Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Web 2.0

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The women’s market is a vast landscape full of mystery and intrigue. At least, that’s what the online world would have you believe. That age old question, “what do women want?” continues to baffle men (and some women) the world over. The answer isn’t half as hard as they think, especially online. Here’s it is, in a nutshell – women want more. More respect, connections, and time.

The interactive world of Web 2.0 has given women freedom; freedom to be whatever they choose to be. And they choose to be who they are, openly and honestly. With the millions of Mommy bloggers chattering away online daily, often several times a day, and with the rise of the women’s blogging organizations such as Blogher.org, coupled with the realization that more and more women are starting their own businesses across the U.S. (see the Center for Women’s Business Research  ), it’s no wonder the world of Web 2.0 has become a dominant marketing focus for those who would reach women buyers.

We no longer accept nor rely on marketing messages that tell us what to do or think or say. It’s our world now and if you want to play in it, you have to first ask us permission, and second, respect our opinion.

I Am Woman, Hear Me Roar

It appears from the continued creation of marketing to and at women, that too many marketers haven’t received the memo noting that women have come a long way, baby. Marketing online is going through a complete overhaul, thanks to Web 2.0 and consumer generated media. Somehow, though, many advertising professionals continue to cling to what they believe are tried and true methods of connecting to their “target” market – using pink, using language best reserved for second graders, or worse, questioning where the man of the house is. They’re left scratching their heads in confusion when their fancy creative ad misses its “mark.” Oh, but we’ll talk about that whole “target” thing later on.

Here’s the thunk upside the head; yes, today’s women are Moms in much the same way they were in those old Leave It to Beaver days. And as such, they are keepers of all things sparkling and shining. We are also still keepers of the refrigerator, the pantry, the medicine cabinet and the department store.

The disconnect comes when marketers don’t recognize that today’s women are also in charge of the garage, the basement, the driveway, the home office, the sports arena, and even the checkbook . Today’s woman truly fulfills Helen Reddy’s rendition of that old 70s song, “I am woman, hear me roar.” And roar we do, in voices heard the world over – on blogs read by all of our friends and family.

Google offers almost 50 million hits on the phrase “marketing to women online.” Close to fifty-million places a marketer can visit on Google to discover the answer to Freud’s nagging “what do women want” question. Here’s the rub: those hits on the first few pages are blogs, written largely by women. Blogs connected to other blogs, a veritable smorgasbord of women – all connected by the invisible threads of a broadband Internet cable. Why? Because women are tired of men telling them what to buy and how to think. Web 2.0 has amplified our voices and the din we’re causing is louder than a power drill. 

Yes, it’s all still in its infancy. Women adopted the blogosphere a little late. Men were blogging in bigger numbers, back in 2002. Back then women were content with our forums and online chat groups and email. We didn’t see the need for upfront, real-time communication. Wasn’t that what the phone was for? Yet, when women bloggers such as author Michele Miller, whose audiobook reveals that women are hard-wired for communication, started blogging, the rest of us took notice in a big way. Miller was a female voice talking about all the “stuff” we women are interested in, and she wasn’t using sports references or war jargon – target, indeed!

Miller talks the marketing to women talk on her blog, WonderBranding, with a clear focus on what’s important today, not on the ancient history of the pre-social media world. She’s big on discussing women’s proclivity for trying new things, for building community, and for delving into the traditional man’s world of sports and video games – and even home repair. In October of 2007, Miller was interviewed on CNBC, discussing Home Depot’s new National Do-it-Herself Workshops

“Women are responsible for or at least influence $.83 of every dollar spent in the U.S.,” Miller noted in the CNBC interview.

Old news, to be sure, and a quick visit to Home Depot’s website, following the link to their Home Depot’s Do-it-Herself Workshops, reveals that they may be approaching women home-remodelers with inviting content, but they’re not engaging in Web 2.0. The conversation is totally one-sided. Which leaves me wondering, “What are they thinking?”  Recognizing that women are interested in tools and remodeling these days, is only half the battle. The other half is engaging them in conversation, the real give and take that a blog or blog-like platform offers. Hello, paging Home Depot.

Today, women the country over are involved in the health of Mother Earth. That leads us to Toby Bloomberg, another woman blogger who talks marketing. In a recent post on her blog she asks, “Can Women Change the World through Social Media?” citing these stats from The Women’s Congress website:

FACT: Women influence 95% and make 85% of all consumer buying decisions.*

FACT: By the year 2010, women will control 60% of wealth in the U.S.*

FACT: Women-owned firms are growing at nearly twice the rate as firms as a whole.*

FACT: America’s 9.1 million woman-owned businesses employ 27.5 million people and contribute $3.6 trillion to the economy. **

FACT: Female entrepreneurs account for 70% of new business start-ups.*

FACT: Women comprise 46% of purchasing managers and 58% of wholesale and retail buyers.***

*Center for Women’s Business Research

**U.S. Small Business Administration

***U.S. Department of Labor

This, then, is the answer to that nagging, long, lamented “what do women want” question: visiting women bloggers and engaging with the women who visit your website. Web 2.0 has delivered on its promise by giving women the freedom to talk – openly and without worry. It goes to the concept of wanting “more”: more reality, more connections, more recognition; more respect.

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