Just two years ago, women outnumbered men in the workforce for the first time in US history—and the disparity has only grown since then. With three women earning college degrees for every two men, and more and more women entering managerial positions, we can no longer rely on the same age-old advertising maxims. As women assert more power, marketing to them must change as well—especially in healthcare, where they make most of the household choices.
Building a strong brand with women used to be easier. All we needed was a good story, told well. Television, radio and basic print guaranteed a captive audience who tuned into a schedule of our choosing. But with the advent, growth and maturation of the Internet, marketers were suddenly presented with new hard truths. Emergent media platforms allowed audiences to consume more and more content than ever before, whenever they wanted. They were no longer tethered to a broadcast schedule, or stuck waiting for the local dailies. And with the Mobile Web, even location became a non-issue. Among women, the familiar marketing archetypes no longer apply. We must cater to the modern woman’s role as a key decision-maker by adapting new strategies that are tailored to the myriad roles she might play.
Faced with more opportunities for professional advancement, many women are choosing their careers over having children. In many families, they’re the primary breadwinners. Regardless of whether they have children or not, most women now exercise control over household budgets, particularly over healthcare-related expenses. As a whole, women might present the single biggest influence on household expenditures across nearly every demographic.
While these are paradigm-shifting events that healthcare marketers must address, they also present us with new opportunities. Although we can no longer rely on the simplicity of the old model, we now have a chance to reach women wherever they might be, truly intertwining our brands within their lives. How can we most effectively exercise this reach? Luckily for us, several smart brands have already answered this question by embracing the following three key shifts in marketing to women. Sharp healthcare marketers would do well to study these examples.
Shift #1 – Storytelling to story building
According to NBCU’s Brand Power Index Study, the secret to reaching women is by connecting with them across multiple platforms, giving them opportunities to engage with each other and contribute to the brand conversation. Before launching a new campaign, every marketer should ask themselves the following five questions:
- What is our audience really interested in?
- What ideas can build a bridge from their interests to our brand?
- Why might they talk about this idea?
- How and where can they get involved?
- What will keep the conversation going?
Check out how Nike built an enduring brand by ensuring that their marketing efforts catered to how women used their products. Their website and social media accounts are dedicated to helping women achieve tangible goals, providing exercise and lifestyle tips that cater to the change that they want to see.
Hot Mama is a retailer that provides designer clothing for mothers. They’ve smartly integrated their retail locations with their online presence. They take great efforts to cultivate brand conversations online, encouraging word-of-mouth growth that reflects positively on the company.
Shift #2 – One big screen to many little screens
Once, brands could count on television and a handful of tried-and-true mediums to reach the masses. These days, 70% of people watching TV will also be doing something else—and half of those people will be online. We can no longer count on one big screen to build a brand anymore. Instead, we must model our media across multiple platforms, based on how women live their busy lives.
Although Harley Davidson is often seen as a macho brand, they also know the value of being a very social brand. After all, the one thing that HD owners love more than their Harleys is talking about their Harleys. In order to open up their brand to women, they fully embraced the social side, using their social media accounts to encourage women to learn to ride and host events. The content was spread across several channels, allowing women to share their stories through text, pictures and video.
Shift #3 – Inspiration to aspiration
Branding used to inspire audiences to hope for idealized lives—by buying our product, you too can build a model family, achieve that perfect smile and succeed beyond your wildest dreams. However, in modern times, intelligent branding fuels aspiration by offering the ability to achieve both simple and life-changing goals.
In our campaign for Lutheran Medical Center, we coined a new term—“Womanology”—that empowered women by placing emphasis on their individual needs. We wanted to spread the message that “no one knows women like Lutheran”—that Lutheran knows that women have particular health needs, and that Lutheran can help them achieve their health and fitness goals better than anyone else.
Have you seen any other great examples of marketing to women? Let us know in the comments.