Author to marketers: It’s time to meet needs of female entrepreneurs

By Geri Stengel, Forbes contributor

Look out marketers, there is a revolution coming! Women with money, power and influence are tired of having their needs ignored. Consumer-product companies don’t seem to get it and business-to-business vendors are even more clueless.

Faith Popcorn, futurist, author of “EVEolution: The Eight Truths of Marketing to Women” and founder and CEO of marketing consulting firm, Faith Popcorn’s BrainReserve, thinks there’s a huge pot of gold waiting for companies that meet the needs of women entrepreneurs. No surprise, I couldn’t agree more. A vast majority – 79 percent — of women will try a brand that supports women-owned businesses, according Women’s Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC), the leading certifier of women-owned businesses that sell to corporations and large government organizations.

Which should worry some marketers because products and services are coming that will make it easy for women to measure your treatment of them and allow them to take action. Right now, these tools geared to consumer purchasing but B2B is coming fast; forewarned is forearmed.

BUY UP Index rates parent companies of consumers’ favorite brands on gender diversity in the boardroom and C-Suite, workforce practices (such as maternity leave or flexibility and leadership programs), philanthropy and corporate social responsibility, and advertising and marketing that portrays inclusiveness. An app is on the way so consumers can check corporate brand ratings when shopping. Top companies can reach out through the app and send special promotional offerings. Consumers can easily complain to — or stop buying from — poorly rated companies.

“It’s crucial that marketers and employers understand that the male model of the past does not and will not work for women,” said Popcorn. “Women are angry and they’re not going to take it anymore.”

It’s business 101: Meet the unmet needs of a growing market segment

Of course, smart markets won’t fear the revolution. They will embrace it and recognize that if they meet the needs of this market, they will be rewarded with the loyalty of women entrepreneurs, who already represent one in three businesses. Increasingly these women-owned businesses are high-growth, known for their loyalty and for sharing with others which brands they love or don’t love.

Women have different values than men, and they approach money and work differently.

“For women, it’s about worth and purpose. You need to appeal to their higher-level needs through the unique lens of EVEolution.”

— Faith Popcorn

  • Recognize that for women entrepreneurs, life is 24/7 or, as Popcorn likes to say, 25/8. They don’t have one job. They have two – business and family. Change your service paradigm. Don’t ask women to come to you, go to them, such as when documents need to be signed, advises Popcorn.
  • Ensure strong relationships by matching the personality of the entrepreneur with the relationship manager.  Women want one person who is accountable. When something goes wrong – and even with the best products and services this happens — women want to know that someone will show up to fix the problem.
  • Find ways in which ways they are clanning — forming a group around a common interest — and reach them that way. Examples of clanning groups for women entrepreneurs – Ellevate, Springboard and Women Presidents’ Organization.
  • Don’t just talk to them at the business level have a larger conversation, one in which you take into account their personal lives.

Marketers, even B2B, need to personalize their messages to women entrepreneurs and speak to their lifestyle. “All companies should embrace that women’s whole lives need attention and support,” said Popcorn. “Companies need to talk to and support women.”

  • When Hillary Clinton ran in 2008, she hardly touched on women’s issues, but this time around equal pay, maternity leave and female empowerment are key issues in her campaign.
  • Companies, like Always, are teaming up with nonprofits to address issues women care about, such as distributing sanitary pads to women and girls in Africa so girls don’t miss school when they’re menstruating.

Women are in the early stages of defining what it means to run a business on their terms. In the past, women succeeded by playing the male game. Corporations can play a role in helping women define how they want to do business and support new paradigms, advises Popcorn. For sure, the new framework will be fair, flexible, family friendly, fiscally/financially successful and fun, she continued.

How women entrepreneurs can take advantage of each other

“There’s a special place in *** for women who don’t help other women,” Popcorn cites Madeline Albright. Women may not have all the money, power and influence that we deserve, but we have enough to start making things happen for each other. As “Stand Out In The Crowd: How Women (and Men) Benefit from Equity Crowdfunding” shows. Crowdfunding is the one financing option that allows women to perform equally if not better than their male counterparts.

To ensure even greater success, we need to activate women’s funder muscle. “You need to woo them and find other touch points and purpose in their lives,” said Popcorn. “It’s also the emotions you bring to it and the larger network of concerns.”

Companies that do this exceedingly well with rewards-based crowdfunding campaigns were Bumbleroot Foods; Dream, Girl; Real Food Blends; and Shebooks.

If I’ve whet your appetite for insights from Popcorn, good. You can join me when she speaks at an Ellevate event on May 12.

This article was written by Geri Stengel from Forbes and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.

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