesses when marketing to women. We have actually discussed most all of these at one time or another, but the survey further validates and substantiates that simply knowing women are your market could be more dangerous if you don’t take the extra steps to understand them.

“Women work very hard. They wear many hats. Often they are so busy being responsible and reliable they forget to have fun. Anything that you can offer women to help them add fun back into their lives can be a very valuable offering.” – Dawn Billings

According to the results of the survey, below are six mistakes businesses need to avoid when marketing to women:

  1. Do not fail to market directly to women.
  2. Do not think women think the same as men.
  3. Do not attempt to pigeon-hole women by age.
  4. Do not underestimate the power of the more mature boomer woman.
  5. Do not ignore the time women spend online connecting with, and influencing their networks.
  6. Do not forget the FUN.

So, let’s talk about them a little further.

1. Do not fail to market directly to women.

“Women feel they are their own market.” – Dawn Billings

Women want you to speak to them directly. But don’t forget. You must take the time to understand them. Otherwise, you run the risk of approaching them with stereotypical messages that could do more harm than good. Dell Computers found this out the hard way with the launch of “Della” a website targeting the “not quite as bright as the male” female.  Or at least that is how it was interpreted. The site, months in the making, was taken down after just three days due to the backlash.

2. Remember that women think differently than men.

For one thing, it’s scientific. We talk about it more here, but essentially women’s frontal lobe, the area in the brain responsible for problem-solving and decision-making, is larger. This results in them to putting more time and effort into a decision or problem solving process. (aka, taking a long time) Another example is found in their “larger” limbic cortex, the area which is responsible for regulating emotion. Women have more connections to the emotional centers of their brain. (aka, leading with their emotions)

Understanding the differences in men and women, opens up for better communication and messaging and ultimately sales. Refusing to see the differences leads to offensive or even worse messages that do not resonate at all with the female prospect.

3. Do not attempt to pigeon-hole women by age.

Demographics are dead. We can no longer look at them as by age but instead must consider their lifestage. The female is different than she was 10 years ago, they are different from each other and they change pending where they are in life.

A 40-year old female might have a toddler at home, a child in college or may have never married or had children at all. What connects with the situation of the one with a toddler has little chance of speaking adequately with the needs of the other two.

4. Do not underestimate the power of the more mature boomer woman.

Female boomers feel they have been dropped completely off the marketer’s or brand’s radar. They were vigorously pursued for so long, and yet at 55, they feel abandoned.  Or worse, they feel targeted solely for retirement homes and adult diapers.

The reality is, they have more money than anyone, they control the spending and they have a LOT of living left to do.

As Billings points out, research shows:

  • Every fifth adult in the U.S. today is a female over 50.
  • The 50+ population will grow by 70 percent over the next 15 years.
  • Women comprise the majority of the 80 million Boomers now working their way through society and the consumer marketplace. They have established careers and money to spend on themselves, their families and their causes, as well as the ability to influence the majority of their households’ purchasing decisions.
  • Disposable incomes are highest among women aged 45-54.
  • In the next decade, women will control two-thirds of the consumer wealth in the U.S.
  • The fastest growing demographic segment on Facebook is women over 55, growing 175 percent in the past six months.
  • Not only will Boomer women continue to earn income by working, they’ll also manage inheritance windfalls from their parents as well as their husbands, who they will outlive by 6-9 years on average. (Sad, but true.)
  • The 6.7 million companies owned by women account for 30 percent of all privately-owned U.S. small business, skewing heavily towards women 35-5

5. Do not ignore the time women spend online connecting with, and influencing their networks.

Women rule the Internet. Comscore says women are the majority of users of social networking sites and spend 30% more time on these sites than men. On Facebook alone:

  1. Women are not only the majority of its users, but drive 62% of activity in terms of messages, updates and comments, and 71% of the daily fan activity.
  2. Women have 8% more Facebook friends on average than men, and spend more time on the site.
  3. Women played a key role in the early days by adopting three core activities—posting to walls, adding photos and joining groups—at a much higher rate than males.

Women are searching what they want and need on the Internet and they are now finding affirmation or reasons not to buy within their networks. That is where you can find her, get to know her and let her get to know you.

6. Do not forget the FUN.

And before she can have fun, she has to find time. According to Women Want More, by Michael Silverstein and Kate Sayre,

“Above all, women want “agents of leverage” – ways to find time, save time, free up time. And when women find a product or service that truly meets those needs, they can become brand apostles.”

But beware, don’t tell her she “deserves it.” According to Marti Barletta, author of “Marketing to Women” and CEO of TrendSight Group, “The optimistic message [from marketers], all the ‘You deserve it’ stuff, is completely wrong right now. What is right is saying, ‘You’re smart. You can handle this. You can make the right decisions, and here’s how we can help.’” (via Advertising Age)

So, when marketing to women, don’t be a man. Ask for directions.

How Women’s Needs, Online Channels and the Buying Process Converge to Perpetually Market Your Brand

Women are continuing to flood to the online social networks. But some of you continue to ask: how does this affect her purchases?  I believe for companies that not only participate in social media marketing, but strategically listen and respond, it means increased revenue even during recessionary times.

Let’s take a look at three factors individually and then how they effectively converge to perpetually market your brand.

  • Women’s Wants and Needs
  • Online Social Channels
  • The Buying Process

Women’s Wants and Needs
Women are responsible for 85% of all brand purchases. So what does this mean during tough economic and recessionary times? According to Women Want More, even though they are incredibly stressed, overburdened, out of balance and dissatisfied, they still want more. But more of what? Your products and services? No, not really.

What gets her attention is family, health, security, friends and lovers; learning and education; work and career; helping others and giving back. This translates to needs for:


Online Social Channels
Women are going online daily via channels to have a voice, attain advice, research, check on friends and family, make connections, collaborate and share.

And today she is meeting her needs and wants that are mentioned above through online social channels such as Facebook, Twitter, Blogs, YouTube, MySpace, Female Forum, wikis, etc. The chart below, appropriately titled The Conversation Prism by Brian Solis and Jesse Thomas, displays many of the channels available as of just a few months ago and the applications continue to grow rapidly.


Are you beginning to see the how nicely women’s needs interface with the benefits of online social networks? This is why they are spending more and more time online. Unlike men who mainly use the Internet to just make a transaction, women are there to make connections. But do not be misled by thinking this has nothing to do with the buying process.

The Buying Process
So, let’s look at the stages of the buying process, according to Marti Barletta, CEO of Trendsight. When men and women buy as partners, women control at least four out of five stages of the purchasing process.


1. Kick-off  – women     2. Research – women     3. Purchase  – men
4. Ownership – women     5. Word-of-mouth – women

And further, even though men are present and appear in control during the purchasing stage when they pull out the credit card or sign the contract, they are not really in control of that stage either – they just think they are. A lot happens way before then that actually determines the decision of what is bought.

So what happens? The other four stages. The decision to buy something, gathering of information, considering past purchases and collaborating with others.

Do these stages sound familiar? They mirror a woman’s basic needs, what she’s doing online, and how she conducts her life. This is how she thinks–Everyday. All day.

Women, networks and buying converge to create perpetual marketing
Participating in online social networks allows you to communicate, connect and build relationships throughout ALL of the stages of the buying process continuously.

If you are trying to capture her attention simply during the purchase stage, your competition will not only be getting in front of women way before you do, they will be building relationships with her. This is especially true today as everyone is so focused on price. But keep in mind, price is an obstacle, not a solution. Unless you are willing to give up your profit, you’d be wise to have a better strategy than price alone.

So, understand her needs, connect with her online as she is fulfilling them and you will be there for her when she is ready to buy. You will not only build your brand perpetually, but organically as well. You will constantly build her trust so when she is ready to buy, she will buy from you.



Stephanie Holland is President and Executive Creative Director for Holland + Holland Advertising, Birmingham, Alabama. Working in an industry that is dominated by men, she is one of only 3% of the female creative directors in the country. Stephanie works mostly with male advertisers, helping them successfully market to women. Subscribe to She-conomy by Email