There's just something about being in a big room full of smart, talented, successful women. The energy just kind of bounces off the walls. That's why I jumped on an invitation to NBCU's "Power of the Purse" Breakfast. (Ok, I didn't actually jump on it since it was an email and I didn't want to hurt my laptop, but I did do the Holly Happy Dance.).
How powerful was the panel? The opening interview was with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi if that gives you any hints. Here are some of the highlights…..
Speaker Nancy Pelosi Keeps It Real
NBC Universal's Jeff Zucker interviewed Nancy Pelosi. I loved Nancy Pelosi's story of a conversation with her daughter when she was first running for office. She told her daughter if she won, it would require time away and wanted to now how her daughter felt about that. The daughter's reply? "Get a life mom."
It was great to see this more personal and humorous side of the first woman Speaker of the House.
The biggest audience reaction came when Jeff Zucker asked about what part fashion plays in her image. Pelosi turned the tables and asked him the same question right back. The audience loved it. Seriously – why do successful women always get asked fashion questions???
All-Star Panel Talks Marketing to Women
The panel consisted of:
Pat Mitchell, President and CEO, The Paley Center for Media
Debora Spar, President, Barnard College
Tina Brown, Founder and Editor-in-Chief, The Daily Beast
Mark Addicks, Chief Marketing Officer, General Mills
Kim Brink, Executive Director, Advertising and Sales Promotion, Cadillac
Donna Speciale,President of Investment and Activation, MediaVest USA.
Here are some of the themes discussed:
Women can be a uniting force in this country. "it's our responsibility to make the world better for our children."
In order to see real change (from politics to marketing) we need more women in leadership positions. One panelist asked why we still haven't seen a female head of a network?
Demographics aren't what they used to be. General Mill's Mark Addicks commented that you may see a grandmother using social networks or a 25 year old young mother. Both can be your consumer. (in case you don't believe this, you might note that between April 2009 and May 2010, the number of online adults ages 50 and older on social networking sites nearly doubled)
Women are researching products more than ever. They're spending up to 30 more minutes researching purchases.
Women want choice. Barnard's Debora Spar commented that women in college today are "fundamentally addicted to choice."
Cadliac's Kim Brink made a great point about women's car shopping preferences. She said it's important not to force women into the dealership (where so many really don't want to go since they're expecting a bad experience.) Instead, bring the product to them. (Great idea)
Tina Brown from the Daily Beast commented that, "Men want to know what happened. Women want to know what really happened." Women have a strong BS meter and, as we learned earlier, a thirst for information and knowledge.
Tina also had some of the most interesting advice of the morning. Since women in leadership roles was a theme of the day, I asked the panel what advice they would give to women moving up the ranks to be more successful and gain credibility with men.
Tina answered (and I'm paraphrasing here) that you can't wait for permission. She pointed out that many people have a set idea of what a CEO looks like. (Think about it – how many CEO's are tall white guys) She recommends starting your own company and doing your own hiring in order to create the environment and opportunities you want. Great advice. I did exactly that 2 years ago and it's the best decision I ever made.
How to be more successful marketing to women
I was happy to see so many men at this event. In order to be successful when marketing to women, we need men and women working together, with greater understanding, to reach our goals.
I hope to attend many more events like this one and to continue the conversation.
Here's a link to a video recap of the event.