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A new annual tradition was launched during last month’s M2W®-The Marketing To Women Conference, the First Woman Award.  “The First Woman Award is given to a woman who has accomplished something noteworthy that was never achieved by any other woman before her,” said Nan McCann, M2W® producer.  “Recipients of this award, through their courage, commitment, talent, passion, and persistence have made a difference in the quality of our world and are deserving of our recognition and appreciation.”

Drucilla Dence of Draftfcb was on hand during the conference to accept the inaugural M2W® First Woman Award on behalf of her godmother Josephine Keating Swift, “Jo” to those who know her, and the 1500 other women who were members of the Women Airforce Service Pilots, better known as the WASP. Between 1942 and 1944, at the height of World War II, approximately 1,500 women left homes and jobs for the opportunity to become the first women in history to fly for the U.S. military.  After completing four months of military flight training, 1,078 of them earned their wings and became the first women to fly American aircraft and were stationed at 120 air bases across the United States assuming numerous flight-related missions, reliving male pilots for combat duty.  They flew 60 million miles of operational flights and flew almost every type of aircraft flown by the U.S. Army Airforce during World War II.

Thirty-eight WASP fliers lost their lives while serving during the war—including one of the women whom Jo shared a barrack.   Because they were not considered to be in the military under the existing guidelines, a fallen WASP was sent home at the expense of her family without traditional military honors or note of heroism.  When Jo realized the U.S. military was refusing to pay to send her fellow WASP’s body home to her family, she took it upon herself to go around with a tin can and collect the necessary funds—and she did.

It wasn’t until the G.I. Bill Improvement Act of 1977 that the WASP corps was granted full military status for their service and in 1984 each WASP was awarded the World War II Victory Medal and those who served for more than one year were also awarded the American Campaign Medal.  On March 10, 2010, at the age of 92, Josephine Keating Swift traveled to Washington D.C. with 200 other surviving WASPs to attend two days of ceremonies commemorating their incredible accomplishments and to accept the Congressional Gold Medal.

“To loop back to our theme from this year’s conference, Jo Swift contributed to the SHE of WE by what she did.  She and all WASP helped change the status of women in aviation and in military service,” said McCann.  At the conclusion of the conference, The First Woman Award was sent to Denton, Texas and was added to the Texas Women’s University WASP historical collection…where these extraordinary First Women are memorialized.

The 6th Annual Marketing to Women Conference’s “You Take the Cake” award was given to Garry Rosenfeldt, Midas International’s Director of Marketing Research. The award is annually presented to the speaker rated highest by M2W®’s audience of senior brand market executives. Rosenfeldt won for his case study “From Hostile to Loyal: Midas International’s Customer Experience Transformation” at this year’s M2W® held April 21 & 22 in Chicago’s Cultural Center.

“In addition to Rosenfeldt, M2W® featured forty other speakers,” according to Nan McCann, M2W® producer. “The conference is designed to help brands improve their sales and marketing to women. Garry’s study showed how marketing research at Midas lead the way to a corporate-wide policy shift toward designing, implementing and sustaining a superior customer experience that not only addressed the needs of the woman consumer, but lifted the entire brand along the way.”

“The only thing more difficult than building a new brand is changing an existing one,” McCann explained. “This is especially true for companies that operate in a category where the perception among women can range from skeptical to downright hostile. Garry showed how to do it in a session that covered every aspect of marketing from research right on through to customer interaction at the retail level.”

“Other top rated speakers,” McCann continued, “included Tracy Chapman of Just Ask A Woman who showed how to get beyond the Half Truths women tell market researchers, Amanda Stevens of Splash Consulting in Australia talked about marketing to women ‘down under’, Bridget Brennan of Female Factor revealed five trends driving women consumers worldwide and Donna Orender, President of the WNBA brought the audience to its feet with her impassioned closing keynote about empowering our girls.”

In addition to the stars onstage, M2W®’s audience was filled with brand teams and marketing executives from companies and brands as diverse as GM, J & J, Brown-Forman, Kraft, MasterCard, GlaxoSmithKline, Reebok, SCA Tissue, ESPN, Genworth Financial and Burton Snowboards. “Smart brands attend M2W®,” 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® was 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, BigTent, 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 information visit: www.m2w.biz or call 860.724.2649 x11. M2W® is produced by PME® Enterprises LLC, 216 Main Street, Hartford, CT 06106.

During last month’s 2010 M2W®-The Marketing To Women Conference, Carolina Pad, a leading supplier of fashion school, office and organizational products, was honored with the M2W® Full Circle Award which celebrates a brand that has successfully incorporated what they learned at M2W® into a creative campaign with excellent results.   “Last year’s M2W® was really the launch of our brand’s social media outreach and marketing,” says April Whitlock, Director, Brand Management, Carolina Pad, who was on hand to accept the award at this year’s M2W®.   “The preconference workshop was really my first official experience with Twitter and throughout the rest of the conference I was able to learn more about how to better use and manage various social media tools to grow our brand.”

Those tools helped Carolina Pad jumpstart their social media efforts which has included creating a mom blog partnership that now has 400 mom bloggers the brand can utilize for new product testing and promotions as well as other marketing outreach.  “Our social media efforts have definitely had a positive affect on our overall growth,” says Whitlock.  “Since last year, we have enjoyed a 30% increase in visitors to our website and a 25% increase in page views.  So, not only are more people coming to our site, but they are looking around at different things.”

What can we expect from Carolina Pad after this year’s M2W®?  “Mobile marketing has always been in the back of my mind, but after this year’s conference, it has jumped to the forefront,” says Whitlock.  “I really see how important this is going to be for our brand—especially because women and teenage girls are such a big part of our market.”  Whitlock will also be looking at ways in which her brand can better market to people with disabilities thanks to the great presentation by Springboard Consulting’s Nadine Vogel and L’Oreal’s Edward Bullock, and she gained great insight from Garry Rosenfeldt’s presentation on how Midas has transformed the customer experience.  “This is a company that is actually making changes based on the research they have done—and they are holding people inside the company and the franchisees responsible.  That’s such a great soup to nuts case study.”

Be on the look out for new products from Carolina Pad under their Studio C brand, which is giving the company the opportunity to do a wide-variety of products and designs based on the personal needs and styles of their core consumers.  “We will continue to focus our efforts on female consumers, but you will see us targeting a younger demographic this year,” says Whitlock.  “We want to make this space cool for both the young girl and her mom by reaching out to key influencers in the teen market.”  Those influencers include moving beyond traditional marketing channels and building relationships with set designers of movies and TV as well as participating in more celebrity gift bags.  In addition, the company is continuing to work with organizations such as Commerce with a Conscience which gives consumers the opportunity to not only have great looking supplies, but support a worthy cause like Girls on the Run.  “It’s a great way to do cause marketing in a beautiful, stylish way.”

At this year’s M2W®-The Marketing To Women Conference, attendees had the opportunity to share their personal reasons for why they market to women as they visited the booth of conference Showcase Sponsor BigTent.  “We wanted to show how we apply a creative approach to connect brands with our audience of women, and do it real time at the conference,” says Donna Novitsky, CEO, BigTent.  “Our social marketing experiment was engaging and fun for the attendees – like any good social campaign should be.  These personal insights on why we market to women are a great accent to the analytical data presented by many of the speakers.”

So, what did conference attendees have to say?  Below are some of their responses.  Click here to view an entire list of all responses from this year’s attendees, presenters and sponsors.

“I make $$$ targeting women”
–Jeff W., Harbinger

“Women know how to buy and influence 90% of decisions!”
–Mary G., Kraft

“Because they decide how to entertain the household”
–Scott S., Ubisoft

“Women are and have the true power”
–Alba C.R., Ford

“Young girls need good role models riding Harleys”
–Leslie P., Harley-Davidson Motor Company

“They are the majority of our shoppers”
–Kelly B., Walgreens

“They keep family memories alive”
–Susan S., Kodak

“We have products to make life easier and more enjoyable”
–Jill S., Whirlpool

“They lead the world”
–Lisa L., AOL

“Empowerment”
–Mihaela Z., Wells Fargo

Now, let’s hear from you—tell us why you market to women!

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