Everyone appreciates good customer service, but men and women often have different notions of what good service is.
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When it comes to making a successful retail connection with your customers, it’s supremely important to acknowledge the differences between how women and men operate and what each value and need from you. When you’re creating your target customer profile, it’s helpful to assign a gender to that avatar, so you can get your marketing language right.

While men tend to be loyal to specific brands they like, women tend to be much more loyal to good service. For men, traditionally speaking, good customer service means they can find the product they need quickly and without your assistance. The customer service is in the product location and presentation. If you make it easy for them to get in and out with exactly what they came for, they feel respected. For women, good customer service tends to be a much more nuanced concept. It’s how you speak to women that can make the deal or break it. Ultimately, it’s about building a relationship through trust. But as we should know, language isn’t only about the words you use, it’s also about your approach. All too often, the language and approach used to sell to women just isn’t the right fit.

A direct hard sell, be it in your marketing, advertising, or in-person sales exchanges, doesn’t tend to resonate with women. You need to build some rapport and trust with us first before we’re likely to give you our time, attention and our business. Women focus on human cues and more often make purchasing decisions based on the people involved in our transactions, not simply on the product we’re buying. You should know from the start that selling to women is going to take a bigger time commitment from you; both in terms of marketing and advertising, as well as on the sales floor. Don’t see this extra time spent as a negative; focus on the benefits of making an investment in a long-term relationship and the lifetime value of these customers.

Don’t pander to us, or inauthentically claim to solve so-called women’s problems in your marketing language. Learn enough about us to know what we prioritize, and how your brand can authentically fit with our lifestyle and meet our real needs. You must convince women that not only will we find what we need from you, but that we’re also going to enjoy your process and people while we’re buying our favorite flowering shrubs; or find something we love that we never knew we needed in the first place. Remember this when you’re writing marketing and ad copy; product features alone often don’t do the trick. Be sure to also give us a clue about the comfortable and enjoyable shopping experience we can look forward to.

False compliments (even ones you might think are flattering) directed at women consumers just won’t get you anywhere and are often downright inappropriate — especially when they are about our appearance. This dynamic mostly comes into play on the sales floor when sales people want to break the ice or display authority. Let’s be frank: if you have an employee who follows your female customers around in a way that makes them uncomfortable, makes overly personal comments about a customer’s appearance they think are compliments, or is pushy or condescending in their sales tactics towards women, you need to intervene and employ some serious employee counseling.

When building a marketing strategy, make it clear to female customers that they can expect a comfortable experience at your store.
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Remember, approach is just as important as the language we use in sales. Focus on the merits of our project, gardening knowledge, shopping goals, and the experience we came for (rather than how we look that day) and you’ll garner our respect. In fact, I think that training on such matters needs to be provided during new staff orientation. Just as most of your new staff most likely has not been trained specifically on phone manners before they start, neither have they been trained in the nuances of handling men and women differently and appropriately in a retail sales environment.

Of course, women expect representatives we buy from to be knowledgeable, whether they are male or female. We want staff to engage and share their expertise with us with confidence — but it needs to be offered in a manner that makes us feel respected and important. Not talked down to. Not dismissed. Not uncomfortable. Equally valued.

It’s important to develop trust with female customers and give their concerns your full knowledge and respect.
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These concepts apply whether you’re writing copy for your Pandora ad campaign or helping a customer in person on the sales floor. You’re not just selling to us, you’re developing a relationship of trust. Since women tend to approach shopping more like a journey, rather than a task that just needs to get done as fast as possible, the last thing you want to do is rush, disrupt, or terminate that journey with an approach that leaves us feeling devalued, disregarded or disrespected.

Leslie (CPH) owns Halleck Horticultural, LLC, through which she provides horticultural consulting, business and marketing strategy, product development and branding, and content creation for green industry companies. lesliehalleck.com