Small Business Advice

Forbes–You Got it Wrong

By July 9, 2009December 29th, 2015No Comments

I just got an email inviting me to join Forbes Woman, the new offering that Forbes launched July 1.

So excuse me if I’m wrong, but isn’t Forbes about business?  I guess unless you are female.

Lead story is on depression.  “Power Women” segment features Mrs. Madoff and Mrs. Sanford (title should be “power-less”!).  Other front page topics:  Summer fashion.  Easy beauty. And How to Raise a Rich Daughter.

These are the leading links in my invitation email:

How will Sarah Palin’s resignation affect her career?

Who does most of the housework in your household?

Has the recession affected your spending habits?

These are not questions that affect my business life or even my “balanced” life.  Ladies Home Journal cornered that market a long time ago, and People covers the dirt on public figures.  If these are questions of interest related to business, they are not gender-specific.  Could you possibly imagine an invitation to male business owners based upon questions like these?

The Forbes Fiasco comes right on the heels of Dell’s incredible faux pas in launching the “Della.”

But this blog is about sales and business development, so I need a link from my real anger at Forbes to some positive ideas or actions for business owners and sales leaders.  Especially women, but this is equally important for men.

In the jargon of my business, Forbes is a whale–a big company with a big reach, a big media reach.  It matters when major businesses screw up like this.   Business people around the world–owners, entrepreneurs, executives, employees, students, wannabe’s–they look to Forbes for insight, support, advice, and current events, and not incidentally, the current business environment in the United States.   What is the message?  The message is that in the midst of a very difficult global economic climate, the American business women are busy standing by their men who cheat and lie, focusing on their office outfits, buying make-up and shoes, and making their daughters rich.  That is not a good message or a remotely true message!

I am an advisor to small and midsized business about how to grow by doing bigger deals with bigger clients.  It is ALL about understanding your target customer and presenting yourself in a way that is attractive to them, meets their needs, does not annoy them, and does not frighten them.  This offer I received from Forbes violates all of those criteria.

So before you make the Forbes mistake, my advice is to consult with your target audience about their business interests, their business needs, their business challenges and their perceived opportunities.

The people at Forbes are obviously trying to get on the very popular and lucrative women-in-business bandwagon.  I applaud their motives and hope they will find a way to be successful.  But here’s just a quick laundry list of topics that would be oh-so-much more interesting to business women:

  • who are the lenders and investment bankers targeting women-owned businesses?
  • how can your company get involved in the federal stimulus package?
  • How are female leaders and employees responding to downsizing and outsourcing?
  • What can you do when you are downsized or outsourced?
  • How can business owners mitigate the recession influence on their employees?
  • what are the most promising new business fields or opportunities of particular interest to women?

Let me be clear.  I do not think it is condescending or inappropriate for businesses and business media to target certain audience segments.  I have often targeted women business owners through the Whale Hunting Women program.  But if your only understanding of gender-interesting issues comes down to clothes, make-up, and housework, you are just missing the boat.

I invite your comments.  This is worth arguing!