With all things going around the world in the last couple of months, feminism is another “f” word that becomes a growing focus and I have no doubt that this year’s International Women’s Day will stir up the conversation more than ever.
The 8th of March is International Women’s Day, and in some countries, the biggest day that celebrates women and recognises their contribution to our lives. This special day also aims to raise focus on important female issues like gender equality and women’s empowerment.
While “supporting women” is a position that brands have taken on for years, promoting brands for the sake of being in the trendy conversation without due authenticity and integrity can cause serious brand damages.
Consumers are increasingly rejecting the perfect, idealist, airbrushed and pulled-together images of women that are projected by brands (like this “Are you beach body ready?” campaign). They want more realistic portraits of the different facets of women’s lives, a voice into dismissing the impossible expectation of today’s women to have it all and a recognition of workplace issues.
According to the research from Bauer Media, women between the age of 25 and 44 mostly concern about gender pay gap (83%), gender inequality at work (81%) and the lack of flexibility in working opportunities (65%).
This requires brands to re-think their women targeted ads and campaign – a shift from creating an ideal picture with a focus on appearance and lifestyle to addressing more serious issues.
Take for example Uber’s recent crisis from its formal female engineer’s blog post detailing out the company’s sexism and harassment.
As a marketer and growth hacker, I always encourage brands to get involved in these active conversations and leverage events like this to gain business advantages.
But more than just “being in the conversation” and rolling out campaign because everyone is doing it, it’s much more beneficial (especially in long term brand development) if issue- and event-driven campaigns are developed from the ground of authenticity and honesty.
Customers are smart, and if we’d like to build meaningful relationships with them, it’s not always best to simply throw in big budgeted, heavily retouched ad campaigns.
And hey, monetizing existing customers is much cheaper than acquiring new ones.
Below are my ideas that small business could roll out in honour of this year International Women’s Day celebration.
- Send an e-card
Send an e-card to all female subscribers in your list, throw in a funny or meaningful message about women and celebrate International Women’s Day with the important women in your business.
“I love to see a young girl go out and grab the world by the lapels. Life’s a bitch. You’ve got to go out and kick ass.” —Maya Angelou
Involve your team’s photo to add personality to the message and separate this from just other EDMS you usually send out.
Take a further step and send a reminder message to all your male subscribers about the 8th of March.
- Have a family day in office
Ask your employees to bring an important female to an office’s lunch or drink celebration. It can be a mother, grandmother, sister, friend, partner or daughter.
This initiative will help to create a positive working environment, strengthen the relationship between employees and top management and gaining their trust.
Capture the day and share photos, video on your company’s social media. This is a simple activity to involve your customers inside the company, showcase the vibe while strengthening your internal team at the same time.
- Celebrate female employees
Launch a video or photo series that focuses on your female employees’ insights.
Whether to have them share their favourite thing about working with your company, the biggest challenges, or simply the things they love the most being a woman.
Have the female employees take the afternoon off so they can catch up with life outside of work, work on things women don’t usually have the luxury to do like a quiet afternoon drinking at 3 pm with a good book or their own side-project.
In a small business, employees are usually required to wear multiple hats. This means sometimes life outside of work doesn’t exist. Women love their jobs, that’s why the long hours. But for most women, there is usually another job waiting for them outside the 9-5. Celebrate your female employees with simple pleasure is to showcase that your company understands this insight and take realistic action.
- Giveaways for female customers
Give your female customers freebie or free upgrade to any purchase on the 8th of March.
If you’re wondering how you could stand out from a sea of giveaways on this day, start by identifying either a core or a low sale product/ service that sales you’d like to push. Then add a low sale, small valued products or services as a freebie to encourage purchase. This is a safe method for small businesses to minimise profit loss from the promotion.
If your company has more budget to throw in custom made products like accessories, quirky cup, canvas bag, mouse pad, even better! You don’t just create an incentive to buy, but you’re also working on raising brand awareness.
- Discount targeting male demographics
While running discount on International Women’s Day is something you already have in mind, target your ads to male demographics who are likely struggling to buy gifts for the women in their lives.
Make it easier for the man by adding a pre-order feature with a personalised card to deliver during the day. Sometimes it’s just hard to getting something special during business. And surprises from loved ones are even better to arrive when they’re not there.
This is no brainer for a lifestyle business. But even if your business is not technically identified as the gift or fast consumer products, I wouldn’t shine from this tactic. I would consider running a subscription promotion or freebies with purchase that acts like a gift for the women.
Partnership and CSR
- Support a local cause
Donate a part of your sales from the 8th of March to a local charity that supports girls and women.
From a marketing perspective, you can also ask to be featured on their social media and contribute blog content about the importance of supporting this organisation to gain exposure.
Research has shown that customers are more likely favour brands that are active in giving back to the community, regardless of how little the contribution is. So this is a simple tactic that builds a strong positive brand image for your business, and it’s actually for a good cause.
- Partner with a female brand
Give your female customers a gender identified freebie by partnering with another brand.
Think giving a flower bouquet or lipstick, skincare or small local drink with any purchase on the day.
This is a classic partnership tactic that will help both brands to extend your new customer reach, increase brand awareness and strengthen customer relationship.