Being a blogger is a great thing. Writing about marketing to women online and women's issues, is a doubly-great thing. It's introduced me to some truly exceptional writers and thought leaders.
This week I received a note from Kimberly Palmer who writes a column at U.S. News in the Money and Business section, saying, "I thought perhaps your blog readers would be interested in this post on how companies are trying to get customers (especially their female ones) to share their stories more."
As I said to Kimberly when I wrote back, she must have been reading my mind! I've had the same reaction to so many businesses thinking they are jumping on the social networking band wagon by encouraging women to go to this or that URL and "share your story."
Here's some of what Kimberly had to say, "Maybe I'm in the minority, but I don't understand the sudden influx of advertisements asking me to share my "story." It's not that I'm a terribly private person—I enjoy a good heart-to-heart—but I don't feel the need to have one with Giant, CVS, or Home Depot, to name a few of the stores who have asked for my "story" in recent months."
Not only Giant (a grocery chain) and CVS and Home Depot, but the bank (any bank), the pharmacy (any pharmacy), the car dealership, the corner family restaurant...need I go on?
PLEASE - STOP! Word of mouth works on its own level...women talk to each other and if you have a good place for them to chat with each other, they'll engage in conversation with you, too. But, I fundamentally disagree with Marti (who used to be 'Martha') Barletta when she says this about women in general (from Kimberly's article), "...we are fundamentally interested in other people's lives. If the company does a good job, even busy women will make time to go online and share their own story."
Well, not me. I am far too busy to run around the net reading your story or expecting you to read mine. In fact, I don't even want to read your story about your experience at the grocery store, or the closest department store or the ice cream shop -- unless you want to warn me off, of course. Ah yes, then you have something worth my time!
Here's what I think... I think women like to talk. I think we like to share. I think we talk about other people more than we talk about ourselves - at least until we get to know you really, really well. We talk about our kids and our parents and our neighbors...because that keeps our secrets, secret, until we're ready to share.
If you want women to come to your website and talk about their experiences there... share some of your own, first. Tell us why you built your business. Tell us where you buy your products, the things that you make or create, tell us why we're important to you. Touch us where it counts...in our heart.
We will NOT run to your website to share "stories" just because you put someone on TV to talk about her experience buying from you... we have better things to do with our time.
So, thank you, Kimberly, for outing something that has been bothering me for a long time. I'm all about social networking...but it doesn't begin at CVS or the Giant. It begins with you - my friends and readers, my colleagues and family... it begins at home. Find a way to reach me there... and you'll get what you want: my undivided attention.