By Shari LeGate
If reaching out to women is not an integral part of your marketing strategy, it should be.
Women are the primary consumers of products and services across most industries. Granted, it doesn’t necessarily apply to the shooting sports industry, but women still represent a substantial portion of your customer base.
Since women control more than 85% of purchases across a range of categories, you could be missing a valuable opportunity. No matter how many of your marketing dollars are poured into trying to reach the women’s market, it’s very likely falling on deaf ears — if it’s only marketing you’re doing.
A recent study showed women feel like companies are not marketing effectively when it comes to understanding what their needs are. It’s not they don’t want to or they don’t know how, they’re just missing the mark a little in identifying what women want or need.
We all recognize women perceive and understand things differently than men and to earn their business and their trust, you need to market to them differently. Rather than marketing to them, you do it by connecting with them.
To be relevant to women consumers and connect with them, you need to take a little time and learn what motivates them. Look at the women around you. Colleagues, employees, the women in your family. Women are driven, active and optimistic. They lead busy lives, are adept at multi-tasking and value achievement. They’re focused on being successful and hold good impressions in high esteem — whether it’s an impression made on them or making a good impression on someone else. Both are equally important, which is why making the effort to connect with them on a personal level goes a long way.
Women are driven by their virtues, habits and personalities. Understanding who she is and what she does day in and day out gives you the opportunity to present value to women, influencing their habits. Do you present your store or brand to fit with her worldview and opinions? Does it reflect who she is, her personality?
Going Beyond Demographics
Connecting with women is not only looking at demographics. All the statistical data available about women is great for finding a particular target audience, such as age, race or region, but all those analytics won’t define the woman.
As women navigate through life, their outlooks change. Their goals, priorities and perspectives continually evolve, depending on what’s affecting their life at that particular time. If you look past the demographics, taking an intersectional approach to understanding what’s really happening in women’s communities, you’ll attract new, loyal consumers.
Women are driven, active and optimistic.
They lead busy lives, are adept at multi-tasking
and value achievement.
Keep in mind, this market segment does not respond well to a “generations” marketing strategy. A woman’s generation or age doesn’t describe the woman or how to connect with her. Whether a millennial, a baby boomer or a traditionalist, connecting with her and getting her to respond to your message is more about reaching out to her life stage. It’s important to recognize where she is in her life stage right now, as well as her chronological age.
Women today are living their lives in a much less linear approach than ever before. They’re having children later in life, embarking on new careers in their 50s, doing their research and making their own decisions. Separating women into generic categories based on their age is a fast road to failure and treating women as if they’re all the same carries a high risk of insulting them instead of gaining their trust.
Ladies/Youth Model Quandary
Years ago, a firearm manufacturer took a very progressive step by designing and producing a shotgun for women. The engineers took a standard-size 12-ga. shotgun frame, cut the stock down to a very short length of pull and offered it in a 20-ga. They then marketed it as a ladies/youth model shotgun. I remember thinking, “Thank you for letting me know I have the body of a 12-year-old boy.” Needless to say, the gun failed miserably with women, prompting marketers to say the women’s market was not strong enough to warrant a product designed just for them.
The reason the ladies/youth model shotgun failed was because women weren’t asked what they needed. Or wanted. Part of making your store and/or brand reachable to women is by presenting something that speaks directly to their needs, offers a solution or merely understands their struggles. Keep in mind though, a woman’s BS meter is always on and she knows when she’s being talked to in a valid and honest way — and when she’s not.
Do The Fieldwork
Asking questions and listening to the answers shows you’re serious about connecting with your female audience. Take the time to do some fieldwork. Step onto the range and listen to what women are saying. Women of all backgrounds and ages make up this market. Connecting with women is paying attention to their diverse needs and hearing their perspective on what affects them.
Consider a marketing strategy that incorporates their stories into your message. By highlighting the experiences of real women in the shooting sports, you’ll have the opportunity to connect to other women who can relate to them. Women, like men, remember stories much better than details and facts. Women look for understanding and affinity. Each woman’s journey is different and distinctive. They have faced obstacles, but they’ve also experienced many wins. Sharing those stories within your marketing strategy shows you’re paying attention and are keenly aware of what’s happening in their lives. You’re not showing stock images of the perfect woman with the right attire and look in a posed position with a plastic smile. You’re sharing real issues and letting them know you see them for who they are and are offering solutions to real problems.
Letting go of ingrained marketing tactics can help strengthen your connection to the women’s market. Most of us already know creating one type of message, particularly one geared specifically toward men, will not resonate with women. Simply rebranding or changing the name of a product or service to target women will only add insult to injury. Women can see through a quick Band-Aid that has been thrown on something to appease them. Changing the color of a product, repackaging it to fit the mold of “feminine” colors or giving it some clever name won’t resonate.
Established Connection Builds The Base
Today’s female consumer is smart and savvy and won’t tolerate being pandered to with outdated marketing techniques. Connecting with women is talking to them, not at them. Focus less on trying to sell a product with a witty tag line or female-centric packaging and lean more toward simply explaining what the product does, how it can easily be integrated into their life and how your store can work with them.
Marketing to us just as “women” will not create a long-term customer, but connecting to us will. Build the connection, and you’ll build a solid customer base.
Shari Legate is FMG Publications’ video producer and shooting sports analyst. She’s a former member of USA Shooting, executive director of the Women’s Shooting Sports Foundation and has covered the past three summer Olympics as part of NBC’s in-studio team team (and will analyze the Toyko Games next summer).