We hear it all the time, not just in banking but in all industries – we need to market to women; women are the key-decision makers; women are the fastest growing demographic in, insert category here – business ownership, action sports, football viewership.
So why, if businesses need/want to connect with women, do so many do such a terrible job?
Take for example the current controversy brewing at Interbike, the “largest annual gathering of the bicycle industry in North America.” With the bicycle industry and advocates looking for ways to welcome more women customers, and increase sales of women-specific products, one has to wonder who made the decision to include socks with bikini-clad women in the gift bags.
As one who is married to someone in the bicycle industry, there are times when the marketing and communications reminds me of the “bad old days” of car shows and automotive advertising. (Don’t get me started on the commentary that is shared during bicycle races about “the wives and daughters coming out to support the men.”)
Think these sexist messages are limited to only “specialty” markets? Think again – just look at the last Super Bowl for several super sexist advertisements.
Not all communications are so blatantly offensive – sometimes they are just silly. Take for example the flyer we received recently for a Women in Business publication:
The image above was probably not selected because someone thought “now this is what women in business look like,” but instead it was easy, it was pretty or because it was available.
The problem is it is also thoughtless.
And that is where we, and by “we” I mean marketers, industries, and individuals, have to do better.
We need to stop relying on tired cliches and old stereotypes. We need stop using sex and other overused methods that “sell.” We need to stop taking the path of least resistance with worn out messages. We need to stop being so thoughtless about the messages we are sending, and the environment we are creating.
Instead we need to create messages that are supportive of everyone – not just women.
Not only is it good business – it’s just a good idea.