Women don’t just make 85% of consumer purchase decisions on stuff like lipstick and toilet bowl cleaner. They’re in the drivers seat (sorry couldn’t resist) on car purchases and car care, too.
The big players in the industry are slowly catching on to this important economic fact. But it’s really impressive when a forward -thinking regional player is willing to get smart about what his female customers need.
It’s with this in mind that I went to a women’s event last night at a locally-grown (I’m in Austin) tire and auto chain called Lamb’s. Ron Meredith, the current owner of the 15-store chain, was there in person to welcome all of us as we straggled in from work to learn the basics of good car care.
The most telling part of this event didn’t happen over the course of this evening. It happened in an online chat about it. But I’ll get to that later.
Over the course of the next hour and a half, four of Ron’s managers took us under the hood, under the car and around the tires. What I loved was the passion with which each guy spoke of his particular area of expertise. My favorite was the tire man who described tires as, “The Rodney Dangerfield of the car. They don’t get no respect.” Turns out they should. Did you know that proper tire inflation has a bigger impact on gas mileage than anything else you can do? And don’t get me started on safety. I will never put off new tires again.
I could go on, but you’re here to learn about connecting with women. So let me talk about what worked for me about this evening. And one thing that didn’t.
1) Hospitality. I like when any store/ event acknowledges that we are guests in their home. We were greeted warmly and offered fresh Tiff’s cookies (a beloved local treat) and drinks.
2) Good information. Solid information is like crack to women when we have an interest in something. No one talked down to us or glossed over technical stuff.
3) Not too much self-promotion. The guys were good about saying, “No matter who you take your car to…..” It was never taken for granted that our loyalty would be a given after one free workshop.
4) Surprise and delight. This is always a key piece and for this event it came at the end when we were all given a long stem rose with a great coupon attached to the stem. For me, this was the perfect gesture from Ron because he is at heart an old-fashioned guy. The kind who still pulls a chair out for women or holds a door open. As a southerner, I really liked this gesture and the juxtaposition of the smell of roses mingling with that new tire rubber smell.
Things that rubbed me the wrong way (and did the same to other women).
- Being corralled back into the lobby and more or less forced to take a survey. As a businessperson, I understand why surveys are valuable. But the assumption that we had an extra five minutes to give (even after a free workshop and a rose) was a small misstep. It’s the old dating equivalent of assuming you’re owed a kiss because you bought the dinner.
But at least they are TRYING. That goes a long way with women, and it should be applauded.
I mentioned that one of the most telling consequences of this evening actually happened in an online discussion. Here’s how it went. Lamb’s sent an event invite to a local women’s organization. Within hours the invite had triggered a train of comments that, in my mind, completely mirror the mental machinations all women go through when they are marketed to. More on that tomorrow.
Until then, keep your shiny side up. And try a rose on your dashboard.