How do I sell to women over 40?

Hi Aunty B,


I own a ladies boutique in Brighton, in Melbourne’s bayside.


I have been operating for a year and the accountant says we will have a small profit at the end of our first year, which I am very happy with. The first year has been about getting our bearings and the stock right, but I have not as yet written a marketing plan or conducted much advertising, and the customers who have found us have really done so by accident.


I really want to focus on our marketing now and was wondering if you could help me with a marketing angle. Our customer base is mainly over the age of 40 and the customers that have found us really like the quality of our garments and the fact that we cater to this age group in a tasteful and interesting way. (There is a real gap in the market for this)


My quandary lies in the fact that I don’t know how to transmit our “over 40s with quality garments” message to potential customers without our business sounding really daggy! We are contemporary and interesting but also classic. I don’t want our image to be old-fashioned.


This is a joke, and a bit radical, but my husband thinks a pamphlet saying “Don’t want to look like Paris Hilton?” would be great.


I don’t know if my 70 year olds would know who Paris Hilton is!


Please Help!!


Olivia Blayden
Women’s Boutique
[email protected]





Olivia, Olivia,


Now listen closely. First, tell your husband to go and clean the roof gutters and take his trashy Paris Hilton fantasies with him. (That’s him out of your hair.)


Second, wipe your brain clean of any marketing literature that says you should aim your ads and marketing at your target market. Stupidist thing I have ever heard. You market to the aspirational and you market to emotion. What do all those women over 40 in Brighton fear? Becoming invisible.


So Olivia, you are not selling garments (NEVER use that word again.) You are selling visibility, possibilities, romance, life, vitality, health, style, fashion and SEX.


In your clothes, Olivia, invisible women over 40 do not just become visible but powerful, independent and loving their life!


Dopey, gutter-cleaning, Paris-fantasising husbands will suddenly notice they exist (mine did), drop-dead hunky young men will ogle them in the street and their vicious teenage daughters will ask for fashion advice. They will get promotions, start their own companies and run for office – in your clothes.


So Olivia, we are talking a Change Your Clothes, Change Your Life theme here.


I am thinking a series of witty postcards (you can get about 5000 done for two grand) featuring WOW women in your clothes in a little story.


Get your model friends to pose and the designer up the road to mock them up. Then get the kids on the bike dropping the postcards in letter boxes and on café tables.


Now I assume you have a website. (If not, get one.)


Start a blog, discussing the latest colors and styles. You are an expert on what smart women should wear and how they can change their lives so share the knowledge. Get the blog published in the local paper. Set up an e-catalogue and get it published on catalogue sites.


Offer free makeovers at community and school functions. Publish the results on line. Become an advocate for women. Write vehement letters to the local paper advocating rights for older women. Write a scandalous piece about how women over 40 SHOULD show their knees. Don’t just tick to fashion. Tell all those beautiful 70-plus women what they need to keep their bones healthy and the best positions to avoid injuries when having wild (or at least mildly wild) sex.


Do makeover nights and fashion shows.


Collect emails from customers, build a database and send out regular hot updates on what’s hot and the latest clothes to arrive in your store.


Turn your customers into your advocates by transforming them into local stars.


Write about them in your blog, what they wore to what – and how it changed their life, etc.


Think networks and alliances. Can you recommend shops for teenage daughters if they in turn recommend your shop for the mums? Can you put your postcard son their counter?


You get the drift… So have fun, be outrageous and add me to your email list.


What are you waiting for? Email your questions, problems and issues to [email protected] right now!


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