Sunday, May 24, 2009

Yes And - No Buts

Dear Readers,

Recently I was asked to be part of a panel on social media for women entrepreneurs, and while I was there, I was lucky enough to have met Lauren Porat, Co-Founder, Urban Interns. We had previously met on, and I was glad to put a face to the Tweet!

We were talking about the ebbs and flows of being a start up (Lauren's company helps start ups find interns and assistants who are willing to work for little or no pay in return for a great resume building experience) when she said something that I've never been able to articulate myself.

Lauren was asking me about recommendations for a vendor. When I made mention of one, she asked: "Are the a "Yes And" team or a "No But" team? I can't deal anymore with vendors who say no and don't help me solve my problem. I need vendors who say "Yes -AND we can also help even more!"

AHA! I know that feeling. It's that feeling you get when you pitch a vendor a problem that needs solving, and they throw back a curve-ball: "No. No we can't do that. No we can't solve that problem." Entrepreneurs like Lauren and I also read that as: "No and you're wasting my time...go solve it yourself."

Pain points are dealt with daily as an entrepreneur. Once we decide to start our own businesses, we know what we know, and we look to others to help us with the stuff we don't know. When we're good entrepreneurs, nothing gets us feeling stuck. We're about moving forward, not about standing still.

Entrepreneurs know that there's a solution for just about everything. And we need vendors who get that. We need vendors who go out of their way to help. We need vendors who are as passionate about building spectacular results as we are.

If we know you are going to say no often when we ask the question, we'll stop asking. And that's not good for either businesses.

I want to work with "Yes And" people, not "No But" people.

Yes I do. Thanks, Lauren.

Auntie Melanie

PS Have you joined the Savvy Auntie Fan Page?

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Reactors and Creators

Dear Readers,

There are two types of people in the world: Reactors and Creators.

Reactors let the world happen to the them.

Creators make the world happen.

Which one are you?

Auntie Melanie

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Dear Madison Avenue, Please Don't Wish Me a Happy Mother's Day

Dear Readers,

Last May, before I launched, I wrote a blog post about childless women and Mother's Day. It's been one of my most popular posts to-date and so I thought this year, I would simply update the data and re-post.

(First published on May 2, 2008. Data has been updated for 2009)

Dear Madison Avenue,

Please don't wish me a Happy Mother's Day.

It's not that I don't appreciate the wishes. And I don't mean to be the "Ebenezer Scrooge" of Mother's Day. It's a perfectly lovely holiday.

But I am not a mother.

And it's not that I don't want to be. I personally do. But for now, I am not a mother.

So when I walk into your store, or open your e-newsletter, or receive your direct mail, please don't wish me a Happy Mother's Day.

Don't get me wrong. I love mothers. I admire the work and energy it takes to be a mother.
In fact, some of my best friends are mothers. But some are not. In fact, some of your girlfriends are probably not mothers either. Stop. Look around. Chances are about 50% of the women you know are not mothers. Especially since you live in a big city like New York.

Madison, or Ms Avenue if you prefer, just look at the US census report on fertility. In 2006 (the latest report) 45.1% of women up to the age of 44 were counted as "childless." (The number of women over the age of 44 who are non-moms is not recorded.) That's up from 44.6% in 2004. And 43% in 2001. So the numbers are growing. Year after year. After year.

For every Mom out there, there is a Non-Mom. Some by choice. Some yet to be. Some who just can't. None of these women want your Happy Mother's Day wishes. In fact, you are probably hurting some feelings along the way.

But Madison, you're a smart marketer. You can step away from the decades-old idea that moms are the most powerful spenders in the US. Perhaps at education and kids' necessities like diapers and milk they are. Sure. But women in general are the most lucrative consumers for marketers. And we've come a long way, baby. 85% of women make or influence the purchasing decisions in their household. The household, by the way, may be a family of four, or a single abode for one. For the first time, more women than men are buying cars, consumer electronics, homes and doing home renovations. And you might be surprised to hear that 50% of single women own their own homes.

Since the 1960's, when women were finally opening bank accounts in their own names, you have been focusing your marketing strategies on Mom since that is how you have traditionally identified "Woman." But it's 2009 and times have changed. Today, non-moms actually have greater purchasing power because they are not supporting children, because a greater portion of non-moms than moms are still in the workforce, and because they have more time for leisure and travel.

Which doesn't mean that non-moms don't love children. Non-moms have nieces and nephews, by relation or by choice, and other children in their lives that they love and embrace (and spoil!).

Madison, since you are a woman who works in advertising and marketing, you may have heard that I call this segment of women: PANKs (Professional Aunts, No Kids.) PANK is the New PINK. We are the fastest growing segment of affluent women in America - the women you should be focusing some really smart attention on.

So don't turn us off. Don't keep assuming all women are moms. Do better targeting and segmenting. Find the women who spend their discretionary income and time on the kids in their lives - and on themselves. We're here. We're listening. And we're ready to buy.

In the meantime, go ahead with your Mother's Day plans. I too wish all moms a beautiful day full of all the love and joy that motherhood brings.

But please, don't wish the rest of us a Happy Mother's Day.

Because the thing is, we're not moms.

Auntie Melanie Notkin