If you think the type of people in your target audience don’t matter, you’re wrong. When marketing your business it’s imperative to know the type of people you’re talking to. We’re all familiar with the terms “white collar” and “blue collar” workers, but did you realize these two types of people communicate in almost completely different ways in the work place? It’s important for you to know not only what type of people you’re marketing to, but how you’re going to effectively communicate with them.

When we got started on this topic we thought we’d be creating a list of do’s and don’ts for each type of target market. After digging in and thinking about it we realized the considerations when talking to both white collar and blue collar workers are essentially the same, but the end product after evaluating those considerations are different for each. It all boils down to speaking to others in a way they feel comfortable being spoken to in an effort to put them at ease with the idea of working with your company.

The Collars

White Collar Workers

White collar workers are generally in an office setting. The term was originally used to characterize non-manual workers, but now it refers to employees or professionals whose work is knowledge intensive, non-routine and unstructured. Examples of white collar jobs include doctors, lawyers, engineers, biochemists, bank tellers, secretaries and many more.

Blue Collar Workers

Blue collar workers usually have manual labor jobs and typically work with their hands. Their work is directly related to the output generated by their company with an identifiable or tangible end result. Examples of blue collar jobs include construction workers, pipeliners, plumbers, mechanics, electricians and many more.

Why should I care about collars?

You should care, because you want people to react to your marketing. For example, when you go to the movie theater to see an R rated movie, there aren’t any previews for children’s movies. They thought about the adult audience and decided to show previews for movies they might also be interested in. If you don’t attend to your audience, like they do at the movie theater, your message will not make the desired impact on those that hear it.

Tips for Interacting with White Collar Workers

White collar workers tend to observe a certain level of what they deem professional interaction in the work place. If your target market is predominately white collar clients, consider the following concepts as they can be applied to your marketing:

  • Use professional language- no slang.
    Using slang could be taken as a lack of professionalism and respect. Even industry slang can be misconstrued as talking down to a white collar professional. For example, some of our clients are not familiar with the term SEO, even when we tell them it’s Search Engine Optimization they are still not sure what we’re referring to. So, if we’re in a situation where the client is a self-proclaimed newbie to the web we might refer to SEO as “how your website shows up on Google”.
  • Beware of jargon.
    Just because you’re using professional communication, doesn’t mean you have to use jargon. Keep your message short, simple and sweet. Just as in the suggestion above, be aware of the education level of your prospect or client. What may be an easily understood industry term to you might not be in their realm of expertise.
  • Shop talk = business talk.
    Business professionals tend to like to work with others in similar positions. Managers bond by swapping stories with other managers and administrative assistants do the same. When speaking to a specific audience put yourself in their shoes and communicate with them by sharing examples from their walk of life. Some white collar workers may be more comfortable discussing work than family. If you find this is true about your clientele, consider sticking to business – their business. White collar workers will want to interact with your business more if they know you’re knowledgeable about topics in their industry.

Tips for Interacting with Blue Collar Workers

Blue collar workers aren’t always as concerned with office manners. That’s not to say everyone can’t still be nice to each other, but in an office co-workers seldom sweat together over a landscaping wall or trust each other to direct traffic while backing a truck load of material into a tight space in a work site. That type of interaction can create a different relationship between blue collar teams that white collar teams often strive for. Here are a few tips to consider when when marketing to blue collar companies:

  • Relay your message in conversational tone.
    Blue collar workers are used to more informal communication, so using a professional tone won’t be nearly as effective as a straightforward approach. Blue collar business owners seldom show up to your office wearing suits. In their line of work, a suit can hinder their ability to get the job done. Just like super stuffy writing will hinder your ability to connect.
  • Don’t use every long, fancy word you know.
    No one wants to read that nonsense at any level. Just keep the lingo simple. On the same token don’t talk down to them- just because most of their jobs don’t require a Ph.D. or master’s degree doesn’t mean they aren’t smart people. Think about how out of control you feel when your car breaks down. Your auto mechanic tells you everything that’s wrong with it and you only understand three things from the whole conversation: car broken, 2 weeks to fix, lots of money to fix it. Other people feel the same way about your industry, respect their knowledge level, and if you have to, write the same message in multiple different ways to communicate effectively with people at each level.
  • Give examples they can relate to.
    Instead of talking over a reader’s head about the topic you’re presenting, use an analogy they can easily relate to from their industry. Blue collar workers tend to work with their hands; consider if this means your audience tends to me more kinesthetic than visual. If so you can use words that will relate to a kinesthetic reader by appealing to their primary sense. For example instead of saying, “let’s take a look at your big picture goals,” you might say, “let’s get a feel for the goals you’re working towards.” Blue collar workers will want to interact with your business more if you’re speaking in terms they can relate to.

Your Audience Matters

We are huge supporters of marketing accurately to your target audience. If you’re doing it wrong, you’re just wasting your time and money– and nobody wants to do that! Of course some companies don’t strictly fit into one collar category or the other, so that’s where you have to use a little bit of both communication tactics. Either way, your audience matters. Your communication efficiency affects how well your marketing techniques will work, which ultimately translates to success of your business.

The best piece of advice we can give is, put yourself in the shoes of your audience, really think about who they are and speak directly to them, no one else. If you can’t do that in one marketing message you haven’t gotten specific enough with your audience. If this is the case, then it’s back to the drawing board to create multiple messages speaking to each demographic in a way that best resonates with them.

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