BlogHer Business Day Two: Morning Keynote

BlogHer Original Post



Is online technology starting to make women in traditional age band demographics look more alike than unalike? Are assumptions about interest interest and aptitude obsolete? One key thing women in all age demos have in common: They don't want to be patronized. Are marketers falling into that trap?

BlogHer co-founder Lisa Stone moderates this discussion with a trio of experts on women online:

  • Maria T. Bailey, author, speaker and Founder/CEO of BSM Media
  • Ellen Siminoff,
    once named one of eight "Masters of Information" by Forbes Magazine,
    former founding executive of Yahoo! and now Chairman, of Efficient
  • Robin Wolaner, long-time media executive, Founder of Parenting Magazine and now Founder and CEO of TeeBeeDee

Lisa: We continually hear two things: women are tired of being referred to as a "soccer mom" or a "SATC single." People are also tired of trying to convince people that the Internet is a worthwhile place for marketing spend. How are women using technology today? What are your assumptions? How can we build our businesses with an emphasis on revenue? The Wall Street Journal used the "recession" word earlier this week. How do you leverage marketing dollars in this economy?

Clean out the bad marketing plans and track things that have a very high ROI. In times when it is more challenging to get people to hit the purchase button, you have to really track things. It's a good time for online. People will think about the vanity spending. For your dollars spent, if you are tracking to results, you will find that online is the best bang for the buck.

Know what you're trying to accomplish. That defines your strategy. If you want to get users to your site, if you want to get people to buy something, or if you want people to just know what you're doing. There's SEO, social networking opportunities, branding opportunities. You don't want to pull back in a recession, but you want to know what your objectives are.

So it sounds like you're recommending some aggression?

Ellen: Yeah. Amazon made itself way ahead of all those merchant deals by being the first.

Lisa: If people in the audience have a spend to make, they can actually go after the markets they want with an assumption that because the market is softer, people might be predisposed to be helpful.

Especially right before the quarter ends. Find the salesperson who needs the sale.

Lisa: Robin, can you talk about the boomers.

Boomers are 1946-1964. I'm 1954, and I've gotten really used to saying I'm 53. We have a gazillion dollars to spend. We're now being discovered. Boomers behave just like younger people online with one exception. Social networking is that exception. People like me are trying to figure out how to unlock networking for boomers. Even though it's tough to market to people over 40, if you're authentic, we're much more loyal than younger people. Recessions are great opportunities to establish your business.

If you've got a boomer-targeted audience, do it. Once you get them, they're very loyal.

The Compass survey said boomer women are much more likely to comment. What are the biggest "don'ts" in this space?

Robin: We had a competitor launch earlier last year, and the page said "For Boomers and Seniors" and I thought it was a mistake. Nobody knows how to talk about mid-life in a way that looks forward that doesn't rely on striking a false nostalgic chord. Stock photography was all white hair walking on a beach for over 40. It was not the way my friends and I look. People who create advertising tend to be quite young. People are tending to do very stereotypical images of mid-life men and women.

Lisa: You made a decision to blog your own eyelift. Are people over 40 going to become more and more comfortable with Facebook and MySpace?

Robin: As people become more and more comfortable, people are starting to use their real names and their real pictures. I live my life online and I always have. It's a scary thing in the health area. You're worried about insurability and that. The eyelift -- it's the ultimate TBD. There are no secrets about what mid-life brings with it. Nobody talks about the middle of plastic surgery. They show you before and after.

Lisa: Maria, you are an expert on the hottest group that people are after. Life-stage or life-age for moms? Which is more important?

Maria: Women are customizing motherhood. When you speak to them, you have to realize who they are as a person as while as the type of mom they want to be. Joan Lunden and Britney Spears both have kids the same age. They can become peers at the playmat. There are various segments of moms, and if you aim for the soccer moms, you leave 2/3 of the moms on the table.

You have the ability now to hone in exactly on who you want, instead of just throwing a bunch of money at television.

As a marketer, you want to bring your experience to it, but you don't always want to be your own target. Take soccer moms. People are so excited to put you in different buckets. It's really in how you engage that individual. Sometimes I'm interested in certain soccer mom information, and it's when I'm engaged and when I have intent to purchase. That's when the Internet is very helpful. It's one of the reason search works so well. People reveal their intent with search.

You forget there are a lot of moms and women between NY and LA. 86% of moms don't live in a major metro area. How can you create Wal-Mart in Manhatten? We draw on the things that are closest to us. We draw off the women we know.

Q & A

Q: Grandmothers have a lot of influence over things. I'd like to see more attention paid to moms, daughters and grandmoms.

Robin: According to my research, 30% of grandmothers replicate the brands that their kids buy. Grandmothers ask "what cereal does your child eat? What videos does he watch?"

I think it has to do with disposable income and time. Grandparents are a much softer touch on a lot of things. Grandparent generation is younger and healthier, and that whole group of people have time, disposable income and the desire to spend on the grandchildren.

Q: What offline brands are marketing very well to women right now?

I think Dove was brilliant.

Ellen: Everyone loves Bon Jovi.

I just finished writing about Suave. I think In the Motherhood is a brilliant campaign.

Ellen: Nike and Apple have done a really nice job.

Lisa: Yahoo! recently launched a new site for women called Shine. What do you think?

Robin: I haven't looked at the sight because I thought it was so friggin' stupid to call it Shine. I thought that was so condescending.

Maria: I have looked at it, and I thought why would you launch an online magazine? That's so nineties.

I didn't want to look, but it's a trainwreck. I couldn't believe it. For so many reasons. Yahoo! recognized that it has a demographic problem. They're a sad case study on online brands. Yahoo! used to be a great brand. Talk to any teenage child today, and they don't know Yahoo!. Building great Web sites is about engaging your audience and being useful. No matter what group you fall into, women have trouble when they are grouped.

Q: Can you talk about the change in women today and how marketers could or should be talking with them?

Maria: Marketers want word-of-mouth, but they almost fear it. They think they want blogs and social media, but they think their legal department won't like it. They haven't figured out internally how to do it, because they're so fearful of the voice of women. Women are living what developers are trying to develop for Web 3.0, very customized, very intuitive. We bring whatever technology is not there. We create ecosystems to get to the solution. We're ahead of the curve, and that's why they don't understand us. We're already doing these things offline. That's why I called my book Mom 3.0.

There aren't that many women in leading tech companies. There's never a line for the ladies' bathroom.

Q: Target doesn't respond or talk to bloggers. How is that possible?

If you have a great product, and people want to use it, you don't need marketing. You need to support your marketing efforts, because you will eventually need it.

Q: Why do people not understand that women make every decision and buy every product? Why hasn't this changed?

Lisa: While the data hasn't changed - women control 83% of household dollars - an increasing number of people have realized we do want the vote, we do drive, and we do go online. How do we evangelize past the stereotypes? The marketers don't believe what is going on because they don't do it themselves.

I always ask men if they buy their own deoderant? I've only found one man who has said yes. To the younger marketers in the room: The person who is making the media buy or marketing decision is a young woman who is not necessarily married, she's in an entry-level position, and she's just looking at the numbers. It's all a CPM-type equation. It's up to the older women to educate the younger women about the value of the market in general. Not all CPMs are created equal. If I can work with a blog with an audience of 1,000 women and 700 of her readers are really engaged, that's very valuable. We need to educate people on the value of the eyeballs.

Q: Where's it going?

The trend is toward video. Women are watching up to 15 videos in one session. What women want is a choice in how they consume their information.

Print is growing obsolete. Finding specifics is very important. Magazines were an inefficient way to deliver it. If you're marketing to mothers, make sure you can make it searchable.

The only thing harder than being a mother is being a woman who hasn't had children. Let's talk about women who are childless or childless by choice, who is often stereotyped as the SATC single.

I wasn't aware they are overlooked.

Lisa: There's a bias toward mothers, because they're perceived as much more easy to define, her spending habits have been more researched.

The SATC woman is the classic NYC stereotype. When I think of women with no kids, I think of gay couples (although some have kids) or a career woman. Both of these groups have a lot of disposable income, and both of those groups are ones that I want to reach.

I think real estate companies go after the childless, disposable income female. Certain industries are catching on.

Q: How about marketing to women in business? B2B marketing -- there seems to be a default assumption when you market to business, you're marketing to guys.

The CMO or the marketing position seems to attract a lot of women. A B2B product isn't a gender market, it's all about evaluation tools.

Maria: I'm very passionate about this. Four out of five business started today are started by women. Women employ more people in the U.S. than the top Fortune 100 companies. Talk to people as a woman business owner. Only 2% of female businesses get to the $1 million mark.

Q: Our executive team is almost entirely men, despite the fact that our customer is a woman or a child. How do you break through?

Ellen: The average marriage in America lasts 6.3 years. There are a lot of single women out there. Success breeds success. People want to do something huge. A lot of online stuff got resonance because it started small. That's the great thing about online -- if it doesn't work, take it down tomorrow. People are rational, dollars follow success.

It's tougher to convince people to put things on their calendars with something new when you start so big.

Q: Do you think the same women blogging trends exist outside the U.S.?

Maria: Internationally, we have women doing video blogs. Canadian women are huge online.

Ellen: The Web is growing faster outside the U.S. than in the U.S.

87% of traffic is from U.s. After that Canada, Australia and other English-speaking countries. We also get a lot of traffic from India and the Pacific Rim. Let's not ignore the Spanish language. Blogging is taking off in Latin and South America. We have an editor covering that. Texting was pioneered by Japanese schoolgirls and their mothers. Where true blogging is allowed, it's taking off. Where it's not (China), people are reaching out to people in the U.S. to do their blogging for them.