Just Like a Woman to Want Better Content

Recently, a producer from a local television station told me that most of the station’s shows were targeted to female audiences. “Really?” I enthused, nearly jumping out of my chair for joy, thinking TV had finally recognized the incredible marketing power of women.

“Yeah,” replied Mr. Hollywood. “We look for content about people and relationships.”

Hmm. I slouched back in my seat. I’ll grant you that content about people would probably be important (those antelope docudramas do drag on), but is that really providing women with the content that they want?

Let me pose the same challenge to my colleagues developing Web sites: Have you thought much about directing your content to women? Have you really considered the age-old “what do women want?” in the virtual world?

Consider these numbers: Women buy or influence the purchase of 80 percent of all consumer goods. We start new businesses at twice the rate of men. And we head 40 percent of all households with assets totaling more than $600,000. Not bad for us “people-loving” ladies.

So, how do you direct your Web site content to female visitors? Some of the following comes from personal experience. Most is based on the powerful insights of Faith Popcorn’s book “Eveolution.” If you haven’t read it, prepare yourself for an eye-opening report on the 21st-century female consumer.

Give It to Me Straight and Quick

As a mother of two young children, marketing vice president, part-time university faculty member, and fledgling Internet columnist, I know that time is always ticking. And I’m not alone. Most women are multitaskers who crave service and efficiency. Think about that before you force visitors to endure that logo “Flash” dance every time they enter your site. (Note to ScreamingMedia Inc.: Thank you for removing the “screamer” Flash extravaganza.) And for all those with e-commerce sites, guess who’ll be abandoning their shopping carts if they have to wait more than eight seconds for a sluggish Web-page download? Yup, it’s all those time-deprived women out there.

Women Share

The interactivity of the Web was made for women. For many of us, idea sharing and information exchange is our lifeline. If only most Web site developers thought this way. Don’t you want to learn more about your visitors’ needs, standards, and values? Your female visitors will tell you if you provide them with the interactive tools and if they think you will actually listen to them. As Popcorn writes, “Women are very receptive to organizations that invite them to participate in the creation of a brand or product — if they are provided the forum.”

Women Know When You Make The Invisible

All I’m saying is watch your language, folks. Stop referring to your customer as “he” or talking about “the woman in your life” or thinking that “man” or “men” implies your entire community. Unfortunately, I can’t fix that “all men are created equal” business in the “Declaration of Independence,” but I hope I can correct some of the egregious errors made on Web sites. Also, be aware that not all women have families and not all families have men. Single women, as well as single mothers, represent huge — and growing — segments of the population.

Do you need to have Web site content devoted entirely to women? That’s a tough call. It’s probably best to consider the products and services you are promoting. And if you do go this route, please make sure the information is crafted appropriately.

The auto-purchasing site www.Autobytel.com was roundly criticized when it launched “Autobytel for Her.” (A few critics wondered if the site was bringing back powder-puff pink Cadillacs and special lipstick-holding compartments on the dashboard.) But if you go to the site, you’ll find that it includes safety data on popular cars, updates on financing, and special reports on cars that are often purchased by women. It’s usually intelligent information and probably not a bad idea given the booming women’s auto market. (Women now make 50 percent of all vehicle purchases and influence 80 percent of all auto-buying decisions.)

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to go multitask the rest of the day. I hope I was able to efficiently share some information with you all. (Man, ain’t that just like a woman?)

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