After watching the 90's movie "What Women Want" with Mel Gibson and Helen Hunt, I became enthralled in trying to work out how many of my customers are woman and do I really understand what they want. Am I connected with them, as much as I am connected with their male counterparts? Being a self-confessed alpha female (I hate the word, but after years of avoiding it, I have come to realise that there are similarities between this term and my character traits), I find working with men easy. Very easy. So easy in fact, that I have removed myself from being in an office with no-one but my dog, to moving into the main creative office area, with 4 men. I love it. We all talk frankly, don't gossip, work hard and swear without apologising. They don't throw tanties and never have the mood swings that their female colleagues seem to have. They don't cry or have 'fat' days. They rarely winge and their demands are all reasonable. It's so easy working with them. Giving up my beloved office to our newly appointed CEO, Julie, was easy. I wanted to hang with the guys and be in the hub of creativity. I enjoy their blokey banter and love the fact that I can say that I don't like a piece of creative without having them burst into tears, think I am a bitch, or worse - resign.
So, understanding what women want isn't probably my biggest strength on a whole. Yes, I understand consumer behavioural trends and buyer behaviour, but understanding on a one-on-one basis what women want, is difficult and ever-changing.
For me, what I need to understand better is 'what does the female entrepreneur want when it comes to a marketing firm'? Are they looking for brilliant marketing skills or are they more interested in relationships and being appreciated and respected? Women are complex, interesting and to be held on a pedestal for what they achieve in a day, by just being a woman. Understanding these dynamics and appreciating it in a one-to-one marketing contact point is important to my business, like many others.
On Friday, after a discussion with a long-term client who is doing alot of restructuring in their business, we both came to the conclusion that their marketing spend for the time being needs to be on hold. I was thrilled. Here you have a woman who runs a business, who is going through some major restructuring and her entire personal life is hanging on by a thread. The result of that is that she is hard to get hold of, emotional, reactive and not proactive, and changes her mind at the drop of a hat. She wouldn't mind me saying that, so I feel that it is an important point to share. It's not great when you are trying to educate clients on the value of strategic marketing and setting key goals in place having a person going through these things. If you can't get a meeting in 6 months then clearly marketing is not important to your business and something has got to give. In the end, taking one step at a time is what is best for this business.
Now, she is a great friend and I respect what she has done in the past, but moving forward, she is needing to get a few things sorted. I understand and am incredibly supportive of this move.
However, a male in the same position would handle things alot differently. The men in business that we work with tend to be very strategic, whether it's with building their businesses, their lives or setting aside time for things that are important.
Whether they are having personal problems, I would never know, because they are consistent. They don't have to go through all the emotional turmoil that us females go through monthly, if not weekly.
Knowing what a woman wants in a b2b environment is difficult because chances are, they don't have a clue. Unless of course you are a mind reader - then it would be easy! Setting in place some ground rules is imperative to keeping your relationships alive and giving value on an ongoing basis.
Marketing Consultants are not genius'. They are taught how to read buyer behaviour, engage on multiple levels and create marketing activities that help build businesses. People that have a psychology degree tend to have strong marketing capabilities, because they are trained to get behind the facade that we show the world, and understand what makes people tick.
Does your business understand what women want, or is this an area in the new financial year, that you will be investing more time in?
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Mellissah Smith is a marketing expert with more than 20 years experience. Having founded and built two successful marketing companies internationally, she is well recognized as a industry thought leader and innovator. Mellissah started her career working with technology and professional services firms, primarily in marketing, public relations and investor relations, positioning a number of successful companies to list on the various Stock Exchanges around the world. She is a writer, technology developer and entrepreneur who shares her thoughts and experiences through blogs and written articles published in various media outlets. Brag sheet: #2 marketer to follow on Twitter (2003), Top 150 Marketers to Follow (2015), Top 10 innovative marketers (2014), 60K+ followers on Twitter with 97% authentic.
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