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Marketing legend David Ogilvy once remarked, “The consumer isn’t a moron; she is your wife.”  Of course his comment was meant to convey how we can sometimes “talk down” to our customers in our advertising, but it’s also a comment on where we should be concentrating our marketing efforts.

David Ogilvy understood something that most marketing professionals rely on – women make the spending decisions.  In fact, regardless of whom they travel with, who pays for the trip, or where they go, women make 80% of all travel decisions.  And that’s not all.  Women are traveling more than ever before.  They make up 75% of all cultural, adventure, and nature trips.

Regardless of whom they travel with, who pays for the trip, or where they go, women make 80% of all travel decisions.

And don’t think the industry hasn’t taken notice.  The number of women-only travel companies has increased 230% over the last 6 years.  They’re all vying for a piece of the female travel market with 67 million participants and an annual market potential that can exceed 19 trillion dollars.  (Yes, that’s trillion)  Simply put, women make up a very large and very influential segment of YOUR market.  If you want to take advantage of that, your marketing needs to appeal to women.

Toward that end, I’ve compiled the following 8 exceptional strategies for improving your inn’s marketing message to women.

1.  Quality counts.  Women are busier and under more pressure than ever before.  Add to that, the fact that women are being bombarded with endless marketing messages, and what you have is a consumer that has neither the time nor the patience for any extraneous fluff.  Your marketing message (and YES, that does include your website) should be clean, to the point, and should showcase the quality of your inn.  Of course you will choose to try different approaches in your marketing but whatever approach you choose – be sure to do it well.

2.  Create an emotional connection.  It’s no secret that women function on a more emotional level.  Find a way to connect on an emotional level and you stand a better chance of catching her attention.  How do you accomplish this?  Begin by understanding your audience.  Remember she is often a self-imposed “super woman” who juggles a complex work, family, and social life along with countless other responsibilities.  Yes, she needs to get away, but she also needs to do it without any guilt or fear that it will interfere with her other responsibilities.  Your marketing effort needs to reflect the strengths of your inn while offering real solutions to her emotional needs.  However you frame the message remember that “emotional connection” doesn’t equal “fluff”. (See exceptional strategy #1)

3.  Show your altruistic side.  New studies are showing that good feelings aren’t the only results of charitable giving these days.  According to the new “Groundsbreakers” report by the Ernst and Young, women reinvest 90 percent of their income back into their families and communities.  Compare that with men who only reinvest 30 to 40 percent, and it’s clear that women care about spending money with companies that share their values and/or give back in the same way they do.  Find new and creative ways to give back to your community and then make sure your marketing messages are highlighting your inn’s charitable acts.  Before you know it you’ll be increasing your female market and making a difference, all in one fell swoop.

4.  Talk their language.  Sadly, copy is an area where many good marketing messages fail.  If a potential customer is reading your copy it means they already have more than a passing interest in your message.  To then lose a potential client because of bad copy is a shame.  One of the biggest mistakes you can make is to have someone write copy for a group they don’t understand.  If your target market is a woman then have a woman do your copy. If your target is couples then write the copy as a couple or have a couple write/edit your copy.  Men and women communicate differently and those differences need to be reflected in your marketing copy.

5.  Not all women are created equal.  Don’t fall into the trap of marketing to a female stereotype.  Your marketing efforts will suffer.  The easiest way to know what women want? Ask them. Whether it’s on your website or at your inn, when you create a system that allows you to collect feedback from your customers you’ll always be ahead of the game.  Your next step is to evaluate the feedback and really listen to what your clients are telling you.  Is that family recipe not quite the hit you thought it was?   Then get rid of it.  Don’t let your ego override what your customers are telling you they want and need from you.

6.  Try the “Un-market” Approach.  Instead of creating a marketing campaign full of promises and hype try simply telling your customers what your product does and why it’s worth buying.  Value your customers and take their concerns seriously. Answer all emails personally and promptly.  Take a hands-on approach to meeting their needs. Standing behind your bed and breakfast 100% is one of the best marketing strategies you can supply.

 7.  Complement her life, don’t complicate it.  Women are some of the busiest people on the planet, and they (like all of us) are bombarded with endless marketing messages. Breaking through that kind of clutter takes more than a strong message, it takes action.  To make sure your message gets through be sure your marketing message is promoting “benefits” and not “features”.  For example, your inn may offer personal massages for your guests. (That’s a feature)  But what’s the benefit?  Relaxation, increased health, a chance to bond with friends, a more enjoyable experience – these are all benefits.  When you find ways to highlight the benefits of your inn your marketing efforts will be more effective.

 8.  Don’t forget the little things.   Women love and, more importantly, notice the little things.  Find ways to exceed expectations before, during, and after your guests stay with you.  Send a personalized reservation confirmation with directions and a map to your inn.  Highlight local sites and attractions that may interest your guests.  One simple thing you can do is to begin to track guest preferences.  Is she a business owner desperate to find a copy of the New York Times in Reading, Pennsylvania?  Next time she books with you have the Times waiting for her when she arrives.  Do you send birthday or anniversary greetings to your guests?  If not… why not?  Take advantage of any excuse to touch base with your customers.

The female travel market is large and only growing.  Especially in this economy it’s important to have an edge in every aspect of your business.  By putting a little thought into your marketing message you can introduce a growing number of female travelers to all the wonderful things your inn has to offer and help your bottom line all at the same time.