The Invisible Women

Sometimes I wonder if I am invisible – to marketers that is, especially direct mail marketers and to companies whose services we already use.

I am typically the one in my household who makes the purchasing decisions, who does the research and legwork to figure out the best product for the house. I am typically the one who contacts the product and brand representatives. I have historically been the one to sign the checks.

Yet, the mail that comes to my household and the callers trying to solicit our opinions, business and contact typically address that mail and those calls to my husband.

Growing up in the 1950’s, I guess I should be used to such discriminatory practices. Girls really were pretty invisible back then. Society taught us to give way to the males, to not make waves, that we had to look and dress and act a certain way because we were girls. Women were expected to stay home and mind the kitchen. Only the guys were supposed to care about money and finances. How I used to wish I had been born male!

Things have changed just a bit in the last 60 years.

But, I wonder, how many more centuries is it going to take for businesses to get the message. Women control money. Women spend household income. Women make buying decisions. Women don’t want to be invisible.

Women matter.

Even women business people don’t get it right, in my opinion.

A CBS News article features one woman marketer trying to explain the mistakes marketers make when trying to sell to women. What did they cover? Stuff that doesn’t matter to me – using faces in pictures, telling a story to women, not segmenting the female part of the market to a fine enough detail.

Not one of the search results I viewed on direct mail marketing talked about the simple fact that the mail is addressed to the male of the house, even when it concerns only the woman.

A perfect example of this is my own business. When I started my web sites, I created my own single member llc to hold them. I wanted to isolate the business from our personal finances, and my husband didn’t want to have anything to do with it.

I registered the company with my state, not ever mentioning my spouse’s name, having my own as the agent and only member. Since I run the company from home, I also listed my home address, an address I naturally share with my husband.

Yet, credit card and cable company direct mail solicitations come addressed to my company, listing my husband as the ‘principal’. How insulting.

Even if I was looking for these kinds of services for my company (which I am not), I won’t even open mail addressed in this manner. It goes right to the burn pile and it makes me think very poorly of the companies doing the solicitation.

Am I invisible? Marketers – if you queried the state database, couldn’t you also use the agent information contained there instead of combining the data with some other database having only my spouse’s name as living at this address.

Database creators – why can’t you list both owners of the property in conjunction with a physical address? My name is on all of our property, not just my spouses.

Utility companies, why not put both of our names on the envelope? Should I just refuse to pay you because you’re sending the bill to my spouse?

Marketers and service companies, if you want my business, do these things:

  • Address me, not my male house companion.
  • Don’t assume I can’t make logical decisions – present the facts, not faces, to me.
  • Understand that I control much more of the houshold money than the man I live with.
  • Don’t worry about segmenting the female market until you can identify that there is a female to market to.
  • Don’t tell me a story, present the facts, features and costs to me.

Do you have a marketing pet peeve? 


The Invisible Women — 1 Comment

  1. I totally agree with this.. A sales person for a bulk meat selling company came to our house and wanted to meet my husband and wouldn’t talk to me and kept asking to meet my husband when the appointment was with me. I gave him a big piece of my mind. I don’t think he’ll come back. Ever.

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