After presenting at a 2-day Women in Business Conference where Hillary was talked about non-stop, I woke up to the incredibly surprising news that Trump had won the Presidency. Even though as a marketer, I had previously pointed out all the good things Trump was doing to win the hearts and minds of people, I never in a million years expected this outcome. Coupled with having witnessed countless women business owners who kept wasting the Corporate match-making opportunities I had just partaken in at this conference (and many others prior to this one), I knew I had to write about this phenomenon of expecting to get in by virtue of simply being recognized as a woman.
Why She Lost
The marketing take on why Hillary lost the election is that she wasn’t emotional enough. Her messaging wasn’t bold or memorable. She didn’t have a clear ‘why’. Donald was a master at all those things and more. The interesting part is that a lot of women didn’t vote or not vote for Hillary simply because she was a woman. Gender didn’t matter when they were swayed by emotion. As one woman I met at the Conference told me “I like him because he’s honest about how he feels!”
When Women Don’t Get In
Similar to Hillary playing on the gender card, Women Certified Businesses sometimes assume when they’re coming to a diversity conference that they’re shoe-ins. Why wouldn’t they be? After all, they’re about to have one on one access in private matchmaker meetings with several buyers of very big corporations. People most vendors would kill to have an access to. The problem is that even though these meetings are granted because of our gender, these conference matchmaking meetings rarely result in contracts. In fact, I once heard a Dragon’s Den (the Canadian equivalent of Shark’s Tank) say that only 5% of deals that we actually see being awarded on TV actually go on to become real. I wanted to stand up and ask the Diversity panels how many women business owners that they’d met while at these events actually got a contract as a % of the thousands of women they’d met over the years? I’m willing to bet that it’s not that big a percentage and more likely to be the rare exception. Why is it then, that being a woman just isn’t enough?
It’s All About Your Messaging
As with Hillary’s messaging which was mostly about creating new policies and about being a woman, when companies rely on their features, benefits and fitting into corporate gender quotas, they don’t get in. It’s only when your messaging can express the exact way that you provide value and solve a problem for a company that their ears perk up. For example, one of the success stories at the conference was an overnight courier company who had pitched and won UPS business as a complimentary solution to accounts who wanted that extra expensive perk. She talked about how when she met with UPS, that her messaging had been about the pain she could solve for them (not being able to offer overnight deliveries) and that she was a specialist in that pain. She never talked about being a woman nor about relying on her gender to make the sale.
So let’s all learn from Hillary’s loss and make use of it to grow our businesses: being a woman or any other kind of minority doesn’t help. Outspending your competitors to be more visible doesn’t help. You still need to have a relevant message that resounds and resounds hard.
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