Jane is a complicated creature. Psychologists, psychiatrists, even Moms, and Dads, have been trying to figure her out for hundreds of years. Each time one of them reaches that, "Aha!" moment, thinking he or she finally has the answer to why Jane wears the clothes she wears, pierces different parts of her body, wants to go barefoot all winter long, insists on never having her hair cut, insists on cutting her hair so short she looks like a bad imitation of a guinea pig, and on and on...Jane goes and does something outrageously inconsistent to her reputation.
That description sounds like a teenager, but, in reality, it's a simple description of a woman...of any age. If there is one phrase that describes a woman better than any other, it's the one that says, "it's a woman's prerogative to change her mind." Merriam-Webster's calls prerogative a "distinctive elegance." And so, it is. Jane's distinctive elegance to change her mind is part and parcel of her shopping attitude.
For, instance, when Jane goes shopping--online or off--she is as intent upon her purchase as a squirrel looking for a nut in its favorite front yard. Like a squirrel, Jane is not content to remain in one place to find what she's looking for; she needs to stroll through the mall, or click through several websites, before actually finding what she wants. Even when she has a particular store in mind, she will often visit two others before finally handing over her cash. She does this online, as well as offline. Shopping online is convenient because she can do it in her slippers, but the women who filled out my survey last year indicated, 10-1, that they prefer choices...each one identified one particular website as her favorite, but admitted that the Internet just makes it easy to shop around, and so...she did. Both of my daughters, members of the Gen X clan, find it more satisfying to shop around online, than off.
On the other hand, I usually visit two or three sites I know and trust, and if I can't find what I want at one of them, I wimp out and buy something at Amazon.com. Books, I decided many years ago, are good gifts for any occasion.
If you want your site to be one of the one's I stop at, or one of the one's that gives my daughters and all the other Janes online, pause, here are some interactive ways to command more of Jane's attention, and possibly, more of her dollars.
1. Video clips. It's easier than ever to have a short, compelling video of yourself or a spokesperson greeting each visitor to your site. Michele Miller, on her blog, WonderBranding, has just such a video clip. It's a better introduction than a picture, and more engaging than any call to action, or web copy. Visit Barry Alt's site at A2ZEDS and Jim Dennis's site at Online Video Intro to learn more about how you can add video clips to your website, as an introduction, as a 'virtual' salesperson, or merely as a hostess greeting guests into your world.
2. Webinars. Nary a week goes by that I don't get an invitation to a webinar. If I wanted to, I could attend webinars all day, every day...become a professional webinar attendee; if there was money in it. Maybe I could hire myself out to give impartial feedback to the companies giving webinars. Probably not. Webinars are interactive online workshops, training sessions, or seminars, designed to provide attendees with information on a particular topic or company. A Google search turned up 471,000 results for the term 'webinar.' I clicked on an adword link and found this site, KRM Information Services, which impressed me with it's tagline: "Giving Great Minds a Hand." I have no idea if they are good at what they do, or not, but when I'm ready to develop a webinar...probably on how to write a book...I'm going to call them first. Point is, Jane likes learning. Teach her something using a live presentation via interactive web-based technology. It will help her remember you and may stir her to invite friends to your next presentation--as long as you remember it's about her, not about you.
3. Surveys. When was the last time you asked a woman her opinion and she declined to give it? Never. When I get my newsletter from Womans-net every month, there is always a survey in it. I'm asked my opinion on any number of subjects, and if I participate in the survey, I'm often eligible for a prize. Sometimes the prize is a product or service from the company sponsoring the newsletter, sometimes it happens to be branded merchandise from the womans-net portal. Surveys can be easily added to your site using survey monkey,a popular and effective tool even non-technical folks can master quite easily. Another fairly well-known survey tool is Zoomerang. It doesn't take a lot of imagination to think up a survey; right now the air is full of political possibilities, but if you really want to engage Jane, choose a subject that is dear to her heart. Ask her about online security issues, ask her what her favorite low-carb food is, ask her is she thinks low-carb diets are worth trying. If you can't decide what to ask, find a group of women, and ask them what to ask! If you have a serious survey, on a serious topic, you may want to gather email addresses in order to send individual results to each participant, but for the most part, it's best to keep the survey light and fun, without asking Jane for any personal information. Once you have her relaxed and laughing, she'll gladly hang around to shop.
4. Games. Ah...this has been getting a lot of press lately. Dave Wolfe over at Ageless Marketing did a post on women gamers, back on July 17th. As a member of the strongest group of shoppers in the U.S., the baby boomers, he knows whereof he speaks. I found out the power of women playing games online--for relaxation and fun--back in February. Business Wire posted an article noting that women over 40 are into gaming more than men or teenagers. Then, I received an email from Mark D. Burgess who owns a gaming site called v3networks who told me that his primary demographic is women between the ages of 40-60, married with one child, who like to play Bingo, and do so 3-5 times a week for 60 minutes at a time! This report out of Media Daily News describes Jane's gaming preferences to a T: "The average online gamer is no longer an adolescent male. So-called casual games, for example, which are simple card or puzzle games, attract a predominantly female audience over the age of 45." Clearly, entertaining Jane with a game, is a fine way to gain her attention and keep her at your site!
5. Personalization. As petulant as Jane gets at times, she still likes to be recognized. If you can learn her nickname, it means you are counted among her friends. Anyone who has read Dickless Marketing knows that we spell friend: 's-a-l-e-s.' Personalization can be as easy as posting a calendar as seen on the Farmer's Almanac site, which is currently noting that there are only 65 days left until fall! (I love fall! Watching the leaves change color, feeling that nip in the air, snuggling down in my sweater on a Sunday afternoon, watching a monster flick with my fella....yeah, fall is great!) Personalization may be letting Jane design your homepage as her own-- adding her own colors and rearranging your design elements in a way she finds attractive and useful. If that's too technical for you, or too costly, just capture her name and welcome her back every time she visits. Offer her products or services you know she's looked at before, then... tell her how nice she looks today. Amazingly, this small comment, whether in audio or written form, works every time. An old friend of mine, a successful salesman, tells his women clients how wonderful they look--every time he calls them on the phone! Sometimes even Jane is a sucker for a compliment.
As perverse as Jane may be, at any age, she is still out to please someone other than herself, more often than not. This is why she may click on the third Google adword link, instead of the first one...because she feels as if she's giving the little guy a chance. Andrea Learned noted in her blog on Monday that Jane is switching shopping habits lately...not surfing as much as she used to, but instead, going online to get what she wants or needs, and then logging off to go about her day. The convenience of the net allows her to do that. Get her to your site using one or more of the methods above, and she will prove Andrea right...today. Tomorrow, she may revert back to her surfing days. If you want her to stop when she gets to you, employ video, audio, personalization, surveys, and games.
As a last recommendation...aside from the 5 Ways, take cues from other successful websites and bloggers. Case to note: Kirsten Osolind at re:inventioninc is mentioned in this month's Entrepreneur, on the Resources page...giving women bloggers like Jane some much deserved attention. Develop good PR and add it to your site...it works. How do I know? Because last Friday, Dickless Marketing sponsored Kirsten's online soap opera, an on-going drama Jane recommends for your end of the week reading. Good PR all the way around. Find a positive, informative, upbeat friend like Kirsten, and you will be miles ahead of your competition.
What's not to like about that?