In B2C She Should Be Both B and C

Throughout my Marketing to Women columns I address one overriding issue (which is not boring you silly, I hope). Here it is in corporate-speak: In developing and implementing your business-to-consumer (B2C) strategy, understand the female C and utilize her way of thinking on the B side.

In less formulaic terms: You need to become aware of the ways in which women consumers think and make purchasing decisions (duh). And you might also want to make sure that you have a woman or two involved in the development of any customer touchpoint for your business.

Since we all know by now that the consumers of most products are women, a prudent marketer, online and off-, will figure out how a woman consumer thinks and will develop products and services accordingly.

Nordstrom Ties One On

Just prior to the U.S. presidential inauguration, the following, somewhat trivial tidbit from January 16’s Seattle Post-Intelligencer caught my eye with its mention of yet another prime example of women’s influence on service development:

Nordstrom in Pentagon City (Virginia) will offer curbside bow-tying for those en route to the inaugural balls in Washington, DC, on Saturday.

“Partygoers can have their tuxedo bow tied by a professional. A curbside shoeshine stand will also be available, and ‘runners’ will gather any last minute items women need.”

(Truly I do not want to be known as the chamber of commerce for Pacific Northwest-based brands, but their stories just keep jumping out at me during my daily media-digesting sessions!)

According to the details of the story, four years ago the Seattle-based retailer, already famous for customer service, noticed an unusual demand on inaugural weekend. Groups of frantic men showed up in the men’s department looking for help with bow ties.

I sensed female influence from all angles, from B to C, on this one.

First the B angle: This incredibly proactive service idea came from a woman. The manager of the Pentagon City Nordstrom’s Men’s Furnishings Department, Katherine Evans, saw the need and figured out how to respond to it most effectively for customers. It’s almost imperative to have the observation and problem-solving skills of a woman involved in your marketing efforts, because she can naturally see and track the things that might be invisible to others — most men and even women who’ve been ignoring their innate talents for too long.

Second the C angle: More likely than not, the wives and girlfriends of these bow-tie-challenged men were the true end consumers of this complimentary service: Voil`, no more added stress in making their dates presentable! And do you think those women will maintain loyalty to Nordstrom? Will they ever! After all, the company made the effort to solve what was a problem for just a teeny percentage of customers (inaugural ball-goers in the DC area) for an event that happens only once every four years.

What Nordstrom has figured out is that as customers, women — whether wives of customers, store employees, or others — will recognize and appreciate anyone who steps in to resolve even the seemingly most trivial problem. Like taking the stress out of black-tie preparations.

Cyberbusiness the Nordstrom Way

The online realm has provided an incredibly effective outlet through which to address some of the most basic, even ostensibly trivial, demands of our culture of overdrive lifestyles, and many women are thankful.

Home-delivered grocery services and electronic greeting cards are just two cyberbusiness ideas that hit the mark by taking a woman’s perspective on what’s important (and yes, even those concepts can hit the skids in the era of dot-gone).

On a more timely note I’ve noticed during this Valentine’s Day season that many of the companies e-tailing candy, flowers, and lingerie are offering a day-of delivery option. That is a small but very important detail for the recipient (it’s not nearly as much fun to have a gift delivered in advance on this “holiday”), and it “ties” into the “Nordstrom way” of ultra-attentive customer service.

I could come up with a few more examples, but I won’t waste your valuable time. What I’d suggest is that you pull a few women into all your product and service development meetings, whether they are your coworkers, sisters, moms, or bridge or snowboarding club friends. The more customer touchpoints they have influence over, the better.

All the really big B successes boil down to the simple needs and desires of the C.

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