One of the basics of marketing to women is that marketing (in the traditional sense), is just one step. You can create a fantastic advertisement or marketing promotion, even incorporate compelling features based on feedback and input from women, but if the experience at the dealership is uncomfortable or stressful, you won't get the sale.
In their book, Waiting For Your Cat to Bark?, co-authors Brian & Jeffrey Eisenberg help marketers understand how to deal with the reality that the customer is in control. They suggest becoming your own customer and going through your own dealership buy process. Pretend that you're a prospect just at the beginning of a purchase, searching for information. What search terms would you use? What stores would you visit? What questions would you ask the salesperson? Then, how does your business line up to this?
Dealerships that want to succeed must take every interaction into account and understand that for today's consumers, it's action not words that motivate. (Especially when it comes to women, who make 80% of the purchasing decisions.)
"The experience becomes the brand," say the authors, "... it's about experience ... theirs" and I couldn't agree more.
According to the authors, like cats, today's consumers are independent, unpredictable, and finicky, but many marketers are still approaching them as if, like Pavlov's dog, all they have to do is create a compelling message to see results. However, delivering an outstanding experience for women is the best marketing of all.
Three Quick Tips
- Be Patient. Women consider how a vehicle is going to fit into their long-term lifestyle before making a purchase. They’re a lot more cautious and careful than men are and usually take longer to make their decision. They’re going to buy a car they’re happy with for years. Refrain from high pressure closing tactics, be patient and don't rush her process.
- Listen. Women buyers like to tell “their whole story” to sales people. Having outstanding listening skills helps build a relationship, understand her lifestyle car buying needs, and create a friendly, enjoyable experience.
- Trust. Women have become nearly every family's chief purchasing officer. She looks for a salesperson who wants to be a part of her buying process, who shares her values regarding honesty, respect, and trust.
According to a study called "Elevated Expectations: The New Female Value Equation," 97 percent of women expect good customer service everywhere they shop. Eighty-three percent buy more when in a store with good customer service. The study also found that 89 percent of women choose one store over another, with similar merchandise and prices, if it offers better customer service.
When women have bad customer service experiences, 80 percent say they will not go back to that store, even if it was just one bad encounter. And 94 percent say they will tell other people about the bad experience.
There is great opportunity for dealerships to raise the bar by focusing on how to improve the experience female customers have and increase their dealership's positive brand image, grow market-share, and increase positive word-of-mouth, both online and off.
Jody DeVere is the CEO of AskPatty.com and a guest contributor to NCM's Up To Speed blog. Jody provides automotive education to women consumers and certification and training for automotive retailers on how to attract, sell to, retain, and market to women.