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The power of networks

Every day, I take my alloted 30 minutes to surf the web to see what's happening in the world of marketing, communication and of course, marketing to women. Every day, I am (pleasantly) surprised to see the number of women who are really going for what they believe in and the initiatives they take to help other women realize their dreams. Blogs, websites, forums and's all there, if you just look for it! But I often get a little frustrated too...Why are all these initiatives being made by women in America? It's a clear sign that there is much work to be done on this front in Europe.

Today I discovered "StartUpPrincess" - What a wonderful name for a blog that focuses on supporting women entrepreneurs!
And what a wonderful support network StartUpPrincess provides to female entrepreneurs! The blog also features something called(and here's another wonderful term..) 'fairy godmothers'. In the words of Kelly Anderson, founder of StartUpPrincess: "Fairy Godmothers are Women in Business and/or Start Up Princesses that have been successful and have reached a level of expertise in their field and want to share tips and insights to bless the lives of other women entrepreneurs."

Kelly's blog really drives home the fact that in Belgium, we should be making a greater effort to unite professional women - those with experience and those just starting out - to support each other. We should develop a community that helps us promote our businesses to each other and to the community at large. I know that I always try to bring my clients in touch with each other if I think they are complimentary in reaching their goals. Isn't this what creating a win-win situation is all about?

Kudoz to Kelly for her wonderful initiative! Here's hoping that next year this time we in Belgium will have similar networks and initiatives that will benefit women across the country!


Unashamedly Woman

When I tell people that I run an agency specialized in marketing to women, they often think I'm a feminist. And a feminist, I discovered throughout many conversations, is still defined by many people as a woman who 'wants to be equal to a man'.

I would like to correct this persistent misconception about what it means to be a 'feminist'.
It is not about being 'equal to men'. Nor is it about being 'more like a man'. Women are women, and they will always be different from men in many ways, with their own strengths and their own weaknesses.
And no, modern feministic girls don't burn their bras or hate men. That is soooo sixties, my dear!

But the best way to dispell any misconceptions there may be about what it means to be a strong, independent and if you want to add the label 'feministic' woman, is to introduce you to one.... Murielle Scherre, founder/owner of the lingerie label "La Fille D'O". Now this girl is unashamedly woman! No excuses, no nice girl demeanor, no safe and unconfrontational image. This girl is who she is: sexy, daring, outspoken, revolutionary.

Some may find her style just a little too confrontational, her imagery and language just a little too explicit, but I put my money on this: this girl is no doubt a role-model to many generation-X and Y women out there...Mark my words!


The Cluetrain Manifesto...Lest it be forgotten

What I'm about to tell you is nothing new, but if you haven't heard about it yet, it will change your world - guaranteed!

It's a document called 'The Cluetrain Manifesto'. Although it was first posted back in the dark ages (1999) it is still a document that any company executive, marketeer or sales person simply MUST read.

It starts like this:

"If you only have time for one clue this year, this is the one to get...

We are not seats or eyeballs or end users or consumers. We are human beings - and our reach exceeds your grasp. Deal with it."

If you haven't read it:

What makes The Cluetrain Manifesto so relevant - even seven years after it was first posted, is this:
a) It is written from the consumer's point of view - without any marketing lingo, statistics or self-absorbed analysis to block our view. It says what we as consumers (for we as marketeers are consumers too)think and feel about the way in which companies and brands communicate with us.
b) It is the strongest unspoken plea for the power of Word-of-Mouth marketing to date.

As marketeers, we can do, say or package things any way we want to, but if we don't connect with our consumers in a real and believable manner, if we don't make sure that we actually care about our consumers and the society our company operates in, then no matter how pretty our packaging or how slick our advertising, people will tell each other what they really think about the company, the brand, the product,...and it may not be pretty.

We must learn to recognize the unbelievable power of what people tell each other about our brand & product. We can try to 'harness', 'capture', 'influence' these conversations, but that will never really change what people say about us. What we need to do instead is contribute to these conversations - in an open, respectful and believable manner. Only then will people begin to really value our brand.

Food for thought...


A sign of the times...

If ever there was a sign of the way in which women's media consumption is evolving, then this announcement by women's magazine Elle (posted recently on says it all...

Damesbladen: online is beter
De Amerikaanse editie van het wereldbekende damesblad Elle stopt ermee. Althans op papier. De Amerikaanse lezeressen van “Elle Girl” zullen in de nabije toekomst hun blad alleen nog maar op het internet kunnen raadplegen. Uitgever Hachette Filipachi Media US is van mening dat er zoveel verandert in de wereld dat een statische inhoud van een papieren tijdschrift niet meer haalbaar is. Op internet kan de inhoud vlugger en regelmatiger worden aangepast.
Ondanks een goede oplage wordt nu gekozen om de publicatie in de toekomst alleen nog maar online verder te zetten.

Interesting to note is the 2004 research by Insites & The Interactive Advertising Bureau of Belgium (IAB), which noted that 75% of Belgian women "sometimes" used the internet to search for information pertaining to health & beauty products, while 25% did so "very often". In the US, research points out that "86 percent of women aged 18 to 29 were online, compared with 80 percent of men in the same age group"(source:

As 34 year old woman, I can vouch for the fact that, although I have my favourite women's magazines (which I buy sometimes but not on a regular basis), I do however, have my favourite women's websites, which I visit on an almost daily basis., which targets girls aged 14 to 25 gets what young women of today want. The younger female generation is internet-savvy but often still too cash-strapped to buy numerous premiere women's magazines, which makes an online edition of a prestigeous magazine such as Elle a worthwhile spot to visit to get all the latest in gossip, fashion and all the other things a girl's heart desire!

Take a look at


Car shopping: To Buy or Not To Buy

Shopping for anything related to cars fills most women with a sense of dread. Venturing into a territory wrapped in incomprehensible technical mumbo-jumbo, when all you really want is a good-looking, safe, reliable and not-too-expensive car, is daunting for most women.

Having spent the past four months (did you know it takes women on average 17 weeks to complete a car purchase?) looking around for a new car, I've had the opportunity to do my very own detailed field research on the topic. I've learned a lot, and it boils down to this: there is good news, and there is bad news.

Let's start with the good news:
I think most women will agree: things have been looking up lately, and marketing to women has also entered the car sales industry. Sexy little city-zipping mobiles, in-house life-style magazines touting everything from the latest wellness spa in Sweden to the scenic drives you can take in your new car (if you happen to take it with you on holiday to South Africa), even a car designed solely by women for women (Volvo) cars to women has become increasingly sophisticated and slick. I was impressed!

One dealership I visited - and from whom I didn't end up buying a car - upon hearing that I had purchased a car at another dealer in their network, even sent me a very nice letter thanking me for visiting them and reassuring me that I was welcome to bring my new car to them for service and after-sales support. A very nice touch, I thought, were it not for the fact that the salesperson (man) at this specific dealership, was also the person who completely destroyed his expensive german manufacturer's efforts in marketing its cars to women.

Which brings me to the bad news..
Now granted, as women we don't always know too much about all the technical stuff in cars, so the sales people have to explain it to us a few times before we either understand (mostly not) or we simply make as if we understand. The look in their eyes and their body language always tell me they know I don't understand, at which point (mistake nr 1) they turn to my partner to explain it all a little more, instead of re-explaining things to me by linking these technical features to real-life benefits.

But mistake nr 2 really takes the cake.
Glancing down at your customer's chest - repeatedly -while walking her around a car and explaining the latest braking system to her (partner) is just unforgivable, no matter how subtle you're trying to be. She will notice, believe me, and with it you will loose any trust she may have had or any inclination to want to buy from you - now or in the future.

Marketing to women is not something which companies can do only through expensive ad campaigns in all the right magazines, sexy in-house magazines, funky point-of-sales materials or great personalized direct marketing. It also extends to the way in which its sales force treats its female customers.

If companies fail to train their sales-force to understand the mind-set of female customers in relation to their product, fail to teach them about women's needs and concerns in relation to their product and fail again to train them to approach women in an appropriate manner, the most refined marketing to women concepts will continue to miss their mark.