The labels we put on ideas – like content marketing or liberalism or organic – end up cornering us, leading us to all kinds of misconceptions. Any language that’s repeated often is suspect.
One example that’s always bugged me is the advice we small businesses hear ad nauseum to build a presence wherever our target market ‘hangs out.’
“Where do your ideal customers hang out?” is a question posed so often that it equates to marketingspeak.
But what does it mean? Where, for instance, do you hang out? Is the term truly applicable to your life?
If so, fine. But for me – an aging baby boomer – hanging out is not something I do. Or perhaps I should say, when I hang out you are not invited.
No offense, but I work hard and I’m pretty continuously on the move, with the aim of getting things done. The system doesn’t afford me much in terms of hanging out in any public way. For me, hanging out is delicious rest that is taken in private with intimates only. Friends and family, not the open market, share those precious moments.
Is this picky wordsmithing? Nope. If I don’t understand what you mean by ‘hanging out’, you’ve lost me at the starting line.
So let’s get clear on this, because it’s a key directive in inbound marketing. A better question might be, Where does your market source?
Instead of “Figure out where your potential clients hang out,” it’s far more useful to ask any of the following or similar questions:
- Where do your ideal customers get their daily news?
- What’s on the sound system in their car?
- What is their first destination most mornings?
- What kinds of emails do they tend to open?
- Where do they find relief during the stress of an average day?
- Where do they like to eat lunch and what’s usually on the menu?
- What’s a fabulous weekend for them?
- What’s a nice, lazy weekend for them?
- Where do they go on vacations?
- Where do they find inspiration?
- What other encounters do they have that you can either soften or heighten by your presence?
I don’t know about you, but life doesn’t afford me much in terms of just hanging out. But I do have routines, and little escapes to ease and beauty, and I do enjoy the occasional indulgent pleasure or cool new opportunity. I do seek out certain connections, directions, intentions. Be in any of those places and you may well attract my attention.
As you teach fellow marketers or your clients about how inbound marketing works, be sure your communications make as few assumptions as possible. Cut to the core and avoid popular lingo.
Where does your market hang out is a useless phrase that needs to be left behind.
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