How to Market to Women (Without Painting it Pink)

Marketing to women is not rocket science, not unless you are actually trying to sell rocket technology to a female scientist – then we guess it kind of is. But for the most part, marketing to women is no more complicated than marketing to men. And yet, it seems that both on a societal and cultural level, we in the Western world are determined to make marketing to women as awkward and cringe-inducing as possible.


The Problem

A study in 2016 published on PubMed showed that TV advertising around the globe relied heavily on gender stereotypes – the very stereotypes that fuel so much of the patronizing and low-effort marketing campaigns that are aimed specifically at women.

Businesses who cater mostly to women seem, unsurprisingly, to fair much better in this regard. Victoria’s Secret, for example, know how to sell things for women to women and to do so in a way that doesn’t scream “HEY, I KNOW THAT YOU’RE A WOMAN!”, which is what so much of the usual ‘just make it pink’ marketing does.

But, come on, it’s 2019! In this day and age, we are supposed to have moved well past tired old stereotypes and the needless gendering of products. Marketing to women isn’t just about selling feminine products to women. All of your marketing that isn’t exclusively aimed at men should consider the female perspective. Too many marketing campaigns are still conflating ‘gender-neutral’ with ‘not explicitly female’. The result is that all marketing, except that aimed solely at women, tends to prioritize men.

Redressing the Balance

Whether you’re composing an email marketing campaign or gearing up to record a full-blown TV spot, the same basic principles apply – if you want women to pay attention, then you need to acknowledge them. As we mentioned above, all too often marketers will interpret this as meaning they need to hold up a huge sign saying “hello women”. That’s not what we’re talking about.

Women have often been excluded from history, even when they have played significant roles. This is a pattern that is seen in the world of business all too often; there is still a big disparity in the numbers of men and women attaining senior roles in many corporations. Make sure that whenever you are explaining your brand to an audience, you acknowledge the importance of an equal and inclusive workplace.

No Tokens

If you are putting a female employee forward as the face of your marketing campaign, make sure that it is her achievements that you focus on, not the fact that you’ve managed to employ and/or promote a woman. Simply wheeling out some women and patting yourselves on the back isn’t going to convince other women to choose your business. You want to stay well away from any suggestion that you’re using a woman in your marketing as eye candy. Make it clear that what you value from your female employees is the contributions they make to your business, not that fact that they make you look like a progressive employer.

A Consistent Voice

Naturally, women prefer to shop with businesses whose attitudes they trust. Now that casual sexism and misogyny are frowned upon by the majority of society, businesses have had to clean up their act as entities. Women now have the choice between spending their money with businesses and people whose attitudes they don’t trust, or finding a competitor whose values align with their own.

Now, more than ever before, women are being increasingly discerning about how they spend their money. You need to maintain a consistent message throughout all of your marketing – one that speaks to women the right way.

You need to keep this message consistent throughout every piece of communications with your audience. Let’s say that you’re composing a newsletter, you can use one of these html newsletter templates to take care of the basic layout for you when composing your marketing email, but you need to fill it in with content that is unique to your brand. Consider adding a section to your newsletter specifically about women in your business and the steps you are taking to encourage more women to join. Sendinblue provides a number of other useful tools for running email marketing campaigns. Once you have found a message that resonates, it is worth coming back to organize a more full-throated campaign.

Celebrate Diversity

Finally, above all else, remember that women are not a single block. You cannot make any blanket assumptions about women any more than you can about men. Marketing that treats all women as one amorphous blob is not going to resonate with them.

Obviously, no individual piece of marketing can cater to all women simultaneously, so make sure that your marketing considers the women in your target demographic. We’ve written before about how working with outside agencies can improve your digital marketing – if women aren’t represented in your marketing department, it might be time to look outside your business for a more diverse team.

Marketing to women doesn’t require any mysterious dark arts; it’s just a case of resisting the obvious and being mindful of the detail. If this is all making you realize there is a significant gender imbalance in your business, now’s the time to do something about it.

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