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“Women in connected and extended groups are a force,” said Nan McCann, President, PME® Enterprises LLC and Co-Founder of M2W®-The Marketing To Women Conference.  “It is the WE of She.”  And so the stage was set for the 6th Annual M2W® held April 21 & 22, 2010, at the beautiful Chicago Cultural Center where top brand leaders and marketers gathered to better understand the power of the ‘WE in the She’ and how it affects the bottom line success of companies large and small.

We heard astounding statistics (“Women control 60% of corporate and 65% of small business spending,” Marti Barletta, The TrendSight Group), revealing insights (“With women getting married at older ages and more women choosing to separate or divorce, women are living more of their lives being single,” Bridget Brennan, The Female Factor), and information that made us want to run back to the office and re-think our marketing strategies (“Mobile Internet is outpacing desktop Internet adoption,” Christine M. Riedl, Aetna).  Conversations continued long after presentations were over as brands and marketers discussed how to make their products and services more relevant to female consumers.  As stated in a Tweet by attendee Mike Swenson, VP/CMO, Barkley, “Bottom line—if brands don’t truly listen and hear and then act on it, game over.”

We definitely were listening as the 40+ speakers took the stage at M2W® giving us two-days of thought-provoking content and discussions.  But, it wasn’t just the stage presentations that sparked our creativity.  Nan McCann said it best when she stated, “You can learn as much from the extraordinary people sitting next to you as you do from the extraordinary people on the stage.”  Here are a few of our key learnings from this year’s M2W® with accompanying quotes from some of our speakers:

Women are more than just consumers

“Stop treating women as targets and start treating them as assets.  We should look at ways we can help women rather than ‘target’ them and make them do stuff,” Marti Barletta, Founder, The TrendSight Group

“Emotion is not enough.  You must build a relationship with your female consumers and keep it,” Jennifer Cawley, VP, Account Director, Barkley

“Don’t call them consumers—this assumes that they live to buy.  They are people,” Erin Tait, Director Brand Anthropology, OLSON

“Not all female entrepreneurs are the same—they each have different reasons why they started a business and what they want to achieve with their business.  Even Oprah and Martha Stewart are not necessarily the same type of female business owners,” Michele DeKinder-Smith, Founder, Jane Out of the Box

“It’s hard to be what you can’t see.  Having women as role models does not have to come at the expense of men,” Donna Orender, President, WNBA

While social media has changed the game, it isn’t the only player

“77% of women make purchases as a result of reading a consumer review in a forum or message board, tied with finding a printable coupon,” Aliza Freud, CEO, SheSpeaks

“Social media is not the only way to connect with women—they are still consuming other media.  Today’s 360 degree woman requires a 360 degree marketing strategy that utilizes different channels,” Jonni Hegenderfer, CEO, Chief Vision Officer & Founder, JSH&A

“Word of mouth hasn’t change—technology has just sped up the process,” Deborah Adams, The Pragmatist a.k.a. SVP, Harbinger Communications

“House parties for brands are the original social media,” Kitty Kolding, CEO, HouseParty

“The personality of your brand is not the personality of your ‘fans’”, Kristi Maynor, VP, Client Partner, imc2

Don’t just engage in the conversation, listen to the conversation

“Marketing as we know it is dead,” Tim Rumpler, VP, Marketing & Development, imc2

“A half truth is what women are willing to admit.  The whole truth is what they really believe, do and buy,” Tracy Chapman, Co-Director Brand Insights, Just Ask A Woman

“The conversations about your brand are happening whether you are listening or not,” Kelley Skoloda, Partner/Director, Global Brand Marketing Practice, Ketchum

Do not underestimate the global power of women

“In the Latino family, it is true the man is the head of the family, but the woman is the neck.  And, the neck controls the head,”  Marilyn Alverio, Principal Owner, Ethnic Marketing Soultions.

“Examining women as consumers and ignoring their role as producers/earners in the global economy is a major oversight,” Fara Warner, Author, The Power of the Purse

“Knowing global trends isn’t enough—you must know the impact they have on your category,” Bridget Brennan, CEO, The Female Factor

Experience always trumps message

“We can say whatever we want, but if we don’t deliver in the store, we lose,” Garry Rosenfeldt, Director of Marketing Research, Midas International

“Don’t set a high expectation with your marketing and then mess it up with the actual experience,” Amanda Stevens, CEO, Splash Consulting Group-Australia

“50% of women will buy because of how a product makes them feel,” Renita Van Dusen, Founder and CEO, Affina

“Anytime a brand treats me or my family without ‘disability etiquette,’ I scratch them off my list. Done.”  Nadine Vogel, President, Springboard Consulting, LLC

Visit the M2W Facebook page for additional conference highlights and photos.

As Nan McCann stated at the beginning of last week’s M2W®, you learn just as much from the extraordinary people sitting next to you in the audience as you do from the extraordinary people on the stage.  Case in point:  M2W® attendee Anne Fleming, President of Women-Drivers.com, mentioned her company’s recent study which found that women under and over the age of 40 have different auto buying experiences.  Some key differences:

  • Women over 40 reported being less overwhelmed and apprehensive about the car buying experience than women under 40; in fact the older age bracket reported being excited, confident and relaxed about their approach visiting the dealership.
  • The top reasons for purchasing at dealerships for women over 40 are ‘best price and deal, dealership’s reputation and best trade-in’. The top reasons for women under 40 are ‘best deal, dealership’s reputation and best financing’.
  • Almost half of the women over 40 went to the dealership by themselves, almost eight percentage points more than women under 40. Of those that brought someone with them to the dealership, both age groups were consistent in the person accompanying them was a man (78.2% v. 81%).

“Women visit an average of three dealerships during the process of looking for and purchasing a car. She buys from only one,” says Fleming.  “Our data provides insights and trends regarding the purchase experience at car dealerships.”  Regardless of age, one things holds true—women want to be treated with respect, spoken to truthfully, and to feel included in the process.  More importantly, women want to feel confident about their ability to make good decisions in a process that may or may not be familiar to them.

Last month, ESPN announced more formalized plans for new products and strategies geared toward women’s sports. The initiative, espnW, will not only assist in developing content and plans for current ESPN programming and media (such as its high school sports-oriented site, ESPNRise.com), but will also look into launching its own stand-alone properties.  In an article for Media Post, Laura Gentile, the newly named vice president of the espnW business unit stated, “We’re kind of this business unit within the company that’s influencing businesses, where it makes sense, while also eventually launching a stand-alone brand.”

Targeting women’s sports is a smart move for ESPN who sees women comprising about one-third of its current viewership.  Participation in women’s sports continues to grow through high schools, college and professional organizations and even when women aren’t playing the game, they are attending it and supporting their favorite teams and players.  Women make up 46.5% of MLB fans, 43.2% of NFL fans and 40.8% of fans at NHL games.  Women spent 80% of all sport apparel dollars and purchase a whopping 46% of official NFL merchandise.   Women may just be the best untapped opportunity for the sports industry—a fact that the WNBA has known for quite sometime.

In 2001, WNBA games were broadcast to nearly 60 million fans in 23 different languages and 167 countries.  While the ‘in-arena’ audience skews heavy with female fans (about 70% of those in the stands are women), the TV audience attracts a 50-50 mix of females and males—once again proving that targeting women does not mean ignoring men.  So, how do they do it?  At the core of the WNBA’s marketing success has been their attention to values.  Showcasing players who are good role models, who are passionate about what they do and developing platforms that tap into those values for their fan base—a strategy that other sports organizations may want to lift from the WNBA handbook.  They have created innovative ways for marketing partners to engage with fans and with this year’s “Expect Great” theme, we can only have the highest expectations for a brand that has always been great.

This leader of marketing to women success will be bringing its story to the stage of next week’s M2W®-The Marketing To Women Conference.  The closing keynote speaker will be WNBA president, Donna Orender–an amazing speaker who will not only inform, but will inspire.   “I am thrilled to be a part of the M2W® event, which plays an important role in providing valuable information to companies on the importance of women to growing their brand,” says Orender.  “Women make 80 percent of purchasing decisions, small business growth is led by women entrepreneurs, and the world’s largest economy is American women.  Having the absolute privilege to represent the most successful women’s sports league in the world, I see first-hand, every day, the power and inspiration of strong, successful women to build and sustain an organization.”

“From Australia’s Amanda Stevens and Chicago’s Marti Barletta who literally wrote the book on Marketing To Women, to Latina and Hispanic marketing expert Miriam Muley and Midas International’s Garry Rosenfeldt, this year’s M2W® features almost every proven expert in the marketing to women space,” according to Nan McCann, producer of the M2W® – The 6th Annual Marketing to Women Conference April 21 & 22 in Chicago’s Cultural Center.

“Other notable speakers include: Kelley Skoloda of Ketchum, Tracy Chapman of Just Ask A Woman, Jeff Weiss of Harbinger, Leslie Dance of Kodak, Jennifer Cawley of Barkley, Jill Saletta of Whirlpool, Jonni Hegenderfer of JSH&A, Susan Jaramillo of thevoxcollective, Kitty Kolding of House Party, Erin Tait of OLSON, Michele Dekinder-Smith of Jane Out of the Box, Renita Van Dusen of Affina, Stephanie Moritz of ConAgra, and Donna Orender of the WNBA.

This year’s line up is truly impressive,” McCann explained, “The forty one speakers include many brands that have stepped forward to come onstage and share case studies and individual elements of their marketing to women efforts. For example, imc2 is moderating a mobile marketing session including Aetna, Second City and Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia. SheSpeaks and Booz & Co. are doing a word of mouth session with iVillage, and Ford is on the preeminent Latina panel. Plus, L’Oreal’s Lancome brand is talking about their efforts reaching special needs women.”

“In addition to the brands onstage, M2W®’s audience will be filled with brand teams and marketing executives from companies and brands as different as GM, J & J, Brown-Forman, Kraft, MasterCard, GlaxoSmithKline, Reebok, SCA Tissue, ESPN, Genworth Financial and Burton Snowboards.  Smart brands attend,” McCann added, “because they know that women control or influence 85% of consumer purchasing in almost every single product category — from autos to electronics to pharmaceuticals to video games and everything in between.”

“M2W® also features signature special events designed to facilitate networking and peer-to-peer learning between the attendees, speakers and sponsors.” McCann added, “At this conference people make connections that are immediately valuable to their work. Where else can brands hear such a diverse and important program targeting today’s most important consumers?”

M2W® is presented by Associate Sponsors: Harbinger, Barkley, JSH&A, Booz & Co., Ketchum, imc2, House Party, Memorex, Olson and SheSpeaks; Workshop Sponsors: Jane Out Of the Box, Affina, Girl Approved and Shutterfly; Showcase Sponsors: Carolina Pad, Kodak, Bee Leaf Bags, The 85% Niche, h2O Spring Water, WNBA, Splash Consulting, Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia, Just Ask A Woman and Win/Win Radio; Video Journalism Resource: Snippies; Affiliate Sponsor: Chicago AMA.

For complete conference schedule and information visit: www.m2w.biz or call 860.724.2649 x15. M2W® is produced by PME Enterprises LLC, 216 Main Street, Hartford, CT 06106.

Social media has taken word of mouth marketing to an entirely new level and is changing the way women communicate with each other about the brands and products they love and those that fail to impress.  Gearing up for his upcoming M2W® presentation, “Are you spread-worthy?”  The New Dynamics of WOM marketing in a Social (Media) World”, we caught up with Jeff Weiss, ‘The Crusader’ aka President of Harbinger Communications (Associate Sponsor of this year’s M2W®), to get the inside scoop on how word of mouth marketing works in a social media kind of world.

Q:  Jeff, not to give too much away regarding your M2W® presentation, but in what ways has social media changed WOM marketing?

A: There are several different ways in which social media has changed WOM marketing:

  • Social media has allowed women to tap into existing and larger networks of women who have defined shared interests.  These interests could be in products or lifestage-specific interests like parenting or where to get the latest fashion accessories.
  • Social media has encouraged women to share their opinions (and have a voice) where they might have felt reluctant to do so before (i.e., due to a specific social setting or where they wanted anonymity).
  • Social media has magnified the capacity to get and spread information more quickly, from more sources, in more places, at more times, with more people (which ultimately has an empowering effect).
  • Social media has also altered the approach that successful companies are taking to inform the consumer — this means not just giving product information but providing a forum for sharing and becoming a facilitator for discussion.
  • Social media has resulted in a more magnified consumer voice that companies must hear, take notice of and (often) take action on

Q:  We realize not all women use social media in the same way.  What affects how women social media as it relates to WOM marketing?

A: Until we get the results of our research, we can only speculate at this point.  We can surmise that lifestage will affect the tools used to get and spread information, as well as the type of information sought, reasons for using the technology (i.e., to keep in touch, to get information, etc.) as well as the priority/mix placed on offline and online methods.   Factors such as general use of technology impact the tools used to get and spread information. For example, ‘Singletons’ are more likely to use mobile technology and applications while ‘New Moms’ may rely more on websites and blogs to keep in touch and share opinions on common interests.

Lifestage (vs. Age) will also impact the types of products or subjects being investigated or discussed.  For example, ‘New Moms’ are likely looking for reassurance about products, ‘Singletons’ are looking for fashion trends and ‘Experienced Moms’ are looking for ideas and/or products to support their families.  Based on these different needs, women in different lifestages will look to different social media tools in order to get information or share ideas.

Q:  That completely makes sense, but it certainly does add an additional layer of complexity to a brand’s WOM marketing strategies.  That is why we are so looking forward to your M2W® presentation.  Along with your colleague Deborah Adams, you will be able to help brands navigate these new WOM marketing waters.

So tell me, what are you most looking forward to during this year’s M2W®?

A: Since we are focused on marketing to women, we are (selfishly) looking forward to networking and ideally doing business with companies and brands who ‘get it’ when it comes to marketing to women.  We are also really looking forward to learning from companies and brands who are doing it well.  We want to see what they are doing, how they are implementing programs and how they are getting buy-in at senior levels within their companies.

Thanks, Jeff.  We will soon see you in Chicago!

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