“Our longing is the way…” – Rumi

March 5, 2011

I’ve been talking to my clients about their true passions, their longings for how the world should be, their convictions and their beliefs.  Why? Because I know that your passions, beliefs and longings ultimately form the foundation of how you are different, and these differences manifest as benefits to your clients.

I always share Rumi’s quote with my clients: “Our longing is the way”.  Meaning…follow your longing.  Even if you think it has nothing to do with your j.o.b.

There is a nugget of gold there.

Here’s an inspiring example – the story of ten-year-old Maria Aragon from Winnipeg who ‘followed her longing’…. and made an impact on audiences, and a major emotional impact on a superstar.

How did Maria do it?  I think there are three steps…..

Step 1: Follow, and be proud of, your passion:

Step 2: Accept praise openly, even (especially) when it comes from superstars

Step 3: Remember all that time you spent practicing your passion (ie: following your longing)? Well, turns out it creates a pretty great path…

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What a Student can Teach Us About Marketing to Women.

November 29, 2010

A european design student – Remi van Oers – has provided a brilliant example of marketing to women, that offers some great lessons for us.

Easy-Car-Jack design provides an alternative to using the typical car-jack, and getting your hands, knees, and clothes dirty in the process.  His car-jack requires only one push of a button.

Easy-Car-Jack has a tiny hole at its back that sucks air into an accordion-like balloon. The balloon…then inflates almost immediately, propping up vehicles as heavy as 1.3 tons…All you’ve got to do is press a button.”    Click here to see how it works

When I saw this product, the phrase (made famous by the Volvo YCC project) came to mind: “when you meet the expectations of women, you *exceed* the expectations of men”.

This is a marketing to women win because it hits the bulls-eye on two essential Themes of Marketing to Women:

1. Empowerment:
Because of this design, you can now jack up your own car – unassisted.  You don’t have to flag down the nearest male stranger at a time when you’re the most vulnerable: at the side of the road, without an operating car.

2. Ease of Life
Because of this design, time-pressured drivers don’t have to wait for a tow truck.  If you can jack up the car yourself, you don’t need to waste precious time waiting for someone else to help.

BUT – one big mistake the product write-up and images make, is that it alienates the huge male market.

Men will  never buy a car-jack that is promoted as “change a tire and wear four-inch heels at the same time”, or “A car-jack perfect for lady-like tire changes”.  No way, no how, will guys line up to buy it, even though it solves their problems too.

Marketing to women doesn’t have to be “PINK”.  Women don’t need to be told it’s a product “for women”.  If a product empowers them, and makes their lives easier in a practical way, women will buy it.

The smarter approach would be to promote the car-jack on its merits:  simplicity, speed, and clean hands.  Include images of both men and women using the product.   This way, you get both markets.

Now, we need a complementary design innovation to change the tire, once the car is up on the jack.  Who’s up for it?


Getting Past Generic

November 15, 2010

In today’s culture of advertising overload, how do you capture your ideal market’s attention and get past the same generic claims everyone else is using?

“working hard to be your number one choice”
“leading service provider of…”
“we put customers first”
“we listen”

Do any of these sound familiar?

There are two issues with the generic claims above.  1)  Your market assumes you put clients first, and assumes you are going to listen to them. These aren’t differentiators, they are a baseline to being in business.  2)  Everyone is claiming the same thing (that’s why these phrases are so familiar!), so they don’t help you stand out from the crowd.  They are just more meaningless marketing ‘noise’.

How can your business come up with true differentiators that accurately reflect the benefits you offer, and attract your ideal clients?  You need to start by Asking the Right Questions, and Asking the Right People.

Ask the Right Questions:

Asking the right questions is about digging for your differentiators.  Digging waaaaay down.  Past the outer layer of “corporate-speak”.  Past the second layer of what you think it *should* be.  Past the third layer of what you *want* it to be.  You need to get down to the core, the bubbling source of *heat* that fuels you.  What is that?  If we were working together, I’d start with the following questions:

What’s your story? Why did you really end up in this career? What was the spark that started it all?  How does the spark continue to play out in why you’re still there?

What drives you personally – outside of your “job” – what fuels you?  How is that related to the value you bring to your clients?

What are you *for*, and what are you *against*?  How does that show up in your work? How does that manifest as a benefit for your clients?

And so on…..

Asking the Right People:

“It’s hard to see the picture when you’re inside the frame”.  You can answer the Right Questions above, but you’ll only have half the story as to how you’re differentiated.  The people ‘outside the frame’ – your ideal clients – have the other half of the story.  So, let’s interview them, and ask questions such as:

Why did you choose (your name/your company)?

Why do you stay?

What caused you to look for (your product/service)?

How is (your name) different, and why do you value that?

Finding your true differentiators is a process.  It begins with asking the right questions, and asking the right people.  This starting point will get you much closer than you ever have been, to defining your true differentiators and ensuring you stand out from the crowd to attract your ideal clients.

If you like where I’m heading with this, check out these services:

Differentiation Foundation

Differentation Presentations


Stats and Sports…

October 27, 2010

Thanks to @douglasreid for inspiring me to share articles & research.  I love getting Doug’s weekly emails on all the goodies he’s come across on the topic of Strategy, so here’s my version.  Hope you find it valuable to your business.

1.   Thanks to Stuart Ash, for passing this one along: “Hitting the Mark” by Kristin Laird of Marketing Magazine.  Laird reports some interesting stats from Home Depot, Speedy Corporation, and others that I think are useful benchmarks.  Lots of ideas to chew on for marketing to women, some more complicated than others (I prefer the simple ideas like Home Depot’s workshops). Hitting the Mark, Marketing Magazine

2.    44% of the NFL’s fan base is women. The NFL is now kicking off a 10M campaign to market to women.  I agree with their move away from simply making clothing “smaller and pinker”, but I’m not so sure that creating team colour nail polish is the best use of their product development budget.  I could be wrong, let’s see.    What do you think? NFL Marketing to Women

3.    AndNBCU’s results of how 25 key brands are rated by women

Have a great week!

Cristi


Wishes for International Day of Peace

September 21, 2010

Today, September 21st, is the International Day of Peace.  On this day, I wish you peace, love, and happiness always.

If you are inspired to help build peace today, here are some websites you can visit:

http://plancanada.ca/

http://www.womenforwomen.org/

http://www.kiva.org/

http://www.un.org/en/events/peaceday/2010/index.shtml

Love to you all,

Cristi

PS – an interesting point I learned in Buddhist class, is that the true definition of Love, is to “wish happiness for the other being”.  What a simple and beautiful definition.


Do You Know the 4 Themes of Marketing to Women?

April 11, 2010

Have you seen the new Citi Women & Co advertising campaign yet?.  The new campaign designed by Womenkind is a good one for marketers to learn from.  I’ve summarized what I see as the lessons, in this blog post.

Take a quick look at the print ads, then come back to me and read the lessons below.

The lessons from the Women & Co ad campaign fall into the Four Themes I’ve been developing and teaching over the years.  If you want to do better at selling or marketing to women, these Four Themes are critical to incorporate into your sales & marketing strategies.

1) Empowerment.
Empowerment is about self-esteem, finding confidence in one’s own abilities.  Blowing the doors off of what you thought you could possibly do.  Empowerment is about power over yourself and your abilities.  Contrast that with Power  – a more masculine construct for advertising – competitive, aggressive, blowing the other guy off the road.  So, Empowerment is referring to your relationship with yourself, Power is referring to your relationship to others.

This is what the actual Women & Co service itself is built on – women’s attraction to financial services companies who empower them.  It’s a membership program designed to support, empower, and educate women on financial topics.  See how the words in their ads reflect that theme:
“(women) have their own ideas…”
“where women build financial confidence and knowledge
“The strength of women, backed by Citi”

2) Eco-System.
Eco-system is all about leveraging women’s propensity to create and value “community” and “connection”.  How do you provide a platform for women to connect with like-minded women?   How do you leverage her Eco-System to access a broader client base?  How do you ensure your message survives transmission among her Eco-system?  How do you add value to her Eco-system?

In the Women & Co ads, you can see it’s in the words:
“You may have something in common with…”
“where wisdom, wealth, and women meet
“Women & Co is a financial community…”

3) Essential Self.
Real people, real communication, real words.  Essential self is all about showing who you really are as a company, and allowing her to be who she really is.  Part of portraying Essential Self is in having “real people” in your advertising – whether clients or employees.  The Dove campaign is another perfect example of “Essential Self”.

In the Women & Co ads, they use images of actual women clients – not airbrushed models – that the target market can identify with.  These real women are aspirational (well-dressed, well put together), but within reach, because they are real people.

4) Ease of Life.
Instead of thinking ‘what can I sell her?’, think ‘how can I help her?’.  Women are busy, time-pressured and are looking for vendors who understand that and do something about it.

The themes of Women & Co series of ads: ‘Balancing’, ‘Running’, ‘Managing’ and ‘Learning’ theme validates the many – often competing – roles of women and the constant balancing act that women feel they live.  Women & Co connects to their hearts through these ads and seems to say “we understand” by entering the conversation that’s already going on in her head.

Now You:
How does your advertising & selling masterfully portray the essential themes of Empowerment, Eco-System, Ease of Life, and Essential Self?

If you’re not sure, call or email me to book a High Heel Audit. A High Heel Audit is the fastest and most cost-effective way to ensure your strategies & tactics are designed to target women.  Call 250-448-7975 or email cristi@majoritymarketing.com to find out how my High Heel Audits can help you.  Talk to you soon 🙂


How a Construction Boot Retailer Found Gold in the Women’s Market…and How YOU can too.

March 25, 2010

Mark’s Work Wearhouse is going for the gold in the women’s market! Yahoo!! Like other companies that in the past, had a completely male-dominated customer base: Canadian Tire, Home Depot and Harley Davidson… Mark’s is seeing huge money in turning their attention to the women’s market!!  There are FIVE big key lessons to learn here, and I’ve summarized them, just for you.

Mark’s Work Wearhouse is known for “outfitting men with construction boots and overalls” and they’ve realized (as you have too, right?) that women are an untapped, but very lucrative market – even for a company that focuses on construction boots and overalls.

As the Globe & Mail article reports: “In it’s 4th quarter, even as the chain’s overall sales slipped almost 1 per cent, its women’s business enjoyed an 11.4 per cent lift.”

Excited yet? Me too.  Read the story here, then come back to me, as I have FIVE useful lessons that you need to use….

Now You: So, what can you take-away from this story? Glad you asked.  I’ve laid out FIVE ideas for you – which, by the way, I go over and over in my training and writing, but here’s another excuse to say it again:

1. Realize that women are different than men.

Yes, women and men are different.  Many marketers and salespeople worry that this statement is sexist.  It’s not.  Women worry about panty lines, men typically don’t.  That’s not sexist, that’s a fact to consider when finding ways to serve the market’s need.

2. Find out what drives women nuts, and make it into a business opportunity.

So, find out what drives women nuts.  But remember….you’re not going to find out by sending women pre-written multiple-choice surveys that ask what they like about the store or how satisfied were they on a scale from 1 to 5 with their service today.

You will find out the same way Mark’s did, by entering into a wide, and sometimes eclectic conversation with an advisory group of women over Perrier and cookies and not limiting the conversation to fit your perceptions about what women want, but by asking them in their lives, at every turn, what is really driving them nuts.  Panty lines? Really? Hm.  We can fix that. (for double the price of other womens’ underwear…..which leads me to lesson #3…)

3. Realize that if you can truly solve a problem that drives women nuts, they will pay a premium for a solid and true solution.

If (and I mean a big IF…no faking it!) you can truly solve the problem, women will pay premium for a good solution that works.  Mark’s didn’t hold back in charging five dollars for a pair of underwear – which is “at least twice as much as underwear at other retailers” because they knew – after speaking directly with women – that this is a compelling problem for women.  They knew if they could truly solve the problem in a quality way, that they could easily justify the price.  And they were right, as the story reports: “When the first panties appeared…..demand was so hot that the outlet couldn’t keep them in stock.”

4. Remove barriers that will conflict with your efforts to woo women shoppers

If the name of your store is Mark’s Work Wearhouse, and you’re known for construction boots and overalls, yes, you might want to think about re-branding.  Mark’s Work Wearhouse figured that out, and is now changing their name to simply “Mark’s” in a pilot test to start.

5.   And last, but not least – even if you are in a super, super, super (did I say super enough?) male-dominated market, think women.  Harley Davidson did it.  Home Depot did it, and now Mark’s Work Wearhouse is doing it.  Are you?

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Stumped on your Marketing and Selling to Women plan? Book a High Heel Audit with me today, and get unstuck!  Email:  cristi@majoritymarketing.com or call 250-448-7975.