In 2010, I had a mammogram that did not come back normal.
I was scheduled for a needle biopsy at a radiology center that specialized in the procedure.
I was a nervous wreck. What if I had cancer?
My husband went with me to the medical office. When we arrived, the parking lot lines weren’t a traditional yellow. They were pink.
When we walked inside, we were pummeled with marketing messages meshed with female empowerment and helpful health tips. One actually read:
“You go girl and and get that mammogram every year!”
All the staff were dressed in pink scrubs. I’m almost certain they did team building exercises about the importance of being unnaturally perky and cheery to help those of us possibly facing cancer getting through these tests.
I’m a little cranky and suspicious by nature, so I found none of this comforting as I underwent the biopsy.
At the end, as I was getting ready to leave, one of the medical assistants arrived with a “care package” for me containing:
- a pink ribbon make-up bag
- a pink compact mirror
- pink bandages for taking care of the biopsy spot until it healed
- A giant, single pink rose
I was mortified.
I had to walk back to the waiting room to get to my husband and my car. As I carried my care package, I felt like it was screaming, “Hey, this chick might have cancer!”
Sure enough, when my husband saw me, he said, “Did they tell you that you were dying or something? What’s with the rose?”
That ironic little care package was the exact opposite of comforting. It made me mad, and even more frustrated about my medical situation.
The good news was I did not have cancer. The bad news was the bad marketing towards women was spreading.
Why can’t women be treated like adult customers?
It is well known that women in general are a desired demographic for businesses. A vast majority of women make the vast majority of purchasing decisions for their families. Women are often the breadwinners, although their wages remain substantially below men who hold similar jobs.
Women are a collectively powerful group, and businesses are aware of this power. However, many of them keep missing the mark when it comes to dealing with us.
My Car Dealership Experiences
Car dealerships seem to struggle with how to treat women who are trying to buy or lease a car.
A month ago, I received this postcard in the mail from the car dealership where I leased my last car. My lease was up, and I knew they would be coming around to pester me.
Instead of sending me a mailer with the latest lease deals or information, I got this bizarre postcard from my former salesman.
It was a recipe. A frickin’ recipe.
No message about my lease, just a friendly little note that said he thought I might enjoy this dip.
It was ironic he sent a recipe for dip, since he was a dip for sending it. I ended up going with a new dealership that just gave me the facts, not a recipe.
At a different dealership a couple of years ago, it was time to lease a new car for my husband. Since I am the primary breadwinner in the family, I had to be the one to sign the lease.
At the end of signing the lease, the salesman had the manager come to thank me. As he approached, he was carrying a single rose. Just like on The Bachelor.
My husband heard me swear under my breath. Through gritted teeth he said, “Just be nice about it.”
Of course, I wasn’t nice about it. I’m not a good girl who does what men tell me to do.
The manager presented me with my rose. I handed it to my husband and said, “Give the rose to him. It’s his car. I’m just paying for it.” And I walked away.
“They’re just trying to be nice!”
I have a few friends who think I’m being to harsh when I expect business to be handled like business. They tell me these places are “Just trying to be nice,” and that I should appreciate that they’re trying to be kind.
To reference The Godfather, “It’s not personal, it’s business.”
I am going to businesses for services to help me live my life. I want honesty, respect, and knowledge. Leasing or buying car is complicated enough, and I want to understand exactly the type of vehicle I will be driving, as well as negotiating the best price. When dealing with medical issues, I want to know all my options and the reasons for the recommendations on how to manage my health.
For women, knowledge is power. Flower power is worthless.
I am a woman who manages a multi-million dollar annual budget. I own and operate my own business. I have managed a political campaign, complicated large-scale events, and navigated the overwhelming process of international adoption. I am not unique, I am like millions of other women who get through this life using their brains and tenacity.
We are anything but fragile, delicate flowers. We’re your customers. Start treating us with equality and respect if you want to earn our business.