"young woman smiling"By Yvonne DiVita

The phrase “Resistance is Futile” comes from the old Star Trek TV series. In it, the Borg, described in Wikipedia as “a fictional pseudo-race of cybernetic organisms,” travel the universe with the goal of assimilating other races into their “hive”. Their success rate is legendary.

It’s Futile to Resist… women shoppers

I maintain that women are the New Borg. We have the power and the reach to assimilate any and all products and services – and if you do not bend to our will, we will take our handbags and wallets and embrace (assimilate) your competitors.

Technology is one reason we’re able to do this. Technology, via social media, has given us a way to connect with each other across vast distances. It’s enabled us to talk to each other, all day, every day, about … well, anything. But, the reality is much simpler. Women like to share. We used to meet at the village well – to gossip and chat and share childcare or marriage advice. We used to have coffee klatches where we would share baking recipes and more. Today, we have blogs and twitter and Facebook, and we do the very same things there that we did at the well or in coffee klatches, but today – our power has grown exponentially by virtue of the size of our networks. And today, we also talk business.

Think of it this way, women shop after dropping the kids off at soccer practice, or in front of their computer, after the kids are in bed. Their weapon is the click of a mouse, their power is infinite – each one of them is connected to hundreds of others, who are connected to hundreds of others, and on and on, to infinity. There is nothing cybernetic about them, but they control your whole world with their fingertips; your business success, your product development, even what kind of car you drive. They watch what you do, what you say, and how you treat their friends. And they gather in flocks to talk about you – day after day. To ignore them is futile!

Accepting women as the New Borg is not as hard or as scary as it sounds. A recent report by One Up Web, showed that in 2008, 94.1 million blog readers and 55 million users on Facebook were creating “earned content” (content not bought like traditional advertising also sometimes referred to as user-generated content) and attracting the major search engines in a big way. One Up Web noted that is it no longer enough to optimize your website – now you must optimize “your online presence.” If search has been assimilated—how can you resist?

It’s time to accept that user-generated content makes the ultimate decision on who you are. And Google listens! http://www.oneupweb.com/landing/09_searchhaschanged/ It’s time to understand that women are a masters at user-generated content. Women from all walks of life; mommy bloggers, professionals, consultants, cooks, physicians, and more. These are women who have a lot to share and could be sharing you and your business, if you but give them the right opportunity to do so.

Customer Engagement: SOP in a Web 2.0 World

This does not mean you should jump on the social media bandwagon with both feet, eyes closed in fear, as it careens down the bumpy path of authenticity and open, honest conversations. It does not mean thinking “pink” or adding a “for women only” link to your services page. It means working with professionals who can teach you best practices, work with you to establish measurable ROI (yes, there is a measurable ROI to social media), and ultimately, guide you through that learning curve, relevant to the ways women are gathering online. Lesson One: You must be willing to talk with your women customers, not at them. Take the time to learn how your women customers are using social media tools. Engage them where they are, not where you’d like them to be. http://www.booksblogsandbeyond.com/2009/03/following-a-leader-into-web-20.html

Cheap and Free, it’s Not

In a February 2009 article for Businessweek Online, social media expert, BL Ochman debunked six media myths surrounding social media. Her #1 myth, “Social media is cheap, if not free” stands out as a prime misconception about social media (which is why it’s #1, of course!).

According to BL, the tools of engagement – the YouTubes, the Flickrs, the Nings, the Diggs and their like – offer free versions, indeed. But, to what end, one must ask? Her answer: “…integrating these tools into a corporate marketing program requires skill, time, and money. The budget for an effective social media marketing campaign begins at $50,000 for two to three months.”

That’s two to three months of work – not a week of throwing up a blog, followed by a week of showing off your VP of Sales singing “High Hopes” on YouTube. It’s dedicating time and resources – to learning how to approach and embrace women online. If you accept that it’s futile to resist, that women are now and will always be a positive focus for your business, you are on the path to success. Ignore this growing voice online to your own detriment. They will discover your lack of attention. And they will tell Google – which will ultimately make you invisible.

It’s time to stop whining about the economy. Think, instead, about women and marketing and how they’re so comfortable online. Know that women want to work with you, buy what you sell – just on their terms, not yours. Put yourself in their hands and watch your profits soar. It’s truly futile to resist a compelling force that can work wonders for you – if you just let it!

In addition to being one of the 100 Women in Ecommerce for 2012, Yvonne DiVita is President, Windsor Media Enterprises, Inc. Visit her at Lipsticking, a blog about Marketing to Women Online www.lipsticking.com and follow her on twitter: @lipsticking