The second day of the Marketing to Women conference was just as good, if not better, than the first. At least there was no sales pitch today. Frankly, I find companies who try too hard to sell their products or services at conferences, are actually doing themselves a disservice.
Firstly, it shows that you don't respect your audience, who have paid thousands of dollars to attend the conference. We're here to learn about your expertise. We're not interested in the specific products you're selling, but HOW you marketed them. What were the difficulties you faced, internally and externally, and how did you overcome them?
In fact, presenting your expertise in an appropriate way will indirectly send a powerful message that enhances you and your company's image as the consultant to go to. Like a well-written blog, show us your thought processes and not your hard-sell tactics, and we will give you due respect.
Day 2 also re-iterated some points from the previous day: Don't just take a male or gender-neutral product, slap on some pink and expect women to buy it. Women want empathy. You have to understand them. Your brand must also have authenticity.
One point was that not all men can market to women effectively. We were shown numerous TV commercials which were either written by men or women, and it was very obvious which was which.
Then the popular question among the audience was how could we present our case to a board of directors who are mostly, if not all, male? The answer was to do testing and present them with the hard facts. Or, just give them what they want, and when it bombs, show them the bottomline and that may convince them to try something different next time.
Another big point I took home was that even if your Marketing team has got the creative concept spot on, the story shouldn't end there.
For instance, you may have re-designed a car to appeal to mums (ie, easy to drive, safe for the kids, spacious, not like a tank) but what about the nasty car salesmen who are typically aggressive with women customers and are only interested in closing a deal instead of listening to their customers' needs? Sometimes your products are not sold by your own company but through franchisees and dealerships. That's when you have to look at changing the way things work, or else you may alienate your customers further.
We were also given scientific evidence that a woman's brain is wired differently from a man's, such that we are extra sensitive to how something is packaged.
One American speaker (who was possibly the best presenter today) gave many good local examples of how customer relations could have been improved. A credit card company kept on asking her to sign up for the basic card when she's been with them for years and is already a platinum cardholder. A local telco never says 'thank you' personally to her, despite her being a very heavy usage customer. These are all areas that can be improved. Certainly we still have far to go.
I had the opportunity to speak with her during tea-time, and agreed as I had similar problems with both companies. I didn't have time to tell her about Orange, the Telco company I had such a wonderful experience with in my three years as a student in the UK. You can read about their wonderful services and rewards schemes in a previous post.
Sadly, another point was re-iterated: Singapore customers are still more interested in the lowest prices instead of looking at higher quality products. This makes it difficult for new luxury players to enter the Singapore market. So if you're wondering how come certain top brands are ignoring us, it could be for this reason. We're too small, and many of us are too cheap!
Tea-time talk among my fellow Conference-goers also touched on the fact that Singapore was a small market. How diversified an approach can we actually take towards our customers? Ideally it should be as segmented as possible. But others pointed out they had small budgets that could only do so much. Datamining was brought up as a possible solution.
At the end, I gave feedback that while the presentations were generally very insightful and well-executed, some examples were relevant only to Western countries. Creative agencies there have less trouble getting their citizens to come forward to give testimonials, which are a very powerful tool in marketing to women. However, it may not be as easy in Singapore and other parts of Asia, where people are more shy.
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