NSSF Summit - What Women Want

I have recently returned from Savannah GA and the 2015 NSSF Summit. The NSSF is the trade association for the firearms industry. It is here that the captains of the industry gather to discuss important issues and trends in the industry and look toward the future to work to grow and protect all aspects of the shooting sports.

I am honored to have been invited to speak on two topics related to women shooters. Today, I will share with you my first presentation, which was titled “What Women Want.” I must say, I was a bit nervous. Normally, I am pretty cool when I get the chance to speak, but this was a little different. Here I was speaking directly to the industry. To the men and women who are the decision makers. The manufacturers and industry giants that influence exactly what the industry does and doesn’t do and I was there to tell them what women want from them!

Minutes before speaking, I checked The Well Armed Woman Facebook page and was reminded in an instant what the task truly was. It was to represent you, the woman shooter and share with the industry candidly – what you want.

So I did. I didn’t mince words and didn’t fluff up or sugar coat what I wanted to communicate on your behalf. Yes I was nervous, but not because I am uncomfortable speaking publically, but because I wanted to do right by you and do you proud.

Here is what I presented to them; I hope I voiced your desires accurately on your behalf:

What Women Want

The firearms industry is a great industry. It is and does an exceptional job doing what it has done forever, meeting the needs of the male shooter. The challenge before the industry is that there are millions of women entering and landing right smack in the middle of this testosterone fog!

“We do include women in our marketing” you say. The truth is, marketing TO women is different than marketing WITH women!

I will talk straight with you. You can take it or you can leave it, the choice is yours. If you want to truly meet the needs of the woman shooter, you will need to understand a few things.

First, it is imperative that to understand what women want from the industry, the industry must understand how women are different, really different. It must understand how this translates into marketing, product development and training.  

Women Are Different 

  • Women’s bodies are different. These physical differences naturally cause numerous unique needs and challenges that must be addressed in terms of shooting, training and in product development.

But it goes way beyond just our bodies.

  • Our brains operate differently and process information differently than a man’s. A 2013 Penn University shows that a man’s brain has more intra-hemispheric connections (connections within the same side of the brain) while a woman’s brain has more inter-hemispheric connections (connections between opposite sides of the brain). This means that women are learning and approaching information in very different ways. This is significant in marketing, selling and training women. 
  • We take a different path and journey to gun ownership. Life has changed for women as they are moving from the generational position of being the protected to becoming their own self-protector. Women have been raised differently and as life givers and nurturers we have a lot of new territory to cover and questions that need answering. 
  • This is foreign territory for women. We are landing on a foreign planet! The industry must translate and help women navigate to it.  
  • Women are extremely intuitive and we know if we are welcomed and respected immediately. Trust a woman’s intuition. Why?  Because it’s right!
  • Women are relational and we live our lives out in community. Women process and make decisions through discussion and in relationships.
  • Women are extremely loyal!
  • Women are instruction followers and process information and new tasks one step at a time. We want to get it right and don’t want to make mistakes so we move cautiously through the process and want to make sure they grasp information before moving on.

THE KEY: The industry must understand and respect these differences and understand how they affect sales and training processes, then adjust accordingly.

“How does your store or range accommodate these differences? How does your staff? How could you do it better?”

Here are 4 things I believe women want, to help you:

  • Get women into your business
  • Know how treat them when they get there
  • Understand how to stock and display products that meet their needs
  • Keep them coming back

So what do women want and how do you get them into your business?  

1. Women Want To Be Welcome

  • You must want women there. Really want them there! Women will know in an instant if you don’t.  It would be better to not even try than to fake it.
  • Invite Women! Market to women and their needs, don’t just USE them in marketing efforts, speak to them and understand the differences. Let women know you want women there.
  • Create an environment that tells women they are wanted
    • Be the ‘Woman Friendly’ store or range in the area
    • Have woman-focused events/trainings
    • Have staff that can respectfully respond to their needs
    • Hire female staff
    • Hire female trainers – Yes, of course women CAN successfully train under men, but most women new to shooting, will be more comfortable with a female instructor
    • Have women on your boards of directors

If mom is shooting – the whole family is shooting! This not only impacts business, it also helps to raise up the next generation of shooters and Second Amendment protectors.

How do women want to be treated when they get there?

2. Women Want To Be Respected

·      Treat women like customers. That’s what they are! Treat them all with respect and if you and your staff are not seeing the women walking through your doors as customers - there is a serious problem.

Don’t let this happen!

“The male help completely ignored me at the gun counter. I stood there for 5 minutes and was the only person at the counter until a male customer showed up …the employee came right over to help him and not me. They lost my sale”

  • Yes, women are different, but their money isn’t! Watch, listen and evaluate staff. Train them to respectfully respond to the needs of your female customers.
  • Acknowledge the women that walk into your business
    • Make eye contact
    • Welcome them verbally and let them know immediately that you are there to help them and answer any questions when they are ready
  • DON’T make assumptions  - they are usually wrong.
  •  Identify ‘where the female customer is ’ on her journey first.  
  •  Ask them don’t tell them.
  • Answer their questions. Yes there may be many but remember the differences and the different journey women are on

·      Be patient and respectful.  

  •  Transactions with women are relational and conversational. This is how they process the information. If you can’t ‘relate’ to them, you won’t be able to sell or teach to them.
  • Women will share their experiences with their entire community – this will either make or break your reputation as a women friendly store/range.

How to stock products for the female customer?

3. Women Want To Be Listened To

·      Don’t think you know what they want.  Ask them what they want. It might just surprise you. Talk to them and survey them for what they want

·      WOMEN WANT MORE THAN PINK – They want the best gun and gear that meets their needs. Pink is a beautiful color, but it’s not enough, they need more depth of options in accessories as well as guns and in more ways than just color.

·      Token women’s products without much ‘thought’ won’t get you very far with savvy women clients. It takes more than colored range bags and CC purses! They need the accessories and equipment to own/shoot/clean and store their firearms, have the options and help them to understand them.

·      Do your research - they are!  You know everything about every detail of the products you are currently carrying, take the time to learn women’s products. How they are different and why!

How do you keep your female customer coming back?

4. Women Want Relationship

  • Women are relational and are looking for an ongoing, long-term relationship with you.
  • All relationships require ongoing attention
  • Be creative!
  • Offer courses/programing that meet their needs  -
    • Ladies Nights are not enough!
    • Host a women’s shooting chapter group
    • Offer drawing from different holster locations/CC purse
    • Offer RTBV/Situational Awareness/Women’s self defense, women’s defensive handgun courses
    • Host a women’s gun shopping day
    • Hold a gun cleaning clinic
    • Provide educational events such as concealed carry and home defense legal presentations
    • Have holster/gun demonstrations fairs

Just like any relationship, you must invest in it. The rewards are worth it!

The women’s market is here. It’s growing and it’s not going away. You have a choice to make and you likely have some adjustments to make. Remember, women offer you a new and very profitable market. You can continue to meet the needs of your male customers just they way you have been, but to effectively meet the needs of the female client, you must incorporate some new ways of doing things. 

The businesses that are grasping these differences and adjusting to them are leading the way and seeing the results.

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