The Power of Friendship
January 13, 2011
Today I received an email from the M2W (marketing 2 women) conference suggesting I might want to use a "Girlfriend discount" to register - before the end of this month.
I like the idea of a girlfriend discount but the way this offer was packaged has me seeing red. First of all, it would seem that the discount is THEM offering ME 25% off because I'm one of their girlfriends. Truth is - I'm not. I like some of what they do. I promote them occasionally, but I'm not anyone's girlfriend at M2W. Let's make that clear. It annoys me that they assume I'm their girl friend because I receive their newsletter. Really? I guess my idea of a "girl friend" is different than theirs.
Second, the offer comes with the recognition of Jeffrey Zaslow keynoting the opening ceremonies by discussing his book, The Girls from Ames - A Story of Women & a Forty-Year Friendship. Not having read the book, I will reserve my comments for the email push and not the book.
Here's my problem - Jeffrey, according to the email, is going to "show marketers how female friendships influence every aspect of their lives." Isn't that nice of him? I wonder how he knows this. Oh, probably from research for his book. Probably from talking to women. Probably from realizing that women control everything (forget the 85% rule - please, women make the world go round) and that marketers are still misinterpreting our actions, our desires, our shopping habits, our girl-talk, just about everything about us. He knows our friendships are strong and influential because...they are. His 'stories' may entertain me, but they will not move me. (prove me wrong, Jeffrey - send me a book and I'll review it here)
Sadly, a conference dedicated to serving the women's market is proving that THEY don't get us, either! Yes, this is a bit of a rant. I, personally, do NOT want to listen to any man tell me the story of my girl-friend relationships. I don't care how many of women he's talked to. I, personally, want to hear from other women - and I can embrace the opportunity of talking with men in the midst of communicating with those other women - but to be invited to a conference where a man is going to share his anecdotes on how women form and rely on their friendships...is so antediluvian it makes my eyes cross!
Yes, yes, I know... we live in a free world. Jeffrey is free to write a book on anything he likes, including women's friendships and the book may be fantastic, I don't know. I give him credit for recognizing our power and I don't mind his wanting to tap into it by writing a book that gives him opportunity to keynote here and there, he seems like an all-right kinda guy. I do object to listening to a man go on and on about a subject he has no clue about, other than via the women in his life. IF he were presenting alongside a woman (a woman co-author, perhaps), or IF the conference were promoting him as a man's voice in a woman's world - with the invitation to share our stories with him and them, I'd be more on board. IF he were part of the conversation, not its leader, I'd be more on board.
My problem is with the people who created this conference, where they share their knowledge of this extremely lucrative market, thinking only in terms of market share and getting folks in the door. They clearly have left behind all understanding of the women in the market. I am left wondering why, In their ultimate wisdom, they could not have found a woman to do the opening keynote? Even a somewhat unknown woman who could share real stories - personal stories - with names and places? (no doubt Jeffrey has 'real' stories - but they're secondhand now, aren't they?)
Couldn't this big, established conference have tapped into the market they serve and given the likes of Toby Bloomberg a call? She knows more about girlfriends and how friendship works than Jeffrey ever will, no matter how much research he does! (Toby is launching an outstanding group of talented women -- yes, I'm one! -- in a new group online - it's going to be fantastic! stay tuned!)
Why haven't they tapped into the women of Blogher (really, how do you market to women today and not include them?)? Or, my friend, Maureen, who launched The Moxie Exchange recently?
Ah, I could go on and on. The number of talented women able to speak to this topic is endless. M2W, get out of your own way and embrace your prime purpose - to serve the women's market. Create a database of great women speakers and invite men to join the conversation, not lead it.
Thank you, Yvonne! It's about time someone stood up and called out (male) marketers who think they know more about women than the women themselves.
Posted by: Serena Kovalosky | January 15, 2011 at 06:54 PM
@Dina I love a good rant too and Yvonne brings a smart perspective to this issue. It feels odd to me also to have a man "teach" me about friendship among women especially at a conference targeted to women. It might have been a different story if the topic were about market segmentation; however, it's not positioned that way.
Yvonne thanks for the tease about our soon to launch new community!
Posted by: Toby Bloomberg | January 15, 2011 at 09:17 AM
I love a good rant in the morning- thanks! And, I'll be sure to take your advice to heart about marketing to women authentically when my site launches.
And, hey, you just created a new service to offer- a womens speaker bureau. I'll raise my hand.
Thanks for speaking your mind.
Posted by: Dina Eisenberg|Speak Up Powerfully | January 14, 2011 at 11:10 AM
And - are they paying this keynote? If so, they their giving money AND PR to a man, instead of a qualified WOMAN.
Interesting - there are two MEN on their Conference Leadership Committee...
Three of their six speakers for the event are MEN....
And - I'm with you on the girlfriend thing...
Posted by: Veronika Freeman | January 13, 2011 at 06:11 PM