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Dick and Jane Revisited

By Yvonne DiVita
Posted Wednesday, November 10, 2004

Former British Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher is known to have said; “If you want anything said, ask a man. If you want anything done, ask a woman.”

Who Gets It
Women get it. They’ve always gotten it. In a long ago century (1800s) Harriet Beecher Stowe said, “Women are the real architects of society.”

Women are the doers of the family, of the office, of the world. It’s precisely because women get it, and because we are doers, that it’s important for small businesses venturing onto the Internet to understand the women’s market – a market that isn’t about male bashing, but about embracing new technology. Today it’s about getting your marketing and sales message in front of Jane, not Dick.

Be Friendly
The numbers don’t lie; more than 63% of the online sales last year were made by women.

Being “female-friendly” isn’t all that hard. Women just want you to treat them with respect and consideration. Online that means using marketing elements women find useful and attractive; elements such as navigational text-links, not graphics that make us guess what you mean. Elements such as showing women on your homepage what you’re about, right in that prime real estate section—the center of the computer screen. And, if you’re reading that e-mail marketing is dying a slow death, let me paraphrase Mark Twain: the death of e-mail marketing has been greatly exaggerated. Women are prime users of e-mail.

Women share advice in e-mails, they distribute information, and they talk about where to buy the best stuff. By targeting the women’s market you increase your reach extensively because any woman who reads your ad and likes what she sees, will share it with others far more often than any man will do so. My own daughter recently clicked on an e-mail sales message, found something she liked, bought it – online-- and then wrote to tell me about it.

Being friendly means generating trust. Any sales and marketing expert will tell you that trust is a prime factor in making sales. People buy from people they trust. Women especially need that trust factor. Make friends with women by creating loyalty programs, by offering free shipping, and by asking for feedback. Keep an 800# on your homepage and on your catalog or product page. At the very least, make sure you have a contact method with an auto-responder that will follow up any e-mail question within 24 hours.

It’s time to put away childish toys and thoughts. That old Dick and Jane world of marketing to men only, once so popular in the 20th century, belongs in history books, not in your marketing plans. If you rely on Dick to buy your products, you will be cutting out more than half of your potential market. Fully 63% of the shopping done online last year was done by (women) Jane, not by (men) Dick.

Whether Jane is a CEO in charge of major company purchases; whether she is an office manager in charge of the supply cabinet and the conference room; whether she is a homemaker trying to keep her family happy and healthy; or whether she is a college graduate starting a new career; Jane is looking for you online and she isn’t asking Dick’s permission to buy. She needs office supplies; she needs a good leather briefcase, a cell phone, a PDA, a desk, a picture frame for her desk, a new car, and business, career, or health advice. She needs business cards and stationery. She needs technology advice and financial advice. She needs all of the things her partner and friend Dick needs. Sell them to her.

Bury the those old Dick and Jane days and their outmoded thinking with your 4.5inch floppies and old versions of DOS. Join the new millennium and get with the game: women as entrepreneurs are looking for you online. If they like what they see, they’ll go home, put on their consumer hat and share their good fortune with all their friends, both male and female. The fact is, more than half of the time your message is being looked at by Jane, not Dick. Forward thinkers will also recognize that marketing to Jane doesn’t alienate Dick. He’s merely waiting for Jane to give him the head’s up.

Offline vs. Online: Hand in Hand We Go
Everyone knows that women are the shoppers of the world. Make friends with them. In 2003, Maya Draisin, of the Webby Awards, (http://www.webbyawards.com/main/in_motion/index.html) had this to say about e-commerce, “The trend this year is toward using the Web to connect people online to mobilize them offline.”

This means if you make friends with women, they will shop at your Web site and also at your offline store, if you have one. Today, women purchase or influence the purchase of more than half of the normally male-dominated products such as cars, lawn mowers, computers, and other electronics. What’s not to like about that? Smart Marketing to Women Online; it’s a good way to start 2004 and a great way to make some loyal new friends and customers.

About the Author
Yvonne is president of Windsor Media Enterprises, a new media company that assists online entrepreneurs with e-doc, e-book and web content publishing. Yvonne’s book on marketing to women online “Dickless Marketing: Smart Marketing to Women Online” is available at print on demand company, 1st Books.com and in bookstores nationwide.