As our girls were growing up, I tried very hard not to speak in gender-specific terms. There were no “firemen” or “policemen” or even “postmen.” In part, I guess I wanted to send a subtle message that anyone can do anything – boys or girls, men or women. The other part was just a feeling that taking on a tone of talking to girls in a language more specific to girls (which I have no clue about) was silly.
I bring this up because I was reminded both of that and of David Ogilvy‘s famous quote this morning as I read about some research from the Fluent people. Ogilvy is known for reminding us that “The customer is not a moron. She is your wife.” You can get the full report here, but the Fluent research talks about how many of us are speaking to our female target audiences and how they want us to do so:
Women overwhelmingly prefer gender-neutral ads. 73% of women say they sometimes receive marketing messages directed specifically to women…74% say they prefer marketing messages to be gender-neutral.
Fluent surveyed 1,443 US female internet users ages 18 and older to come up with that number and the study was designed to better understand the impact of online and offline marketing channels on their purchasing decisions and how engagement varies across different age groups. So while only 26% of respondents said they preferred marketing messages directed specifically to women, almost three-quarters of female internet users said they prefer marketing messages to be gender neutral. A little out of touch, no?
Smart marketing these days isn’t about selling anything. We need to understand our customers and the problem they have which our product or service solves. Explaining that you’re there to help with that – being a resource – is like talking to your friends and not to a mark. Speaking in clear, gender-neutral language is generally how I speak with my friends. You?