A Failure of Communication

Apr 6, 2012 | Personal

Being in the web design business, and being connected to a number of freelancers and entrepreneurs, I get quite a few interesting articles in my email inbox most days. Sometimes I go read them, if I have the time, but this gem showed up this morning and the title alone made me go and look, if only so I could confirm my suspicion that it would be… less than the highest quality material. I swear I am not making up the title, by the way.

5 Easy Tips to Satisfy Women with your Product or Service.

Reading the article is quite interesting – not the content itself, you understand, as it’s largely indifferent, but from an analytical point of view it’s fascinating to see how it fails in so many ways (skeevy article title aside, of course). It reads a little like the keyword-laden spun content I have to deal with on a daily basis for one particular client, so I’m not convinced the stated author really did write this. The tone is markedly different as well from her other posts. The tips themselves range from being blindingly obvious to rather sexist.

Let’s dive in and take a look, shall we?

When you satisfy the female customer it’s almost certain that she will talk about your business and bring her husband, children and friends.

And first out of the gate, we have bad phrasing (bringing them where?) and the implicit assumption that the female customer is married with kids. Okay then, the title should read ‘5 Easy Tips to Satisfy Married Women with Kids with your Product or Service’, just to make it clear that it’s excluding teenagers and single women at the very least.

A Clean Environment. Obvious. So incredibly obvious, in fact. Are we to assume that male customers don’t care that changing rooms, bathrooms, or tablecloths are clean? It’s ridiculous on so many levels, and just a little insulting to men.

Appearance and Details. Again, totally obvious! A well-designed product will do well with men and women; a badly-designed product will fail just as badly with men as with women. There’s some evidence to suggest that men and women respond differently to color, but that’s another matter, and one that merits a lot more research before you make sweeping statements on it.

Control and Options. Obvious, or is the writer actually suggesting that men don’t care if they have options or if a business listens to their opinions?

Safety and Security. I’m not even sure how to describe this. It’s so vague that I honestly have no idea how any business could apply it to their daily operations. Let’s say you have a shop – your average clothes shop, for example – and the manager reads this article, comes to this particular paragraph, and… then what? Looks around their store to see if it’s safe? Thinks about installing cameras, if they haven’t already? For most businesses, this tip is nonsensical because the general idea is that a business is safe for EVERYONE, not just for women, and if a business is operating in or promoting an unsafe environment, you can bet that customers of all genders will be turned off.

Considerateness. Oh, how that word grates across my sensibilities… it’s ‘consideration’. ‘Considerateness’ sounds like something a person would say if English were not their first language. (And, of course, we’re back to the ‘married with children’ assumption.) The rest of the tip could have been easily shortened to ‘Provide good customer service by extending extra help and courtesy without needing to be asked for it’, and again, this is just an obvious thing to do for any customer.

I just want to quote one of the final sentences, because I’m having a hard time parsing it:

I was very happy with the service, result and her considerateness, results in on-going referrals!

There’s at least two words missing there, by my reckoning.

Overall, this entire article is a shambles. There is no really useful information provided, and no meaningful suggestions on making a product or service appeal to women in particular. It’s sloppy, lacking in research, and in dire need of a copy editor. It’s also come as something of a surprise to me, because the general quality of everything over at ByzHub is much higher than this. See the article picture, for example – that image belongs to the Pioneer Woman site, and it’s not even credited, which is very bad form.

I suppose I care because of the writing. Good copy is important everywhere, not just in fiction. I care about accuracy and definitely about good business advice, and this is less than satisfactory in either respect. My advice, if you’re a business looking to reach out to more female customers? Ignore this article and do some in-depth market research specifically for your business. Ask potential female customers in a range of demographics what they want, or choose one demographic that you think will respond the best and focus your efforts on them. The elements that can be applied to all businesses to attract female customers are frankly the same ones that attract male customers, and if you want advice for your business in particular, then you need to do the research for your niche.