Thanks for listening to episode #70 of the podcast. Today’s episode of the podcast isn’t an interview, it’s a response to an email I received from a reader. It’s been a few months since I’ve spent a podcast just talking to you, my audience, so it was nice to get back to that and even share some exciting updates to come to this podcast. I receive a lot of comments and emails from my readers and listeners, but this one in particular felt like it should be shared. Because there’s a lot in the question itself, and I think that it’s probably a little more common of a thought process than we might want to believe. So I really wanted to take time today to dedicate answering this question in as much detail as I can. Take a listen and let me know if you can relate to the question being asked. I always love to hear your thoughts – leave them below!
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AUDIO TITLE: Episode #70
Jenn T Grace:
You are listening to the Gay Business and Marketing Made Easy Podcast, episode 70.
Welcome to the Gay Business and Marketing Made Easy Podcast, where you’ll learn how to do business with and market to the LGBT community in an authentic and transparent way. We’re talking about an $884 billion lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community. We’ll help you grow your business, gain market share, and impact your bottom line. And now your host; she teaches straight people how to market to gay people, and gay people how to market themselves. Your professional lesbian, Jenn- with two N’s, T. Grace.
Jenn T Grace:
Well hello and welcome to the episode number 70 of the podcast. I am your host, Jenn Grace, and today is not going to be an interview. I know many of you listening have been enjoying interviews that from what I can tell started back at episode 61. So we are in episode number 70 today, so we have had many, many interviews that if you are listening to this live as it comes out, you have been listening to it pretty much all throughout the summer, I’ve had awesome guests on the show. So the last time that I just kind of riffed with you one-on-one was back in July. It seems a little bit crazy, I didn’t realize it had been that long, but back in July I had done episode number 61, which was the ‘Marriage Equality has Arrived, But the Work is Far from Done.’ So I talked about the implications of marriage equality, and what that’s going to mean for marketing going forward. So since then we’ve heard from Jeremy Wallace, Alice Derock, Bryce Summers, Rolla Selbak, Ann Townsend, Diane Conklin, Michele Wierzgac, and Melissa Ferrick. So we’ve had some pretty awesome lineup, if I do say so myself, of guests that I’ve had on the show. So I’m definitely planning on having more guests coming in the next few months or so to kind of wrap up the year. But today I wanted to talk with you one-on-one in response to a reader’s question. So this question is really lengthy, and it’s really, really astute and I think requires a podcast response versus me trying to create a blog out of it, or just email them back. Because there’s a lot in the question itself, and I think that it’s probably a little more common of a thought process than we might want to believe. So I really wanted to take time today to dedicate answering this question in as much detail as I can. And I’ll read the entire question first, and then I’m going to break it up not necessarily line by line per say, but I’m definitely going to break it up so that way I can address very specific points that have been brought up in that question.
So before we get into answering this question, which I’m hoping is going to be very informative for you, I do want to bring up a couple of things, because we are at the end of October, and we are on episode number 70, so for you loyal listeners- and I know that there’s a lot of you out there because you email me, which I love you for by the way. You’ve been listening to this podcast since January of 2013. So this podcast has been on for a while, every other week for the last two years now, about to enter into year three which is almost scary when I actually say those words out loud. But I am focusing on 2016, what that’s going to look like, how this podcast is going to go on, and it’s really going to continue in a very similar fashion that it is right now, with interviewing just people that I find to be interesting, and have good information that you the listener can take away from, and practically implement into your business. So that’s really what I want to focus on. Is that we’ve already been kind of doing that, and I’ve already been talking to guests who are awesome and them sharing their stories, but when I’m talking to guests going forward, my plan is going to be to start to get them to give you more actionable information, and more actionable advice. So that way you can grow your businesses more. I know that almost everybody listening to this podcast, that you are business owners, and you’re always looking for ways to do your jobs better. I love to use the word efficiency, it’s just one of my favorite words, and process- also another favorite word of mine. And I know those two words are not pleasant thoughts, or they don’t create pleasant thoughts for a lot of people. So I want to have other people help you on your journey, and help you grow your business more effectively, grow it stronger, and of course grow it while reaching the LGBT community. So that’s just some side note because you will notice- and I’m not sure when at this point I’m going to do it, and I feel like my podcast listeners, you always seem to know things before the rest of the readers know because I kind of brainstorm out loud while I’m recording these interviews, and recording these episodes. So I’m going to likely be changing the name of the podcast, not 100% yet on it, and I don’t know what I’m going to change it to, but I will be changing the artwork, and I’ll be changing the format ever so slightly. But please realize that the audience that I’m still reaching will be you who are already listening. So LGBT business owners, those who support LGBT business, you’re still my loyal audience, and amazing, and I love you for it. So please stick around for the podcast to continue on, it just might evolve in slightly different ways and which might include a name change. But I’m not there yet, and I’m absolutely open to any thoughts that you might have now that I’m saying that. I think that it would be great to hear any feedback that you might have, whether you want more informational podcasts, whether you want more interviews, whether you want more diversity within the interviews that I have; I’m really 100% open to anything that you are looking for, that you think is going to make this podcast better.
So I will be talking about this more and more over the next coming episodes. I did already briefly allude to the episode 71 which will be in November, I do plan on answering more questions because I think I’ve mentioned this on the podcast before, is that LinkedIn and I are just BFF’s. I love LinkedIn, and LinkedIn seems to love me, and I meet with a lot of people there, a lot of connections on a regular basis, and a lot of people have questions. And when I get questions that really require a more thorough response, what I end up doing is I respond to them and say, “Hey this is an amazing question. I would love to get on the phone with you for thirty minutes and we can walk through it. And if you don’t mind, I would love to talk about it on the podcast because I find that answering this is going to help other people who are listening as well.” And most people are totally open to that. So I do have four questions that I was really planning on answering in today’s episodes, but as I had mentioned there’s another question that is much more lengthy that I would like to dedicate today’s show to.
So one other thing that I do want to talk about quickly, and then we’ll get right into the meat. Is one of my focuses for 2016, I want to mention it now because we are in the fourth quarter already, and the fourth quarter is off to- for me anyway, a very good start and I’m hoping for your business as well. But one of the things that I want to be focusing on in 2016 is getting more speaking engagements. I already have a good amount of them kind of come across my desk, and I like to be choosy in which ones I like to take advantage of and get more opportunities from. But one of the things that I have very clearly on my bucket list for 2016 is speaking at a Ted conference. So my request to you, is if you are an organizer of a Ted event, or you know someone who is an organizer, or you just know somebody that I should connect with that you think might get me closer to speaking at one of those Ted events, I would love to hear from you. I’ve already written my speech, it was actually part of my Masterminds group a couple of months ago, they held my feet to the fire and said, “You’ve been talking about doing this, I want you to come back and present this to the group, and you have thirty days to do it.” So I had no choice because I made a commitment to them to write it, so now it’s in an editing stage which I think it’s really, really concrete. So if you are looking for somebody to come speak at a Ted event that you’re organizing, or know somebody who does, feel free to reach out to me, I will happily share the details of that particular speech so that way you can see if it would fit your particular audience, and then we could just go from there.
I want to be more proactive in asking you the listeners for things that I actually need, because I find that all too often I am giving, giving, giving, giving, and then it never crosses my mind to actually ask, “Oh hey, do you know somebody who can help with this?” So that is my request of you today, and that’s pretty much all I’ve got. So I’ve been rambling for close to nine minutes or so, so I will stop on that note and we can get into the meat of today’s episode, which is answering a really, really good question.
Okay so I am going to read the question to you first, and then I am going to go through it where it makes sense, and break it apart, and attempt to answer it. And I want to preface with the fact that I do not have any written notes prepared on how to respond to this email, because I actually wanted my response to be really authentic, and really genuine, so as if somebody reached out to me, sent me this email, and then picked up the phone and called me right away, and then I needed to respond to it on the spot. Like I didn’t want to give myself too much time to prepare because I feel like my thoughts, or maybe my advice might be a little more downplayed if you will. I want this to be really genuine, and really raw, because I think it’s a really good question that I don’t think a lot of people are brave enough to ask, so I want to acknowledge this person for being brave enough to ask the question, even though in the email- which I’m actually going to pull up, and I’m not going to edit this out. But the email to me specifically said, one second here.
Okay so it says, “I’m not looking to cause any trouble, but I am not very knowledgeable and I enjoy fierce conversations. Really just trying to understand why it matters so much.” So I want to put the context in, that was part of the first email that I got. So I wanted to point that out because I too, as many of you already know, really enjoy a fierce conversation and a fierce debate, and that’s one of the reasons why I started this podcast was to be able to voice my opinions in a safe environment that I’ve created for myself. So I again, completely respect the question and where it’s coming from, and I think if I had another person to be on the other end of this conversation it would turn into quite a debate. So as I said, I wanted to keep it high level, not actually really think about what I was going to respond to in advance, so that way you can really see it for the authenticity that I want it to kind of come through as. So enough with the chatter, here is the question.
“Hi Jenn. I guess I consider myself LGBT accepting. I have friends and family that are gay. While admittedly, I am personally slightly homophobic, and not very knowledgeable on the subject matter. I would simply never treat anyone differently for his or her sexual preferences. It doesn’t seem to matter enough. So excuse my ignorance where applicable. I have read two of your well-written books, and I am still a bit unsure on a few things. I teach straight people how to market to gay people, and gay people how to market themselves. This is your mantra of the professional lesbian. First I have to ask, why do you not teach LGBT people how to market to the straight community? The larger community that the LGBT is part of. At best this approach seems elitist. Is this to say you believe LGBT people should only market to others like them (four legs good, two legs bad)? Secondly, I really have to ask, what’s the difference? Meaning when going to market with a product or service, why would anyone target a specific sub-group of people based on something as unimportant as their sexual preference? Imagine trying to apply this pro-LGBT philosophy at a local grocery store. Say you set up an end cap and offer some delicious free fruit samples for customers in hopes that they will buy your brand of fruit. Now in order for someone to sample the fruit, they must stand in a line that says ‘LGBT proud.’ No big deal. Okay, so you quickly get those two proud lesbians to buy a pound of fruit with a big LGBT smile on their face. They may even buy some fruit before tasting the sample. But on the other side you’ve managed to lose the sale of five pounds of fruit to four other people. Those are the people who would not stand in the line for one valid reason or another. Of those four people, one does not understand, and is likely even resentful toward LGBT now. Another one of those four people may even be closeted gay. The fact is we all want the fruit if it’s delicious, it has nothing to do with who we like to *bleep.* We are all human, we want to be respected and accepted, accepting all people, LGBT or not, and realizing that it doesn’t really matter seem to be the initial goal. But it almost seems that this movement is taking it almost to a next level, and promoting the same non-inclusive behavior that started the movement from the other side of the fence. It seems that initially LGBT saw themselves as different as simply wanted to be accepted by all people. Now it appears that they want us to all agree that they are different, while striving to stand out. They even want their own communities, and are all demanding that we want to market and talk to them differently, simply based on what they like sexually. Why does it matter at all?”
So I will give you a moment to digest that lengthy question, I understand that it does indeed take up an entire Word document, a one page, single spaced document. So I wanted to talk about this in today’s episode- and again my remarks are not prepared in any way, shape or form. So I want to kind of go through it, again not line by line, but I want to point out some high level things, and then there are going to be some areas that I’m likely going to go on a tangent into a more granular level. But one thing that I want to point out from the start- and I think that this is applicable to anybody listening to this, and I really applaud this person for being straight up and honest in the second sentence and saying, “I’m personally slightly homophobic.” I think it takes a brave person to be open enough, and really self-aware enough to acknowledge it, but yet at the same time want to understand more and see kind of the bigger picture, and really just kind of understand this. And you can see that this person clearly just doesn’t understand my business at all, which I think is really an interesting kind of standpoint because it’s not that often that I encounter somebody that doesn’t understand my business, but will also take the time to explain to me why they don’t understand it. So there are many people that- I and that person will never- we just won’t ever agree. It will be like an impass, right? There’s just going to be some people that are so ignorant and have no desire to truly learn more, and that’s okay. They can kind of go off and do their own thing, but then there’s a larger portion of the community- or not the community, or people I should say that may have ignorant tendencies, but that doesn’t make them a bad person. They just don’t know enough to know what they don’t know. So as some of you may know, if you’re a long time listener you likely know this, but if you are a new listener, my whole business is formed around helping people who just don’t know better. In a lot of instances, that’s really what it comes down to. So I work with a lot of people who are allies to the community. And if you’re listening to this, you may not even know what an ally is. So ally in the sense of somebody who’s supportive of the LGBT community, and is okay expressing that support, and whether that support to LGBT people themselves, or just broader to a community. So there are a lot of levels of people who are allies, there are some people who are just staunch allies and they will go to bat for any LGBT person for any reason, even though they themselves are not LGBT. And then there are other allies who are just supportive, and they’re okay- they’ll be the ones that attend an LGBT event and just say, “Hey I have a daughter, I have a son, my cousin’s gay,” they’ll have somebody in their life that is part of the community, and to them that’s what brings this to the surface of what it is that makes them them, and they just want to learn more, and they want to show their support. So there are a lot of different varying levels of allyship if you will.
Now when we’re talking about allies, there are a lot of allies who just say and do things that they don’t realize is bad. They don’t realize is a bad thing. So my second book which is around the seven mistakes that I find that people make in their communications, outreach, and their efforts. And it’s really a lot of times very simple things. So one of the things that I do write about is saying sexual preferences. And right in the first paragraph of this email to me, it states, “I would simply never treat anyone differently for his or her sexual preferences. It doesn’t seem to matter enough, so excuse my ignorance where applicable.” Now I wouldn’t necessarily say that the person writing this is ignorant, just as if you listening to this would also say sexual preferences, I wouldn’t say that you’re ignorant either. This is what it comes down to in terms of education. It’s really, really important to educate anybody who is willing and open to understanding what makes that statement ignorant. So in the case of sexual preferences, what you’re saying in the terms of saying sexual preferences, is that being gay is more of a choice. So if we’re having this conversation- and it’s very similar to lifestyle. So a lot of people will say ‘a gay lifestyle’ or ‘an LGBT lifestyle,’ and that’s implying that there’s a choice. So sexual preferences, a preference is indeed a choice. So I can choose to like the color orange, or I can choose to like the color yellow. Those are preferences. My preference is orange. So I am not by nature- my preference is not women. I am not actively choosing to be with a woman over a man, it’s just who I am. It’s just innately in my being, just like the person who wrote this email I know is a man named John. So it’s not that his preference is women, he’s not attracted to men because he is straight, and by nature, and by his core of his being, he’s just a straight man who’s attracted to woman. Just like I happen to be a person part of the LGBT community, who’s attracted to women. So that makes me a lesbian. It’s not really complicated, and there is no preference in here; it is not a preference in any way.
So I wanted to bring that one up first and foremost because this is one that I’ve written about on my blog before, it’s in- I think I wrote about preferences in my first book, it probably came up in the second book. But at any rate, it’s just one of those things that if you’re having a conversation with somebody, and you all know that most of the time I’m talking about sales perspectives and sales conversations. So if you’re having a conversation with somebody and talking about sexual preferences, it’s immediately going to not send up a red flag because it’s not something like incredibly damaging, it’s not like you’re outright calling them the F word for example. But you’re implying that you are not knowledgeable around the community, and you’re uneducated if you will around the community. And when somebody comes my way and that’s the case, that’s the perfect person that I want to work with. I want to help that person who doesn’t understand that sexual preferences isn’t something they should say, and move them along that evolution of understanding of LGBT. So that was the first thing that came up.
So I wanted to address that. And now getting into the second question I guess, is he writes, “First I have to ask, why do you not teach LGBT people how to market to the straight community, the larger community that LGBT is a part of? And at best, this approach seems elitist.”
So my response for this one- and again this is why I didn’t want to prepare remarks, because I really want this to be what my gut response it. My response to this is that I don’t think the word elitist and LGBT can be in the same sentence. And I challenge anybody who thinks that that’s a stupid statement, I absolutely challenge it. So please if you disagree with me, I’d love to hear from you. Or if you agree, of course I’d love to hear from you as well. So I don’t ever claim to know everything, and I think I make that really clear in my writing and in my blogging, podcasting, book writing, et cetera. I am an expert on some things, I’m certainly not an expert on all things LGBT. And for this statement to me, I don’t think that you can say ‘elitist’ because elitist in my mind anyway depicts some level of control, or influence, or authority, and if you look at LGBT people, the vast majority of LGBT people are marginalized. So I don’t think those two words can coexist. However I will say that when you ask “why do you not teach LGBT people how to market to the straight community,” it actually makes me question how effective my tagline is. Because my tagline is- I thought was very clear, but in reading this it makes me think that maybe it’s not clear. Because it’s, ‘I teach straight people how to market to gay people, and gay people how to market themselves.’ So to me, at least in my mind, that question is addressed in the second half of my tagline which is, ‘and gay people how to market themselves.’ So I could be more clear in that, but when I’m looking at clients that I work with, I work with a lot of straight allies. I also work with a lot of LGBT people. And in my tagline specifically, I know that I’ve alienated some people by saying ‘gay people,’ but ultimately my role- or I feel like my job on this earth is to educate people. So if straight people don’t know what LGBT means, it’s difficult for them to wrap their head around it. Everyone knows what gay means, therefore when I actively put this tagline together, I very clearly said ‘gay people’ which in essence does alienate part of the LGBT community, and that was a calculated decision on my part, and it’s not because I’m trying to exclude anyone from the LGBT community. It’s actually quite the opposite. It’s I want to reach people where they are, and drag them from the place of where they are, and educate them on all things LGBT- including all people within the LGBT community.
So in looking at my tagline saying, ‘and gay people how to market themselves,’ I thought that that implicitly- or that was very clearly implied that it’s just gay people how to market themselves. I’m not saying gay people how to market themselves to other gay people, I’m not saying gay people how to market themselves to straight people. It’s just LGBT businesses, how to market themselves. So I have a fair mix of clients where I have a handful- a lot of times they’re corporations or bigger companies that are working on marketing to the LGBT community. Additionally I have a lot of coaches- coachees if you will. I have a lot of LGBT businesses that I’m doing business coaching for, and marketing coaching for. And my whole goal with them is to help them market their business. It doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s helping them market their business to other LGBT people, or to straight people, it’s just marketing their business. At the end of the day I just want their business to be successful. It doesn’t matter in those instances who they’re marketing to. Of course target marketing comes up, it comes up in conversation eventually, but my tagline’s intent was for it to encompass all types of marketing; gay people to just market themselves and market their business to whomever is their target market. Just because you are LGBT does not in any way mean that your target market would be other LGBT people. Just like just because you are a straight-owned business or an ally, doesn’t mean implicitly that you would be marketing your business to LGBT, or you would be marketing your business not to LGBT, and only to other straight people. So everything really truly comes down to who your target market is from a general standpoint.
So if we’re looking at the example about the fruit, which I think is a perfect example, merely because it’s so blah. There’s no very clear easy way to see it because it’s just such a simple, simple, simple example, but a very powerful example. The email says specifically, “I really have to ask what’s the difference? Meaning when you go to market with a product or service, why would anyone target a specific sub-group of people?” And then in parentheses it says, “Based on something as unimportant as their sexual preference.”
Now I a little bit answered this already, but it’s really LGBT people are a sub-segment of other markets. So there isn’t any company- or actually I shouldn’t say there isn’t any company. A company would not be wise to set up shop, and then just start marketing to anybody who will listen. So there are companies such as- maybe promotional products, that’s usually a good company- a good industry to speak about. Is that promotional products are a commodity, and you can sell promo products to pretty much any business that exists. Like they’re really- pretty much almost everybody needs a pen, I’m holding a pen in my hand as I’m talking and it’s got someone’s logo on it. So the person who has the promo products’ business really is just looking for any business owner. However they would be far more effective if they had a specific target market that they were looking for. So if you go into a vet’s office, or you go into a dentist’s office, or maybe it’s your accountant; almost always those are the businesses that have pens in the little cup sitting on the desk when you’re going to pay. There’s always pens for those particular businesses. That makes sense that you’d want- that could be a target market in and of itself where okay, my target market is to sell pens- because promo products, there’s a million types of options of promo products. My end goal as a promo products person could be I want to sell pens to every single dentist in Connecticut. Maybe that’s what I’m going for. I could say I want to sell to anyone, any kind of business that wants pens. Yes you have a wider pool of businesses to choose from, but when you’re really specific, and really focused, and really narrow on who it is that you’re trying to reach, your message becomes far more clear. So if I’m focusing on the vet, or the dentist, or the hairdresser maybe- that’s another good one. Then my messaging to the owner of that dentist, the owner of the vet, the owner of the hair salon, my messaging to them would probably be something along the lines of, “Hey you need pens, you need promotional pens,” and why do I say this? Because when somebody comes into the vet- and I actually just had to rush my cat to the vet the other day, so this is fresh in my mind, is that even though I’ve been going there for eight years I had to fill out a whole bunch of paperwork because it was an emergency visit. So I grabbed their pen off the counter, and then I go and I’m sitting and writing in all the contact information, all the medical history, blah, blah, blah. So that makes perfect sense for that business to be handing out these pens. Why? Because when I’m sitting there writing, I have the pen in my hand. Pens are also those things that people kind of walk away with all the time, right? I wouldn’t try to sell to the vet one of those- I don’t know what you’d call them, when you’re at a restaurant and the receipt comes out, and it’s in that black leather thing that has American Express or Discover or whomever on it. And then a lot of times it has the restaurant’s logo on the front of it in gold a lot of times I’ve noticed. So I wouldn’t as a promo person try to sell the vet that type of product because- yes while there are transactions, while there are receipts, and you have to sign things, that’s not relevant to their business. So it’s a matter of really identifying what’s relevant to your business, who your target- or what’s relevant to the target market’s business, and selling them just that. And if you can focus on a couple of target markets that have overlapping similarities, you’re going to be a hell of a lot more effective than being the person on a New York City street corner with a trench coat, and when you open it there’s 73 widgets to choose from, that include the portfolio for receipts, or pens, or coffee mugs, or hats, or labels, or whatever it could be.
So my whole very long winded way here is of saying that targeting specific sub-groups of people is incredibly important, incredibly important for marketing. When it comes to LGBT people, that is just one segment of other people. So even in the question it says, “Why would anyone target a specific sub-group of people based on something as unimportant as sexual preference?” So when we’re talking about it from I guess this perspective, it’s not that- I’m trying to figure out how to phrase this. It’s not that the LGBT piece is so important. What’s important here is that if I am standing between- let’s go back to the vet example. So if I’m a vet, and I’m deciding who I’m going to do my promotional products from, and I look at Company A, and Company A happens to be just really well known in Hartford. So I’m in Hartford, I’m using a vet that’s in Hartford, and Company A happens to be- or I am a vet in Hartford. Company A happens to sell to every business I know. So I’m really involved in networking, every single person I know happens to work with this particular promo company. No idea why other than the promo company’s really good at marketing themselves. So everybody knows who they are, everybody buys their stuff from them. So whether it’s the caterer, a baker, a dentist, a barbeque joint, a realtor; it doesn’t matter, everybody in Hartford goes to this one person- Company A. But I’m a vet, so I could easily go to Company A, because maybe I have a loyalty to shop local. So now Company B. Company B has gone out of their way to market themselves as the promotional products company for anyone that is serving animals. So they have the ASPCA as a client, they have other vets as clients, they have the animal hospitals as clients, they have the local pet store as a client. Maybe they’re working with Petco or PetSmart, one of the big, big companies. So Company A is local, serves everybody and their mother, and can do it well. We’re not saying there’s anything wrong with what they do. But then look at Company B, and Company B specifically serves the needs of those who understand pets. Those who understand animals. And as a vet, I would be far more likely to go with the company that specializes in that particular niche. And not to say there’s anything wrong with Company A, but Company B has gone out and put the flag in the sand to say, “Listen, I am the vet of choice. I am the promo products person of choice for veterinarians across Connecticut, New England,” whatever it could possibly be.
And now it’s really important to make this distinction because if we overlay LGBT on top of it- and this is where I’m going to try to be succinct in this message, but it’s really not necessarily an easy concept to explain. But if we overlay LGBT on top of this. Let’s give another example. So I was just recently trying to find a housekeeper. I hate cleaning my house with a passion, and so does my wife. So all we were trying to do was find somebody that can come in and maybe clean it once a month. Nothing fancy, nothing exciting, just somebody to come clean our house. We have two kids, things are a mess. So I would imagine that that should be an easy task, right? You just pick up the phone, call Merry Maids, call whoever it happens to be in your area. What I found- and side note, let me backtrack to last year trying to fix a plumbing issue. So my wife being the loving, adoring, love her to death spouse that I have, decided one day that she was going to shove every possible leftover item we had into the garbage disposal, and completely broke it. And not broke it, but totally screwed up the pipe going to the dishwasher and the pipe going out to the street. It was seriously a hot mess and it took like six plumbers to come to our house. I actually talked about this instance on a podcast. I have no idea what episode it was, but it was sometime last year. So I had the whole instance kind of unveiled in a previous episode. However I bring it up because every time we had to call a plumber- because we called the first plumber, they thought they just needed to snake it. Of course they didn’t have the right size snake, so then they had to go send somebody else that could do it. Then they thought the pipe was frozen. Like there was just a problem after problem after problem. And then every time someone came into our house, even though- we live in a different house now, but every time they came into this particular house, the kitchen is right there off to the right, so you walk in the house and bam, you’re like practically in the kitchen. People don’t need to go walking into the living room or anything like that. But what kept happening is every time somebody new came into our house, I immediately felt uncomfortable, and I felt nervous. Why, you ask? Is because our wedding pictures are all over the house, our family pictures are all over our house, as they should be, it’s our home, it should be a place of safety.
So what kept happening is every time someone came into our house who was a plumber- and I’m home by myself as a very petite female, a young petite female, and every time an older male person comes into the house, it’s immediately like okay- you’re just on guard generally. And I live my life trying to be very conscious and aware of my surroundings. And every time they come in, you don’t know if that person who- they’re coming to your house to fix the plumbing. They’re not there for conversation, they’re not there to make a new friend, they’re here to do a job, you’ve hired them to fix something, this is what they’re doing. But that does not mean that somebody is not going to come into the house and be predisposed to something that makes them not happy about the home in which they’re in. So I don’t know that somebody coming into the house isn’t homophobic. I could have gotten the person who’s had a bad day who’s homophobic, comes into our house, sees the wedding pictures, and has a problem with it, and decides to confront me on that problem. That is a very real, very common problem. And if unless you’re part of the community, you don’t know what this feels like. So it’s a very unsettling feeling to have to be worried about something like this. And it’s not something that the average straight person- it would never even cross their mind like, “Oh shit, I have to hide the wedding pictures when somebody comes in to service the heater,” or whatever. Yeah sometimes people do. I chose not to because I go out of my way to have these educational opportunities where I can, albeit uncomfortable, but I do it regularly. So of course I’m not going to take my wedding pictures down, but I’m not going to lie and say that it didn’t cross my mind.
So if you think of that experience that I had last- I want to say maybe it was probably this time last year. It was cold enough for the pipes to freeze, so maybe it was like in December. So if you have a situation like that, where you’re immediately kind of on guard, on edge, because you don’t know how people are going to respond to you, it really is not a whole lot different than if we were talking about race issues. So you have no idea how bigoted somebody might be before they enter your home. So the last thing somebody would want, would be to be a black family, and then have somebody who’s part of the KKK also be a local plumber who’s coming in to fix the plumbing in their home. People are going to do their homework and make sure that who they’re hiring into their home is not going to automatically have a bias against them. And I know that that’s a drastic example, throwing the KKK out there, but it’s an example, and it happens.
So now fast forward to literally this past September, last month, I am trying to find somebody to clean our house. So of course I go to the typical places, I’m looking for people on LinkedIn, trying to see who they’re connected with, who I know that they’re connected with. Because at the end of the day I don’t want this problem again. I am not going to hire somebody who may be anti-gay or who’s homophobic, who’s coming in to clean my house because that is uncomfortable for not just me, but it’s uncomfortable for that person, too. And it’s not fair to any of us involved. I don’t want to have somebody come into my home, and force them to be openly LGBT friendly. Nor do I want somebody in my home who’s going to openly be hateful toward me. So it goes both ways. Like I would never put a statement out there like I would absolutely expect somebody coming into my home has to be LGBT friendly. And it’s not a reasonable request from either direction. So what I did is I posted on Facebook, and I just made some statement saying, “Hey I’m looking for an LGBT friendly person who can clean homes,” and I had a couple of people not understand why I was asking, so I had to educate a little bit on why this is important, and then I had a couple of people respond via direct message saying, “I know of somebody who’s working with a lesbian family in this town. Let me know if you want a connection to her.” And I said, “Yes, actually I would like that.” So I talked to the person specifically, and I said, “I’m not expecting you to be loud and proud, loving on the LGBT people. All I expect is basic civility.” And she was super sweet, she’s amazing, her name is Emily. So if anyone’s in the Hartford area and needs someone who’s LGBT friendly, let me know, I’ll happily refer her. But to her, we had this amazing conversation after she was done cleaning the house because she’s a relatively new business owner. And I said to her, “Listen, you’re young, LGBT does not matter to you, and I love that it does not matter to you.” However there are people out there that they want to know that that’s the case. They want to know that someone they’re bringing in is indeed okay with them being LGBT. Not that we need permission, not that we need approval, but for the safety of being in our own homes and not having to worry about a bigot or a homophobe coming in and it turning into a shit show. So I ended up having a really good conversation with her, and basically just started rattling off free consulting advice of how she could market herself to the LGBT community, because she already innately understood why I was having this conversation with her. And she was like, “Oh of course, there’s no problem at all.” Come to find out she’s got a marketing degree, we had a great conversation. So the whole point here being is that she did not think that she should target a specific sub-group being LGBT people who need their homes cleaned. But she now has a huge marketing opportunity to be the one company- at least in the Hartford area that stands up and says, “Listen, I am LGBT friendly, happily- I’m completely accepting, open, et cetera,” and people are going to come to her business, or she’s going to come to their homes and get business because of referrals from people like me, and from referrals from the other LGBT couple that she’s serving. She’s not doing anything different, she’s cleaning a house. It’s not like there’s any magic to cleaning the house. It’s the fact that I don’t have to worry about my own safety while she’s in my house, and that’s not something that everybody can say, especially in the more rural areas that you get within our country.
So yes we have marriage equality, yes it’s legal in all fifty states, but that does not provide safety for anyone still. So it’s something to be really mindful of, is that yes it seems really unimportant as to sexual preference- which we’ve discussed why we shouldn’t say that. But being LGBT does seem really unimportant on the surface, because for the most part it really does not matter. The service, the product; whatever it is, it does not matter in the least. Like legitimately at all. But it comes down to how that customer feels, and knows that you’re not going to discriminate against them. And nobody- like I’m not going to buy from you if you’re going to openly discriminate against, that just doesn’t make sense. Why would I give you my money if I know that you hate the LGBT community? Why would I give Chick-Fil-A my money when I know they openly- openly and very vehemently hate the LGBT community? Same thing with Hobby Lobby. Why on earth would I ever spend a single dollar with them when I know that the actively and proactively hate the LGBT community? It just doesn’t make sense. So this is where the rubber meets the road, is that you have a lot of companies that are pro-LGBT, you have a lot of them that are anti-LGBT. And I don’t need to go in and try to change hearts and minds of folks at Hobby Lobby or Chick-Fil-A. I just don’t need to do business with them. I don’t need to be an ass about it, I don’t need to be standing out there with a picket sign saying, ‘Chick-Fil-A is the devil’ as much as I would agree with that statement. But I would never actually- why am I going to waste my energy on that? I vote and shop- what is the phrase, I vote with my dollars. There’s some phrase out there. So I don’t need to do business with someone who doesn’t want to do business with me. So it’s very simple from that perspective- or at least I think it is. So if we’re looking at the example of the lesbians buying a pound of fruit and they’re happy because they’re buying a pound of fruit, and there’s other people who are not happy that the fruit has been purchased. I totally see- totally see that scenario playing out. What I would say would probably be maybe a more likely scenario. So if you have- I guess if you have the fruit basket sitting there; just because somebody is pro-LGBT, it does not mean that they’re going to get my money as an LGBT person, but I am going to give them a second look, if I hadn’t been giving them a look before. So if we’re standing and there’s Company A and Company B. Company A has delicious looking apples. Company B has delicious looking apples. And I don’t know anything about either company. It’s a complete toss-up- it’s a coin toss of which one of those that I would purchase. But if I know that Company A is a Chick-Fil-A type, where they’re really, really anti-gay. And I know that Company B is more progressive, maybe it’s McDonald’s who’s very pro-LGBT. Then I would go with McDonald’s over Chick-Fil-A just because of their philosophies. So it’s not- and I wouldn’t expect Chick-Fil-A or McDonald’s- Company A and Company B in this fruit scenario; I wouldn’t expect either of them to have a sign on the table that says, ‘LGBT.’ Like ‘LGBT Proud’ as this email indicated. It wouldn’t make sense in that particular instance. It would make sense if you were at an LGBT-specific event, maybe if it were at a pride parade, maybe if you were at a pride festival, that would all make sense. But I don’t think any company would openly just set up shop in the middle of a grocery store and order somebody to stand in a line that says ‘LGBT Proud.’ That’s just not a realistic scenario in any way, shape or form. And yes, if somebody did do that, then the outcome that you’re suggesting would absolutely be accurate, where you’ve alienated more people than you’ve helped. And that’s why I don’t think anybody would realistically ever do it.
And the point below that says, “The fact is we all want the fruit if it’s delicious,” completely agree. 100% agree with you. The problem is, is if Chick-Fil-A’s chicken is the best damn chicken on earth, and McDonald’s chicken sucks, I’m still going to go with McDonald’s chicken that sucks versus giving Chick-Fil-A my money. Like it’s really at the end of the day hardcore, and very, very clear and concrete, at least in my head. And I was just having a conversation with a friend, and she made reference about going into Hobby Lobby and I was like, “Are you kidding me? Like you know how bad Hobby Lobby is.” But at the end of the day- and she’s a woman so Hobby Lobby has their whole issues with women in general as well. We just had a conversation saying like how can you support a company that doesn’t support women? The hell with LGBT on this, because she’s not LGBT so it doesn’t matter to her personally. But how can you support a company that doesn’t support women? Like I just can’t wrap my head around that.
So it’s a matter of just using marketing in the ways in which marketing should be used. So when you have an opportunity to show that your business is inclusive, take that opportunity. If you have an opportunity to point out the fact that your competitor is not being inclusive, and that’s an opportunity for you to have, then you should probably take those opportunities.
So I’m not saying that anything in this email is right, or anything that’s in the email is wrong, but I think that if we apply LGBT to as being a piece of the marketing, not the whole marketing, that’s more of where I’m approaching things from. I use this example all the time, and I say if you’re looking at- and I have a webinar, it might be in my webinar, it’s in my live presentations. But basically I have this picture that a cruise company sent me, and it has a bunch of gay white men on it, shirtless, happy, they’re on a boat somewhere in the Caribbean. And when I get that sent to my house, do you think in any way, shape or form that that resonates with me? No it doesn’t, because I am not a gay man, and I am not in my twenties, and I’m not in the desire to go on a cruise with a bunch of other gay men. But they send it to a lesbian household because they’re trying to mark off the LGBT bucket. So they’re not being specific enough with their marketing. So in my presentations I actually show the postcard, and then I show a family picture of my family and I from a wedding we went to last summer, to just show like how drastically off it is. And a lot of times it doesn’t come down to the LGBT piece of things, it comes down to gender. Like to me most of the time it comes down to gender. You wouldn’t use the same marketing for men as you do women, so you shouldn’t be using the same marketing for gay men as you would lesbians, just because LGBT happens to be the umbrella in which we fall under. That doesn’t by its nature make the fact that we all must like the same things. We’re not a homogeneous mass of people that all think, act, believe and do the same things; everybody is very different. And I think if a company were marketing to me, the first thing that their best bet aside from marketing to me as a woman, would be as a parent. Like that marketing would resonate with me a hell of a lot more than somebody throwing LGBT in my face. If I’m in the market for- diapers are no longer a part of my life, thank God, but let’s say if I’m in the market to throw a birthday party for my daughter, and I know that she likes to bowl. So we want to put together a bowling party. What I would first do as a mother would be to look for bowling places that are child friendly. So you might have two bowling places, one that’s like proudly saying LGBT friendly, and we actually do have one in this area. And then another bowling alley who doesn’t say anything about it all but they’re family friendly. Then I wouldn’t automatically go to the LGBT friendly bowling alley if they didn’t do birthday parties, or if they didn’t serve children. Like it could be an adult bowling alley. So you have to really just- a lot of times it just comes down to common sense. So it’s a matter of really understanding who your customers are, and understanding that LGBT people are just part of your customer base already, and where there are applicable times to point out that you are LGBT friendly, or to point out that you are active in the local LGBT community whether you’re part of the chamber of commerce, maybe you’re a part of the pride center, maybe you’ve attended the recent black tie gala, maybe you volunteer portraits- you’re a photographer and you volunteer portraits for one of the fundraising groups locally. Those are all ways that you can communicate to LGBT people that are already part of your customer base that you’re active and engaged in the LGBT community. Because then they’re going to notice that. So if they’re already part of your customer base, they already like you for some reason or another, so now you’re just reinforcing that their decision to do business with you is the right decision. And it can also work in reverse, where if you start to voice your pro- not pro. Your anti-LGBT legislation, then if you have LGBT clients and they know that this is something you’re doing, you no longer are going to have those clients.
So it’s very interesting, it’s very- it’s complicated to explain, but ultimately I advise all of the companies that I work with to incorporate LGBT people into what they are already doing. You don’t need to have a separate marketing campaign that says ‘LGBT proud,’ ‘Proud to serve the LGBT community,’ you don’t need to go out of your way to create a separate campaign. You just need to make sure that LGBT people are included in what you are already doing. And just by doing that you will see tremendous amounts of success, because I’ve been saying this- I feel like a broken record, is that the bar is really, really low still. There are companies out there who are kicking ass and taking names in terms of serving the LGBT community amazingly well. And the sad reality is that they don’t have to do a whole lot to get huge results. They just have to be committed to promoting themselves to the LGBT community to say, “Hey,” and quoting directly from this email, “We’re all human. We all want to be respected and accepted, accepting all people LGBT or not.” That’s exactly it. It’s just a matter of showing that you’re inclusive and accepting of everyone, and LGBT happens to be one piece of that larger pie.
So I feel like I’m out of breath from answering this question, but I will address the last line and then we can wrap up. Is that the last paragraph says “It seems that initially LGBT saw themselves as different and simply wanted to be accepted by all people. Now it appears that they want us to all agree that they are different while striving to stand out. They even want their own communities and are demanding that we market to them and talk to them differently.”
So I would agree but disagree with this statement. What I call is the loud minority. So there is a segment of every community that fits whatever stereotype that community might have, and they are the loud minority. They are the ones that are loud as hell, and they actually do more damage to a community of people than anybody ever wants them to. But they’re the ones that are loud, they’re the ones that get the camera time, they’re the ones that just really do damage to the community. So a personal example here is that I was at a pride event in Hartford a couple of years ago, I had my daughter with me who- I want to say she was probably like four or five at the time. She was small enough for me to be holding her in the picture. But at any rate, a friend of mine took a picture of the two of us, and we put it in the family calendar. And it’s a super cute picture, I love how cute we look together. And my wife puts it in the family calendar and lo and behold, I don’t know what month it was, it was probably like in the fall, I flip it up on our kitchen wall and there is a man in a hot pink speedo and a cowboy hat standing behind us. I had no idea that he was there, like I just was so in love with the picture because it was just so cute, that I didn’t even notice that there is a half-naked man in a cowboy hat standing behind her. So my point for that is, is that that man, I remember vividly he was on the news the night of the pride celebration. So the news cameras, they don’t want to talk to me because I’m boring. I am just your boring old- I shouldn’t say boring old. But yes, I’m just the average lesbian living a suburban life, happened to be there with my daughter, having a conversation at the booth. Nobody wants to talk to me because I am boring in that regard. Every news station wants to talk to the crazy person in the pink speedo with the cowboy hat though. That person is the loud minority. He was the only one at that event that looked like that, and he was the one that got all the news and press coverage. So that is the person that completely defines stereotypes for the LGBT community that are not accurate.
So that person in regards to this email is the one that’s striving to stand out. They’re the ones that are actually doing damage to the community, and a lot of people within the community are very resentful of people like that. So- and that’s not specific to the LGBT community, this can cross many, many different areas. So my point here being, is that yes I see what you’re saying, is that it appears that people are striving to stand out. People are striving to stand out, but the vast majority of people are really very kind of innocuous and your everyday person just kind of moseying about, and they’re in your life, and they’re part of the community, and you don’t even know it because they’re not wearing the pink speedo and the cowboy hat saying, “Look at me! Look at me, I’m gay!” It’s really kind of the opposite. So unfortunately the loud minority gets a lot of air time, they get a lot of social media buzz, and it drives me crazy but it’s something that I can’t change, so I’ve given up trying at this point.
So it’s important for boring old people like myself to be better role models, and boring old people like people listening to this, so if you’re listening to this, you’re part of the community, next time you see the weirdo with the cowboy hat and the pink speedo, I hope it’s not you- if it is, please I’d love to hear from you. But hopefully it’s not you. Take an opportunity to try to be the one for you to be the one that gets the air time, not the loud minority to get the air time, because they’re doing a detriment to our community. And this happens with all other groups of people too. I could rattle off any minority group and there’s a stereotype that very clearly defines that minority group, that is also the loud minority that stands out and other people are just cringing in the shadows saying, “I can’t believe this person’s doing it again.”
So I still think that all LGBT people just want to be accepted for who they are, they don’t want to be bothered, they don’t necessarily want to be called out for being LGBT, which is why it’s even more important now to include in marketing just that LGBT people are part of your everyday marketing. You don’t have to go isolating them and targeting them very, very specifically. Just include them in what it is that you’re doing, and that alone should yield good results.
So the final question here being why does it matter at all? Honestly in a lot of ways it doesn’t matter. But it matters enough that there’s still a lot of work to be done. So this was a very long, long email, and it was a very long response that I know was all over the place. So it is my sincere hope that John, this answers your questions. And you know what, if it doesn’t and if I’ve actually just raised more questions, please send me a follow-up email because I will address your response to this, and then respond back if you have additional questions. Because I’m certain that this is a podcast that’s going to get a lot of listens to it. I already have a lot of subscribers as it is, but I think this is a really important thing to talk about because I don’t think it’s talked about enough, and I don’t think enough people are brave enough to refer to themselves as being slightly homophobic, and not knowledgeable in an area, and then take the time to present it in this way. So I do appreciate you for reaching out and providing this insight into the mind of somebody that I don’t necessarily have an opportunity to communicate with on a regular basis. So I do appreciate you for that.
So anywho, that wraps up episode number 70 of the podcast. If you want to get a transcript of this episode, you can go to www.JennTGrace.com/70 and that will have episode number 70 on it. In the meantime I will try to find the links to some of those episodes- some of the things that I referenced in today’s episode, I will try to include those on the podcast as well. And then you can always reach out to me on all social media outlets, I’m available on pretty much all of them at Jenn T Grace. Or you can send me an email direct at Jenn@jenntgrace.com. And remember that is always Jenn with two N’s.
Thank you so much for listening, and have a great day, and I’ll talk to you in a few weeks.