As the CEO of the consulting and training firm, Female Factor, and author of Why She Buys, I’ve spent more than a decade studying women’s impact on the consumer marketplace. At this time of year, people ask me what they should be incorporating into their new-year planning to grow their business with women buyers. Based on the trends we’re watching right now, here are 10 winning strategies to consider.
1. Don’t just sell your product: sell the experience of buying it.
Sales associates are the human link between brands and customers. Overlooking sales training as a part of marketing is like running a restaurant with no trained servers. The experience of buying your product is an important driver of sales and customer satisfaction, which is why training is a strong focus of our work at Female Factor. We all know how many people go to Starbucks for the experience of buying a cup of coffee that they could easily make at home (this writer included). In the coming year, incorporate sales training as part of your marketing strategy development, and if you’re a manufacturer that doesn’t sell directly to consumers, commit to working with retail and channel partners to be sure they’re trained to sell your products in a way that reflects the best of what your brand has to offer.
2. Convenience sells: find ways to make your product or service easier to buy.
There are two forces at work here. The first is that everybody’s busy. The second is that ecommerce has changed our perceptions of convenience and speed. Online product-subscription businesses like Stitch Fix and Trunk Club have tapped into the desire for convenience to great effect. In the brick-and-mortar world, Walgreens provides a great example of convenience in pharmacy and prescription services, with offerings like refills by scan and calendar reminders of when to take medicines. Which analog processes can you make more efficient for your customers?
3. Create services that complement your products.
When we conduct research with women at Female Factor, we’ll often hear some variation of, “I already have a lot of stuff, what I need is more help.” In other words, they’re looking for services. Best Buy was a pioneer in this with Geek Squad, but look around and you’ll see services are cropping up everywhere at brick-and-mortar retail, in addition to all the app-driven services like Uber, Lyft and Instacart. From catering provided by grocery stores to hair styling, facials and brow shaping at Ulta Beauty stores, services can help generate new revenue streams and strengthen your customers’ bond with your business.
4. Strive to make your customers feel smarter just for doing business with you.
In other words, don’t just sell – educate. This is part of the magic of the Apple retail experience, which delivers education through its in-store theaters, Genius Bars and comprehensive training of sales associates. The result is that many people walk out of an Apple store feeling smarter than when they walked in. It’s the kind of positive feeling that fosters an emotional connection to a brand.
5. Avoid overplaying feminine stereotypes in marketing and visuals.
They may turn off the very customers you’re trying to attract. If you’re evaluating creative work and finding yourself unsure about whether you’ve crossed the line into stereotype, conduct market research with women to test your concepts, and strive to work with gender-balanced creative teams. Remember: pink is not a strategy, unless you’re raising money for breast cancer research and causes.
6. Invest in design: it matters more than ever.
Good design has become an expectation, even in low-price categories, to the extent that products that were once hidden under cabinets and sinks are now proudly displayed in people’s homes. My Kleenex box is positively beautiful. My Method soap bottle complements my kitchen décor. Like sales, design can no longer be viewed as separate and distinct from marketing.
7. Engage the senses, because women shop with all of them.
When you consider that you can only engage two senses – sight and sound — through a screen (at least for now), this is a major opportunity for brick-and-mortar businesses, which can also engage scent, touch and taste. Walking through stores like Anthropologie, Sephora and Trader Joe’s, to name just three, are feasts for the senses. How can you create an environment that encourages people to linger, and return again and again to repeat the experience?
8. Demonstrate how your business makes the world a better place, even if it’s in a small way.
I recently stopped in a Subway sandwich shop that featured posters letting customers know the company is supporting family farmers and using environmentally friendly packaging. Communicating initiatives like these helps people feel good about where they’re spending their money. If you’re doing great things, let people know it.
9. Wellness has gone mainstream: focus on healthy attributes when you can.
Wellness has emerged as a key component of consumer decision-making across all kinds of industry categories. It’s no longer solely the province of food and pharmaceutical industries. From hotel chains like Westin and its well-being movement to the Benjamin Moore Natura line of allergy and asthma friendly paints, wellness messages can be a powerful motivator for purchase.
10. Be creative with product names.
They can add personality to even the most basic products and services, and help add dimension to a brand. In the nail polish industry, brands like OPI and Essie offer a veritable master class in this strategy.
I’ll be delving deeper into each of these strategies in my forthcoming articles; Stay tuned.
Article originally published on Forbes.com