“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.