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Leading Ladies

Women rule the marketplace, says one author. So why aren't ad-makers catching on?

American women are the world's largest economy, yet few businesses market effectively to them, says Chicago marketing consultant Martha Barletta. In Marketing to Women (Dearborn), Barletta details how women control 83 percent of all consumer purchases (as well as many business budgets), including 94 percent of furniture purchases and two-thirds of health-care spending.

Barletta also shows how businesses muff their marketing to this audience by relying on tools developed for male shoppers. In one example, Barletta recounts how a carmaker's ad plugged a vehicle with: "Victorious. That's how you feel behind the wheel." Her point is that while men tend to endorse ambition, women see such statements as self-aggrandizing; they'd prefer to be told how owning the car would help them feel connected to friends and family.

Barletta also offers a step-by-step guide for creating and executing a complete women-targeting marketing plan, starting with ways to identify women buyers for your product and progressing through strategizing, messages, marketing media and more. It's a message marketers of either gender would do well to heed.

Gut Feelings

Decision-makers who think they rationally weigh alternatives and select the best are kidding themselves, says management consultant Gary Klein. In fact, he says, intuition is the prime force behind 90 percent of decisions made at work and play. Now, in Intuition at Work (Currency/Doubleday), Klein aims to provide tools for building and using intuitive ability. Klein doesn't always succeed; his discussion of how to employ intuition and hard data concludes that metrics must be formulated to fit our intuition, without telling us how to do that. But he consistently raises questions that deserve answers. Searching for solutions will very likely make most entrepreneurs better decision-makers.

Mark Henricks writes on business and technology issues for leading publications and is the author of Not Just a Living.

This story appears in the April 2003 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »