International Women’s Day is coming up, an occasion when women are recognized for their economic, political and social achievements in quite a few countries around the world, but also a celebration of respect, appreciation and love towards all the women around us.
It’s an occasion brands that target women should definitely not let pass by without doing something, even something small. So I thought I could share with you some general advice on marketing to female audiences, which can also be applied to male audiences to a certain degree, but I feel the need to emphasize the importance of these in a brand’s communication with women.
Let’s dive right into it.
Withdraw all the stereotypes from your mind. The very first step you should take is eliminating all preconceived ideas regarding this population category before thinking of how you will communicate with them. Yes, I’m talking to the female readers as well. Women are not an homogeneous demographic; you can’t let yourself assume that communication centered on “nurturing” or “love” for example will work on all of them. Maybe not even most of them. The roles they play and the fields they’re active in are more diverse than ever before and so are their needs and aspirations. Some may be single moms or married, some may exclude that possibility all together, some value brand names while others couldn’t care less, some are beer-lovers and some are hiking enthusiasts. The point is, don’t build traditional portraits for your female audience, but properly identify who they are as people.
Objectification. Not even once! We’ve come a long way since the ‘50s and their cringe-worthy ads. Yet, somehow, there are still ads that show women as trophies to be earned for buying a car or using a certain personal care product. Granted, the same treatment is sometimes also applied to the opposite sex and, granted, you can capitalize on people’s desire to easily attract other people. But this kind of thing will never earn you trust. I’m sure you don’t really do this, but still, you should be careful. Even portraying your protagonist as “the object of everyone’s attention” could classify as objectification (if the saying isn’t explanatory enough). It may get you attention, but it’s shallow.
Make it about them, not your product. Of course, this is on a Marketing 101 level and it applies to marketing that targets both genders, but it pays to properly implement this principle, especially when communicating with women. Maybe there is some truth in that whole “men with facts, women with emotion” thing, maybe not… What’s certain is that the use of emotion is essential when targeting women and elicits higher responsiveness rates. So, work on establishing an authentic connection with your female audiences. Talk to them about… well, them. Take a look at nearly everything Dove does – it shifted its focus from its products to boosting women’s confidence about their looks in a world where beauty is standardized and hardly attainable. What does the brand get for its trouble? A lot of respect and a solid brand image for starters.
Empower! Yes, you can! All around the world, women are still struggling with social norms that make life less pleasant for them, but things are changing rapidly and it wouldn’t hurt to be one of the forces behind that change. (Do not read that as turning your brand communication into feminist propaganda!) Even if your product only influences a tiny bit of women’s daily lives, what you can do as a brand is be genuinely supportive and, whenever possible, be inspirational. Remember #LikeAGirl? Always tells women and girls to break through the limits and social conventions that are restraining them. Because they can, even though someone tells them otherwise.
No more clichés. Advertising aimed predominantly at women has some of the most renowned clichés and, when our brains don’t block them out, they end up being annoying. At the very least, they do nothing to help your brand leave a strong impact and become memorable. So, identify the clichés in your niche, then try to avoid them or strategically use them by adding a twist that will surprise your audience. Be creative! Aside from leaving a stronger impression, you will also be more believable.
Lastly, don’t forget to wish all the women around you a “Happy International Women’s Day!” and may you enjoy that day just as well!