Writing for a women audience today is vastly different as compared to decades ago. In the past, women were generally expected to follow conventional rules and social norms, and the media they watched reflected this. In the past, topics such as home management, fashion, and relationships were specifically written with women in mind — and often in a condescending or patronizing tone.
Today, topics that specifically target women have become more diverse. More women are reading and writing about topics like politics, business, and science; most of these materials are also written with nuance and gender sensitivity.
As more and more women enter the workforce and leave behind traditional gender roles, they are changing the marketing landscape and driving the economy too — let’s show that in numbers:
- Women drive 70% to 80% of consumer purchasing decisions.
- 85% of women say they will remain loyal to a brand they like.
- 94% of women between the ages of 15 to 35 shop online everyday.
As marketers, we have to ask ourselves: How do I write great copy that appeals to women?
Producing great copy that resonates with women is like painting a picture: it takes time, effort, and skill! Copywriting and painting may seem like two vastly different fields, but in reality, they share many similarities. To write great copy or paint a masterpiece, you need to be able to make people feel something, get your message across, and hold their attention.
Explore the ways in which copywriting is similar to painting and use these ideas to improve your copy.
1. Form Detailed Observations
Before a brush even makes contact with a canvas, an artist has to be adept at observing the very person or item they want to immortalize in a painting. An artist must capture their physical appearance and also bring out their character to give meaning to their artwork.
Writing for women also requires detailed observations. You have to understand your customers’ lifestyles, needs, and preferences. Like how an artist focuses on shapes, contours, and color tones, copywriters should also see things from various angles and understand different perspectives.
Let’s take bras and lingerie as an example. A lot of people think that bras are all the same; they are also often marketed as a secondary need or a frivolous item to please partners (no thanks to the male gaze). From designing bras to creating and marketing them, it actually requires an intimate knowledge of how the body works. The purpose of a bra isn’t just to cover the breasts or make women “look better”; bras are supposed to support, lift, shape, and hold them in place — functionality, comfort, and aesthetics are all equally important!
When it comes to bras and lingerie, all women have different preferences depending on their level of activity, personal style, sizes, and shapes. Breastfeeding mothers will prioritize convenience and comfort; sportswomen will opt for durability and good support; everyday women will want something that is comfortable yet stylish. Oh, don’t forget bralettes and fancy lingerie for special occasions — women deserve a little treat too!
Depending on many factors, women’s needs and preferences can be very different, so make sure to cater to your audience and speak their language.
2. Avoid Painting Broad Strokes
We mean it figuratively, of course. While it is the role of copywriters to understand our target audience and figure out their interests and needs, do not make sweeping generalizations about them! Copywriting and painting both require an understanding of their audience and a willingness to experiment and try new things. A good copywriter will avoid painting broad strokes and making generalizations; they will take the time to understand and niche down to the audience.
Did you know that many women face discrimination because of hair colors and styles? From a woman being cyberbullied because of her colorful hair to schools threatening to expel students with Afro hairdos, hair has always been a debatable and controversial topic in various settings.
Good copywriting should defy outdated and harmful stereotypes. To reject the conventional perception that “normal” hair is only straight and is black, brown, or blonde depending on your ethnicity, Dove’s #LoveYourHair campaign in 2016 showcased women of various physical appearances and hair styles, and urged them to wear their hair how they wanted, whenever they wanted to. In 2019, Dove also co-founded the CROWN Coalition to push for the CROWN Act (Creating a Respectful and Open World for Natural Hair) — a legislation that prohibits discrimination in schools or workplaces based on natural textures and protective hairstyles.
Don’t generalize your target audience in your copy if you don’t want to alienate them! Today, values like connection and empathy will serve as the foundation for successful brands. These values differ from the rigid, old-fashioned “marketing warfare” mindset, where creatives work in isolation to produce award-winning ads that do not impact everyday people.
Copywriters have to work hard to dismiss their own biases and recognize the diversity and complexity of women’s lives. To connect with your audience and build a loyal customer base, you need to understand your audience and their needs inside and out.
3. Use Different Techniques or Elements
Ever wonder why Van Gogh’s Starry Night is one of the most recognizable paintings of all time? He used a variety of techniques and elements to create an impression. The impasto technique creates texture with layers of thick paint to show depth; the quiet city is painted with straight lines to show calmness; the starry night sky is painted with swirls to make the sky come to life.
Both artists and copywriters want to create engaging artwork and content. Just like how an artist carefully chooses colors and textures to create a visual masterpiece, a skilled copywriter uses language, tone, and structure to craft a compelling piece of writing.
When it comes to copywriting for women, don’t just stick to facts — use a variety of techniques to convey your message. That’s because there are gender differences in communication styles! According to a University of Queensland study, females tend to speak more elaborately, indirectly, and emotionally, whereas males tend to communicate in a more direct and succinct style. This doesn’t mean that women are weaker than men – it means that they connect better with others because of their ability to empathize. To appeal to women, brands need to establish copy that embodies what women consumers look for: community, connection, and empathy.
Beauty brand Glossier has a special Instagram hashtag called “#GlossierIRL” that features selfies of real customers and the effects that Glossier products had on their skin. They are not just reviews (paid or fake, who knows?), but authentic representations of real-life Glossier users that resemble a community. It conveys the brand identity in an empathetic way rather than just stating “50,000 five-star reviews and counting”; the audience can see the effects for themselves and join the line of satisfied customers.
Kickstart your creative juices with these copywriting techniques:
- Emotive copywriting: connect with your audience emotionally and mentally.
- Storytelling: create captivating stories that will engage your readers
- Visual copywriting: grab your readers’ attention with visual copy that uses eye-catching images and infographics
4. Be Daring and Original
Many paintings that are now considered masterpieces were not popular when they were first made; but as society, culture, and tastes changed, they became better-appreciated. Painting has been a way for people to express their ideas and develop their creativity for many years. In the same way, copywriters use their creativity to come up with interesting stories and narratives that capture attention.
Besides playing with different mediums to convey a message or a story, you can also opt for different tones to convey your message — we’re talking provocative, offensive, or explicit (done properly, of course) — to grab your audience’s attention!
On International Women’s Day in 2017, marketing agency J. Walter Thompson London launched a campaign to spark debate and drive awareness around the gender pay gap. They created ads to highlight the fact that women are paid 25% less than men on average, with headlines to show how offensive the world (or a word, in this case) can seem with 25% missing.
According to the creatives, their idea was to make people feel frustrated about the pay gap instead of just discussing it. They added, “With all the other great content and debate raised on Women’s Day we needed a way to cut through. We hope seeing the campaign will be a moment that sticks with people — whether it offends or drives empathy, it’s the emotional reaction that is key.”
Don’t be afraid to be daring and original to create copy that sticks!
* * *
Copywriting is more than just delivering facts and benefits; your copy requires a sprinkle of creativity, skills, and emotions to keep your audience engaged.
Today, writing for a women audience (or any audience, really) requires a much more nuanced and intersectional approach than it did in the past, as well as a better understanding of how diverse and complicated women’s lives are.
If you are looking for great copywriters that can niche down and write nuanced copy to stand out from the crowd, reach out to us today!