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Women – A Niche to Consider

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They Represent (at least) One out of Five of Your Potential Clients

I’m not sure who first came up with the idea of trying to understand how women shop, but I like to think the process began with David Ogilvy, the legendary ad guru, who had the guts to tell arrogant advertising creatives in the late 1950’s:

“The customer isn’t a moron, she’s you’re wife.”

While men once were the decision makers in financial matters, in today’s environment, this no longer holds true.  Women, and in particular, single women, make up a large and growing segment with significant buying power and specific marketing needs.

Since then there’s been a lot of research on how women shop for almost everything, but very little, at least as far as I’ve seen, on how they shop for real estate.  Probably the best proxies can be found in other financial services, and general shopping traits.

Real estate is a fiercely competitive business where success is driven by many factors:  business strategy, knowledge, quality, efficiency, and technology.  All are critical to success.  Perhaps the most important consideration is that real estate is relationship-driven.  Given the increasingly competitive nature of the business coupled with a difficult economic environment, developing stronger relationships with your customers is more vital than ever.  Targeting sales and marketing to specific niches can help stimulate growth in this rough market. 

Single ladies!

With more unmarried women in the population and more women delaying marriage, more women are forming their own households, according a study by Harvard University’s Joint Center for Housing Studies.  As a result, more women are buying homes – many for the first time. In fact ~20% of homes are purchased by single women.  

First-time female buyers accounted for 41% of all unmarried female buyers of homes.  Another Harvard study revealed that women now control 91% of home buying or remodeling decisions.

Process and Marketing Approach

The marketing approach for this segment must to be tailored to what we know about behavior.  Women approach the purchase process differently from men, particularly in the area of financial services. 

Research: Women will have done their homework before seeing you.  When women are interested in a product, they will do extensive research, relying on the Internet, personal finance publications, friends and advisors.  For instance, I’ve read surveys that report women spend 40% more time researching a mutual fund than men.

But don’t make the mistake of thinking these customers’ proclivity for research means your work is done.  Women may perform research in part as a defense mechanism because they have had a negative buying experience with another service provider who ignored, patronized, or mislead them. 

Women tend to want an available list of options, thus multiple listings with comparisons between neighborhoods is a great way to address this need.

Communicating with Venus

I’m sure we all agree that women and men communicate differently.  In financial discussions, the phase “I’ll think about it” can mean something very different between men and women. In any circumstance, “I’ll think about it “can be a tactic to delay a decision or avoid confrontation.  With women this may mean that the process of arriving at these decisions involves consultation with a personal “board of advisors” before making important purchase decisions.

Also, when a man is nodding along with what you’re saying, he means, “I agree” whereas a woman means, “I understand, please continue.” 

To make it convenient to communicate, ask her preferred method: calls to the office, cell phone, e-mail – what works best for her? However you communicate, keep in mind: She would also prefer to hear from you directly, or at least have a reliable, dedicated contact.  Responsiveness and a single point of contact are critical to building and maintaining the relationship.

R. E. S. P. E. C. T.  – What it means to her

Perhaps more than any other factor, respect for a woman’s time is paramount.  In her book EVEolution, Faith Popcorn outlines eight truths of marketing to women.  The fifth “truth,” and the most easily adaptable for agents, is “go to her.”   If you save her time, do business where it is most convenient for her, you will score major points.  This might mean going to her office, meeting her at the gym or at Starbucks – wherever it is convenient for her.

Cause Related Marketing 

Women tend to be more impressed and influenced by good deeds than men.  Active, sincere community involvement can definitely pay dividends with women prospects.  Consider aligning yourself with a local women’s or children’s organization or charity.  Contributing to a cause can certainly pay dividends, to your conscience and your wallet. 

As with any type of cause or event related marketing, though, be cautious of jumping on the bandwagon if there are already a number of “name” sponsors.  For maximum impact and brand awareness, consider creating and owning your cause.

Similarly, participation in local community organizations can bring in leads and build goodwill.  If you are a parent, consider getting more involved with the PTA at your child’s school.  These organizations are still made up primarily of women and can be an excellent source of leads and referrals.

Events.  If you are sponsoring a first-time home buyer seminar or participating in a real estate related event, give the event an exclusive feel and consider targeting a small group.  You are likely to generate a much higher percentage of leads from a small group that allows the women more freedom to interact with each other.

Website marketing

Women are likely to use the Internet for research and very well may visit your website before meeting you.  In addition to being professional, women are more likely to be impressed by having access to information about you, your company and the home buying process.  Interestingly, women also enjoy quizzes and surveys, so including some on your site may increase their interest in your company.

To the extent you are considering sponsoring or advertising on other websites as a lead generation tool, focus on sites that are tied to major life events, like graduation, marriage or having a baby.  Investigate if there are service providers in your market – daycare centers, wedding planners, limousine companies, etc. – that have websites you could use to reach the female audience.   

Rewards

Women tend to be very loyal consumers and, if you serve them well, they are three times as likely as men to refer others to you

By focusing on the parameters of your market segment and understanding its size and needs, you can create greater success in any relationship-driven business.

Photo credit

Brandie is an unapologetically candid marketing professional who was recently mentioned on BusinessWeek as a Top Young Female Entrepreneur. She recently co-founded consulting firm MarketingTBD. She's held senior level positions with GE and Fidelity, as well as with entrepreneurial start-ups. Raised by a real estate Broker, Brandie is passionate about real estate and is an avid investor. Follow her on Twitter.

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10 Comments

10 Comments

  1. Vicki Moore

    February 26, 2009 at 12:26 pm

    Brandie – I really enjoyed this post. Marketing to women is a natural for another woman and something I’ve been thinking about. I appreciate the great suggestions and well researched info. You’ve confirmed I’m on the right track!

  2. Susie Blackmon

    February 28, 2009 at 11:39 am

    Enjoyed the post… but I substituted ‘Cowboys’ for women in my mind! I better move to Texas!

  3. Missy Caulk

    February 28, 2009 at 10:22 pm

    Brandie, this was interesting. Of course we know behind every man is a good woman…

    I closed on a home by a single physician in August, she said, “just take care of everything, I am too busy”. I mean everything, staging, lawn you name it.

    I did and it went well.

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Business Marketing

Use nostalgia as a marketing niche for your business today

(MARKETING) A market that is making waves is found in the form of entertainment nostalgia. Everyone has memories and attachments, why not speak to them?

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nostalgia

Is it just me or does it seem like there is something for everything nowadays? Let me clarify, as that is a rather broad question…

With the way communicating through technology has advanced, it’s become much easier to connect with those who have shared interests. This has become especially evident with interests in the entertainment community.

Entertainment nostalgia

It now seems like there is an event for every bit of nostalgia you can imagine. Autograph shows, meet and greets, and memorabilia collections of all kinds are held in convention halls all around the world. (To give you an idea of how deep this thing goes, there was a “Grease 2” reunion convention sometime within the last five years. Being that I’m the only person I’ve ever met who likes that movie, it’s amazing that it found an audience.)

This idea of marketing by use of nostalgia is something that is becoming smartly tapped and there are a variety of directions it can go in.

For example, the new Domino’s ads feature dead-on tributes to “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.”

What’s your niche?

If you’re a fan of anything, it’s likely that you can find an event to suit your needs.

And, if you want to take it a step further, you can think outside the box and use nostalgia as a marketing tool.

I recently began dabbling in social media gigs that have brought me to a few different fan conventions. One was a throwback 80s and 90s convention that featured everyone from Alan Thicke to the members of N*SYNC. Another is a recurring convention that brings together fans of sci-fi, horror, and everything under that umbrella.

I was amazed by the number of people that came out to these events and the amount of money that was spent on the day’s activities (autographs, photo ops, etc.). I was energized by the fact that you can take something you have a great appreciation for and bring together others who share that feeling. Watching people meet some of their favorite celebrities is something that is priceless.

Hop onboard the nostalgia train

If you’re a fan of something, you don’t have to look too far to find what you’d enjoy – going back to the aforementioned “Ferris Bueller” example, there is a first-ever John Hughes fan event taking place in Chicago next month that will bring fans to their favorite Brat Pack members.

In the same thought, if you have an idea, now is the time to find others who share that interest and execute your vision.

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Business Marketing

5 tips to help you craft consistently high-converting email marketing

(MARKETING) Email may seem too old to be effective but surprisingly it’s not, so how can you get the most out of your email marketing? Try these tips.

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Email marketing

Email marketing might seem archaic in comparison to modern mediums like social media, blogging, and podcasting; however, it actually remains one of the highest converting options marketers and small businesses have at their disposal.

But Why Email?

Hopefully, you believe in email as an effective marketing channel, but in case you have doubts, let’s hit the reset button. Here’s why email marketing is worth investing in:

  • Email is one of the few marketing channels that you have total control over. Unlike a social media audience, which can disappear if the platform decides you violate their terms, you own your email list.
  • Email is considered very personal. When someone gives you access to their inbox, they’re telling you that you can send them messages.
  • From a pure analytics perspective, email gives you the ability to track behaviors, study what works, and get familiar with the techniques that don’t.
  • The ROI of email marketing is incredibly high. It can deliver as much as $44 in value for every $1 spent.

5 Tips for High-Converting Emails

If you’ve been using email, but haven’t gotten the results you’d like to, it’s probably because you’re using it ineffectively.

Here are a few very practical tips for high-converting emails that generate results:

  1. Write Better Subject Lines: Think about email marketing from the side of the recipient. (Considering that you probably receive hundreds of emails per week, this isn’t hard to do.) What’s going to make you engage with an email? It’s the subject line, right?If you’re going to focus a large portion of your time and energy on one element of email marketing, subject lines should be it.The best subject lines are the ones that convey a sense of urgency or curiosity, present an offer, personalize to the recipient, are relevant and timely, feature name recognition, or reference cool stories.
  2. Nail the Intro”: Never take for granted the fact that someone will open your email, and read to the second paragraph. Some will – but most will scan the first couple of lines, and then make a decision on how to proceed.It’s critically important that you get the intro right. You have maybe five seconds to hook people in, and get them excited. This is not a time to slowly build up. Give your best stuff away first!
  3. Use Video: Email might be personal, but individual emails aren’t necessarily viewed as special. That’s because people get so many of them on a daily basis.According to Blue Water Marketing, “The average person receives more than 84 emails each day! So how do you separate your emails from everyone else? Embed videos in your emails can increase your conversion rates by over 21 percent!”This speaks to a larger trend of making emails visually stimulating. The more you use compelling visuals, the more engaging and memorable the content will be.
  4. Keep Eyes Moving: The goal is to keep people engaging with your email content throughout. While it’ll inevitably happen with a certain percentage of recipients, you want to prevent people from dropping off as they read.One of the best ways to keep sustained engagement is to keep eyes effortlessly moving down the page with short and succinct copy.One-liners, small paragraphs, and lots of spacing signal a degree of approachability and simplicity. Use this style as much as you can.
  5. Don’t Ask Too Much: It can be difficult to convey everything you want to say in a single email, but it’s important that you stay as focused as possible – particularly when it comes to CTAs and requests.Always stick to one CTA per email. Never ask multiple questions or present different offers. (It’ll just overwhelm and confuse.) You can present the same CTA in multiple places – like at the beginning, middle, and end of the email – but it needs to be the same call. That’s how you keep people focused and on-task.

Give Your Email Marketing Strategy a Makeover

Most businesses have some sort of email lists. Few businesses leverage these lists as well as they should. Hopefully, this article has provided you with some practical and actionable tips that can be used to boost engagement and produce more conversions. Give them a try and see what sticks.

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Business Marketing

Here’s how one employer was able beat an age discrimination lawsuit

(MARKETING) Age discrimination is a rare occurrence but still something to be battled. It’s good practice to keep your house in order to be on the right side.

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Jewel age discrimination

In January, the EEOC released its annual accounting for reports of discrimination in the previous year. Allegations of retaliation were the most frequently filed charge, which disability coming in second. Age discrimination cases accounted for 21.4% of filed charges. As we’ve reported before, not all age discrimination complaints rise to the level of illegal discrimination. In Cesario v. Jewel Food Stores, Inc., the federal court dismissed the claims of age discrimination, even though seven (7) plaintiffs made similar claims against the grocery store.

What Cesario v. Jewel Food Stores was about

In Cesario, all but one of the seven plaintiffs had spent years with Jewel Food building their careers. When Jewel went through some financial troubles, the plaintiffs allege that they began to “experience significant pressure at work… (and) were eventually forced out or terminated because of their age or disability.” Jewel Food requested summary judgment to dismiss the claims.

The seven plaintiffs made the same type of complaints. Beginning in 2014, store directors were under pressure to improve metrics and customer satisfaction. Cesario alleges that the Jewel district manager asked about his age. Another director alleges that younger store directors were transferred to stores with less difficulties. One plaintiff alleged that Jewel Food managers asked him about his retirement. The EEOC complaints began in late 2015. The plaintiffs retired or were fired and subsequently filed a lawsuit against their company.

Age discrimination is prohibited by the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967, (ADEA). The ADEA prevents disparate treatment based on age for workers over 40 years old. However, plaintiffs who allege disparate treatment must establish that the adverse reactions wouldn’t have occurred but for age. Because none of the plaintiffs could specifically point to age as the only determination of their case, the court dismissed the case.

A word to wise businesses

Jewel Food was able to demonstrate their own actions in the case through careful documentation. Although there was no evidence that age played a factor in any discharge decision, Jewel Food could document their personnel decisions across the board. The plaintiffs also didn’t exhaust all administrative remedies. This led to the case being dropped.

Lesson learned – Make perssonel decisions based on performance and evidence. Don’t use age as a factor. Keep documentation to support your decisions.

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