Transparency Is the Future

Transparency Is the Future

As general awareness of the economic power of women increases , and as the younger generations of women wield more influence in the marketplace , we predict that transparent positioning will become the rule, while visible campaigns will be the exception.

When your brand commits the time and effort to develop products and marketing tactics that serve and reach your female customers most effectively, a transparent campaign results. And, it will likely be received as well as a newly tailored suit. Your female customers will notice you paid attention to their preferences, and you won't need a "for women" tagline to call them out or get their attention.

Transparent marketing is really just good marketing. Using a transparent approach will not only help companies serve the high expectations of their women customers, but in many cases it will help them increase market share with men as well. The exponential result is part of why we see transparency as the future of all great marketing efforts to women.

From the style of information you deliver to the ease of use of your products, the things that resonate with your female customers should be seamlessly embedded into the buying process, providing a streamlined and frictionless shopping experience.

Doing that, your Web site will seem to serve your customers well and attend to their buying needs. Your customers might not fathom why it took you so long to develop, but your brand finally did it ” the perfect breakfast solution for their kids , for example! And, you didn't have to slap "for women" or "for moms" on the package!

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Even though I'd like to have the willpower to buy books solely through my local independent bookstore, I keep finding myself heading to It's like a drug. I love that I can compile a wish list, or easily build up my shopping cart and wait until there's enough in it to get free shipping. And, I'm a total sucker for their recommendations and the reviews by people who've already read the book or bought the CD.

”Ann H., age 37, business journalist

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The more sophisticated and relevant ways that a transparent approach meets customer needs make it so effective for reaching women. By tapping into their actual buying needs and preferences, your brand demonstrates its awareness of women and its value for them as customers. Calling out to women with "for women" products and programs is annoying to many ( especially the younger set), and can even make a new product look dated or less sophisticated.

What's more, in many cases when you market transparently , men will likely also come to realize that they prefer shopping on your site or at your store, because of some indescribable sense they get in dealing with your staff and products. In general, customers may say things like, "It just seems friendly." Or, "Their site is so intuitive, I can get my shopping done quickly." Or, "They make returns so easy and they offer all the products I love."

By doing your homework, you've smoothed the way for fast, efficient and comfortable purchasing experiences for your customers. There is nothing gender- biased about that.

The Keys to Transparent Marketing

Transparently reaching women is all about making great changes in your product and marketing that are inspired by women, but appreciated by everyone. The heart of the matter is providing solutions ” and an industry's gold standard will be those that are intuitive and take the hassle out of buying. A woman 's response to your transparent ways will inspire her to rave to friends , "Why didn't I think of that?" Or, "I can't imagine doing it any other way."

Transparent marketing involves a lot more preparatory research and connecting with your women's market than a visible effort might. Here are a few keys to developing an effective and resonant transparent campaign from the start:


No matter how much you want to, you won't be able to market all at once toward a broad spectrum of ages, life stages or cultures. The more mass appeal you create, the more likely your message will become too diluted to appeal to just those women with whom you need to be relevant. So, force yourself to decide upon those women who will likely be the early adopters of, or best fit for, your product or service. If you start with that narrowly defined but important group , their passion for your brand will attract a wider audience.

A good example of this in action is the yoga fitness movement. The culture and lifestyle around yoga, which originally served quite a narrow niche, are now embraced by a much broader market. The small passionate core group of early practitioners demonstrated the benefits of these health practices and commitments. Now celebrities and aging Boomers are taking it mainstream. Suddenly the yoga culture is fueling the new designs of workout clothes and shoes, the increasing adoption of eastern -inspired religions and practices, and a new awareness and passion for organic and raw food diets.


You've identified that powerful community of focus, so now it is essential to understand what influences it. Two important things to consider as you explore the wants and needs of these women:

A day in their life. Do what you can to learn about their daily routines, common thoughts and regular stresses. What are their motivations and what are their fears? What pushes their buttons ? How do things work within their community? What music do they listen to?

These are some intimate, touchy-feely questions to pose. But this is how you dig deep to retrieve the cues you need in order to form your transparent strategies. Only when you know these fine details of the lives of those women with whom you'd like to build brand loyalty, can you see how your products, services and messages will fit their needs and their ways of learning about things.

A day in their dreams. Shared hopes, desires and belief structures, even more than generational commonalities, bring women together in community and define the boundaries of market segments. For instance, a commitment to organic gardening and an aspiration to protect the environment long- term are both examples of beliefs that can transcend all generations, cultures and life stages.


Go beyond just understanding your market to involving your customers and marketing with them. Instead of getting feedback about a product or program once it is virtually on the shelf (too little input, too late), include women sooner and more often when building something new.


Design your customer experience around those key scenarios or life stages that occur in the community of women on which your brand is focused. Consider how your brand might be positioned to turn up in the doctor's waiting room, in the store aisle or in the mailbox, just as your customer thinks about or needs your product or service.

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defining questions of a transparent brand

Does your brand have personality? Brand personality can come from the sassiness of your ad copy or the voice-over style of your radio ads or even from the founder of your company ” like Suze Orman, who has become her own brand of financial awareness.

Politically correct does not equal a brand personality. There seems to be a myth that the best way to draw more women into a brand is to make it more universal, but this often results in a more bland , tasteless personality. Instead, the marketplace is rewarding brands with more fully developed (even spicy) personalities. You really see this with Gen Yers who have turned up their noses at many of the industry giants (think of how Levi's has been scrambling these past years ) to pursue smaller brands with quirks , sass and attitude. If you want to reach more women, introduce their favorite flavors instead of turning everything to vanilla .

It is also important to note that a brand doesn't necessarily need to have a feminine personality to appeal to women. Some brands are attractive to women because of their more masculine personality. We can think of specific tools, movies, tire stores and liquor brands that have a huge appeal to women which would diminish if they were more feminized. That doesn't mean that those brands shouldn't target women in their media buying and in customizing their service according to her high standards. But they certainly don't need to inject any estrogen into their brand personality to be more appealing to their women customers.

What is your brand's language? The language your brand uses is both an element of brand personality, as discussed above, and also a stand-alone concern. Whether your brand seems to present a more masculine or more a feminine "feel"; whether its design standards employ soft colors and short paragraphs or dark colors and dense text; to whether the copy takes a formal tone or expresses a lot of humor ” there will be many elements and nuances to the marketing dialect you've built over time. All these things need to be integrated to reflect a language that can be heard and understood by your women's market.

Does your brand's language include the voice of a company founder, an industry expert or a key customer? For example, Suze Orman delivers her financial advice in a voice that always seems to come directly from her. In a less obvious example, the sports network ESPN has worked to develop multiple personalities that give voice to their wide range of content. Some companies use animated and drawn characters to lend personality to their brands, such as "Snap, Crackle and Pop," who bring Kellogg's Rice Krispies cereal alive .

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Let your brand's spirit step forward, instead of diluting it in an attempt to be everything to everyone. The danger these days in building a marketing effort to women isn't so much about being politically correct, it's more about the hazards of becoming too similar to the bland campaigns of other brands. When you know what sets your brand apart and effectively present and promote that uniqueness, you'll more likely capture the attention of women and get the buzz started with their friends.


Share your brand's attitude and honestly reveal both its strengths and weaknesses. The community you are trying to reach will appreciate such forthrightness, and that will also help them gain trust in the people behind the brand.

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"why didn't I think of that?" ten products or services that reflect transparent marketing

Ford Windstar: Developed a dimmer switch on the overhead interior light, so sleeping kids could be transported home without being awakened by the bright light.

Wal-Mart: Created an atmosphere of immediate welcome by coming up with the idea for store greeters.

Starbucks: Features cozy chairs for lingering and offers wireless access for an office away from the office.

Bliss Spa: Staff members send patrons handwritten thankyou notes.

Les Schwab: Salespeople run out to your car to greet you and will repair your tires for free.

Sephora: Purposefully displays its selections in an accessible and inviting way and has a high number of staff on the retail floor, so women can easily test lipsticks, blush and skin care products, and feel free to ask questions. Invites you to develop and customize your own lotions and cosmetics, right down to choosing a name and picking the packaging.

Saturn: Introduced the no-dicker sticker price to appeal to women auto buyers .

TiVo: Brought television viewing back under a mother's control (among other features). Now you could record every episode of SpongeBob SquarePants and allow your kids to watch the show at your convenience.

Terry Precision Cycling: Introduced the now-famed women-specific bicycle saddle (it's the one with the hole in it), and then developed one for men as well.

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