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“If youre trying to find a niche in todays marketplace, dont overlook the womens market.”

Like you, I had heard this before. And probably like you, I had read volumes about the sales opportunities that exist among this consumer group whose impact on the market is constantly gaining strength. But still I continued to pursue other marketing avenues instead. One day, I did finally notice how many women were sitting across my desk looking for direction and, fortunately, decided to change mine. Here are a few of the ideas Ive acted on to help redirect my focus on the womens market.

As part of the process to develop my newfound target market, I first took a closer look at the marketing materials and support available to me. Then, I used them to develop a three-prong approach that would include targeting women at the religious, corporate and community level. Even though I have only been involved in the womens market for less than a year, the results, which were almost instant, are very tangible.

The method I use for all three target groups is seminar marketing. My presentation focuses on attendees financial issues and concerns, but I also make sure the agenda includes other areas of interest as well. For instance, in working with my church, I have organized quarterly, one-day workshops that address the “total woman.” Presentations include lectures from experts on confidence, self-esteem, fitness and nutrition. Average attendance is about 70 to 100 participants, and I usually can attribute 20 sales to the success of this venue.

The corporate element requires a somewhat more sophisticated approach. This is made possible for me as the result of my partnership with the Nashvilles Womens Resource Center, an affiliation of the National Association of Women Business Owners. To maintain visibility within the business-owner segment of my target market, I host the “Empower Hour,” a monthly lunch that addresses financial and business-planning issues. Again, I cover the financial issues while guest speakers tend to other business-related subjects, which have recently included tips on building customer service skills and designing Web sites.

These lunchtime presentations generally draw about 20 to 25 women. While they already have produced sales, I really view them as a long-term strategy to help me build relationships with prospective clients. As coordinator and host, it is my job to see that the environment stays low key and informational, rather than high pressure.

The seminars for the women in my community are part of an enrichment program conducted by the local public library and are designed to alert participants to the changing role women play in society, as well as the vital impact they have on the economic well being and security of their families. Besides encouraging women to take control of their financial futures, the seminars provide information on specific issues like estate and retirement planning, disability income insurance and financial protection. After only three presentations, Ive been asked to increase the frequency of these seminars and add more topics.

I personally take care of promoting and advertising the church seminars but am relieved of this responsibility for the corporate and community-based programs. The Womens Resource Center and library staff perform that function by inviting their customers and doing the promotion themselves.

No matter what group I am working with, I make it a point to position myself as a service provider. If educating women about financial planning issues turns into a sale, all the better, but Im also happy to reach out to those just looking for information. If Ive learned one thing, its that women dont like a pushy salesperson. They respond to value and education. I consider myself an educator first, and a salesperson second.

For me, the returns on this approach truly have been rewarding. Personally, it has given me the opportunity to meet women of all different ages and a wide range of financial needs, including younger women looking down the road to the future; older women with immediate retirement needs; moms in need of college planning for their children; and many more.

Professionally, Ive enjoyed the privilege of helping many of my seminar participants meet their needs with life insurance, annuities and mutual funds. In addition, I generally can look forward to at least two appointments every day, I am expanding my office space to dedicate an area to seminars and I am pleased about the possibility of doing ongoing, local television spots to promote financial planning for women.

Plus, I know there is still much more potential for me out there in my niche market. If you are looking to expand your practice, the womens market might be the right place to start.

is a producer for Penn Mutual Life Insurance Company in Nashville, Tenn. She can be reached at DMTurner@htk.com.


Reproduced from National Underwriter Life & Health/Financial Services Edition, November 7, 2003. Copyright 2003 by The National Underwriter Company in the serial publication. All rights reserved.Copyright in this article as an independent work may be held by the author.