Talk Girly To Me
Tips on Talking to Women in Copy (and in Life)
The first step to writing good copy is knowing your demographic. To me, that’s always been the fun part, the real part, the good part — the part where creativity meets purpose and, if you’re lucky, sparks a passion. Then, and only then, you have it. You have your voice.
This, of course, is never easy. And it can take some work, real work, the kind that keeps you up at night reading research deck after research deck and cutting your yoga class short so you can type tagline ideas into the message app on your phone while your fellow yogis bask in savasana.
Some of the very best brands for women are the very best brands for women because, quite simply, they get women.
So what’s your demographic? Before you start studying the subtle yet key differences between the hipster, the millennial and the yuccie, consider this: Your demo is likely a woman. Yes, a woman. By no means a niche demographic, it is women who make more than 85 percent of the consumer purchases in the United States. It is women who are making the majority of purchases, from food (93 percent) to vacations (92 percent) to automobiles (65 percent).
But while women are dominating purchasing decisions, the ad industry isn’t keeping up. Only 3 percent of all creative directors are female.
“Can you imagine starting a company in a foreign country and not having anyone who spoke the native language on your team? Of course not.”
I love this quote from Manish Chandra, CEO and founder of Poshmark. It’s what he told Rachel Gillett for her Fast Company article “What Leaders Who Get It Right Know About Marketing to Women.” Chandra also acknowledged that the key to connecting with his female customer base is understanding women.
“If you want to build a company that caters to women, you have to truly understand their needs and wants in order to effectively address their problems and pain points and build real solutions,” he said. “What better way to ensure this than by having female leaders in your company?”
I’m all for that (and totally blowing up that discouraging 3 percent stat), but a copywriter, a good copywriter, should be able to write for diverse audiences. (Confession: I once watched hours and hours of famous locker-room speeches to gear up to write a very well-received rally cry and positioning statement for a men’s clothing line.) So how do you talk to the all-important female demographic, female or not? Here are my top tips. Coincidentally, most of these also work for real life as well. So, men, take notes.
1. Friend Me
Some of the very best brands for women are the very best brands for women because, quite simply, they get women. They understand our needs … and our wants.
Take, for example, Britton Marketing & Design Group’s longtime client Vera Bradley. This is a company built around the mission statement “To Be a Girl’s Best Friend.” Vera Bradley’s products have always celebrated function, fun and friendship. The storyline draws me in, but it’s more than plenty of perfectly placed pockets that has me going back for more. It’s a sense of sisterhood.
The brand has really embraced that unique characteristic this holiday season with the introduction of Dashing Darla, a “friend” of Vera Bradley who is making spirits bright for unsuspecting fans everywhere. The surprises are sweet and the stories memorable.
@CynthiaMarieRod So sorry to hear your day had a low, that's why I'm gifting you a Vera Bradley throw! DM me for details!— Dashing Darla (@Dashing_Darla) November 2, 2015
2. Inspire Me
But there are lots of ways to be a good friend. And one of them is to encourage and inspire.
Empowerment marketing works because, well, it feels good, really good, to have someone cheering you on for a change. As women, we have so many roles and responsibilities. We are caregivers. And employees. And moms. We are friends, lovers, daughters, sisters. We are the finders of lost dollies and the keepers of magical dinosaur Band-Aids. We rarely find time for ourselves — or even an “attagirl” — so if that’s what you’re selling, tell us. It might just work.
The first step to writing good copy is knowing your demographic.
BMDG wrote about some of its favorite empowerment marketing campaigns in 2014, the year that saw brands like Pantene (“Not Sorry”), Under Armour (“I Will What I Want”) and Always (“Like a Girl”) embrace the storylines that made women the much-deserved heroine.
Need some inspiration? Check out the amazing copywriting in this digital spot for Dick’s Sporting Goods. By no means is Dick’s a company that targets only women (in fact, this video series included ads for men, too), but the copywriter certainly nailed marketing to women with this copy.
3. Show Me the Love
Women love a good love story. Real ones, made-up ones, gushy ones and far-fetched ones. If you have a love story, please, share it.
When you find something that works, don’t give it all away at once. The key to any long-term relationship is keeping that special “spark” alive.
The love doesn’t have to be romantic love, either. As women, we experience lots of different kinds of love, and each one is powerful. One brand that got this totally right is Pandora last Mother’s Day. They created a video experiment that quickly went viral. In it, six children are asked to identify their moms while blindfolded. Every kid gets it right, as did Pandora with its closing tagline: “ All Women Are Unique. Celebrate the One in Your Heart.”
“The commercial works so well because the emotional sweetness of the moment aligns conceptually with the product,” Mike Whitney wrote in his article for Business 2 Community.
So if you have a love story, or are part of a love story, share it. It might just make us fall in love with you.
4. Make Me Laugh
When it comes to what women are looking for in a potential partner, a sense of humor almost always tops the list. A 2012 study characterized a “sense of humor,” along with “fun-loving” and “playful,” among the most important traits in a long-term partner.
The results explain “why humans continue to play throughout their lives, while most other animals stop doing so when they reach adulthood,” researchers told Nick Collins, science correspondent for the Telegraph. “Playful behavior may provide an evolutionary benefit by displaying desirable qualities such as non-aggressiveness or youthfulness,” he wrote.
By no means a niche demographic, it is women who make more than 85 percent of the consumer purchases in the United States.
And again, the parallels into marketing continue. Just like a sense of humor can make a woman look twice at a man, it can do the same thing for a brand. Don’t believe me? Well, look at the Loft.
This fall, the brand, known as a bit staid, and a lot matronly, partnered with funny girl Busy Philipps for a series of downright charming videos that made me (and a whole lot of other women) shop Philipps’ adorable “First Day” look.
The video spots were part of a strategic digital effort. Over the last year, the Loft has been (ever so smartly) using charming, quick content to woo millennial women.
“Philipps joins the ranks of comedienne Whitney Cummings and internet personalities, including SRSLY girls and Hot Mess Moves,” Kristina Monllos reported for Adweek. “And, in June, the brand got a shout-out from Girls star Lena Dunham, who asked, ‘Must I now stop making Ann Taylor jokes?’”
Yes, Lena, we think so. Any brand that can make us laugh that hard is a keeper.
One small caution when trying to be funny: It’s imperative you never cross the line into creepy. Yes, Bloomingdale’s, I’m looking at you.
5. Keep Me Coming Back for More
When you find something that works, don’t give it all away at once. The key to any long-term relationship is keeping that special “spark” alive. So keep good content coming. I know my Kate Spade wish list keeps growing and growing with every new installment of Anna Kendrick’s holiday Missadventure on KateSpade.com. Why? It’s real, it’s funny, and it makes me laugh (we even wrote a blog about this perfect co-branding marriage). It makes me want to be part of something, and as a copywriter, that’s your goal.
Empowerment marketing works because, well, it feels good, really good, to have someone cheering you on for a change.
At the end of the day, it all comes down to creating a connection. And that, dear copywriters, can be done a million ways. Just remember your client — she’s one in a million. If you make her feel that way, you’ve done your job.
Photos/Videos: Shutterstock and YouTube