Sales & Marketing

Respectful marketing strategies and tactics targeted at women

Respectful marketing strategies and tactics targeted at women

Learn the key areas of difference and play to the desires and needs of the female market

Marketing, in general, requires a marketer to truly understand that a proposition takes in the end-to-end experience at all touchpoints across the customer lifecycle. Marketing to women also requires a proposition that takes into full account the differences, subtle or not, between men and women. There are a few differentiating factors and marketing engagement rules that will accentuate marketing efforts to women, and a few tips of marketing engagement that should be kept in mind.


Do not assume that painting a veneer of glossy pink all over the marketing collateral is all that is involved in marketing to women. Pink is not a business strategy!”

john lincoln, author


  1. The design and form of the proposition should be easy to use, functional and stylish. Although this would apply to any customer, it is really important to ensure that product features are easy to use and are able to do what was intended. Adding a dash of relevant style will differentiate it as a proposition targeted at women.
  2. The brand credentials should be built with an established brand that already targets women as its primary customer base. Aligning the proposition through a product bundling or channel alliance with established brands that have women as their primary targets, will help ensure that marketing gets the momentum it needs.
  3. Work with HR to include women as a major part of the internal marketing and sales team. Businesses need to ensure that women have a big role in their marketing and sales teams. This will not only ensure that the proposition design, function and style are commensurate to the needs of women, but will also ensure that communications efforts are not ‘off message’ and irrelevant.
  4. Work to ensure channel suitability. It is important that go-to-market models reflect the needs, aspirations and expectations of the target female market. Cleanliness, safety, design and style are basic considerations. Ensure too, that everyone involved in the channel is friendly, honest, empathetic and caring.
  5. Communicate relevantly and differently. A business targeting women as a primary customer will have to ensure that communications are not only relevant and functional but also evoke the emotional stimuli that matter to women.
  6. Test the market and launch a proposition to commemorate an eventful day. A proposition targeted at women to be launched on a commemorative day like mother’s day, Valentine’s day, international women’s day or even father’s day can be a useful starting point to prove the business value of such initiatives. Women have a tendency to connect emotionally to the relevance of a day more than men. Women will appreciate this much more than men.
  7. Steps to building brand loyalty. Women are more loyal customers than men. Once they are interested in a proposition and become a customer, they will more than likely become a repeat customer. They are also less likely to switch after a poor experience that might lead them to downgrade their net promoter score. By designing retention propositions it is possible to ensure the loyalty reward value is communicated clearly and directly to women customers. They will certainly ensure that you get the full benefits of the ‘network effect’ by recommending your brand and propositions to their network of family, friends and co-workers. Imagine the compounded multiplier effect of this on business growth and marketing activities!
  8. Beware: the devil is in the detail. Women are very detail-oriented. Do not attempt to hoodwink them with headline prices that are misleading. Ensure that the offer, its terms and conditions and other relevant information are communicated fully and clearly upfront. Although this is practised by most businesses, they do it primarily as legal caveats. For women, it can convey discipline, reliability and honesty.
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Designing and crafting propositions targeted at women

Keen observation and an understanding of the many differences between men and women are critical before attempting to craft a proposition targeted primarily at women.


Women have strong interpersonal and social networking skills

Women form deeper and longer-lasting relationships with their peers, friends and workmates, and market propositions can usefully leverage this aspect:

  • Social networking tools – Actively promote a proposition through widely available social networking tools like Facebook or Twitter. If the proposition appeals then women will actively promote, recommend and refer your brand to their network.
  • Friend-get-friend offers and discounts – Friend-get-friend marketing and viral marketing are promotional campaigns that utilize networks of friends to distribute commercial electronic messages about a product, offer, competition or website. As women are better networkers, offers of friend-get-friend discounts and promotions will succeed better, for propositions targeted at women.
  • Special proposition offers targeted to a circle or network of women – An offer targeted at a group of women like professionals or entrepreneurs or through a local chamber of commerce can be highly effective, as women are more active and serious networkers. So any proposition targeted to a circle of women has a high propensity for adoption by that circle.


Women have superior and keener experience of all senses

It has been scientifically observed that men’s senses are relatively blunt and that women have a superior and keener experience of all their senses. This has implications when marketing to women:

  • Color vis a vis the sense of sight. Marketers need to be especially aware of what this means in terms of color for their packaging, presentations and premises. The color cannot be too loud. It should have a soothing and softening effect.
  • Sense of hearing and listening. Sales representatives need to speak clearly, unambiguously and honestly. Any music or the jingle for your brand or retail premises should not be too loud. Keep in mind that sound volumes that are considered normal by men are often perceived as too loud by women. Women also have a keener sense than men, picking up social cues, nuances, intonation, meaning and intensity of conversations. This implies that all communications across all touchpoints including ‘above the line’ communications, collateral, websites and others need to be designed to reflect this keener sense.


Women have a strong leaning towards a nurturing and caring role

Women are by nature nurturing, caring and giving: they have an almost innate unselfish ability to nurture and give to all under their care. Marketers have a tremendous opportunity to leverage this unique trait:

  • Communications and positioning. Marketers have an opportunity to craft their communications messages to reinforce the benefits of a proposition in a way that accentuates the caring and giving traits of women.
  • Designing the propositions. Marketers should be extremely cautious to ensure that their proposition designs are not superfluous or falsely claimed. As caring and giving that women are, they will not hesitate to forcibly reject any business that positions or attempts to promote propositions that do not deliver the desired experience intended for their loved ones!
  • Customer-facing employees. If a business plan calls for significant marketing to women then it might be in everyone’s best interest to ensure that all your employees are not only friendly, courteous and professional – but also have that X-factor pertaining to empathy, kindness and caring. It is recommended to run psychometric and psychology tests for customer-facing and front-end employees, to handpick employees with this trait. Women are extremely loyal to caring and giving brands. This will pay off handsomely for any business targeting women if executed well.
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Women have enhanced information processing capabilities

Women have a better ability to connect, correlate, compute, relate and act on information. Women think locally and rely on details and nuances for added context. Women also have the ability to rewind relevant information over and over. This ability to decipher a wider range of information has several implications for marketing:

  • Proposition design. Pay very special attention to the details of the product design, function and style. Ensure that no hidden costs are camouflaged within the headline price. The detail-oriented nature of women means that they will shop around and seek the best value. Ensure that the pricing of a proposition and its perceived value are well communicated so that the brand and the competitiveness of a proposition are well-understood.
  • Marketing communications. Collateral and other product information should have an appropriate level of clarity and detail. Women will notice the nuances that matter.
  • Sales and front-office employees. Front-line staffs need to pay special attention to the fact that women have a better capability of rewinding relevant information. It is imperative that sales representatives should be consistent in what they say to their women customers and not lie through to a sale.


Women have better peripheral vision

Men have a need to track, trace and navigate the path to their goal. In other words men see in a narrow field – mild tunnel vision – with greater concentration on depth. Women, however, take in the bigger picture – literally speaking. Not only do women have literally a wider peripheral vision but women can also store for short periods at least, more relevant and random information than men. This wider peripheral vision combined with the acute sensory awareness and overall intuitiveness makes women an interesting market to target, attract, communicate to and sell. This has several implications:

  • Retail channel location and store. The intense peripheral vision capability of women applies to the entire external and internal surroundings of a retail store, office or location. Focus should not only be at the point of sales, but attention paid to the external and surrounding areas. Most women are busy mothers, care givers to older folks or expectant mothers. What this means is that safety, cleanliness, convenience, a play area for toddlers and immediate attention are some of the key attributes that a woman customer will appreciate more than a man.
  • Marketing communications. The intensity of focus of the core message depends on the type of media. If it is a billboard, then it is more intense versus a print advertisement. The strong peripheral vision capabilities of women will require a design and a message that communicates the big picture of the proposition.


Women will seek out comments, opinions and suggestions of others

Men are more independent in their thoughts and actions, whilst women generally seek out and are open to suggestions, comments and opinions from others. The implications of this are far-ranging:

  • Proposition design. Propositions need to be designed in ways that enable customers to give feedback and allows the business to share customers’ opinions and feedback through online, print or other media. A business is in a better position to generate real buzz and excitement around a proposition if more positive opinions and feedback are communicated back to the target market. Therefore the proposition design should facilitate the capture of this feedback so that it can be communicated back to the wider target. The tools used here are not just the obvious social media tools like Twitter or Facebook but could include free-call 800 numbers where customers can call in, as well as micro-sites specifically created and targeted for the launch of a single proposition.
  • Marketing communications. Use of ‘real world’ testimonials would certainly be effective when targeted at women. This has the compounded effect of creating and communicating a personalized message for potential women customers.


All this advice should be relevant and applicable when marketing to any target. The point being made here is to highlight the differences between men and women and its relevance to the marketing and design of propositions targeted to women.

American author Camille Paglia once said, “Women are in league with each other, a secret conspiracy of hearts and pheromones”. Woe betide any marketer who fails to understand the consequence of this.


JohnLincoln.oneThe business growth hacker


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