I was recently invited to sit on a panel for a discussion session during the Women’s Choice Awards (WCA) Marketing Summit in Weston, Florida. The panel was charged with discussing “How to fully leverage your competitive advantage” but you’ll see below that the discussions went much deeper, looking closely at decision-making differences between the genders and more. I was honored to sit on the panel with Sarah Fishburne of Home Depot and Brian Jochum of KCD Brands (Sears). Delia Passi of WomenCertified moderated the panel and presented the questions. I’ve tried to capture some of their thoughts below, as well as my own, which I prepared for the discussions.

How can a brand leverage awards and credentials – such as their Women’s Choice Award – most effectively in the retail/hospital environment?
For the Medical Center, we try to make the awards themselves part of our brand, including them everywhere it’s appropriate. Currently, we only take advantage of two such things on behalf of the hospital – obviously WCA as the voice of the female consumers we serve – but also our 4-time Magnet recognition for nursing program excellence, representing the voice of our peers.

If you consider the main reason a person is in a hospital, you can understand just how important this recognition is. Are people in the hospital because they need a doctor? No, they might see the doctor a total of 5-10 minutes out of the day. They are in the hospital because they need a nurse. As only the 23rd hospital in the world to get a fourth Magnet designation, it demonstrates the hospital’s commitment to providing the highest quality of care and, ultimately, better outcomes.

What role do awards like the WCA play in the overall decision journey?
WCA provides a level of confidence for the decision-maker as he/she evaluates a decision to “buy” – whether it’s choosing a hospital or purchasing a car. Women tend to base decisions on the opinions and experiences of others, and as the “voice of women consumers,” WCA represents a lot of opinions.

How well do you know the women your communicating with?
One thing we’ve found continuously over the years of serving different clients in many different industries is that most think they know their customers. Reality is they probably don’t know them well or don’t know enough. Market research is an often-overlooked key to successfully communicating with your customers. If you’re not doing market research on a regular bass, say every 2-3 years, you’re very likely not communicating well with your customers.

A lot of companies think good, solid research (which I’ll define as generating a 95% accuracy rate) is too expensive, but it needs to be looked at as investing to save money later. We have yet to complete one market research project that didn’t have at least one major surprise in the results.

And, in between those major research initiatives, utilize the feedback of your front line personnel to recognize changing habits and new influences on customers.

How do you determine what women want and how does that impact your products/services and marketing?
LISTEN. And if they’re not talking, ask the questions. Market research is just too important to ignore. If you don’t know the questions they have, you can’t provide the answers clearly and concisely at different touch points.

How have you observed men and women make decisions differently?
Men tend to make their purchasing decisions based on immediate needs and how well the product or service will satisfy needs now and into the immediate future. Long-term considerations seem to play little part for men.

For women, however, this trend is almost reversed. Frequently the long-term considerations, and whether the purchase can be used again and again over time, may even be a stronger factor in the woman’s purchasing decision than instant satisfaction.

Obviously if you’re selling to men, emphasize the immediate gratification. For women it’s more useful to ensure they understand the benefits over the long-term. Or even to make sure they buy sufficient quantity to last them a long time.

Women use other people’s opinions to help make their own decision. Men use other people’s decisions to help them form their own opinion. While women would like to know that it worked for others, they prefer to know the reasons behind somebody else’s purchase – because other people’s reasons and motivations may not be the same as their own. So they may not get the same result.1

How does your company/brand simplify a woman’s life? Decision process?
Brian Jochum, Senior Director of Marketing at KCD Brands, suggested the first thing to do is to identify and understand a woman’s questions. Then figure out how to answer those questions simply and clearly. They do that with YouTube videos to assist with the buying process for their appliances, adding great DIFM (Do It For Myself) suggestions to avoid common buying mistakes.

In the hospital environment, we believe it all boils down to trust. For instance, we know if a woman has a good birthing experience, she is highly likely to utilize the hospital for all the healthcare needs of her entire family. She’ll also share that good experience with her friends and community, giving them more confidence in the hospital’s brand, as well.

From your experience, what is the one most important thing a brand can do to be more women centric?
We believe it’s actually two most important things:

  1. Listen closely
  2. Communicate simply and clearly

 

ABOUT THE WOMEN’S CHOICE AWARD®
The Women’s Choice Award sets the standard for helping women make smarter choices by collectively identifying the brands, products, and services most recommended and trusted by women – those that deliver a customer experience worthy of their recommendation. Awards are based on surveys of thousands of women, as well as research conducted in partnership with the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania on what drives the consumer experience for women versus men. As the leading advocate for female consumers, WomenCertified Inc., home of the Women’s Choice Award, created the first national award based on the ratings and preferences of women to provide them with a collective voice. Women can make their preferences heard and be part of the mission toward a million voices strong by visiting the Women’s Choice Award’s official website and joining the network.

1 decision-making-confidence.com

Jun 09, 2015 | Filed under: Uncategorized by Sandy Porter