So this morning I was doing research on male vs. female communication styles and I got thinking about the Westminster Dog show. (stick with me here – I am going somewhere with this) I wonder what happened back stage after they awarded Best in Show.
Did “Rufus” the Colored Bull Terrier put on a male athlete kind of status strut saying “yeah, you guys thought I couldn’t hang - with this egg shaped face and squatty body. In your face Mr. Popular Golden Retriever. And Dalmatian – I may not be starring in any hit movies, but my mug’s going to be plastered on more magazines websites and publications than you can shake a tail at. ‘Best in Show’ – that’s right – sniff my butt losers. Word.”
Or – did the Bull Terrier display more of a female communication style after winning – something a little closer to a Miss America Pageant. “Hey – Dalmatian – nice showing. Pug – us ‘so ugly we’re cute’ types need to hang together. Let’s all go grab a bowl of water and some Milk Bones and Celebrate. Butt sniffs all around.”
At the end of the day – both men and women (and perhaps even dogs) crave status. Men and women can be equally competitive. But the more I study communication styles the more I see the two sexes have a definite different approach.
Andrea Learned has a great post about the different communication styles and how it affects marketing.
While doing a little research for a presentation I'm about to deliver to the National Ski Area Association, I was inspired to dig back into Deborah Tannen's classic linguistic study of women and men in conversation, You Just Don't Understand
She describes male-female conversation as "cross-cultural communication," and writes about how women may tend to "speak and hear a language of connection and intimacy," while men "speak and hear a language of status and independence."
You only have to look as far as auto advertising to see the prevalence of “status” communication styles. One of my favorites is the TV commercial with the two trucks squaring off when one springs a leak and literally “pisses” on itself. Definite male hierarchical status-based communication style.
So where are the commercials for women who crave status in a vehicle? Much fewer examples to choose from – but one particularly powerful commercial is for Hummer – the mother is dropping her son off at school – she asks if it’s ok to drop him off in front – he says yeah. As the son walks through the crowd into school he’s instantly accepted as his peers remark on his cool ride. A great example of conveying the status of owning a Hummer but in a more female communication style. The emphasis is less on being “better than someone else” and more on the communal benefits of having a cool car.
Auto makers – there’s an opportunity here to speak to the status seeking female. Check out Andrea Learned’s post for more ideas on marketing in a more female communication style.