With the women’s market in particular, there are strategic nuances we need to address to stay competitive. For example, how do brands whose market is women or who provide services (i.e., marketing services) to companies targeting women assure they keep the pulse, maintain voice, stay the course with women?
First is assembling the right team. I am a firm believer in creating a women’s advisory board to support management. It’s important to work with women from different parts of the business world and with a diverse array of experiences so that you don’t run the risk of inbred points of view that are similar and certain. Media is changing quickly and profoundly, thanks to everything from technology to consumer engagement and usage habits — so it’s important to share knowledge and, more importantly, to listen to other people’s knowledge and experience.
Assemble this group and then collaborate in a way that draws out the mix. For example, prior to each meeting with my advisors, I send out a note with particular challenges that I’d like to discuss at our meeting. I provide the background for the challenge so we can have a meaningful discussion. Members follow up with their thoughts after the meeting. This creates an ongoing dialogue and an environment of real sharing from direct, personal exposures.
Research is critical to our business, but it is just the beginning. It must be vetted. There is an endless amount of reading material in the marketplace about women and media – and charts and graphs galore. Confirm that you are reading sources that you trust, and that you identify exactly how the research was conducted. Was the research group a good proxy for the target you are trying to understand? Is it based on quantified facts or opinions? We can all find research that contradicts other research. You need to have an educated perspective on which research truly reflects reality.
Research alone is not enough. Intuition is critical. But intuition is not magic. We develop intuition by encounters, exposures and experiences. The collection over a career allows us to quickly assess a situation and know the answer or the best path to take to solve a problem. My team and I have a set of experiences with many media properties that have given us the intuition to know what media property will work for a client’s particular issue. Intuition is so vital that we should cultivate an environment that supports it. Just as we support professional development, training and other by-the-book practices, we should lead our teams to listen closely to their own experiences and apply what they learned from them.
It’s essential not to regard any of that as one big formula. It’s not black and white. If we attend thoughtfully to the strategic areas discussed here and listen in these vital ways, our companies can thrive for the long term. Success today is not just about winning the most business. It’s about growing and sustaining it by listening to the market so that all involved are rewarded and absolutely blown away and delighted by their work with us: management teams, staff, clients and partners, all.
Bonnie Kintzer is CEO of Women’s Marketing, a consulting firm working with brands targeting females.