“If you build it, they will come,” may be a great movie line but it’s not the most effective marketing strategy. In the financial services industry in particular, there are several companies – Prudential, American Express and Principal Financial Group, just to name a few – who have developed products or services specifically for women but they don’t make it very easy to find them. When Prudential began advertising it’s “What is the price of love?” life insurance campaign with large display ads in women’s magazines, we called the 800# for a copy of the brochure. The person on the other end of the phone had no idea what we were talking about (neither did his supervisor) then referred us to a toll number for the sales office, which had already closed for the day. After much digging on the website, we were able to locate and print a brochure but had we not been looking into it from a business standpoint, we would have aborted the mission after the first “I don’t know.”
Even with the in-person advantage of visually identifying a customer as female, opportunities are missed. Recently, my husband and I opened an equity line and checking account at Citibank. A few days later a letter came addressed to my husband - only. Inside was a “thank you for your business” card with a picture on the front of a young father with two sons. Inside the card there was an insert with several services my husband was now entitled to as a CitiGold account holder, including free membership in Women and Company®, described as “a program from Citigroup offering education and resources to help navigate the distinct financial challenges you’ll face over a lifetime.” Even though I’d been into my local Citibank branch several times, including a half-hour session to sign my loan papers, this card was the first I’d ever heard of Women and Company. And the only reason I’d intercepted the card was because I am the official opener of all financial mail in our household. I know the system is automated but how difficult would it have been to put both of our names on the card, as the account and loan papers were jointly signed? Is my husband worth thanking but not me? Why not a photo on the front of the card that includes a woman? Or how about some literature in the branch about Women and Company or even just a stack of brochures on the loan officer’s desk that he could offer to female customers? The program isn’t easy to find from the Citibank web site either and that may be the biggest missed opportunity as online banking has the advantage of repeat exposure. Why go to such lengths to develop a women-specific program and not promote it?
There’s a myriad of statistics on the spending power that women wield today and a big reward waits for the financial services company willing to make women’s needs, and their solutions, front and center.