When It Comes To Reaching Women, What's Old Is New Again

How to get into the mind of a woman? An age-old pursuit, and for marketers an imperative one. In this gadget-glorified, digital-forward world we live in, brands often turn to the next big thing when it comes to reaching the female demographic. I’m not saying that’s necessarily a bad thing. For example, recent statistics from Pew Research show that a third of all women in the U.S. are on Pinterest, making it a strong tech pathway to connect with female audiences. However, I think that many marketers are a bit too keen on the brightest, new advertising practice, platform or strategy, often missing the boat when it comes to the tried and true.

Just because a woman may play Candy Crush on her smartphone doesn’t mean she can’t also experience the basic joys of promotional elements like coupons. 



I know. Coupons. Some marketers and media buyers steer clear, thinking it cheapens a brand. But, according to a one of our recent surveys, 89% of moms say that they regularly influenced by coupons when it comes to supermarket shopping. And, pair coupons with a community of shoppers and shopper influences and you have a doubly powerful vehicle for propelling a brand onto a woman’s shopping list. 

Another oldie, but a goodie that scares the bejeezus out of marketers? The good old message board. 

Women like to talk to each other, and the message board (sometimes referred to as a discussion board or forum) has evolved beyond its original boundaries to take the form of Twitter chats, article comments, Facebook conversations and more. These are vibrant arenas, and brands miss out if they ignore them entirely. 

Advertisers often want to avoid UGC communities where women talk to each other, reasoning that they might get blowback from comments. Understandable, but this can usually be avoided by following a few critical rules: Don’t try to start a conversation. Contribute to it. If a marketer crosses a line to be part of the discussion, they are missing the point. Let’s be honest. Women don't get together to talk about soap. Find a way to weave in an story or insight that aligns with your brand’s core values and is on-point and you won’t only gain trust, but potentially win brand advocates.

The real key to getting a woman listen to your brand messaging is through a value exchange. Women are very busy – especially moms. And, unsurprisingly, they place a great deal of value on their time. Therefore, any marketer that wishes to engage better value that time in full measure.

That woman I mentioned above who enjoys playing Candy Crunch on her phone? She might be intrigued by other mobile casual games – sponsored games. The trick here is to let her play through. Give her the fun along with an ad that she is aware of, but don’t disrupt her experience or enjoyment. Don’t do so, and you’ve displaced the balance on the value exchange scale.

About now, you’re probably conscious of the elephant in the room. Don’t worry. I’m getting there.

Native advertising. 

The Interactive Advertising Bureau recently released its “Native Advertising Playbook,” outlining a variety of different commonplace native formats, along with disclosure principles. All well and good, but interestingly enough one of the formats singled out by the IAB is “custom,” or ads that cannot fit the traditional mold of standard display units and could be labeled “can’t be contained.”

This casts the door wide open for innovation. But, back to my oldie but goodie theme: Don’t forget that honesty is always the best policy. Sponsorships aren't an unknown quantity. A woman won’t turn heel on content that meets her value exchange needs. So, embrace native strategies, but make sure that the language you use makes the content’s paid-for status clear and unobtrusive. 

While we’re all working in a digital landscape that is constantly shifting and evolving, the classic marketing tactics still hold true in many ways. It doesn’t take new cutting-edge technology to necessarily get into the mind of today’s woman. If handled with a nod to tradition, a smart marketer and stage might be all you really need.

1 comment about "When It Comes To Reaching Women, What's Old Is New Again".
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  1. Tom Francoeur from Communispace, February 5, 2014 at 1:52 p.m.

    Great article Mark and good advice for brands targeting Moms. My wife is a moderator for a Big Tent Mom's community. Another thing for brands to remember is to follow the community rules. Marketers have joined as "Moms" and then started marketing. Moderators and community members see right through this tactic immediately, resulting in the marketer member getting booted and damage to the brand. A UGC community might look like gold, but marketers have to remember that they're people, not dollar signs.

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