Is That Marketing or Stereotyping?

Last year, I attended one of the largest gatherings of entrepreneurial and innovative women in our area…and in addition to stellar speakers we found a trade show floor where we could buy shoes, scarves and makeup. The empowered woman inside me cringed. The marketer nodded sagely. If you’re going to have 10,000 women in a big room, why not roll out products designed especially for them?target marketing

Another friend is in psychic agony picking a voice over artist for a video about enterprise software. Is she a traitor to the cause if she picks a male voice, “knowing” her largely male audience may more easily dismiss a female voice or find it less creditable?

Sears markets the Original Pink Box, a professional grade tool cabinet for “customers” who aren’t interested in the more “traditional” red box. When you click on the “special offers” on the webpage, one of those offers is for discounted diamond earrings. (P.S. We searched for “woman’s tool box” and the Pink Box was the top offering. But click through to the Sear’s website and you see that the search is for a “pink tool box”.  Hmm.)

And, as we all know, the women’s panel, or even an entire track, at some conferences and events is where you find the women speakers… sometimes the only place.

Target marketing is about reaching customers who are interested in buying what you are selling. Proper target marketing means that sales increase as you are able to better define and connect with your target market.

At a very basic level, a target market can be broken down by who (demographics), where (geographics) and why (psychographics). Demographics includes age, family size, educational level, occupation and… gender. Yes, there are differences between men and women, and some products are designed for one or the other. But there can be marketing without stereotyping.

Forgo the tiny pink toolbox and just make sure your toolbox has enough space for all your tools, whatever the color. Filling up your professional women trade show floor with vendors? Make sure you address the professional as well as the woman. Break out of the “what’s expected” mold and stand out in your marketing by using the perhaps “unexpected” voice.

But make sure you’re reaching your target market. If your target market is just women, then speaking engagements at women-focused events are great. If your target audience is both men and women, then you need to be speaking at events that also target both, or at least balancing out your speaking engagements. We’re working toward gender-balanced speaking panels at events just for you.

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