Women in Business – Online and On the RiseKenneth Nel
Disappointment is not really my colour. Nor is shame. And yet I have been forced to wear both more and more recently. Not through any direct fault of mine, I must hasten to add. Although perhaps, as a man, I am complicit in some way to the situation.
Here’s the thing:
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When it comes to women, men are pretty clueless. And when it comes to women in business, we are even worse than that! Let me stun you for a few seconds with an excerpt from an article I started reading recently about how to market to women. I say, “started reading” because I couldn’t actually finish it – my mouth had dropped so far open in horror that it actually pulled my eyes shut.
“When building a website or an e-commerce shop, make the site women-friendly with soft colours, content related to beauty, maternity, health and shopping in the blogs, promotions, menu etc.”
Whiskey. Tango. Foxtrot.
So, if the writer of this article is to be believed, women are only interested in beauty, shopping and having babies. Now, I’m not saying women aren’t interested in those things, but to state boldly in an article purporting to give advice on how to market to women that those are the only things you need to focus on, has me running to my wardrobe for my brightest disappointment jersey and my biggest shame pants.
Perhaps the author (and I use the term quite loosely here) of that article should take a few things into consideration before blessing us with his, ahem, advice:
In 2017, there are 32 female CEOs of Fortune 500 companies, the highest percentage in the 63-year history of the Fortune 500.
Amongst this group are the following inspirational women:
Mary Barra, CEO of General Motors – named the most powerful woman in business by Fortune magazine, Mary is the first female CEO of General Motors and the third largest individual shareholder in the company.
Indra Nooyi, CEO of Pepsi – one of the first women to head a major global corporation, Indra took over as CEO in October 2006. Since then, the stock price has increased by 73%.
Back here at home, we have our own aspirational women in business, including:
Rapelang Rabana, founder of online education company Rekindle Learning – one of Africa’s most respected entrepreneurs, she has been referred to as “Africa’s Marissa Mayers” by CNN.
Siza Mzimela, founder of Fly Blue Crane, the first majority black- and woman-owned airline in South Africa – also the former CEO of South African Airways (the first woman to hold that position) and the first woman in 67 years to join the board of directors of the International Air Transport Association (IATA)
I bet these women and their peers are so happy that the prevailing advice on how to get them to part with their hard earned and well-deserved cash is to talk about pretty colours and the latest lipstick trends.
Again, not saying that powerful women in business don’t buy lipstick, but there is so much more going on with them than that, and it’s about time the marketing world woke up to this fact.
Women in Business Online
This is a very exciting time to be a woman in business, and the online realm is opening up more and more opportunities, many of which either don’t exist, or are limited, in the “offline” world.
To truly appreciate the rise and rise of women-led SMEs, here are a few significant stats from MYOB:
- 59% of women have an online business compared to 51% of men.
- 35% of women in business use cloud computing, compared to 31% of men.
- The top five technologies that female-run SMEs use for business are:
- Accepting online payment via internet banking, mobile app or shopping cart.
- Buying products or services online
- Connecting with customers and fans on Facebook
- Using email marketing
- Using search engines to promote their business (SEO)
While not all women aspire to be the CEOs and Vice Presidents of corporate giants like the women we introduced you to earlier, the wonder that is the Internet means there’s nothing stopping them from becoming founders and CEOs of their own companies, even if it starts off as one woman show.
Only a couple of decades ago, many women had to shelve any ideas of making a career for themselves as soon as they had children. Today, it’s a whole different ball game, and there are literally hundreds of women entrepreneurs who start businesses from home, online, as a way of combining work and motherhood.
In an article for Entrepreneur, Sumi Krishnan describes the online marketplace as a “female frontier” and says,” The online landscape isn’t traditional, it has fewer barriers, and it provides a completely new way to break through, serve lots of people and make a major difference while building a purpose-driven company.”
I’m not even a woman and I get inspired reading that.
Marketing Your Online Business
Once you’ve started your business, the next step is to market it effectively. Because we’re talking about women in business, I thought it would be good to get some advice and guidelines from other female entrepreneurs (yes, I am just that evolved). So, after much reading and research, here is some advice for women, by women, from a man!
When it comes to relationships, the Internet is the new black. Networking, or, as one woman put it, “cyber-schmoozing” is the best way to find out who’s out there and who would be helped by hearing your message. Read blogs that center around your topic, and comment on them. Make sure you give a lot before asking for anything. Women empowerment and business coach Gina DeVee’s rule of thumb is the “90/10” rule – your emails and posts should be 90% value, pictures and tips, and 10 percent self-promotion.
Meaning, if you’ve written a self-help book, don’t use your blogs and social media to tell people that you’ve written a book. Because the harsh reality is that no one, apart from possibly your closest friends and family, cares that you’ve written a book. What people do care about is how that book can benefit them. Build relationships first, and be helpful, and the sales will come.
Digital marketing takes time. In this age where we’re accustomed to instant gratification, this can be a big ol’ choking pill to swallow, but you do need to get it down you. Really good digital marketing strategies take time to work, but they work. Keep your eyes on the prize. Create an online presence and establish yourself in your market. Use social media, start a Facebook fan page, engage with your market and entertain them. The time taken now will reap huge rewards in the future.
And just do it! See what I did there? But no, seriously, it can be scary as heck starting your own business and putting pieces of your soul out there in the world where they could be trampled or, worse, ignored. So, be afraid and do it anyway. That, after all, is the true definition of courage. You CAN do it, and you CAN do it on your own terms in your own way.
If you’re a totally awesome woman in business who’d like some totally awesome digital marketing advice from a totally awesome digital marketing company, chat to Digital Coach.