Residential Lighting: How do I get more women to my showroom?
Marti Barletta: Provide choices and understand her situation. She will go somewhere else to find options if you don’t show them to her. She views shopping for household items as doing due diligence. She doesn’t think, “I love to look at lamps,” but rather, “I’m not going to spend my family’s money without making sure I’m getting the best possible option.” She gathers options until she has a sense of all the options available and almost never buys the first thing she sees. Retailers tend to focus on product. It’s not about the product. It’s about showing her that you can meet her needs.
RL: How do we transmit that through marketing?
MB: An ad with people will have a lot more stopping power. Use a story. For example, “After her second child went off to college, Mary decided to turn a bedroom into a fitness/media room. This was a tricky project because she had two different criteria.” Or, quote Mary: “I was going to miss my son, but it was exciting to have a room where I could finally exercise while watching my favorite TV shows. Jack at XYZ Lighting showed me options and helped me pick the best one for me.”
RL: Do sales and events appeal to women shoppers?
MB: For women, events must have three components: learning, social and fun. The learning could be “How to update your room with just a few pieces of lighting.” It has to be worth her time. For the social component, invite her to bring a friend, but give the sense that the attendance is limited. Serve wine and cheese. For fun, have a drawing for a free, in-home consultation. Or have a designer show photos from their latest project. Don’t tie the event to a sale.
RL: What are some common missteps in marketing to women?
MB: Salespeople tend to talk to the man, but it’s really the woman who gets them to the showroom. Women, usually, are the ones to decide when it’s time to buy. She will do the online research and narrow down the choices to the three showrooms she feels are best. If you’re not on her short list, you missed the cut. So she’s the one that needs to be influenced. She’s the primary buyer, regardless of how the couple appears in the showroom. Go out of your way to make sure that she is included in the discussion and answer all of her questions.
I had wanted directional lights for the vaulted ceiling in my own bedroom to illuminate some artwork and create drama. I thought the salesman knew what to do. Well, he installed lights that looked like great big coffee cans. They weren’t even remotely close to what I had in mind. Furthermore, he pointed them straight down onto the carpet. I was astonished. He apparently had done no aesthetic consultations at all, and he really had not listened to me.
Ten years later, I had an interior designer working with me. She brought in a lighting designer who knew what he was talking about. I learned things in that conversation that I had never considered, like wall washing and dimming. It made me trust him, and I’d certainly go to him again.
RL: Give us one secret to successful marketing to women.
MB: When she’s decorating her home, it’s about how she sees herself. So take note of the type of person she is and what she wants to express, as opposed to thinking simply in terms of product. At the same time, this is a functional purchase for her. She’s running a household. She’s got kids. It has to meet her needs on three levels: function, aesthetic and personal self-expression.