Once a woman has purchased your brand, she converts from being a prospect to being a customer. Given women's greater brand loyalty after the initial purchase, they're basically yours to lose from thereon out-she did decide your brand is the "perfect answer," after all. As long as you don't do anything too egregious (she's forgiving, but only up to a point), she'll keep coming back.
Marketing to women after the first purchase has two objectives:
1. Build the customer relationship and enhance her sense of brand commitment, so she returns to the brand for any subsequent or related purchases.
2. Motivate her to become an enthusiastic brand ambassador and recommend the brand to her family, friends and acquaintances.
Women love surprises-and you can improve your marketing to women by promoting contests. But there are some things you need to remember. Women don't appreciate fierce competition, and they love to share what they know. Retailer Anthropologie holds a "Wish it, Win it" sweepstakes in December, revealing one prize from its holiday collection each day. In this friendly contest, women receive extra entries each time they invite their friends to enter the contest on Facebook, Twitter or Pinterest.
Women-oriented promotions will benefit your business in three ways:
1. Attract attention to your brand. Female-friendly prizes like those mentioned below are new and different, a great way to distinguish your brand from the competitive pack.
2. Extend awareness and participation. Word of mouth will travel. Add in incentives for sharing on social media, and the news will fly. Unusual approaches are fun and worth a mention, which will not only drive awareness and participation but also keep the memory floating around a lot longer than run-of-the-mill, business-as-usual offers.
3. Shorter decision times. Contests have deadlines. If a time-sensitive promotional offer gets her to close the sale faster, then its work here is done.
How do you make her want to win and motivate her to participate in your contest? Offer shareable prizes or "chick" prizes-or both!
Shareable Prizes are More Fun
Fly her with her husband, kids and one more adult (Mom or babysitter) for two weeks in the Bahamas; or let her invite four friends to Montana for a "girls' getaway" soft adventure trip. Timberland sponsored a three-week long sweepstakes in conjunction with Macy's stores that celebrated the "endless possibilities" of being a woman by offering the chance to win an enriching life experience for herself and her friends.
Chick Prizes are Always Welcome
These are things that women love and just never get enough of. Give her flowers-a fresh bouquet each month, foot rubs or a full-body massage once a week for a year, or a library of chick flick videos and a year's supply of popcorn for four. She'll respond to your promotion and tell her friends to enter too, and if they win, they'll never stop talking about your company.Even if your end users are mostly men, don't forget who the buyer is. One of my friends went to a local store called Bleachers Sports, which focuses on sports memorabilia in the form of baseball cards, collectibles and such. During her visit, the friendly owner came up to her and said he was running a "Moms only" NCAA basketball pool-he entered everyone's name into a random pool, assigned random teams, and if your team got into the Final Four, you won a prize. And not just any prize-first place was $100 gift card to Miss Behave, a sassy women's clothing store just down the street. Second place was a gift card for his store, which of course would be shared with the kids. My friend will definitely patronize his store more because he appreciates his mom clientele.
Customer service is a given now in any retail situation. Companies that say, "what makes the difference is our service and our knowledgeable, helpful, kind and courteous people" are kidding themselves and not keeping an eye on their competitors, who are all saying the same thing! But customer services that save women time are a huge hit. One enterprising stationary store in my neighborhood defended itself against the big box office/school supply giants with an innovative promotion aimed at saving moms time during the busy season. They got the supplies list from every teacher in the district and would pre-pack a shopping bad for you. All consumers had to do was call up and say, "Mrs. Burgess's Class," and an hour later, she could waltz in, pick up her bag, pay and zip right out three minutes later.
When I had young babies and found myself hauling mass quantities of diapers, wipes and bottles into the house each week (all while managing an infant and toddler, mind you!), I used to dream about a retailer who would bring it to me in a weekly delivery. Would I have signed a six-month contract? You bet. What's a few dollars compared to that kind of convenience?
Those dreams have come true for moms today with Amazon Mom. For $79/year, moms get free two-day shipping, 20% off on subscriptions to diapers and wipes, along with select other "family essentials" like laundry detergent and non-perishable groceries. Talk about customer services. Now all women have to worry about is what to do with all those cardboard shipping boxes! Big box stores, which have enjoyed reputations for convenience and low prices, have a formidable competitive threat on their hands.
For Women, Marketing Incentives Can Be More than Just Discounts
Traditionally, the role of incentives has been to influence brand choice. By giving the customer a discount, or some added value, the company is giving her a reason to choose one brand over another. While that dynamic is still alive and well with women, there's also another reason to provide incentives: to break through women's Spiral Buying Path decision process. Women spiral through the stages of decision-making, re-evaluating previous research in light of new discoveries and seeking the perfect answer. As you imagine, this process can be time-consuming.
Marketing professionals can use well-aimed incentives to deflect the urge to pursue "the perfect answer," and encourage her to make a good move now. And offering a discount isn't always the most attractive option to women. Instead, offer services that are even more valuable to women, pique their interest or capture their imagination. This marketing approach leads to different offers, different timing and different language.
Current car dealership promotions are universally the same: a cacophony of cash offers focused on financing and discounts ("Get $1000 cash back!" sound familiar?). You can't tell one from the other, which makes you think they must all be ineffective.
A car dealership seeking to capture a high share of the women's market could run a marketing promotion offering special service to everyone who buys during the promotional time frame, like free car pickup and drop-off at the office or at home for regular maintenance and repairs. Or a car company could offer a chance to win one year of unlimited access to a driver/errand runner who could chauffer the kids, meet you at the airport, pick up prepared meals, handle any little driving errand that comes to mind. Actually, a really cool prize would be to offer women a one-year contract with a service that could handle all those errands. I've so often heard women wish they could delegate to someone. And, to all my women readers, didn't you start nodding along as you pictured the implications of this offer?So save your discounts and offer women something with more appeal, something that will really help her out. Add a time frame, and she just might decide that "the perfect answer" is to buy your brand right now!
Word of mouth, this media vehicle unto itself, becomes even more important for Boomers for two reasons. First, Boomer women have had a lot more experience in life, with shopping, buying, using and comparing products. So, they have a lot more information to share with their friends.
Second, with retirement approaching, Boomer women will be spending more time with their girlfriends and will have expanded influence on immediate and extended families. Therefore, they will have a lot more opportunities to use their word of mouth. Marketing professionals should care and beware! Word of mouth can be used to spread both good and bad brand experiences around this large network of Boomer women and the many people they influence.
Curves is a brand that really understands the marketing multiplier effect of Boomer women's word of mouth. Members become Curves' best advocates when they invite friends to join them. The Buddy Referral program offers members "Bring a Friend" coupons for one week of free workouts, so members can invite friends to give the club a try-and often, members themselves also receive a free month. Individual franchises often personalize this referral program for their members, like in this Facebook post promoting May as Referral Month:
Curves' phenomenal conversion rate of 80%-- 8 out of 10 referrals sign up to join as members-reflects the appeal of the concept and the persuasiveness of the "member ambassadors."