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Marketing to Women

Women hold an immense amount of buying power, driving an estimated 70-80% of all consumer purchasing decisions. Yet research shows that 91% of women believe advertisers don’t understand them.

Market to women

At refine+focus, we’ve worked with both large and small brands to help them succeed at marketing to women. The catch? It’s not just about marketing to women—it’s about marketing to a specific customer segment that you’re trying to target. Our experience has taught us that it all boils down to listening and learning.

Via Unsplash

tips to get started

Be authentic. According to Forbes, “Brands that integrate real women’s stories into their messaging in an authentic way have the best chance of making an impact.” Create messaging that resonates by using the voices of everyday women to tell real stories. Letting them speak in their own style and voice will help you avoid delivery that feels too commercial. 

Avoid generalizations. “Shrink it and pink it” won’t cut it anymore. Harvard Business Review found that there are six key female consumer segments, most of them based more on behavior than age. Many women are not mothers, don’t have husbands, work full time—in other words, exist outside of stereotypes, and marketers would do well to target them specifically. 

via Harvard Business Review

Segment further based on demographic and psychographic background. Market considering intersectionality—categories like home life, schooling, roles at work, and caregiving are all facets of a woman’s life, not to mention race, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, and sexual orientation. Show the complexity and the wide range of situations that women face so that they feel represented at all levels. Check out this great article from UN Women to learn more about marketing positive gender portrayals during COVID-19.

Build women into the product. Women still have trouble finding jeans that fit, yet they represent over $20 trillion in consumer spending and make 70-80% of the purchasing decisions in the household, according to statistics by Harvard Business Review. The design of a product built for women should reflect that, and go even further by considering a particular segment or persona.

Via Unsplash

Use online platforms (particularly influencers). Influencers have an established bond with their followers, and women influencers know how to use that bond to reach women in a genuine way. Find an influencer that aligns with your target segment and allow her to use her unique communication style to market the product in a way that resonates. Another platform to consider is Pinterest, which according to Martech Advisors reaches “83% of women aged 25–54 in the U.S.” On top of that, 71% of users identify as female, making this platform women-dominated and a rising star in advertising.

Empower women holistically, not selectively. Everlane is known for being inclusive in its underwear and lingerie lines, but faces criticism for using typically skinny models for its other products. These kinds of discrepancies don’t go unnoticed—they shape the way that women understand and interact with a brand. Inclusivity and empowerment are more than just marketing for profit: they have social and material effects. Women want to know that a brand is genuine in its approach to empowerment, and they’ll look for it in every facet of that brand. 

Via Empowered Women Series

try it yourself

Ultimately, marketing to women, like marketing to any segment, requires listening and learning. Follow these tips to make sure you don’t fall back on dated and misguided techniques, but approach women as they really are—unique individuals with their own pains, gains, and needs. Having trouble? Check out our Empowered Women Series for inspiration, or shoot us an email at hello@refineandfocus.com—we’d love to help.

want to learn more?

We all know that marketing to women isn’t about “pink it and shrink it.” Yet many of us, especially marketers, are scrambling to understand the best ways to gain insight and develop compelling approaches to reaching women—approaches that are authentic and effective. Check out our latest Live Session to hear Zach and Purnima share their POV and answer your questions on this important topic. From 16+ years of experience, they’ll share what works for them.

Innovation You Can Eat

At refine+focus, we believe in the power of storytelling. Sometimes, all it takes to tell an impactful story is the right analogy.  

It’s a simple tool that can instantly create clarity by bringing together unexpected ideas and spotlighting the connections between them. One of our favorite analogies combines two of our passions: cooking and innovation.

 

Our Story

We at refine+focus are not just experienced innovators—we’re also proud foodies. We love traveling the world to eat, discovering the best restaurants and learning about the unique cultural traditions that inform different cuisines. Most of all, we love bringing what we’ve learned to our own kitchen. 

Via Unsplash

One of the most important elements we bring to the kitchen is our innovation mindset. Our very own Purnima is an accomplished amateur chef, and she uses her innovation skills to craft dishes that often fuse elements from different cuisines. It’s at the point of fusion, where different traditions, practices, and ideas intersect, that unexpected value can be found. That’s as true of business as it is of cooking. 

@oneglobalchef on Instagram

Innovation You Can EAt

All the things you do in innovation can apply to your approach to cooking great meals, and vice versa. Here are just a few ways how:

Planning with flexibility. Like cooking, innovation requires planning. But in both cases, it’s important to embrace the potential to be wrong—you’ll need to make room for change in your plan in order to respond dynamically to the inevitable stumbling blocks along the way.

Test and learn. Both cooking and business innovation are a test-driven blend of art and science. Whether you’re developing a new dish or a new product, you’ll need to go through many iterations and learn from your mistakes along the way to be able to improve your skills and get the results you want.

Via Unsplash

Combining elements. In the same way that standout chefs create new dishes by experimenting with flavors and techniques, business innovators develop novel business models and value propositions by blending original ideas and practices with existing ones. In both cases, it’s the spirit of fusion and experimentation that leads to unique and unexpected results. 

Catering to audiences. Customer satisfaction is one of the most important aspects of both innovation and cooking. You’ll need to profile your audience in order to create dishes and products that resonate with each customer’s unique palate and sensibilities. Their feedback is just as significant to improving your results and creating a memorable experience.

Via Unsplash

try it yourself

By using cooking as a mental framework to think about innovation, it’s possible to open up a whole world of new ideas and connections. It also makes innovation, a term that many find daunting, more accessible and digestible. We hope this analogy encourages you to gain inspiration from unexpected places and enriches both your cooking and your business practices.

hungry for more?

We find innovation in unexpected ways. Last week, we explored one of those ways: innovation in the kitchen. Check out our latest Lunchtime Live session to hear Zach and Purnima discuss favorite dishes, finding new ideas and delight and surprising your audience. Then, discover how this applies to our business & yours.

From Plan to Action

You’ve done the research, planned the plan, and developed a strategy. You’re ready to move into the action phase—and here’s how you ensure your success.

From Plan to Action

Pay attention to the handoff. The people involved in the planning phase aren’t always the ones involved in the execution phase. That could result in misalignment and varying objectives. Prioritize communication between different folks in the project so that all parties have a realistic understanding of the budget, timeline, and ability of the people on the ground. Remember that the baton is best passed when both people are running.

Via Unsplash

Embrace the unknown. Assume that the world is going to change as you carry out your strategy. De-risk your plan by building uncertainty into it and being thoughtful about what’s coming ahead. When you lean into change, you turn it into a positive force and make room for learning along the way.

Keep the big picture in mind. When moving from strategy to action, you might be tempted to just focus on the bottom line. But the strategic context of the plan is just as important as the tactical action steps it outlines. Imagine a good plan as a connected system: it doesn’t just tell you what to do, but provides a map for the project’s greater vision. You formed your plan within a greater context, with a specific goal in mind—now let that guide your execution. 

Via Unsplash

Benchmark your progress. Stay focused on what matters by benchmarking your progress against your strategy. Use it as a point of reference for any new insights you gain from the field, so when you find yourself faced with “What-if’s,” you stay grounded and maintain your clarity of vision. 

Celebrate milestones. It could be a PowerPoint submitted at a particular stage, or a key decision made at the right time. Establishing milestones, whether big or small, will bring people together and create clarity to keep your project on track.  Aim to develop milestones that have momentum behind them by paying attention to their framing—it should be more about bringing things to life rather than checking the boxes.

Via Unsplash

try it yourself

The road from plan to action doesn’t have to be a rocky one. As you turn your strategy into execution, try these tips to refine and focus your process. Having trouble? Let’s figure it out together—shoot us an email at hello@refineandfocus.com.

want to learn more?

Churchill said, “However beautiful the strategy, you should occasionally look at the results.” You deserve a beautiful strategy, that works! Check out our latest Lunchtime Live session to hear from Zach and Purnima on best practices in turning thoughtful strategy into effective execution.

Ask Better Questions

There are generic and overused questions, and there are questions that resonate, excite, and cut through. Asking the right questions can stop people in their tracks and even lead to a transaction or a new business opportunity.

We at refine+focus have seen firsthand the power of a good question to transform and enrich communication. Whether it’s in a business or personal setting, here’s how you can enhance your questions to get the results you want.

 

Ask better questions

Aim to evoke emotions, recall memories, and pique interest. Set up imagery and context that asks respondents to use their imaginations—more space for creativity and consideration leads to more meaningful and unexpected insights. 

Imagine you’re a DJ trying to improve your set. Which of the following sparks more curiosity: “What makes a great DJ?” or “When is the last time a DJ played a song you loved?”

Via Unsplash

Determine your intention. It’s not always the case that the question with the highest response rate is the most valuable—it could be that the one with the least responses has the highest conversion rates. That’s why you need to know your intention before you set out. 

Ask yourself, who is my audience? What’s the real reason that I’m asking my question?

Tailor your technique. Asking a question is the just first step in a series of engagements. Having a conversation with someone is much more about them than what you’re trying to achieve through them. The more background you have on a person, the better you can refine and focus the questions you’re asking. 

Via Unsplash

Our step by step method

1. Start with the result. If you have a very small window with someone, you need to know what your end goal is. Once you’ve determined that, move on to step two.

2. Consider what you need from the person. Ask yourself, what are the various reasons why this person might be inclined to help me achieve my desired result? It might be shared histories, similar backgrounds, or a favor owed to you. Keep this in mind for step three.

3. Formulate your questions. Cater to your audience. What gets them excited? What questions can you ask in this window of time that will get them most inclined to take the end action you want them to take? 

4. Design a sequence. Start with something direct, immediate, and easy to answer. Build off of that as you get more clues about the person and as you build a rapport with them. The order in which you ask your questions is just as important as the questions themselves.

5. Make your ask. Asking targeted and evocative questions will create the ideal conditions for your desired results. Remember that the best answers come from a place of engagement.

Via Unsplash

try it yourself

Questions are the mechanism you can use to get you to a better place. Start collecting questions—the ones that make you think, that ask you to use your imagination, that get you eager to keep the conversation going. 

Create a list of the questions you think will excite your audience. What do the people you reach actually want to answer? What kinds of questions will motivate them to respond? Don’t stop at 5 questions—go for 50. 

These tips may be familiar to you, but we’re inviting you to actually try them out. Let us know how they go for you—shoot us an email at hello@refineandfocus.com. We’d love to hear from you.

 MORE ON asking better questions

Are your questions helping you gain clarity? In our latest Lunchtime Live session, Zach and Purnima go over practical situations from a new perspective and introduce helpful approaches to asking better questions. Learn how better questions lead to better answers, better outcomes, new insights, deeper learning, and more meaningful connections in our latest video.

Tell Better Stories

Not the same stories with more tools, or the same stories on different marketing channels. Better. Stories.

Tell Better Stories

Start with your LinkedIn summary section. Imagine you were asked the perfect question that set you up to tell a powerful story. Try it and answer it. For example, “tell me a story that shows me how much you love what you do.”

If you’re a brand, start with gathering the many stories about you. Discuss what you like about them. Explore them by acting (seriously, act it out) or drawing the story out. Only then see how they come to life with media.

You’ve created a strategy for your brand messaging, but have you created a strategy house for your brand storytelling? Create compelling situations and narratives in which they come to life.

Our brains are preprogrammed to respond to stories. It’s been this way since before the creation of the pen.

You don’t have to create a new story to be effective, simply repurpose one of the existing 7 plot lines: 1. Overcoming the monster 2. Rags to riches 3. The quest 4. Voyage and return 5. Comedy 6. Tragedy 7. Rebirth

Via GoodReads.com

(Source: Christopher Booker, Seven Basic Plots)

One day our team was working on a content calendar for one of our clients. We decided to take one important benefit about the brand, ‘it helps people feel better,’ and we turned that benefit into stories by casting it into the different aforementioned plots: escaping the monster became a journey to run from illness, and rags to riches turned into a story of good luck and good fortune finding the product. This simple exercise transformed brainstorming and list making into imagining and meaning making. The results were far richer.

Before You Go,

The desire to tell better stories is where it all begins. Like the topic, read on Why Your Brain Loves Good Story Telling?

WANT TO TELL EVEN BETTER STORIES?

Want to learn more about effective storytelling? Check out our LinkedIn Live  “Tell Stories Better” : A Live Event Recorded.

Unlock Your Creativity Gridlock

Maybe she’s born with it… or maybe she’s worked to cultivate it in her life and career. 

The word is creativity—not an inherent trait, but a skill that anyone can build. It’s the lifespring of innovation, and the difference between lackluster and brilliant work. It’s so significant that LinkedIn named it the most important skill in the world

Foster creativity in your work and life

Creativity is as important to business as it is to traditional art. It’s vital to generating novel ideas that push boundaries and drive innovation, and it makes for dynamic and predictive problem-solving. The keys to creativity are diversity and curiosity

Via Unsplash

Diversifying who or what you interact with—from food to culture to people—stimulates creativity by opening you up to new ideas and experiences. In fact, research shows that deeply felt multicultural experiences lead to creativity by broadening your scope of thinking. 

The best way to diversify your mental ecosystem is through curiosity. Remaining curious about the world and implementing continuous learning into your life allows you to lean in to new ideas and embrace uncertainty with a positive attitude. 

Tips to get started

We know that creativity can be hard to come by, especially in the midst of uncertainty. We’ve come up with helpful tips for finding inspiration in the everyday, so you can harness creativity from even the simplest of things.

Listen to something new. RCRDList will send you an email with a new album you should listen to everyday, handpicked by humans, not algorithms. 

Get a different perspective. With WindowSwap, you can enjoy the view from someone else’s window from anywhere around the world. Traveling the world from home just got easier.

Via WindowSwap

Watch a good movie. agoodmovietowatch gives you recommendations for movies that are highly-rated and often little-known. Their wide range of filters, including by streaming platform, makes it that much easier to find what you’re looking for (bye-bye browsing fatigue).

Refresh your space. Breathe life into your home by adding live plants; declutter and get rid of what doesn’t work; rearrange a familiar area to give yourself a fresh perspective.

Explore a different topic. Sign up for a newsletter of a topic outside your immediate interests. Try Robinhood Snacks for finance, Pitchfork for music, The Pop Culture Happy Hour for culture, Business of Fashion for fashion, or NextDraft for news with a twist.

Via Robinhood Snacks

Get creative and go!

Don’t wait on the lightning bolt to strike—try these tips to cultivate diversity and curiosity into your daily life and watch your creative juices flow. 

 

Virtual Curiouser & Curiouser: Insights from our July 2020 Innovation Showcase

As quarantine labors into the summer, refine+focus is here for you with fresh ideas to reignite your wonder. We recently held our signature event, Curiouser & Curiouser, which is dedicated to growing innovative ideas and building meaningful new relationships. Read all about the exciting selection of pieces that our team shared below.

Must Attend

Want to meet other innovative thinkers? Connect by attending an event. Our events calendar is packed with carefully curated events and resources to tickle your curiosity.

Check out our curated events and resources calendar.

The Curiouser & Curiouser Event

The Curiouser community came together on July 13 to each share something that intrigues or excites us. As always, we were struck by the range of ideas that people brought as we discussed everything from the fate of globalism to Panera marketing strategy to innovative nail polish packaging.

Here are the highlights:

Barbara Vanaki shared a presentation on machine learning models and how human bias becomes encoded into big data.

David Tames discussed a film that he has been creating which investigates why we segregate ourselves into opposite opinions and how to deal with intractable fanatics.

Purnima Thakre identified innovation in an unexpected place: nail polish packing! She described how her new Olive & June nail polish kit expertly re-engineered the customer experience of painting one’s nails.

Via OliveandJune.com

Joe Macek shared his enthusiasm for his new investment in SpaceX and their innovative work on Starlink.

Jeff Butler pondered how people make big decisions in their lives, inspired by changes in his plans to balance pursuing an MBA and competing in the 2021 Paralympics.

Catherine Cheng shared an excerpt of world-renowned conductor Daniel Barenboim on how to listen to music.

Harrison Yu raised the question of if globalism, as we’ve seen it since WWII, is dead or merely being reimagined.

Katie Martensen offered an innovative marketing strategy from Panera Bread in which Panera used twitter polls and targeted ads to offer free coffee for the summer to those who participated.

Via Twitter.com

Katherine Cruz discussed her passion project addressing environmentalism, the waste of shoes, and her love of running by creating a resource that helps runners in her community recycle their used sneakers.

Eduardo Pujol highlighted two innovative technologies, Exploding Topics which uses an algorithm to identify trends before they take off, and Crystal, a LinkedIn personality test plugin that helps you learn more about how to engage with your connections.

Via ExplodingTopics.com

Zach Braiker closed the evening with contemplation on how sharing literature builds friendships and a few lines of poetry from The Gift by Hafez-e-Shirazi: ‘Even after all this time the sun never says to the earth you owe me. Look what happens with a love like that, it lights the whole sky’.

An Invitation

Want to join our next innovation showcase? Have a new idea that you’d like to share? Reach out to us at hello@refineandfocus.com and we will let you know if a spot opens up.

It’s 2020, Learn from Your Customer

Your customer has all the answers. The art, however, lies in being able to gather those insights efficiently and act on them effectively. 

Why getting it right matters

Sustain growth. If you care about your customer and meet their needs, you won’t need to worry about the competition. 

Save resources. According to research by Vonage, an estimated $62 billion is lost by U.S. businesses each year following bad customer experiences. By understanding your customer and their customer journey, you can optimize your business to provide the best customer experience.

Via Paco.com

 

Build your ability to pivot. If you know your customer inside and out, you will know how to meet their deepest needs even when situations change. For example, Netflix recognized that pre-COVID consumers liked to stream shows and have communal viewings. During COVID, Netflix developed Netflix Party as a way for people to be able to continue to do this despite social distancing.

What to learn from your customer

Learn everything you possibly can (then ask WHY). Learn about their behavior, psychology, likes-dislikes, needs-wants, what they love-hate, what they are trying to achieve and more. Above all, learn the why behind all of those behaviors and feelings.

Via Hyken.com

How to learn from your customer

A mindset change requires breaking down past barriers and starting new habits.

Listen with empathy and objectivity. It’s imperative that companies listen with empathy, not judgement. Learning from customers is best when companies are curious and open to learn, not seeking to justify.

Break corporate barriers and stop working in silos. Empower everyone in your organization to be obsessed with understanding your customer. Not just the frontline of sales and marketing. 

Form new habits to support a culture of curiosity. Insert the customers’ voice in decisions and continue to gather customer insight from objective surveys, interviews, and co-creation. Use Strategyzer’s customer insight cards to capture what you discover.

Want to learn more about the art of learning from your customers? Here is our Live session recorded. 

How to Walk to Your ‘Why’ (if you can’t run it)

Remember the eye-opening 2007 statistic that we spend one-third of our lives working? In the era of remote work where the line between our professional and personal lives have become increasingly blurred, we can no longer pretend that our purposes are entirely separate too. 

Investigating and reflecting on your why is critical to feeling fulfilled in your life and it can even make you a better employee. Yet many of us don’t know where to start. 

Here’s our actionable roadmap to help you identify your why, then live it every day.

Defining Your Why

The first step towards living your why is knowing what it is. 

Start with Simon Sinek’s TED Talk that’s garnered over 50 million views. He turns to neuroscience to help people understand their purpose and drive.

Draw 5 pivotal moments from your life that exemplify your why. This exercise not only helps you reflect, but research also shows that the act of drawing inspires new insights.

Write up your ideal job description. This reflective practice can help you articulate what’s missing from your life.

Ask yourself three questions. Does your work excite you? Does it challenge you? Does it add value? When you can shout an enthusiastic yes to all three, you have likely found your why.

Via AgileCoffee.com

Getting Your Why Into Your Day

For many of us, living our why in their purest form may not be feasible. Yet there are many ways to integrate your purpose into your existing routines.

Deliberately build your day – Identify the things that bring you energy and integrate them into your other tasks. For example, if you really enjoy talking with others, schedule virtual work sessions with friends to help you feel invigorated all day.

Find ways to contribute your strengths – Do things that are meaningful and allow you to bring your best contribution. If you have a passion for graphic design, volunteer that skill for a cause that you care about. Check out CatchAFire.org, where individuals can volunteer their professional services for the social sector.

Keep learning – Practicing continuous learning can reignite your why if you feel stagnant. Check out our curated, actionable tips here.

Strive for a work/life equilibrium – That’s obviously much easier to write than it is to live. But organizational psychologist Adam Grant’s podcast WorkLife is packed with tips and insights to help make it a little easier.

Via CatchAFire.org

 

Living your why can be a daunting task, and like anything else, you must walk before you can run. Start living your why today by using these concrete exercises to inspire reflection and practice your why a little every day.

Want to help your employees live their why? Start by instilling a culture of continuous learning that fosters individual exploration. Check out our own Zach Braiker and Purnima Thakre’s LinkedIn Live on growing a culture of continuous learning at work.

10X Your Curious Culture

Not all organizations approach continuous learning from the same place. Some industries organically attract curious people and companies must sustain that curiosity. Other times, organizations need fresh ways to inspire the curiosity of their employees to foster a continuous learning community.

Regardless of the starting point, investing in a culture of continuous learning has clear benefits. One study found that curiosity increases job satisfaction, engagement, and innovative behaviors. Further, research published in the Harvard Business Review found that cultivating curiosity develops employees’ adaptability and creates conditions that foster trusting, collaborative professional relationships. 

Here are seven proven tips and techniques for growing a culture of learning to help organizations harness its value:

Start a co-learning Slack channel.

At refine+focus we encourage our team to share any cool resources, articles, or webinars that peak their interest. It’s become a hub of knowledge, discussion, and exploration.

 

Via refine+focus’ co-learning slack channel

 

When onboarding, look for the profile of an intellectually curious candidate.

A report from Merck found that employees who scored high on the curiosity index often viewed themselves as detail-oriented, thoughtful and energetic decision makers who brought positivity to their organization. 

 

Via Merck.com

 

Create a space that incubates curiosity.

Thriveglobal.com recommends creating time for research and reflection, always asking ‘why’, and converting the discomfort of not-knowing into curiosity and excitement.

 

Via TeachThought.com

 

Bake curiosity into meeting agendas.

According to Harvard Business Review, companies can take project agenda items and reformulate them as questions. These new agendas drive engagement and participation by focusing on questions like “how should we prioritize these projects?”. 

 

Via Flickr.com

 

Create a resource catalogue and offer programs that support it.

Novartis offers an extensive training catalogue with a range of upskilling opportunities. The catalogue features resources in multiple languages and includes in-person training programs, online courses, books, audiobooks, podcasts, and Ted Talks. According to Forbes, Novartis also has a program that allows employees to learn and grow for 100 hours per year through employer-paid education. 

 

Via Novartis

 

Have a question of the week and start using #GreatQuestion.

SurveyMonkey holds weekly town hall meetings on the question of the week, selected by employees through a survey. SurveyMonkey also fosters a culture of supporting questions using #GreatQuestion in their Slack channels.

 

Via Teamgantt.com

 

Incentivize and gamify curious behavior.

Workday offers an annual innovation award to foster new, creative solutions while other companies like AT&T hold hackathons and E3 has a peer to peer recognition program.

 

Via AT&T.com

 

There are numerous ways to approach continuous learning. From instituting a new hashtag to building curious spaces, prioritizing and protecting time for curiosity and exploration can help organizations win the fruits of continuous learning. Pick a few of the tips to try and take a conscious, iterative approach to testing them out. We’re curious to hear how it goes.

P.S. Want to learn more about continuous learning? Check out our CEO’s Zach Braiker and COO Purnima Thakre’s LinkedIn Live event on the principles and practices of a continuous learner. 

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