From Michele Miller’s blog Wonderbranding:
To really capture the heart of a female customer, you have to get to know her from the inside out, and learn to speak the right language that will persuade her to do business with you. It’s all about human behavior, which lies at the heart of everything Michele Miller teaches.
Michele Miller has been an avid student of human behavior for nearly 30 years. A classical musician by training, she also holds degrees in education and business administration. She has worked for companies as small as Diapers Unlimited delivery service (where she discovered the true meaning of customer service and loyalty) and as large as The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, and Sirius Satellite Radio. She also devoted seven years to growing her own public relations firm in New York, with such clients ranging from major record labels to the “Live From Lincoln Center” television series.
As a partner in the Wizard of Ads consulting firm, Michele maintains a powerful roster of dynamic businesses across North America, ranging from small businesses to major brands like Best Buy and Timberland.
Michele is the author of “The Soccer Mom Myth” (Wizard Academy Press), a “Top 20″ marketing books list seller on Amazon.com, and “The Natural Advantages of Women,” the audio book that has been hailed for its concepts, principles, and new scientific information that explains how the female brain is “hardwired” for personal greatness.”
Her blog on female consumers, WonderBranding, has won awards from Marketing Sherpa and Forbes.com, and was featured in Seth Godin’s ebook, “Bull Marketing.” Michele is the marketing columnist for Inc.com, the web companion to Inc. business magazine.
Tim: Thanks for taking the time to do this, Michele. I called you about doing this interview because the other day I was on your speaking page at Wonderbranding and noticed an addition to your engagement section. It said you were going to Sweden in March … Sweden … so, Michele, how the heck did that happen?
Michelle: [laughs] Well, I have to tell you, it happened thanks to social media. Those who don’t believe in it, you know I’ve been blogging now for almost seven years now, I can’t believe it and through that and connecting with Facebook and Twitter and there is throughout, of course I write a lot about the female customer but also about your female employees within your business that in many ways are your customers as well. And someone read one of my posts, started following me, became a Facebook friend of mine and the next thing I know I get an invitation doing an economic counsel conference for the Prime Minister of Sweden because they have a mandate that 50% of businesses in Sweden will be owned by women I believe it’s by 2014.
Currently one third of women own businesses and so they decided that they wanted someone to talk about communicating with women, which is what I write a lot about, and invited me over there to speak at this Prime Minister’s conference on economic growth. So it’s kind of exciting.
Tim: Now I’m looking at your speaker’s page on www.wonderbranding.com and I see a couple of different topics here. What talk are you giving in Sweden at the Prime Minister’s economic conference?
Michelle: Well I’m taking the part about women’s communication style and then breaking it down into something that you’re very familiar with which is basically the four personality types and showing them how you communicate differently to these different personality types putting my own spin on it, not getting heavily into Myers Briggs but you know I have my own version of it that I do but just to get them thinking differently about that all women don’t communicate the same, they don’t take input the same way through their brains, they have different operating systems.
And maybe to get them to recognize that a little bit more and help them because they just can’t get enough women to start their own business and here’s a government that has programs that essentially pays for women to start their own business and they’re not getting enough women applying for it which I find astounding. In this country if they offered something like that women would go crazy with it.
Michelle: So it’s a little bit of that and also I know that there’s some sort of one on one, I don’t know who it is from Sweden’s economic counsel is going to, we’re going to sit down across and do sort of a actor studio kind of discussion…
Tim: On an infinitely smaller scale, I’ve just been asked this morning in fact to speak at not a woman’s conference but a woman’s college to a group of students about the many, many, many mistakes I’ve made over the course of my 20 years of doing this that they don’t have enough time. They’ve given me a couple of hours and I’m going to bribe them with pizza and beer to do this. But I’m going to be speaking to the next generation of sharp, smart, fearless young women who frighten me and who I don’t understand in the slightest.
Michelle: You mean the father of a new little girl?
Tim: You had to go and bring that up, too, to add insult to injury. Thanks. What in the world should I tell these young women because we don’t have a program in this country that almost subsidizes and encourages them to get out on the skinny end of the branch and start their own businesses. What should I tell these young ladies?
Michelle: Well I think you’re in a special circumstance also because it’s a women’s college. I think you’ve got a very special group of young women you’re going to go speak to because it takes a specific decision to go to an all women’s college. If I were to go back I would have gone to an all female college in a heartbeat I think just because it allows … it gets rid of all of that extraneous distraction and you really have to focus on what you’re there for.
So I think you’re going to have a unique group, probably a lot of those young women will have ended up started their own business. And I think if I were to tell them something I’d say don’t be afraid of doing that, that your timing is excellent.
I think our culture is such that corporations are learning this and need to go a lot further but it’s not about the 9 to 5 anymore, it’s more about flextime, it’s more about working from home, telecommuting, it’s more about women who are making conscious decisions now that I don’t have to be superwoman and have it all, I may work at a career for awhile and then I may get off the track and raise my children until they get into elementary school and then I’ll get back in, maybe I’ll start my own business; they don’t have that straight and narrow linear thought process as much anymore as they used to.
Michelle: So I would say don’t have the fear, but focus, focus, focus on whatever it is you’re doing at the moment, give that your focus. You hear me talk a lot and I write about it a lot, that has just become so important to me. It took me until I was 45 to figure it out before the quality of life is improved greatly, and it’s hard, as I say you have to know what to say no to and that means sometimes saying no to someone you love, someone you care about, someone you want to help. But in the long run, the quality of life for everyone is much improved when you learn a little sooner to say no to certain things.
I think as women we tend to think that we have to say yes to everything because that right brain connection that women have that four times into the right brain, it’s an interesting phenomenon of wanting to please, wanting to make people happy, feeling more strongly about being the caregiver.
So, that’s a real struggle for women. I talk about gender difference in terms of operating process but one thing I do believe in is that women carry a heavy burden because of that brain connection about wanting to please and wanting to take care of people and finding it very very difficult to say no to people.
Tim: For those of people who in my tens of followers who haven’t read one of your books where you talk about these connections – you’re talking about four times the connections you mentioned a connection – what specifically are you referring to?
Michelle: Well we talk about the brain very quickly being divided into the left side and the right side of the brain and scientific evidence shows us that the left side of the brain is used mostly for linear thinking, it’s the side of science and numbers and with regard to language it is the home of nouns, it’s where we look at something and give it a noun, give it a name but the right side is more the home of imagination, bonding with other human beings, connecting as a big picture type of vision.
And women have, this is another scientific piece of evidence, women have four times as many connections from the left brain into the right brain which accounts for a lot of what we call the executive brain multitasking, how can women do so many things at the same time, four times the speed but it also means the burden is four times the number of signals that are coming in and being translated. Tapping deeper into that connection and doesn’t mean that men don’t have it, it just happens quicker and a little deeper with women.
So, that feeling of care giving, taking care of people, needing to say yes because you feel obligated a little more, I sincerely believe that it’s tougher for women than it is for men in many cases and I’m painting in broad brushstrokes but I do believe that.
Tomorrow, in part two, we’ll look at some companies that get it … that are doing things right … and who you might look to as a role model or mentor when you start your own company … Michele Miller’s an international speaker and her blog, Wonderbranding, is a fantastic resource for understanding what makes women do the things they do.
For providing that understanding, I suspect one day she’ll be returning to Sweden – Stockholm, this time … where they’ll give her a laurel wreath and Nobel Prize for finally enlightening us mouth-breathing-belly-scratching-idiot-males about why women do confound us so.