A woman and her husband walk into a car dealership. The salesman spends all his time talking to the husband. At one point he suggests the woman go into the showroom to, "pick out her favorite color."
Only problem was, she was buying (and paying for) the car for herself. Her husband was just along for the ride. Needless to say, that dealership did not get her business.
Home owners in a maintenance-free subdivision that catered to many single, divorced and widowed women found letters in their mailbox from an irrigation company reminding them about their winter service. The letter began, "Dear Sir."
The women in the community, including married women who'd received the letter, found a more female-friendly competitor and switched their business.
It's 2010 people. You'd think marketers and sales people would pay more attention to the messages they send. But there are two factors playing into marketing messages that don't connect with women.
Part of the problem is your message. The other part of the problem is how she interprets your message.
Women process your messaging through their own unique filters
We all look at our world through the filter of our life experiences. All of us. Thus, the same words may inspire different interpretations in different people.
Here's an example from a website for a financial company who says they cater to women:
We provide personalized financial planning, counseling, and investment management services to retirees or those about to retire, and specializing in women who are recently divorced, widowed, or retired.
In their Our Firm section, here's their message to prospective women clients:
Here's what they say:
"Women who are recently divorced, widowed, or retired need someone to help them with the challenge of managing their own finances."
Here's what she hears:
"Now that you're managing your own finances for the first time in your life (since you're retiring or no longer have a man in your life), and we know that's a big challenge for you, you need our help."
Here's a better way to say it:
"If you're recently divorced, widowed, ending a career or staring a new one, your financial situation is changing. We've worked with thousands of women just like you who are looking for education, expertise and trusted advisers. Together we can make smart decisions for your future and your financial security.
Avoid anything she interprets to be condescending
The key word here is "interprets." Again, we all look at life through our own life experience filters. There are certain industries where women historically expect to be condescended to at best, conned at worst. (Auto, consumer electronics, financial services – this means you.)
How is she interpreting your messages? Are you making assumptions about your customers? (Thinking managing their own finances is something new or challenging) Or assuming all women think the same way? (Let me know how that works out for you.)
Take a look at your messaging and sales process through a filter other than your own.
Is she hearing what you think you're saying?