Ms. Marketing

Some time ago Gerry Myers, a divorcée who ran her own public-relations firm, set out to buy a car-and the experience changed her life. After one salesman told her, “We’ll handle the finances. Don’t you worry about a thing, honey,” and another asked why such a smart lady couldn’t make a decision, Myers Realized these men had no idea how to sell to women.

So Myers started a business teaching companies how to market to the female consumer-starting with the automotive industry’. She found that although women now purchase more than 50 percent of all cars and influence buying decisions in 80 percent of all cases, marketing practices have not changed with the times. If a husband and wife shop together, for example, salespeople usually send thank-you notes to the man, even if the woman is buying the car.

In Myers’ half-day seminars, she tells her listeners that women network about purchases more than men do. relying strongly on each other’s word. If they have an unpleasant buying experience, they tell their friends.

Myers says that women do not like to negotiate, they do not like high pressure and they do not like to be called honey or hon. Many salesmen, Myers says, have delusions about the market. “One salesman told me, if a woman comes in with two small children, I assume that she isn’t going to buy because her husband isn’t there.’ ” Unlike men, says Myers, women don’t look at cars for the fun of it. If they a visit a showroom alone, it’s usually because they’re serious about buying a car.

Harmon Gibbons, corporate trainer for several deal erships, including Freeman Oldsmobile-Mazda, says Myers’ seminars are both refreshing and helpful, espe cially since the dealerships have so few female employ ees. “There is definitely a difference in the woman buyer,” Gibbons says. That difference now pays Gerry Myers’ rent.

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