In the weeks leading up to the FORTUNE Innovation Forum in New York City on November 29-30, the Business Innovation Insider
is pleased to present a regular series of interviews with innovative
thinkers in business and academia. Below, Yvonne DiVita, the president
and founder of WME Books (a
division of Windsor Media Enterprises) and a leading innovator in
marketing to women online, joins us for a special Q&A on innovation:
Q: What are some examples of innovative ways that companies are marketing to women online?
Yvonne DiVita: I'm most impressed by companies that are using new technology - and creating new technology - to reach their market. Naturally, I think women should be dominant in any company's market...because women are the managers of home, house, yard, car, supply cabinet, bathroom, basement, bedroom, and everything in-between. In the last year, I've watched some companies jump on the blogging bandwagon - with a certain measure of success. You have to be willing to be real (admit you're human) for that to work. Recently I convinced Purina pet foods to sponsor a blog about pets, that I would manage and write. As I expected, the blog is becoming popular with pet people. The best thing is that these people are delighted to know Purina is sponsoring the blog. It elevates Purina in their eyes. Since women are big pet owners - and pet lovers - this is an opportunity for Purina to really engage in a dialogue with their customers. They have lots of great stuff on their website, but none of it is interactive. I'm creating an interactive, one-on-one space for pet people to talk pets - and converse with a giant in the pet food world.
Another place marketing to women online works is in books. Blooking, marketing your book via blog, is a win-win because it combines reading (something women enjoy more than men) with conversation, which women also enjoy more than men. Using the online model, how hard would it be for companies to ask publishers for space inside the "search inside this book" feature, to place ads? Relevant ads designed to be eye-catching but not intrusive? For instance, why isn't Dove placing their back to beauty campaign ads in women's books? Not just novels, but business books? Women are desperate to connect with other women! Use this opportunity to show us you really get it!
The truth is - today's interactive market allows companies to go beyond a blog to create connections...by showing us something, instead of just telling us about it. Show us videos and give us music! That's really basic advice dating back to my creative writing days - when we lowly fiction writers struggled to "show, don't tell!" without quite knowing what that meant. Now, it's easy to show-off. You have MySpace, Flickr, and YouTube - with all the ability to be outrageous but effective. Look at the laughing babies - now, there's a way to a woman's heart! Or, the viral email campaigns with puppies and kittens in them! I must get those once a week! I can tell you one way companies are NOT successfully marketing to women online - and that's in the unappealing design of many websites aimed at women. If you're selling jewelry, show me a woman wearing jewelry, like there is on the Simona Fine Italian Jewelry site! AND THEN...connect it to a blog where I can really meet the designers!
Another place that I think bears witness to the innovative nature of marketing online is the rising popularity of sites like Second Life, where you can create a whole new you - i.e. a Second Life that is more controllable than your current life. Second Life avatar-living is taken very seriously by its 1.3 million members - and offers a wide-variety of marketing options. There is ample room for innovation in this "pretend" world - with its real money exchange opportunities. Is this good for marketing to women online? I don't have stats or figures yet, but this growing phenomenon is definitely female-friendly - after all, having complete control over your world - what women doesn't want that?
Q: Who are some of the most innovative women in business today?
Yvonne DiVita: First, Ask Patty! is one smart, creative, and totally innovative lady. She's focused on real life experiences for women in the automotive industry. I was privileged to meet her at the Blogher.org conference last July, and she's energetic, fun to be with, but also serious about supporting women and women's issues. Her blog and her website offer a bright, refreshing voice on ways women can excel at life - from new career ideas, to managing a business, to just stepping out of their comfort zone. Patty is so 21st century!