The Soccer Mom Myth

Have you ever wondered what would happen if you put two experts on your favorite topic together and let them discuss the topic? Would you have Robert Allen and Carlton Sheets exploring nothing down techniques? Or would you prefer Milton Friedman and Steven D. Levitt hashing out the social repercussions of school vouchers?

Me? I’d have Holly Buchanan and Michele Miller talk about marketing to women.

Michele’s Wonderbranding and Holly’s Marketing to Women Online are required reading on the subject. They’ve been sharing the stage in speaking engagements for a couple of years. I’ve been looking forward to their co-authored book, The Soccer Mom Myth, for most of the last year. Its been worth the wait.

Buchanan and Miller use examples we’ve all observed in real life to illustrate their points. They tell a story, for example, of a disagreement between their friend Heather and Heather’s financé. “From his perspective, the argument was not a big deal. In his male communication style, conflict is a normal part of how couples communicate. Heather, in her more female communication style, came away with a totally different interpretation of the argument. She looked at it as a breakup of the relationship.

Then they apply this observation to business: “Believe it or not, this same scene plays out with companies and brands, not just fiancés. She has a bad experience with your company or product. You think, “It was just a customer service call, she couldn’t get her questions answered and had to wait ten minutes to get a live person, that’s just a blip.” But to her, it’s a relationship ender. What to you may seem like small things can be huge to her.

Men and women communicate differently. No surprise there. But Buchanan and Miller note that there are times when one gender’s communication style is actually more effective with all customers. (Think men’s instructions and naming preferences with women’s categorization and navigation). By picking and choosing between gender specific tendencies, both genders will have a better shopping experience.

And thats a critical point The Soccer Mom Myth makes: improving the purchasing experience for women automatically makes the experience better for men, as well.

There are companies who are thinking they should market to women. This book will help them make giant strides in that direction.

Other companies recognize that the phrase “marketing to women” is already redundant. They simply call what they do “marketing.” The Soccer Mom Myth will help them refine their technique and establish a major head start over their competitors.

The Soccer Mom Myth, $19.95, 232 page hardcover, ships March 10. This book should be a part of every marketer’s library.

Chuck McKay is a marketing consultant who works with professional practices and owner operated businesses. Questions about marketing to women may be directed to


  1. Scott Siegel


    I’m one of those males that would figure it’s no big thing. But you are certainly right, the woman can have a very different perception of the incident. Unfortunately I have personal experience with some of those situations.

    But as you go on in the post and you talk about how certain traits of each gender might work better with all consumers? Now I’m not sure I exactly follow your logic. Are you saying that you need to market differently to men and women or you don’t need to market differently?

    If you have to market differently, then I would think that programs like Brauch’s as mentioned in the previous post would be much less effective since the program wouldn’t know whom you were marketing to.

  2. Chuck McKay

    Hi, Scott:

    Sorry that I wasn’t more clear.

    Some of the characteristics that are typically exhibited by one gender actually work well to communicate with both genders.

    For instance, women are not turned off by men’s typically simpler color choices, but men’s choices often turn out to be easier for both genders to read.

    This has added benefits when one takes into account the increased tendency among men to suffer from color blindness.

    The authors make the case that sometimes there’s no need to market differently to women than to men. They recommend marketers choose the characteristics which improve communication and persuasiveness to all people.

    Chuck McKay