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events_shopsymposium09_01-1I’ll be a panelist at the SHOP Symposium / 09  on March 23 at the Seattle Design Center. Put on by CRAVEbusiness, this annual event offers women who are passionate about their businesses a full day of fun, inspiration and education.

Here are a few people I can’t wait to meet:

Laura Christianson and Jim Rubart of He Blogs, She Blogs
Danielle Laporte of White Hot Truth 
Jacqueline Voci of Soya Marketing  

And, of course, I’ll get to say hi to friends and all-around amazing people Dan McComb and Lara Feltin of Biznik, the social business network that rocks Seattle and the world. 

So – you’re coming, right? : )

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millennium-hotels

Do you ask your customers, “What would you like?”

The Premier Hotel in New York’s Times Square did, and the result is their swanky Women Travelers Floor. According to their website, it’s “designed to provide female travelers with a peace of mind and myriad of comforts to unwind and uplift.”

I’m so there.

The haven is accessible only with an elevator key card, and each room includes women’s magazines like Oprah and Self, a lighted makeup mirror, plush robe and slippers, curling and flattening irons, even yoga mats to stretch the kinks from travel-weary muscles.

Here’s what Forbes.com says about it: “The Premier Hotel in Times Square wasn’t getting too many requests from female solo travelers looking for protection from male guests, but they were getting requests for better makeup lighting and more diet-friendly cuisine. ‘It wasn’t about women asking to not be around men,’ says General Manager Patrick Davidson of the hotel’s decision last year to reserve one entire floor for women guests. ‘It was so they wouldn’t have to worry about packing every little additional thing.’”

I love it. And I’ll be honest. I’m no wimp, but staying alone in a hotel in a strange city can give me the heebie-jeebies.  So provide me with women-friendly perks and a feeling of safety, too? Cool.

Okay, lesson time. How did the Premier Hotel succeed in reaching their female customers?

Answer: They met the needs of their specific market.

The hotel isn’t trying to be all things to all women. If they were, they might stock rooms with playpens for mom travelers or offer city tour options for baby-boomer travelers.

I wrote elsewhere that marketing to women is doomed when we paint “female consumers” with a broad stroke, one big stereotype.  The Premier Hotel avoids this by first identifying exactly the women they’re targeting (business travelers) and then meeting their needs. 

To reach your female customer, know what she wants, what she needs.

How, you wonder? Ask. She’ll tell you. Then, hop to it. Provide for her in big and small ways, and who knows? Maybe  next time we’ll be reading about your business in Forbes.com.

If you’re a woman, would you stay on the Women’s Travelers Floor? If you’re a guy – what do you think of the concept?  

Photo credit: Millenniumhotels.com

Is Your Customer a Frugalista?

Your sales are soft. People aren’t buying as much. Purse strings are pulled tight, double knotted, then knotted again. 

Need a fresh perspective on your customers’ thriftmeister ways?

Check out what Andrea Learned (author of Don’t Think Pink: What Really Makes Women Buy — and How to Increase Your Share of This Crucial Market) has to say. She writes: 

Could you blame consumers for not wanting to join a tribe of woeful and anxious peers, but instead choosing to see themselves as enduring the current hardships with a smile? Enter the Frugalista! 

Now, she may not sound like a marketers dream. After all, her MO is to scrimp and save, cut back on her gym membership and forget about name brand products for the duration. But, the fact is that our Frugalista represents the women you are all now trying to serve. Her more determined, super savvy approach to consuming truly does represent your toughest customer (women, in general), but on steroids (as it were)!

Click over to Andrea’s blog to read the rest of Frugalista Appeal. Enjoy!

I’m a Copycat. Are You?

copycat1

My face is red.

I’ve logged onto Biznik, my favorite social networking site, several times a day for months. When I Google them (try it; you’ll like it!) this description comes up: “Grow your business faster and more profitably with Biznik, the local, independent business networking community where collaboration beats competition.”

Fast forward to this blog. My tagline? “Marketing to women to grow your business faster and more profitably.”

Crap!

(Hold on a sec. Whew. Just changed it to: “Smart marketing to women to grow your business.”)

 Who knew you could plagerize and not even know it? I once invited you to delve into the unconscious mind of your customers. Perhaps diving into my own isn’t a bad plan!

See if people are copying you without permission with Copyscape, a free service that scours the internet to find your content. All you need to do is type in the address of your web page.  

It’s a snap to use – takes all of 30 seconds, tops. Try it, and tell me what you find.

How to Turn Off Women

marketing-shebang_hp_product

 

Check out what HP thinks women want in a computer.

Their Mini 1000 Vivienne Tam is a laptop that looks as “stylish and alluring” as a clutch. A combo computer/clutch? Hmm. And stylish is okay, but alluring?

The women I know don’t buy computers that entice while dangling from their hand but computers that are as smart and hardworking as they are.

 

marketing shebang_hp_pc4

 

And lest we think it’s only the laptop that allures (which means “to bait,” by the way), HP dreams up a marketing message that tells women they can play the temptress.

Their ad shows a model in a vampy pose wearing a thigh-skimming dress and go-down-on-me stiletto heels. The small print says this is “the first designer notebook to dazzle runways – and boardrooms.”

Gross.

I guarantee you some guy dreamed up this marketing concept, because it reads like a blatant male fantasy. I also guarantee you HP lost a lot of savvy women who might have bought a small, flowery laptop had it been positioned differently.

Besides, baiting men in the boardroom? HP, women own the boardroom.

women-engaged-in-computerI love clever website design. Bells and whistles are cool, too. But the fact is, without solid content, a website fails at its most basic level: attracting and converting customers.

Here are half-dozen ways to ensure your writing has what it takes to engage online readers.

Make your point–pronto
You have mere seconds to convey what your company does or sells. Flowery language, long-winded mission statements and technical jargon send customers clicking onto the next site faster than you can say, “Bye!”

Make online copy half the length the same material would be in print form. Half. Befriend your delete button.

Speak your readers’ language
Hable el idioma de su mercado objetivo, o esta hundido/a.

Or, let me put it this way: If you don’t speak the language of your target market, you’re sunk.

Using words or a tone of voice that doesn’t resonate with your readers is as off-putting as speaking a foreign language. Online surfers are famous for their impatience. Learn their language to keep their attention.

Write at an eighth grade level or lower
Keep your reading level low to keep your readers. Write short sentences. Choose short words, too, preferably under three syllables. (It pains me to write that, because I’m a dork who likes big words.)

You can check the reading level of your content easily in Word.

  • On the Word menu, click Preferences, and then click Spelling and Grammar.
  • Select the Check grammar with spelling check box.
  • Select the Show readability statistics check box, and then click OK.
  • On the Tools menu, click Spelling and Grammar.

When Microsoft Word finishes checking spelling and grammar, it displays information about the reading level of the document.

Provide a call to action
People read your website for information. Once you’ve made clear what you have to offer, invite your prospect to take the next step with a call to action. Be sure it’s simple, clear and concise.

  • Call our 800 number for more information
  • Click here!
  • Add to cart
  • Sign up today

Keep the design clean
Studies show that readers ignore content that looks like a big fat promo, such as words with ALL CAPS and LOTS OF !!!! placed in a red banner. Plus, it’s annoying and hacks people off. Bad idea.

Proofread
This section contains 3 misspelled words. Can you find them? Ready, set, go!

Write amazing content but load it up with errors, and your credibility tanks.

So proofread, and proofread well. Use your spell-check, but use your eyes, too. (We’ve all seen what spell-check does running amok down a page. A “pair of shoes,” might end up a “pare of shoes” or worse, a “pear of shoes.”)

Read your content backwards, which forces you to slow down and see each word. You can also team up with a buddy and proofread one another’s copy.

Oh, and I lied. There are no errors. But guess what? You were proofreading, not merely reading. Nicely done (and kudos to Copyblogger.com for this idea).

Photo credit: Marcio Eugenio

Listen music 4

“We’re there for you.”

Some of the most successful companies say it this way:

  • Nordstrom: We do everything possible (and more) to give you excellent customer service.
  • Apple computers: We provide in-person tech support and free workshops.
  • Les Schwab Tires: We run to your car to show how eager we are to help you. 

How you might say it to your customers:

  • A personal trainer develops individual workouts for each client.
  • An ecommerce site allows shoppers to filter results lots of ways for quick, easy shopping.
  • A graphic design firm speeds up their email response time based on a customer survey. 

How do you tell customers you’re there for them?