As I was finishing up my second book, “No, wait… You do look gay! The 7 Mistakes Preventing You from Selling to the LGBT Market” I was thinking a lot about what I had written in the book.
The very first chapter dives into labels and where the obsession to label ourselves comes from so I’d like to share some thoughts on that.
For those of you who are avid readers of my blog you know that I am on a quest to decipher the code of lesbians. It all started with a handful of people asking me where are the lesbians when they were preparing marketing plans for the LGBT community. I’ve stated time and time again that the LGBT community is not monolithic and should be treated as individual communities with the community. Ie. Your marketing outreach plan should look very different if you are targeting lesbians than if you are targeting gay men. I think this message is starting to ring loud and clear because I’ve been getting feedback from folks trying out different methods with reaching their audiences and they’re seeing great results. This is very exciting.
But all this talk about where the lesbians are makes me question myself and how I operate. I am a huge proponent of seeking out LGBT businesses wherever possible, whether I am on vacation or I am looking for new auto insurance, but how does that help marketers find where I am? If this sounds like an odd question – let me explain. For someone who knows what an LGBT chamber of commerce is you know that they are the Good Housekeeping version of LGBT folks. You know by patronizing a business in their directory is going to treat you well as part of the LGBT community. But for those who do not know such resource exists, where are you going for your LGBT-friendly guides? There seem to be a good amount of resources for travel related endeavors or wedding planning but there seems to be a bit of a void for everything else – unless you know of an LGBT business resource like the LGBT chamber or perhaps a pride center in your area.
LGBT specific media is also a great resource for finding places that are LGBT friendly. But as I was traveling with my family in Lake George, NY, a quaint area where people from around the globe visit, we were all playing tourist it was occurring to me that our lesbian family did not do anything where LGBT marketers could have found us. In our travels we passed a motel that proudly hung a rainbow flag outside, which I quickly Googled and it was the known LGBT-friendly place in the area. But as we were traveling we are just a family, not a lesbian family, but just a family with two young children who wanted to do things and site see.
So it brings me back to the point that I started to make above and that is where does LGBT fall within your list of labels? Often I get responses on Twitter to folks commenting on past blogs saying things like “I am label free” or “A label doesn’t define me.” And I agree with those folks. I jokingly say I am a professional lesbian because I truly am. I teach people for a living about the LGBT community. Because of that I am very in tune with what is happening around me as it relates to LGBT and marketing. But in all honesty, being a lesbian is not at the top of the list of things that define who I am. If I ranked out my list I would say;
- A woman
- A wife
- A mother
- A business owner
- A lover of animals
- A lesbian
- A writer
- A dork
- A reformed meteorologist wanna-be (story for a different day)
- The list could go on, but I’ll stop here
Being a lesbian is 6th on my list and could easily be bumped down depending on the day. But it goes to show that labels can be problematic. If I am a ‘very out’ person and lesbian ranks in the middle of the pack, my guess would be other ‘not so out’ lesbians probably rank it even less important which illustrates why it is so difficult to find and market to the lesbians of the LGBT community.
This is clearly just my opinion after a lot of self-reflection over the last few months, but tell me what you think. How do you feel about this topic? And where does being L, G, B or T rank on your list of identifiers in life? And if you are anti-labels altogether – tell me that too. I want to hear your thoughts on this!
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