The Fallacy of “My Customers Aren’t Online”

not-onlineI’ve heard it over and over again, especially from B2B companies: “My customers just aren’t online.”

They tell me that because their customers are construction workers or dog groomers, retail store owners or building services companies, that means their online presence doesn’t matter and content marketing won’t work.

“They just aren’t in jobs that sit at the computer all day,” they say.

My response? That doesn’t matter. Here’s why…

Is your mom online?

That’s a serious question.

Anecdotally, among a good portion of my friends and peers (Gen Y-ers), not only are their parents online, their grandparents are online.

And the data backs that up. According to PEW research released in 2014, 87% of American adults use the internet. That includes 93% of adults aged 30-49 and 88% of adults aged 50-64.

That means even if your target customers aren’t people who “sit in front of a computer all day,” they probably ARE in front of a computer at some point in their daily routine.

Unlikely Online Communities With Engaged Users

In fact, some of the most engaged online communities that I participate in are people who by all rights shouldn’t be online—the nature of the community itself requires them to leave behind their computer.

Dog trainers, for example, have a thriving online community and dog owners constantly use online training videos and how to articles to learn more about how they can problem solve when they’re out in the real world with their pooch.

Not convinced? Earlier this year Kevin Jorgeson and Tommy Caldwell completed the hardest rock climb in the world—and documented all of it through social media.

If you’ve never been rock climbing, it’s worth noting you don’t have spare hands, feet, or time while you’re actually on a wall. And these guys climbed for 19 days straight. Yet this story got so much traction that Buzzfeed and ESPN both covered it.

Okay, so those are B2C examples, but most business employees are expected to stay in contact with their office and/or their boss somehow, usually either by email (which is online by it’s very nature) or by phone.

Which leads me to my next point…

Business decision makers do their research after work.

In July 2007, barely 9 million Americans owned a smartphone – representing just 4 percent of the entire mobile market. In early 2014, Internet usage on mobile devices exceeded PC usage and that 4% has grown to 58% in just 7 years.

According to the IDG Global Mobile Survey 2014, those numbers are even higher for senior executives and, the most interesting statistic, 80% of all respondents research products or services for business on a tablet in the evening.

Sound crazy? Maybe not.

Imagine this… You’ve been crazy busy at work for the last few weeks—there’s this problem with one of the tools you use every day and it’s just not working correctly for you anymore. It’s caused you so much trouble you have no semblance of wiggle room in your days at work anymore.

You’re stressed out and that stress is following you home from the office. It’s a problem so big it’s literally keeping you up at night.

In other words, research, especially of new products or services, doesn’t easily fit into the daily schedule of someone whose in the midst of a really painful problem. It’s something above and beyond their normal day-to-day activities.

So instead, they look for solutions to the problems that keep them up at night… while they’re up at night. Or, at least, after they leave the office.

Think about it: when you do you most of your research? Let me know in the comments.

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© 2014 Melissa Breau. All Rights Reserved.

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