by Julie Loeffler
As a business owner, I am constantly looking for new ways to encourage women to take a firearms safety fundamentals or personal defense fundamentals class and learn the benefits of being able to protect themselves and their loved ones in the event they are caught up in a life-threatening situation. As a woman, I am also constantly encouraging women to learn the social aspect of recreational shooting, discovering their local shooting range, and showing them all that the shooting industry has to offer.
As stated in numerous publications and studies, women are the fastest growing demographic in the firearms industry, mostly by default. Men have been the dominant presence in the industry since inception, so it only stands to reason that women would grow faster. The smaller the number, the more room for growth, the larger the percentages. However, some of these studies and articles neglect the most important information about the female demographic: The fact that they make the majority of the financial decisions in the household on a consistent basis.
I realize this is not an absolute statement, but in general who makes the financial decisions in your household; pays the bills, balances the checkbook, buys the groceries, plans the vacations? If you are like the majority of America, that would be the female in your household. What that means to an industry business owner is this: You are going to have to designate a percentage of your marketing solely to women. The percentage is completely up to you (and your business model), but it will be a different tactic than what you would be taking with the male demographic.
Think I’m sounding sexist? Hardly. But I know from years of experience that women react better to certain types of marketing than others. Compound that with the fact that they are trying to educate themselves on an entirely new line of products, laws, safety, etc., you as a business owner have an opportunity to attract one of the most loyal segments in the market.
Women are different (no kidding, Julie). Okay, what I mean is we are wired differently. I’m not talking about instructional classes. In a classroom setting I agree with most instructors that women can be taught the same as men. I also don’t have a problem with all-female classes at an entry level either. Being comfortable in a new environment is crucial to learning. I’m talking about product discernment, brand loyalty. Women are incredibly loyal to a brand or business when they know the quality and customer service is exceptional. In essence, it’s what drives the fashion industry and the ‘must haves’ of the spring and fall shows. That was a total cliché, but it’s also an excellent example of how an industry finds out what their target market wants and then gives it to them. How do you do that? Whatever you make / do / sell / offer, it must be FOR women, ABOUT women, show them the value of having it and then back it up with a kick-ass customer service policy. Consider your advertisement as your elevator speech (if you don’t know, look it up). If you don’t get their attention in the first 15 seconds, or they see something offensive within those 15 seconds, they are on to the next business. Another example is to support what they support. Cause marketing is big with women. Donate to female charities or give back to the community, and make it known. Women have to learn about your business, and it won’t be because they just picked up the latest issue of Gun Magazine X.
Should women meet businesses half way in getting to know what is available? Yes, but as the one in the industry make it inviting for the curious person to take that next step. You make it comfortable for one, she tells her friends, they blog / FB / tweet, someone writes an article in a female publication or two and BAM! You have just become the safe haven for women who want to learn . . . and buy.
Owner and operator of Mid-Ohio IMB (Delaware, OH), is an Associate Instructor in the IMB Academy, the school founded by Richard “The Iron Dragon” Bustillo, which continues to teach the concepts of Bruce Lee’s Jeet