Cleaning & Restoration Association News

Connecting with Women Customers

March 1, 2007
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I was invited to attend a luncheon of the Middle Tennessee Flooring Association the other day. The guest speaker was Brian Warren with Mohawk Floor Care, and his topic was “Branding Your Company.” Although he was talking to flooring retailers, his message could have easily been directed to professional cleaning companies as well.

He asked the audience who they thought their residential “target market” was and, after several wrong guesses from the mostly male audience, he quoted some very interesting statistics:
  • Who makes the buying decisions? Women, 93 percent.
  • Average income of those buyers? $70,000-plus
  • Average home size? 2,500-plus square feet
  • Age? Over 45 years.
  • Education? College degree.
  • Work outside the home? Yes, or did at one time and are now retired.

As I jotted down a few notes, I realized that those are the same consumers that professional cleaners should be targeting in their businesses. When I owned my business, these customers most definitely were my target market.

Are you aware that by 2010, women are expected to control one trillion dollars, or about 60 percent of the country’s wealth, according to research conducted by Business Week and Gallup. Women purchase or influence the purchase of 80 percent of all consumer goods, including stocks, computers and automobiles. Women earn more than half of all accounting degrees, four out of every 10 law degrees and almost that many medical degrees. And more than half (55 percent) of all new Web users are women, according to Jupiter Media Metrix. Even my 80-plus-year-old mother is taking computer classes to learn how to use “the Web.” The solo woman’s market – defined as never-married women ages 25 to 44 – exceeded $200 billion in 2006. And those ladies grow older every day!

Consider tailoring your sales pitch and marketing message more to women. It’s clear that women respond when messages are created to be specific to them. Just look at the difference between TV ads on ESPN and the Lifetime Channel. But please, by all means, avoid being “cutesy” and treat women as capable and professional.

Emphasize information. During decision-making, women tend to gather more information than men do. So throw out some statistics about “extending the life of their carpet investment” with proper maintenance and cleaning. Talk about the CRI Seal of Approval program for vacuums, spotting chemicals and equipment. Mention the new requirements by Shaw that to maintain their carpet warranty, they must have their carpet cleaned by an IICRC-Certified Firm and Technician. If you are an IICRC-Certified Firm, be sure to include the IICRC logo in your marketing. It adds credibility to your branding.

Make sure your woman-friendly message is consistent across your company brand, from the receptionist and the sales force to the technicians in the field and the message on your Web site. You need to communicate the issues and concerns they care about: spots and stains, overall appearance, pet stains, IEQ issues, fabric protection, trust, technician training, and last but not least, the value of your service.

Women’s needs shift rapidly and they adapt fast while moving through ever-changing roles and responsibilities. During his talk, Warren suggested that you describe in 15 words or less why your company is different than any other company. Then, several days later, go back and read your statement from your customer’s perspective and see if it would make you want to pick up the phone and make an appointment. If not, try again! My company’s slogan was “Owned and Operated by Women Who Care.” Believe me, we received calls and business because of it.

Time and again, women buy or hire cleaners based on the relationship they forge with the company (brand) or the service. “If you ignore that as a company, you might as well save your marketing money,” says Linda Denny, a national director at ING US Financial Markets.

“Given the mood these days, women want to talk about the future for their kids, about security and their livelihood,” Denny says. “They want to connect.”

If you haven’t talked to your women customers lately, you better start now. If you allow them, they’ll tell you exactly what you need to hear. But you have to listen!

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