I saw the Titanic movie. I know how it's supposed to feel when you wave good-bye to people heading out to sea on a big ship. It's fun. It's romantic. It's heartwarming. It's a special event.
That's why I thought it would be a great idea to see off a group of family members as they headed out to Bermuda on a ginormous cruise ship, from a port in New York City, not far from where I'm living at the moment.
Instead of going to the actual pier where the ship was docked, I thought I'd go down to a public pier, a little further down, and on their sailing route. It looked like I'd be pretty close to the sailing ship when I checked the map, but as the massive ship pulled out of it's berth, I could see that it wasn't going to be passing by me all that closely. I was going to have to wave extra furiously.
So there I was, almost alone on the end of Chelsea Pier. I say "almost" alone because there was a couple sitting at a table on one end of the pier, a family perched on the benches and two homeless men asleep under the trees. So, basically, alone on the end of the pier. And that's what I told my sister-in-law by text when she asked what I was wearing. They were on the ship, trying to spot me. It was going to be tough. But I was up for the challenge.
They texted their whereabouts on the ship's deck very clearly - I knew exactly where to look, and to wave. And as the ship got closer, my waving & jumping began. Big arm sways, double arm waves, single arm waves when my arms got tired. I was giving my good-bye everything I had.
And as the ship slowly lumbered by, I got a few photos and enlarged them to see if the group of people I was waving to were actually my family members. I think they were. It was hard to tell.
When I stopped my full body, super physical good-bye, I slowly began to notice the people around me on the pier, watching me curiously. I'm sure they were thinking, "what the hell is she doing?". What a random display of excitement THAT was, for a passing cruise ship.
And that's when I realized...my message was NOT meant for them.
Your message should always be aimed directly at your target audience.
This applies when you're talking to your customers too. You know who your customers are. And you also know what your customers need and would like to hear. Your customers will understand your messages, because those messages are meant for them. And you have directed your messages to them.
If someone outside your target market happens to see you jumping around at the end of a pier, all excited to see a cruise ship, I mean, if they see your targeted message, they are likely to misunderstand it, dismiss it, ignore it, or get a good laugh. And that's a good thing.
Direct your efforts towards talking to YOUR people, your customers and prospective customers - don't worry about talking to everybody. You know what they say, "if you try to talk to everybody, you'll talk to nobody". (who are "they" anyway?)
And don't worry about what people think. If they don't understand what you're trying to say, chances are you aren't trying to get THEIR attention anyway!
PS: You're never too old to get excited about a passing ship!
PPS: Yes, standing on Chelsea Pier reminded me of my one & only Chelsea girl xoxo
1. How many cruises have you been on?
2. Did anyone wave good-bye to you from the dock?
3. Do you know what your customers want/need to hear about?
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Kim Houlahan is a marketing consultant who loves helping small businesses connect with their customers online.
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