Assumptions Can Be Costly With Women Clients
The financial services industry has been talking about–and has even taken steps toward–establishing programs targeting women customers. In the past decade, progressive companies began by recognizing that the womens market could be a viable one.
The industry has already been through several iterations of marketing to women, but has not always had success hitting its mark.
Companies sponsor social issues/events that might or might not relate their brand to women. They recruit women under the assumption that women only want to do business with women. They prospect for “all” women customers typically without regard for the fit of their products and services to those women. And they take the gender-neutral approach–women really are no different from men, so why have any separate programs/sales approach at all?
Although there is a germ of truth in all of these approaches–for example, recruiting women agents can reassure some women that they are doing business with a woman-friendly company–they alone generally have not proven successful.
Marketing successfully to women requires a deeper knowledge and understanding of what has evolved into a heterogeneous and savvy market.
Women have changed. In the 1950s, women had simpler lives. It was likely that they were homemakers who managed their families and not a business of their own.
The 1980s saw the expanded role of women in the workforce. Many of todays women have a blended role, resulting in a more complex consumer.
Therefore, if you are designing a womans marketing program or you are on the front lines as a salesperson, you would be wise to check your assumptions at the door.
Assumption #1: It is important to educate women about financial matters.
While it is true that women typically spend more time researching purchase decisions, length of research is not synonymous with a low level of financial knowledge.
If you look at the books and seminars targeted at women and finance, most focus on the basics of investing. This tactic might not go over well with a woman who is a business executive or owner of her own business, as many women are today.
Segmentation by financial knowledge can spell the difference between success and failure, particularly if you are targeting the upscale boomer woman.
When selling to her, before discussing needs, products or any other aspect of the sale, you must first determine her financial acumen.