For Shooting Industry Magazine June 2019 Issue by Carrie Lightfoot
Yes, women are different. There are noticeable physical differences we all know and see as soon as they walk through your door. However, there are additional and profound differences that are important to understand to earn their business. To effectively win the trust and business of the complicated creature that is “woman,” it’s essential to recognize and grasp the qualities and traits influencing and guiding her purchases.
Let’s unravel some of the mystery to help you build marketing and promotional strategies to better connect with the female customer.
1. Women are relational, not transactional.
Women are incredibly relational. They live their lives in community with one another and depend on conversation with others to process new information and to make decisions. Communication with women, not talking at women, is crucial. Naturally, this includes questions — perhaps many of them. Some male staff may find this problematic as men are wired differently and generally don’t require as much discussion. Therefore, they can become impatient (or worse, think she’s dumb) and not provide the customer service she deserves.
Questions allow a woman to verify the information received is not only correct and needed, but help to confirm her understanding of it as well. Keep in mind: When she crosses your doorstep, she’s in foreign territory. She needs your help to navigate this strange land.
The Takeaway: There’s no marketing or selling to women without relationship. Take the time to talk with her, get to know her needs and build a relationship. It may take a little more time and patience, but by doing so, she will not only be grateful, she’ll be back for a repeat visit.
2. She can immediately detect an unwelcoming environment.
Women are highly intuitive beings. She’ll know if you “want” her there in an instant. How staff greet her when she walks in and the environment created in your store tells her all she needs to know. Is she acknowledged with a warm welcome and eye contact? Are there products for women prominently displayed? Is there imagery or signage depicting women? Is there a woman behind the sales counter? Although the latter isn’t a requirement for you to be successful with female clientele, it is, however, natural for women — especially those new to guns — to have an instant level of comfort and rapport with another woman.
If any disrespect or condescension, whether in person, in content or in messaging is sensed, she’ll be gone in a flash. (And telling everyone she knows about her experience.) Understanding her need for information, her different style of communication and then respectfully and patiently providing the information she seeks allows her to make her own best decisions.
The Takeaway: Create a welcoming environment both in customer service practices and in the physical storefront. Train staff on the importance of creating rapport with female customers and how to communicate respect by offering the information she needs to make her decisions. Women don’t need to be told what to do; they need to know what they need to know.
3. Women seek empowerment and confidence.
Most women are coming to gun ownership for the purpose of self-protection. This is a new role for women, one historically the responsibility of the men in her world. It only makes sense then, promotions reflect “what” and “who” women aspire to be. The female American gun owner does not respond to sexualized representation or treatment of women. Remember, women are relational; therefore they relate and interact with promotions. If your promotions don’t reflect something relatable, or what she aspires to be, she’ll disengage. When untrue “supposed to be” messages are communicated through imagery and messaging it creates a tough barrier to overcome.
The Takeaway: Always remember “who” your female customers aspire to be — empowered self-protectors! You and your staff play a crucial role in her ability to defend her life (and her loved ones). Make sure she’s encouraged, receives sound advice and the right products to accomplish this. If she’s discouraged after visiting your store or range, she may give up on her quest. Sadly, I’ve heard countless times of this very thing happening. Take this responsibility soberly and remember: encouragement is the pathway to empowering women.
4. Connect a woman’s personal and emotional need.
Women are emotional creatures, and it is essential to connect new information to a personal and emotional need she has. Doing so assists her to understand the “why” something is personally important.
Women are storytellers and relate to faces and the experiences of others to find ways to understand how something fits their individual story. This process allows women to tap into the critical “why I need this” and “why it is important to me” realizations. A promotion to women must engage and invite them to be part of the learning and selling process.
The Takeaway: When marketing specifically to women, the use of testimonials or reviews is highly effective. Also, consider including questions to cause her to discover if what you’re promoting is valuable to her such as: Are you ready? What would you do? Do you have the right gun? Communicate the “why,” not the “what” it is.
5. Women research extensively before making a purchase.
Women are perfectionists — they merely want to do everything the right way! Her self-protection and that of her loved ones is extremely important. She seeks to make the best buying choices possible because her life literally depends on it.
Therefore, she hungers to find the best place to learn and find the right gear. She’s willing to spend hours researching online, talking with others, reading your store and product reviews, and conversing and asking questions on social media.
The Takeaway: Make sure your store has a solid reputation for being female-friendly. Your website should have content and reviews she seeks before the launch of your promotion or campaign. Consider offering supplemental educational information as it relates to the promotion. Do you have content specific to her needs in-store and online? Are your social media pages/website welcoming and ready to receive her?
6. They also budget and buy differently than men.
Whether you want to admit it or not, women drive the family purse. In the U.S., women currently control 51% ($14 trillion) of personal wealth, and predictions have them in control of roughly $22 trillion by 2020.1
If it’s essential and supports the protection of her loved ones and her home, she is all in, including her dollars. Value matters but so does price. Women are savvy shoppers, and it’s vital you not only have the environment and offer the information she needs but the best products at the best price, too.
The Takeaway: If the women of the family are shooting, the whole family is shooting. This means she’s purchasing guns, gear and training, and lots of it. Research the guns and products women buy, become familiar with them and stock them in your store. Provide women-specific courses where she can find the training she needs, without intimidation.
Of course, no two women are the same. Perhaps now you have a better understanding of how women arrive at buying decisions and what they need from you to make them.
Stores and ranges that genuinely want to meet the needs of female gun owners — and know how to speak to and listen to them — will reap the rewards of creating engaged and very loyal customers.