PurseStrings: New Proven Ways of Reaching the Hearts and Minds of Female Consumers by Amanda Stevens  (Pages 126-132)

 

Tell me about your background and your connection to marketing to women?

I’ve been working in digital marketing since 1997:  originally working with Seth Godin at Yoyodyne (which was acquired by Yahoo! in 1998), then moving into my sweet spot of marketing to women as CMO of e.l.f. Cosmetics (Eyes Lips Face) from 2008-2010.

In December of 2009, I joined the OpenSky Board of Advisors, and in 2010 served as their CSMO until their business focus took a turn away from the blogger relationships I so value.

I am currently the Chief Social Marketing Officer at Collective Bias and a Social Marketing Strategist for MARS Advertising. I am on the Advisory Board of SheSpeaks, and various other social marketing companies.

At e.l.f., I pioneered a program to develop and utilize blogger relationships to exponentially increase and sustain the e.l.f. brand visibility, and because of the blogger energy, talent, and networks, the program at e.l.f. brand evolved and succeeded with a unique approach toward not just beauty, but also accessibilityinteractivity and consumer engagement.  Women were the key to the success of this initiative because they intuitively built relationships through their blogging, and I learned about them and their relationships to brands by watching them, interacting with them, and most importantly, building my own relationships with them.

My marketing philosophy is all about relationships and ROR (Return on Relationship™ ), so marketing to women – who tend toward relationship — is a natural connection for me.

 

How do you think men and women use social media differently?

Several studies have shown that more women than men use social networking sites, and women spend more time on those sites.   I think this happens for several reasons:

– Women tend to plan ahead more than men do, and care more about saving money than men do, so women are more likely to do the research and comparison shopping for products.

– Women are more likely to build relationships online than men are, so they are also more likely to ask someone in their network for recommendations before purchasing.

– Women are better at multi-tasking, and let’s face it, the nature of social media favors people who are skilled at being part of numerous conversations (and relationships!) at once, using multiple social tools, and quickly processing and acting on information.

Although there are of course exceptions to the rule, women still use social media more for lasting connection and relationship, while men as a whole use it more for information with a few quick connections thrown in.

 

What insights can you provide into the influence of Mom Bloggers?

Moms pride themselves on being savvy consumers, and as great networkers, they want to help others out by sharing their knowledge about brands /products/services.  Moms are constantly busy with multiple responsibilities, so they have learned to quickly and accurately sniff out poseur brands… and they will share that information!

Mom Bloggers are real people who have real-life experience with the brands, products and services that they blog about, so that instantly creates a certain level of trust with their readers.  Mom Bloggers also engage with their readers because they genuinely care about connecting.  Trust and engagement are two key components of building strong relationships, so in this new relationship-driven economy, Mommy Bloggers are golden!

Brand marketing (especially to women) in a social media world is about relevance, transparency and authenticity – all things that we see Mom Bloggers do.  No wonder consumers and brands alike are looking to Mom Bloggers as valuable recommendation and marketing resources.

 

What role do you think social media has played in the rise of marketing to women?

A very significant role!  Social media has taken away numerous connection barriers between brand and consumer, giving brands more direct access to not just push information out to consumers, but to actively engage in ongoing conversation with consumers and their networks.  Since women, who control 85% of household spending, are the majority of social media users, it makes sense that marketers naturally have turned their focus to marketing to women.  They hold the purse strings AND have the highest and most interrelated social media presence.

Social media has also given consumers a voice, and women are happy to finally have a platform for their insights, opinions, suggestions and recommendations – where their voice can actually make an impact and a difference.   Women are ready to be heard, so wise marketers will strive to give women the full brand experience… then hand women the microphone!    Women are naturally fantastic Brand Advocates, genuinely wanting to help others by sharing information, so marketing to women makes all the sense in the world.

Social media has also given Moms in particular a feasible way to start their own business from their homes and create income from their interests.  As more and more Moms (along with other women) are online for their businesses, they are also online for personal use , and once again brands benefit by getting even more visibility.

 

Who is doing it well / not so well (any specific examples or case studies?)

There are very few, in my humble opinion, truly doing it well, and many not so well.  A perfect comparison is jetBlue and Virgin America. When it comes to listening, engaging and interacting, no one is doing it better than jetBlue. They actively listen, they evaluate who they are listening to on the fly, and they have a well managed team and escalation policy. If you reach out, they reach back and do what they can, in a challenging industry, to make you feel heard. They view social as a tool to extend their reach into the hearts and minds of their consumers, not just another tool in the marketing tool kit. Virgin America, on the other hand, is using social remarkably well when it comes to campaign based, and branding, social; but they drop the ball miserably when it comes to what makes social unique and most valuable… regular interaction, engagement and customer service. Tweet them and you are lucky to hear back, and when you do they immediately take you offline.

I say… engage and interact in full view of everyone, no matter whether or not you can resolve the issue. The social platforms allow us as brands to humanize ourselves, speak to our consumers in full view of the world… and most importantly build relationships that will sustain the brand for the long-term through up, downs, breakthroughs and missteps.

 

What does the social media horizon for the next 3-5 years look like? 

I think we’re only beginning to see how ubiquitous social media is going to be.  We have gone through the infancy of social media creation and adoption as a serious marketing tool, and are now in the early stages of adolescence with marketers (and consumers) still mostly awkward as they figure out what this new focus on social media really means.   Some do have a better grasp on how to truly leverage social media for connecting brands to consumers, but we don’t truly have EXPERTS yet.

Within the next 3 years, the true experts will emerge:  those who weather this initial social media frenzy, and come out on the other side with a sharp focus on either a particular channel, social media tool, or marketing philosophy.  These next few years will weed out the so-called “marketers” who jumped on the social media bandwagon and expected to be able to just go with the flow.  The problem is that this is not just a wave, it’s a whole tsunami, and it takes dedication, commitment, and time to truly invest in learning how to and then actually using social media effectively and efficiently.

 

What does the launch of Google+ mean for the social media landscape?

Google+ is most certainly a Google victory, and possibly a victory for us all. The company has devoted a great deal of resources to make certain the product is worthy of users’ time, and attention to make it work for them and for brands. They have also taken great care to fix what needs to be fixed in the social space, bring all the Google power and products/features to bear, and build out a road map for the next stage of social communication. G+ is simply not just a social media infrastructure like Twitter it is a social media platform. G+ has the opportunity to be a social media Swiss army knife. Google has a massive portfolio and it can call upon any one of their products and integrate them into G+ … i.e. Analytics, Gmail, Google Apps, Google Voice, YouTube, and the most viral property the Android mobile platform.

There is an amazing opportunity for brands to build interactive two-way engagement, interaction, and sharing within this platform, but consumers will have to adopt it to make it worthwhile, and only time will answer that question. It is too early to be sure how this will truly scale … whether people

have the bandwidth for another platform or willingness to change, and whether or not all the features will be overwhelming and distracting, or the new means of communication and social relationship building. The potential is huge to listen to what people want, integrate them into the process, and do exactly the opposite of what Facebook and Twitter have done … cater to what

the people want and need, instead of dictating what they can have.

 

What are the top five / ten social media success secrets for brands wanting to leverage social media to reach women?

The # 1 priority that brands need to have in reaching women through social media is to build long-term authentic relationships with individual consumers.   It’s ironic actually that now that many social media tools require abbreviated communications (140 characters, or a quick status update, or simply sharing a link), their success depends on extended timelines for ongoing interaction and engagement.

The “secrets”  (although I hope they won’t be secret for long – this is too important to keep secret!) to building relationships through social media are:

  1. Shift your paradigm: this is a whole new marketing world.  If you still think push advertising along with the “brand is boss” attitude is the way to capture and hold consumers’ attention, you are not ready yet to leverage social media in your marketing campaigns.
  2. Provide a trusted online community space: relationships flourish when women can comfortably interact with you and each other.  Trust is not purchased; trust is gained – put in the time and the effort and you will see the ROR (Return on Relationship)
  3. Ask individual consumers for their opinions and recommendations: this is not just a “feel-good” exercise – we need this information for brand survival, and we need to make sure that our consumers know how much we value and depend on this information.
  4. Listen to and hear their answers: If you don’t plan to listen, don’t bother asking. It’s that simple.
  5. Confirm what you think you heard them say: Not only do we need to make sure we get it right, but we also need to make sure consumers know that we care enough about them and their input to confirm and re-confirm our understanding of their needs, preferences, and recommendations.
  6. Make changes that reflect their preferences: Actions speak louder than words.  If you say you are listening, yet make no changes to the brand experience, you are fooling nobody.  In fact, this is one of the best ways to alienate consumers and their networks.  The way to prove you are listening is to TAKE ACTION.   (And why would you ask for feedback if you had no plans to act on it anyway??)
  7. Put the consumer in the drivers’ seat: consumers have more influence now than they ever have before.  We can waste our time and energy trying to convince them of what they need from us, or we can work within the new reality and let consumers lead us.

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