You’ve heard about it. Content Marketing. By its simplest definition, Content Marketing is the creation and sharing of different types of media designed to create a relationship with your customers and build loyalty for your brand. What could be more perfect for reaching women?
Women, like any other consumers, want information about the products and services that we’re spending our hard-earned cash on. But we’ve pretty much turned a blind eye to traditional marketing — fast forwarding through TV commercials, ignoring magazine ads, and hitting the “X” on banner ads. Great content, whether it is a blog post, infographic or video is perfect for giving us the information we need when making purchasing decisions. We can comment on it, and share it. However, when creating great content that is designed to resonate with women, marketers need to remember a few rules:
Avoid Stereotypes – Using old stereotypes and clichés is one of the quickest ways to turn off a female audience.
One Size Doesn’t Fit All – All women are not the same, and they don’t respond to the same messages. Understand generational and lifestage differences and structure brand messages accordingly.
Build Relationships – Look for ways to help female consumers not only build relationships with your brand, but with each other.
Don’t Overtly Target – Don’t try so hard; we’ll see right through it. A subtle, more nuanced approach is more effective.
Remember the Emotional Connection – Emotions play an important role in a woman’s purchasing decisions and brand loyalty. We don’t always buy a product or service because it’s the best value for our money; many times our choice is driven by an emotional connection.
Anyone who has been reading this blog knows that women think differently than men. We’ve talked about how a woman’s brain has four times as many connections between the left and right hemispheres of the brain as a man’s. All of those signals hurtle down the superhighway into her right brain – the home of emotional memory, intuition and experience. A woman’s heart is in her brain – tell her a story that is filled with emotion, and explain why your brand is relevant to her.
Storytelling is the marketing buzzword of the moment. Storytelling certainly isn’t a new concept – in the world of PR it has been a critical part of everything we do since the beginning of time. But with the onset of content marketing, the concept of storytelling as part of a strategy for marketing to women has become of increasing importance.
Stories help women consumers decide if they like, trust, and want to do business with a brand. Stories set the stage to begin a relationship that can last for years to come. Every brand needs a story to be a competitor in today’s marketplace, largely because social media has provided a forum for consumers to have conversations with brands, and stories set the stage for those conversations.
The reality is that consumers, especially women, are not drawn to a particular brand or its marketing goals. They’re drawn to good stories. Stories that entertain, enlighten and inform. Regardless of whether those stories make a female consumer feel happy or sad, they do make her think and feel. And the brands that know how to tell a good story will increasingly have her attention.
Kudos to LeanIn.org and Getty Images for coming together to offer a special collection of images that represent women and families in more realistic ways than the traditional stock photos of a businesswoman in a suit with glasses, or a mother pouring milk into their child’s cereal bowl.
There is an appetite for the images: The three most-searched terms in Getty’s image database are “women,” “business” and “family.” As Getty subscribers search images they will now see these new images alongside the usual ones, or they can specifically search Getty’s Lean In collection.
I recently saw someone share a white paper I’d written on their Facebook page, and a gentleman had written a comment under it stating that “even after decades of the women’s movement and struggles to achieve equality between the sexes, they have named their company, “GIRLpower Marketing.”
I read his comment and thought, “is that a bad thing?” To me, Girlpower is the strength we need to make a difference. It’s what every one of us makes of it each day.
Take Oprah, for example. In 2002, Oprah claimed she disliked the word “power” and refused to call herself a brand. Eight years later, as she launched her cable network OWN, she said in an interview “I accept that I’m a brand” – and owned her power.
Real power is personal power. It’s what you do with your life. It’s about being confident in your own strength, embracing who you are, and being the best “you” you can be. And as far as the word “girl” goes, perhaps it’s an over simplification of what the world is broken down into: boys and girls. End of story.
So go on, embrace your own Girlpower.
What does Girlpower mean to YOU? Who are your Girlpower icons?
Kakenya Ntaiya is one of the top 10 CNN Heroes of 2013. You can vote for her, or any of the other top 10 Heroes, to be CNN Hero of the Year. That person will receive $250,000 to continue their extraordinary work.
Enoosaen, Kenya (CNN) – When she was 14 years old, Kakenya Ntaiya entered the cow pen behind her home with an elderly woman carrying a rusty knife. As a crowd from her Maasai village looked on, Ntaiya sat down, lifted her skirt and opened her legs. The woman grabbed Ntaiya’s most intimate body parts and, in just moments, cut them out.
“It (was) really painful. I fainted,” recalled Ntaiya, now 34. “You’re not supposed to cry.” For generations, this ceremony was a rite of passage for every Maasai girl, some as young as 10; soon afterward, they would marry and drop out of school.
About 140 million girls and women worldwide have been affected by female genital mutilation, also known as female circumcision. The procedure is commonly based on religious and cultural beliefs, including efforts to prevent premarital sex and marital infidelity.
While female circumcision and child marriage are now illegal in Kenya — new laws banning genital mutilation have contributed to a decline in the practice — officials acknowledge that they still go on, especially in rural tribal areas. Despite free primary education being mandated 10 years ago by the Kenyan government, educating girls is still not a priority for the Maasai culture. According to the Kenyan government, only 11% of Maasai girls in Kenya finish primary school.
“It means the end of their dreams of whatever they want to become in life,” Ntaiya said.
But when Ntaiya endured the painful ritual in 1993, she had a plan. She negotiated a deal with her father, threatening to run away unless he promised she could finish high school after the ceremony. ”I really liked going to school,” she said. “I knew that once I went through the cutting, I was going to be married off. And my dream of becoming a teacher was going to end.”
Ntaiya’s bold move paid off. She excelled in high school and earned a college scholarship in the United States. Her community held a fundraiser to raise money for her airfare, and in exchange, she promised to return and help the village. Over the next decade, Ntaiya would earn her degree, a job at the United Nations and eventually a doctorate in education. But she never forgot the vow she made to village elders.
In 2009, she opened the first primary school for girls in her village, the Kakenya Center for Excellence. Today, Ntaiya is helping more than 150 girls receive the education and opportunities that she had to sacrifice so much to attain. The Kakenya Center for Excellence started as a traditional day school, but now the students, who range from fourth to eighth grade, live at the school. This spares the girls from having to walk miles back and forth, which puts them at risk of being sexually assaulted, a common problem in rural African communities. It also ensures the girls don’t spend all their free time doing household chores.
“Now, they can focus on their studies — and on being kids,” Ntaiya said. “It’s the only way you can give a girl child a chance to excel.”
Students receive three meals a day as well as uniforms, books and tutoring. There are also extracurricular activities such as student council, debate and soccer. Class sizes are small — many schools in Kenya are extremely overcrowded — and the girls have more chances to participate. With these opportunities and the individual attention they receive, the girls are inspired to start dreaming big.
“They want to become doctors, pilots, lawyers,” Ntaiya said. “It’s exciting to see that.”
As a public school, the Kakenya Center for Excellence receives some financial support from the Kenyan government. But the majority of the school’s expenses are paid for by Ntaiya’s U.S.-based nonprofit. While families are asked to contribute to cover the cost of the girls’ meals, an expense that can be paid in maize or beans, Ntaiya covers the costs of any students who cannot pay.
Each year, more than 100 girls apply for approximately 30 spots available in each new class. Parents who enroll their daughters must agree that they will not be subjected to genital mutilation or early marriage.
Many families are willing to accept Ntaiya’s terms, and that’s the kind of change she was hoping to inspire. It took her years to drum up support for the project, but eventually she persuaded the village elders to donate land for the school.
“It’s still quite challenging to push for change. Men are in charge of everything,” she said. “But nothing good comes on a silver plate. You have to fight hard.”
Holly Pavilka recently reminded us that the power of today’s social media connected moms is never going to go away. In fact, it will continue to grow. Yet despite the spending power of this important demographic, most brands are still not getting it right when it comes to connecting with her. Girlpower Marketing tips its hat to Holly’s 10 Commandments for Marketing to Moms:
1. Work with moms to get it right. You’re never going to get it right unless you talk to and ideate with moms. You need to solicit their ideas. The beauty of social media is that it’s easy to find them and to connect with them. Research and studies will give you clues, but not the rich real conversation moms will bring.
2. Keep it real. Real is real, inspirational stories. Relatable content. Relevant content. Useful content. Not manufactured, retouched or artificial.
3. Answer her when she’s reaching out. Engage with moms. A study by Acuity Group showed 73% of customer tweets go unanswered. What a missed opportunity. RedBull, a brand more associated with Millennials and daredevils, is terrific at listening and responding. My daughter was mugged for her latte and it blew up Twitter for a few minutes with 100+ tweets but not a word from Starbucks. Two other brands, on the other hand, responded with $5 gift cards because they wanted my daughter to know there were still good people in the world. If you take a look at the brands moms love, they typically are ones who are listening and responding.
4. Follow the moms that follow you back. When it comes to connecting to moms, brands need to follow the moms back. Stop thinking you are a celebrity and get real with your advocates. It’s the first step in the relationship, particularly if you want to grow an audience of moms.
5. Always layer in authentic conversation around your traditional campaigns. The days where brands can just rely on traditional advertising messages are gone. Today, a blog post or tweet a mom writes mentioning your brand is an ad. Organic, authentic real stories and conversation need to be layered in along with your traditional media. These are the messages she trusts.
6. Never market to them as a niche. There’s no one-size-fits-all mom. There are Millennial moms, Boomer moms, second-life moms, Latina moms … moms of every imaginable kind. Don’t stereotype and lump us into a singular “mom” bucket or you’ll miss the mark every time.
7. Remember she’s intelligent. Many stay-at-home moms are educated and have chosen family over career in many cases. With the economy being what it is, many moms are the primary breadwinners in their families. We like to talk about more than diapers, potty training or children. We have interests beyond gardening, cooking and reading books. Look at the types of blogs that are out there–everything from politics, business, women’s health issues and more.
8. Keep it beautifully simple. Moms are busy, and crave simplicity. Make it complicated, and you’ll lose them every time. One of the reasons Pinterest is popular with women is that, along with its simple design and curation of relevant content, it’s also pleasing to the eye.
9. Balance emotional messaging with pragmatic information. She still wants to be inspired, but she’s also pragmatic. She does her homework before making a purchase. It’s part of the job of being a mom – making informed choices.
10. Remember it’s about story-selling. Place the information within reach, and let her make a decision. Marketing to moms is about telling stories, not selling. Tell how it fits in her life, layer in people’s stories, give the back story on the product – she likes details, showcase testimonials and reviews. Sprinkle in lifestyle photos of the product in use, not just beautifully lit photos of the product. All of these tell her the story she wants to hear.
Certain descriptors are welcome phrases to any hotel: Aesthetic. Trendy. Modern. Renovated. Fancy.
Why do these words matter? Because these descriptors are the top 5 positive attributes that draw female travelers to certain properties, based on findings from Brand Karma Analytics. On the flip side, “dingy,” “stained,” and “outdated,” are the primary negative attributes that repel female guests.
Why do women travelers matter? Because, with 82% of travel decisions made by women, they represent the most important and fastest growing segment in both leisure and business travel markets.
According to the Travel Industry Association, an estimated 32 million American women traveled alone at least once in the past year, with three in ten women traveling five or more times. And that doesn’t take into account travel with family and friends. Women represent the driving force behind travel decisions, and their social networking behavior has necessitated adaptations by the travel industry.
For example, women write more online reviews than men. They’re not only writing more reviews, but are also more likely to publicly express their thoughts toward a hotel after a negative experience via their online social communities.
Recognizing the travel power of women, Hilton Hotels is actively marketing to female travelers, with ongoing dialogue targeting women via Facebook and Twitter.
The benefits of such marketing include the unfiltered feedback Hilton has received that provides valuable insights. The hotel shampoo was disappointing; the menu offered only fattening foods; robes and slippers were too large; appreciated additional amenities would include yoga mats, electronics chargers, and better hair dryers.
John Wallis, Hyatt’s global head of marketing and brand strategy, best described the core reason for the travel and hospitality industry’s past omission of women travelers: “Hotels have been created by men for men. Women want and deserve a completely different customer experience.”
The growth of the female customer segment is reflected not merely in their growing reign over social media channels, but also in their travel behaviors: traveling alone, traveling more, traveling based on their individual decisions.
Those targeting women in the travel industry, or any industry, would do well to remember that their decision-making process is heavily based on community recommendations, reviews, and advice.
Following is a reprinted Huffington Post article by Lisa Belkin. But first, my comment: Miley, if you feel the need to act this way to prove you’re an adult — you’re not.
So how are you feeling about things this morning? About your career? About the response to your grinding declaration of adulthood on the VMAs last night?
At least I assume that’s what you were aiming to declare. Like everyone who was once a child, you think it is very, very important to announce that you aren’t anymore. You probably started doing that years ago: “Do it by SELF” you demanded, when, ya know, you couldn’t actually yet. And since regular former kids (defined as those who did not spend their entire childhood in front of a camera) feel the need to make that clear, I imagine it’s all the more important to you.
I get it. I see how it might have seemed logical to you. But here’s what you didn’t take into account: As long as you have to insist on it, it’s not true yet, meaning you are just proving exactly the opposite of what you’d intended. That’s as much a fact at 20 as it was at 2, except at 2, it was cute.
Don’t feel too bad. You’re not the first of your age group to make that mistake. It’s practically a rite of passage, this Doing-Grown-Up-Stuff-To-Prove-You-Can-Which-Actually-Proves-You-Can’t thing. And lately there are so many more ways to do that publicly. Facebook arguably would not exist if not for that fact. Nor would reality TV. All this makes it tougher on former child stars like you, because you have to get all the more outrageous just to be heard.
I’m wondering what you think today, reading the criticism from, well, pretty much everyone. Is it what you were going for — it IS, after all, attention? Or does it make you want to crawl under the covers in your childhood bedroom and hide?
I hope it’s neither. I hope you really weren’t trying to create this firestorm, because that would mean you believe too little in your talent and too much in the need for outrage as a marketing tool when you have so much else to sell. And I hope you aren’t crushed. This isn’t the end for you. There’s an upside to the annoying fact that all of us knew you as a child — it also means we think of you as ours, and we are more than willing to forget and move on.
So, let’s start with what you might have learned this morning: