Teaching, Promoting, Cheering UX and SEO Since 2002

Online Marketing Book: “The Soccer Mom Myth” Tackles Today’s Female Consumer

When I was a young girl growing up, a particular TV commercial aggravated me. It was about a liquid vitamin supplement called Geritol used for “iron poor blood” that contained alcohol and was said to give women lots of energy and ambition. The TV husband would rave about the miraculous feats his wife could perform while taking Geritol. The commercial ended with, “My wife. I’ll think I’ll keep her.”

The message I got from it was that if I wasn’t perfect in every way, there were products out there I could use to help me be perfect. Not only this, if I didn’t buy and take them, I’d never be worthy of a man or worth keeping.

To me, this kind of marketing was severely wrong because it’s degrading to women. Even as a teenager I felt the insult. The commercial was the brunt of jokes. In fact, in a classic I Love Lucy show episode featuring the famous “Vitameatavegamin” skit, Lucy gets drunk after sampling the product.

How could advertising firms have gotten it so wrong? Sure, women want energy. But to tie their lack of it to the security of their marriage was cruel and showed a lack of understanding about where women were going. The 70’s, when that commercial came out, was also the time when the feminist movement began to rise up again. The second publication of Betty Friedan’s, “The Feminine Mystique” came out in 1974, and this time, eleven years after its debut, brought US women face to face with themselves. They were more than “Wifey”.

Do agencies still make mistakes advertising to women? You bet! Are web site designers making the same mistakes? Yes, they are.

In a newly published book, “The Soccer Mom Myth”, written by Michele Miller and Holly Buchanan, the focus is on female consumers, who she is and why she makes purchases. The book describes the differences between how men and women think and why this matters with web site design, especially e-commerce.

Over half of the USA population is women. By this year, females may account for 52.6 percent of US Internet users – in other words, outnumbering males. Consider that men still dominate web site programming, advertising, search engine marketing, web design and performance testing positions; you can immediately see the potential for missing the mark. We all know men don’t know what women want.

In their book, Miller and Buchanan discuss the female brain and how MRI’s have proven they’re wired differently than male brains. Until recently, no one really considered a possible physical difference. According to the book, women have four times as many neurons connecting the left and right side of the brain. They process information differently. Men process content from a logical, linear perspective while women add nonlanguage-based processing that includes emotion, imagination and experience. The extra connections between a female’s right and left side make her able to “transfer data from one side to the other at a high rate of speed”. So much for needing Geritol.

Watching out for trends in women’s lives is important. They spend a lot of time on the Internet. Understanding how they process the information they see there is necessary to being able to promote your products. Females remember and reward good experiences and excellent customer service.

They need to feel a connection. I love how automobile sites drape slinky gorgeous women in evening gowns over the hood of their cars. This is great for the male brain, which has two and a half more brain space devoted to sexual drive, aggression and action. But women buy cars too.

My copy of The Soccer Mom Myth has yellow highlighter and sticky tabs all over the book. The authors write in short chapters, which for a multi-tasking woman like me, made it much easier to take in because I was always interrupted. Their dialog isn’t overly technical. They banter. Show examples. Tease. They make point after point. They shatter stereotypes. They show how to create personas and illustrate how stupid mistakes can kill a sale.

In one chapter, Holly asks, “Can you lose a sale in just two words?” Yes. “By starting out with ‘Dear Sir'”.

The book delves into how to perform research and ask the right questions. It helps you plan personas and scenarios that help you create pathways on your web site for their different buying processes. The book bounces with stories that stick in your mind, like the Volvo automobile executive that said, “We learned that if you meet women’s needs and expectations, you also exceed those for men.”

This new book will show you how to do that.


Order The Soccer Mom Myth at Amazon.


  1. March 11, 2008    

    Hello, this is a very well written review that has many valid points.
    I will keep an eye out on further reviews by you as this one really intrigued me.

  2. March 11, 2008    

    You’ve sold me Kim – sounds like a must read.

  3. AdProf72's Gravatar AdProf72
    March 13, 2008    

    Interesting stuff. As an ad guy, I’m still horrified with some of the portrayals of women in commercials even today. Right now there’s one in our market for a telcom service bundle that shows “wifey” running delightedly around the house a la Tom Cruise after her husband leaves for work; she pretends to sing into a mike, buys some self-indulgent thing on line,laughs hideously at her (cable) TV from the bubble bath, etc. (But of course, when hubby calls, she sighs to him “I’m hangin’ in there…”)

    However, I admit to having used the phrase “soccer mom” a time or two; I’ll read the book and beg forgiveness!

  4. March 13, 2008    

    I thought of the book today when I saw a TV commercial of a mom whose son asked for a turkey sandwich, whips out a huge meat slicer and yanks a cooked turkey from the fridge. She manually slices up the turkey for her son.

    Then, when she’s done cleaning up the meat slicer and ready to put it away, the husband suddenly walks in and asked her to make him a ham sandwich.

    The commercial is about buying pre-slice deli fresh sandwich meat. It could be a funny commerical but I was offended by the role they stuck her into.

    I may be strange, but in my house, I don’t wait on anybody. Everyone knows how to make their own sandwich. I may offer to make them, but that’s not how this TV commercial approached it. She was in a position of servant.

  1. Now Available: "The Soccer Mom Myth" by Holly Buchanan & Michele Miller on March 10, 2008 at 8:26 am

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