By Leslie Grossman
How Companies Can Capture Today's Hottest Market: Women Business Owners and Executives
Sellsation! Book Cover

Get an copy of SELLsation!
at a special online price!

I could not put SELLsation! down. As well as a critical roadmap, it is such fun to read! Companies that adhere to Leslie Grossman's 7-Step C.R.E.A.T.E.S. program will most certainly enhance their company?s profitability and at the same time receive accolades from the women?s business and networking community at large.”

Judy George, founder and CEO of Domain Home Fashions, Inc. and co-author of The Domain Book of Intuitive Home Design and The Intuitive Businesswoman

Inside Peek

  • Contents
  • Chapter 1: The C.R.E.A.T.E.S. 7-Step Formula for Marketing Successfully to Women Business Owners, Executives and Professionals
  • Chapter 2: C is for Community — Engaging Women in Communities They Trust and in Your Own ‘Club’

Chapter 2: C is for Community — Engaging Women in Communities They Trust and in Your Own ‘Club’

It feels like I have been an entrepreneur all my life, so much so that I sometimes think my blood is type E. But of course, I have had the experience of working for other people, which I believe is important. Right after graduation from George Washington University, where I majored in psychology and minored in business, I moved to New York City and got my first job. It was at AIRCO, a chemical and plastics company. I had the lofty title of Administrative Assistant to the Director of Advertising.” After a couple of years there, I got my second job at Longchamps, which was then a major restaurant chain, as assistant to both the Directors of Advertising and Public Relations. Being me, I had to do my own thing. So, while I was at Longchamps, I also took on a freelance account, which was Shun Lee Dynasty, Shun Lee Palace and Hunan, the first Szechuan and Hunan Chinese restaurants in the country. When my public relations boss left Longchamps, I was so convinced of my extraordinary marketing skills that I brazenly marched in and asked the President of Longchamps to make me Director of PR. After he got over his shock, not surprisingly, he said no. Since he now knew I was not content in my supportive position, I had to go! That led to my opening my first firm, Leslie Grossman Communications, at the age of 23.

For this budding entrepreneur, my first and greatest inspiration was my dad. He owned a furniture store and was a self-described “marketing madman,” way before Crazy Eddie and his ilk. Dad ran full-page ads in the daily newspaper in York, Pennsylvania, where I grew up, with a brilliant branding ploy. In all the ads, he called himself “Dog Face Jack.” I’m not sure exactly where he got that name from, but I do know that dogface was a World War II term, and that my dad was a tail gunner in the Air Force. Nonetheless, his customers seemed to know what it meant; people from all over York County came in to buy furniture from Dog Face Jack. Overall, he was quite a guy! I naturally saw that Dad worked long hours, and likewise recognized that what he did was far from easy. But I also observed, especially as I got older, that by owning the business, humble as it was, he remained in control of his own destiny.

My mother, Charlotte, was my inspiration in another important way. When she was single, she had served as the advertising director of Stardust Lingerie, located in the Empire State Building in NYC. It was the Victoria’s Secret of its time. Right after World War II, Mom married Dad and they moved to York, where he started his business. Although Mom was mostly a homemaker, she did have her own radio show for a few years called “Chatter with Charlotte.” She had an incredible personality, was very smart and always advocated equal opportunities and status for women in all areas of life.

I didn’t understand the influence my parents’ careers had on my life until recently. Now, with a grown son and daughter of my own, both of them trying to make their way in the world, I understand the full impact both my parents had on me in terms of my professional interests and choices.

Socially, I was always outgoing—a lot like my parents—and frankly, I really liked taking charge. I guess people recognized that because I was elected president of several clubs and organizations. I also always worked after school. The odd jobs I took on in middle school and high school included everything from addressing envelopes to selling baby clothes at Sears. Then, during college, I worked as a marketing assistant at the American Psychological Association and later did a turn at a marketing firm.

After college, as my entrepreneurial career grew, I began to discover women’s business associations. I saw how they provide excellent support for women on so many different levels. In addition to inspiring their members through talks and seminars, I recognized the awesome power of networking. In my case, networking has personally garnered me many great business leads. I picked up both Saab Cars and the BBC as clients through referrals from women with whom I networked. I also learned that the more you give, the more you receive, and regularly offered other women business owners and executives help and leads. As an active member of business associations, I made a number of lifelong friends, and they became part of my extended “community.” These experiences also laid the foundation for C.R.E.A.T.E.S. and for Women’s Leadership Exchange.

All the businesses I have run in my life (all five of them) have been centered on my special area of expertise, which is marketing and, in particular, how companies can best market their products and services to women. Over the years I created marketing and public relations campaigns for such women-targeted brands as Almay cosmetics, Swatch Watch, The Gap and the Platinum Guild International (PGI), among others. Traveling the country working with accomplished women in these and other companies, I discovered that women in business were indeed a unique phenomenon, distinct from the larger mass market of “women.” In 1998, my firm, CMA, was hired by Richard D’Ambrosio, then Director of Public Affairs for American Express’s Small Business Services Group, which subsequently became OPEN from American Express. OPEN is now WLE’s presenting sponsor. My assignment for this client was to identify marketing opportunities that would reach women business owners. The work I did for Richard led me to start the B2Women division of CMA. Later, after I sold CMA, I spun B2Women into a separate consultancy, one that I still run.

That is my background—which brings us to the first part of the C.R.E.A.T.E.S. program, C for Community. Supporting businesswomen and women business owners in Community is about Commitment and Connection. It is precisely within these business communities that women participate that corporations have an unparalleled opportunity to connect with them and show their commitment. “Community” can also mean that your company actually creates your own business community, one that will provide businesswomen with a sense of belonging.

Women hunger for real-world, in-person communities. Why? Because the lives of women business owners and women professionals are so incredibly full that, paradoxically, we often feel isolated. If that sounds strange, consider that because we are so focused on achieving our goals, we often try to do it all—keep up with our deadlines and demands at work, meet the needs of our families, take care of our homes and pets, and find the time to eat right, exercise and stay healthy. We do want to reach out for help and support, but do not always know where to find it. Or if we do know where to find that help, we often can’t—or let’s face it, think we can’t—spare
the time, or perhaps don’t know how to ask for what we need.

Speaking of being time-starved, please allow me a digression here on multitasking. Just because we CAN multitask doesn’t mean we SHOULD. Women business owners are, I think, the worst offenders. I should know. Not only am I one of these multitaskers, I’m surrounded by thousands of others like me at our conferences. We get in traffic accidents or have many close calls while we drive, eat breakfast in the car and make business or personal calls on our cell phones, all while we worry about being late for the meeting or think about how we’re going to close the sale with the customer or client we’re about to meet. At our desks, we spill coffee on our computers while we’re on a conference call and at the same time doing e-mail. The people on the other end of the call hear us typing on the keyboard (the sound of the keys is magnified on the speakerphone) and know we’re mulitasking. Naturally, they are insulted because they know you are not really listening when you are multitasking, which means you may blow the deal and the relationship. I’m no angel, but I’m working hard these days to do only two things at a time instead of five! As a result, I am less stressed, and my relationships with family, friends and colleagues have definitely improved!

Even when we do make a conscious effort to slow down and do one (or two) things at a time, we “jugglers” still find it difficult to stay in touch with friends, let alone make new ones. It is just as difficult for us to keep up with all our business contacts. Besides trying to do too much, many of us are perfectionists, so we are never satisfied or able to fully “let go.” The bottom line is that there just never seems to be enough time, and we all have the same 24/7 to work with.

Think about this in your own life. What are you juggling? And do you ever feel frustrated when you want to talk to someone, a friend, relative or colleague or you have a pressing business issue, and wish you had someone you could discuss it with? Perhaps it’s one of those days when you reach voicemail with every person you call, and then the moment passes. Where’s our support network when we need it? They are probably as time-starved as you are—even as they want to reach out to you as well.

A great many of the traditional structures that used to provide support are gone, especially on a personal level. Maybe we’ve moved away from the people who formed our network of family and friends and no longer have helpful parents, aunts, uncles or siblings nearby, or even friendly neighbors. Gone for many, if not most of us, is the small town “where everyone knows your name.” It is a significant loss.

Human beings are social creatures that, in our deepest longings, crave community. Anyone who doubts this should ponder how the Internet has crept into our lives. Even five years ago, none of us were sending dozens or even hundreds of e-mails a week (for some, a day) to friends, bosses, colleagues, potential dates and mates. Nor were many of us joining online special interest groups and communities, talking to strangers who were likewise gourmet foodies, pet lovers, cancer survivors, young professionals with children, new parents, buyers and sellers, collectors, etc., and receiving often instant answers to our messages. Before the Internet, we actually saw people face-to-face or called them on the telephone much more often than we do now.

While the Internet can be a great help in many ways, let’s face the reality that it has also become yet another time-intensive chore that adds to our lengthy to-do list. And this, in its own way, adds to our isolation. The Internet is wonderful in many ways as a means of instant communication, yet it can also be exasperating and sometimes hazardous. Women in business, especially, often overuse it. I call the Internet, and in particular e-mail, an “extreme communications tool!” What does this mean for a business? If any company, whether they are an Internet company per se or have an Internet component, does not also have a human component, they are
missing out big time. Your Web site can and must be user-friendly and helpful for your women customers. But keep in mind that you should not allow it to replace face-to-face (or voice-tovoice) contact. That is a common mistake companies make!

Community is a powerful thing. Everyone wants to feel they belong. Anything a company can do to actively participate in or offer women a safe community, a place where we can ask each other questions, bond and seek mutual support, will win that company the loyalty of women in business.

The question to ponder here is: How can your company help this frantically busy businesswoman? Answer that question, and you’ll have that woman appreciatively on your side.

If you are not clear how Community will help your brand, consider these two facts:
(1) 70% of women believe they learn the most about a new product from a person who already owns it. (Source: Yankelovich)
(2) Women are three times more apt than men are to recommend brands when they know their friends are looking for a specific product or service. (Source: The Intuition Group)

We’ve found that women business owners and professionals that are active in professional associations are particularly good at sharing information, referrals and recommendations, so you want to be right there with them, in those organizations, or in one you have created for them.

Women in Business Fact Box: Fact #5
Belief: One in 14 U.S. workers is employed by a woman-owned business!
Fact: One in 7 U.S. workers is employed by a woman-owned business!

Brought to you by Neighborology - Where neighbors come together