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It's All Relative - Once You Get to Know Me

Getting to know you

In her heyday, Martha Stewart-- in her perfect world-- was a ubiquitous presence representing a focus on all things female. I was never much of a fan of her decorating, cooking, gardening, artsy-craftsy world, but other women, from all over the world, found her inspiring. Inspiring enough to make her a wealthy woman.

Today, her presence in the news isn't about table settings, flowers, or Easter dinner; today it's about her criminal activity and whether or not she has been dealt with fairly by both the system and the press.

In the Sunday March 14, 2004 business section of my local newspaper, this headline screamed for attention: "Stewart verdict irks some women." I felt a need to comment on this article because it chose to single out one gender--Stewart's gender--and post comments on how women feel about Stewart's fate. The article quoted professional women saying things such as, "...I think women have been very mad at Martha Stewart for her arrogant way of proclaiming how people should and shouldn't live." (Jane Shure, a psychologist in Mount Airy, PA who specializes in women's self-esteem issues, according to the article). On the other hand, Shure went on to remark, "Because she was a woman who was able to achieve and run her own company and build an empire and sit around the table with all the men in the suits, there was a sense of defeat."

Is she being punished, as the caption under the accompanying picture states, "for not being that girly mommy...we want her to be"? (from VP Kelly Simmons of Tierney Communications) Or, are women merely voicing opinions and, once again, being taken out of context because of our gender? And, what does this have to do with Lip-sticking your marketing message online?

First of all, let it be known that I did an extensive search online to locate the link to this article to give credit to all the right people for their work, but...no such link exists. This article appeared in my Democrat and Chronicle, out of Rochester, NY. It was written by Jane M. Von Bergen. Beneath her name, Knight Ridder is listed as the news distributor, with the actual article showing a Philadelphia base. My search on each of these terms, and on combinations of them, turned up nothing. Zero. Zilch. Except vague references to the article. Which only proves that: a) not everything gets posted online, and b) many, many established, supposedly well-designed websites do not have adequate search tools. This article should be listed on several news sites, at least as a headline, if not a full link to the entire content of the article. It is not.

Back to our issue: what does Martha Stewart's plight and its affect on the women of the U.S have to do with Lip-sticking? Plenty. First of all, women are interested in this issue because one of ours is being held up to scrutiny. Whether Martha Stewart fans or not, women everywhere are eager to voice an opinion on her actions and the criminal proceedings resulting from those actions. After all, it could have happened to one of us--and we know it. More importantly, the Martha Stewart story is not over, but it is fast falling into the realm of gossip, where it will command tabloid headlines glanced at while waiting in the supermarket check-out line. Women today do not have the time nor the patience to worry about what happens to Martha Stewart. If you, as an ecommerce site owner try to engage your women visitors with this kind of negative information, you will lose out in the end.

Lip-sticking requires information that inspires, assists, supports, or otherwise enhances the lives of the women who come to your site. Leave Martha Stewart to her fate. Feed us uplifting quotes from positive news stories. Keep your content relevant and focused. Give us value for our time. Irene Hannan, incoming president of Philadelphia's Forum for Executive Women, put it in the right terms; she promotes a focus on the things that count. Things like health care and wage parity. Infant mortality, working conditions, and unemployment. Whatever you sell, you can, with a bit of thoughtful ingenuity, display community spirit and show support for these issuesnow, not tomorrow or next week.

Practice marketing to your women visitors by learning what concerns them. Once you understand their concerns, once you get to know them, and the issues they deal with every day, you can lean into your sales pitch. Without the former, they will not listen to the latter. It's the first step in building trust and loyalty.

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