In spite of their reputation as communicators and collaborators, women lag behind other small business owners when it comes to using social media and other online marketing tactics, according to Ditch Digital Dabbling: How Small Businesses + Nonprofits Can Master Online Marketing a survey conducted by Ventureneer (my company) and Message Medium.
As a group, women-owned businesses are dragging their feet when it comes to using and building their confidence in online marketing, especially social media. Whether it is fear of technology or not having the bandwidth to juggle another ball in air, women-owned businesses challenges are an opportunity for B2B marketers.
Apply Lessons From Women’s Personal Use of Social Media
When social media first arrived on the scene, women were slow to use them. Yet, today women’s use of social media exceeds that of men. The reason is that social media suits women’s natural tendency to communicate and collaborate.
For the most part, women are waiting for road maps and expert guides. It is a more efficient use of their time to be shown the way rather than to wander down roads that lead to dead ends.
For B2B marketers, there is a lesson to be learned from the way women adopted social media in the personal lives. To reach women-owned businesses, provide maps and expert guides.
Apply Lessons From Marketing to Women Consumers
If you want to reach women-owned small businesses, the rules of the road are no different than those for reaching female consumers: Give them something they need, such as short-cuts for ramping up their own online marketing and visibility. Because learning styles differ from woman to woman, these shortcuts need to take different forms, such as how tos, tips, and case studies and use multiple formats, such as articles, ebooks, webinars and videos.
Because women business owners are frustrated by the amount of troubleshooting that technology-based marketing requires, they are, in a sense, the gold standard for “user-friendly.” If you please them, you’ll probably please all your marketing segments.
For online marketing companies to attract women-owned businesses to their platforms, training and support must be easy to use, clearly show business value, and support connectedness with customers and with other businesses. In fact, women-owned businesses, like women consumers, emphasize vendor quality and reputation.
Those who market to women-owned businesses must be seen as a valuable source of information from third party experts, from peers, and, yes, even from their staff, especially customer service representatives.
Show How Measurement Can Lead to Continuous Improvement
Show women-owned businesses how online marketing can be an investment in their business, not a frivolous add-on. Like other small businesses, women-owned businesses use some metrics to measure their success, but they aren’t comfortable with the concept of trying, measuring, and tweaking — almost in real time.
They want to know how to measure the results of online tactics. They aren’t afraid to look at the numbers; they just haven’t been well informed about how to do so. They know it’s as critical to effectiveness as is time spent.
Open doors to build a following; that following, whether another business or a retail consumer will soon become a loyal customer.
Grow Your Business, Women-Owned Businesses, and the Economy
Women-owned businesses are willing to ask for help and are grateful to those who provide it. They show their gratitude with their purchases.
When women business owners feel confident using your online marketing platform, they’ll tell others. And when they do, there will be an upsurge in usage because women-owned businesses are under-using online marketing. The untapped market is enormous for businesses that become the information source for women-owned businesses.
Women-owned businesses are a large and growing market. There are more than 8.3 million women-owned businesses in the United States, and their growth in numbers is 1.5 times that of the national average, according to the American Express OPEN’s State of Women-Owned Businesses Report .
However, women-owned businesses don’t grow past $1 million revenue glass ceiling of entrepreneurship at the same rate as other businesses. If they did the economy would be humming, according to the Kauffman Foundation, which supports entrepreneurship research and advocacy.
More effective marketing use of online marketing will help women-owned businesses grow … and build long-term relationships between those businesses and the people who show them the way.
Call for Applications: PITCH NYC 2012 (Deadline To Apply: August 31)
PITCH NYC 2012 is an early stage startup competition for technology startups to give the companies valuable feedback and exposure in their earliest days. Competition culminates at a conference to be held November 2012 in NYC. Any web or mobile startup with less than $1M in funding and at least one female founder should apply by August 31, 2012 for the chance to win $25K cash and more!