In The Next 11 Minutes, Start Labeling Your Customers with Keywords



The idea of labeling people into groups to sell to them effectively is a conversation that can sink deep into the blurry lines of ethics and business. But let’s think about how man labels his best friend. We tag dogs with keywords that give them special privileges such as – service, therapy, companion and K-9. Each of these labels are just that, a label we give our furry friends. But if two dogs were sitting outside of the sliding doors of a market, and only one had a brightly colored vest with a special word on it, the naked one would be forbidden to pass through the sliding the doors.

As a small business owner, when you think about your customers, you want to think about them as incredible people who allow you to be in business, hopefully helping you profit from doing what you love. But in reality, to stay in business, you have to learn about your customers and find ways to craft a strategy that will encourage them to remain clients and ideally, get them to help you advertise and grow your business.

Some might think the concept of labeling people is rude and a way to segregate. Perceiving people as being all equal is a mantra we tell ourselves, but in reality, the goal is to find differences between people so you can divide your customers into groups and conquer your mission of making money. As a small business owner, my perspective on labeling people is based on honesty and delivering value to each customer. Take a moment and think of random labels people are given. Now let’s think about how contrasting labels can sculpt the identity of a single person.


These labels frame this individual in a positive manner. Yet, that same guy could also have the labels of being greedy, irrational, predatory and criminal. Think about that. A person could be a philanthropist and a criminal at the same time. They can be compassionate and greedy. They can be innovative and irrational. You can play this game as long as you want, taking polarizing labels and linking them to a single person.

Understanding this complex duality that each person owns, is becoming more and more paramount to social media marketing. Why is this important? Because it shows you care about your individual customers.

Each person is going to evolve over various time spans in interests and perspective. Online, you’re marketing to people who have short attention spans and to people who have various levels of interest in your product, and to people who aren’t real.

As a small business you know there’s plenty of competition out there. Most likely what you’re selling is also being sold by other businesses for cheaper. So, how can you acquire and hold-on to business? You can simply care more about your customers than your competitors, but to do that you have to understand the layers of labels that sculpt your customer.

Since you need customers to sustain and grow your business, the purpose of this article, is to get you thinking in a big, broad context about your customers and the dozens of labels that you associate with them.


Labeling is like anything else, you can use it to benefit or harm. Labeling people addicts or linking some slur to them based on their race, religion, gender, lifestyle or sexual orientation is harmful and shouldn’t be used in your marketing unless you’re trying to persuade an audience who has a label of being a hate group. I’m assuming you’re not interested in harming others, so let’s change the conversation to make labeling an exercise that helps you, help your customers.

As a graphic designer and small business owner, I view labeling as an opportunity. It allows me to tailor my marketing and products to cater directly to my audience. The individuals who support my business are unique and dynamic. As they grow older their labels will change and labels can even change throughout the day. People change after listening to a song, watching a movie, driving in traffic, and getting positive or negative feedback. People change constantly, and at the speed of modern communication, people can switch labels in a matter of seconds.

Here’s a scenario. You’re a guy working from home with a client meeting in 5 minutes. As you start preparing for the call, your child runs in the room crying. 30-seconds later your phone rings and it’s your wife telling you about a delivery coming to the house in 20 minutes, and while you’re on the phone, your frantic child knocks over your coffee staining the new carpet of your home office.

Think about all the labels this one guy is in this fraction of time. He starts off as a business owner, then he’s a father, then he’s a husband, then he’s a coffee drinker who quickly becomes a carpet cleaning novice. After all this he has to go back to being a business owner for his meeting, then he’s a manager who has to figure out how to get all the meeting points talked about in under 20 minutes, because he is a homeowner who has to greet the delivery driver shortly.

Depending on how you perceive this scenario, you can give this man subjective labels of being stressed, multi-tasker, juggler, or you can perceive him as being a hero, strong and professional. Or if you’re from a part of the world where the idea of being a stay-at-home dad is a surreal idea, then you might label that entire scenario as absurd and fiction.


As we move forward in our slash culture, where many professionals will be Job Title / Job Title / Job Title, we need to start thinking deeper about who our customers are, and start thinking about them individually and compiling them into groups of similar interests or needs. You’ve might of heard about this idea when studying email marketing. It’s fundamentally the same idea – create multiple niche lists within a large general list to have more impact to the needs of your specific customers.

You can take this email strategy and copy and paste this on social media as well. Start thinking about the people who follow you, and who would buy your product. Go through the people who follow you, and start looking at their profile descriptions, they will proudly reveal their labels. Then you can start putting them in lists within the social media platform or in your own CRM software or way.


As you know, when you’re playing around on social media and online, you will start to see advertisements across your devices, trying to sell you whatever you’ve been looking at.

If you don’t believe me, go online and start researching chainsaws. Don’t invest too much time, spend 5 minutes on your favorite search engine and then 5 minutes on your favorite social media platform, reading articles and watching a couple short clips on chainsaws.

Now over the next few days, take note of how many times you start seeing advertisements selling you chainsaws. What is happening here, is algorithms are labeling you. A piece of sophisticated technology, is grouping you into a niche within a niche, within a niche. Based on all your previous searches over the years, this technology knows plenty about you and now you’ve given it a new piece of information. You are a certain type of person who now is suddenly interested in purchasing a chainsaw. Imagine the new lists you are now on, and think of the labels that now will be linked to your digital identity.


If you’re in the business of selling chainsaws, just because somebody spent a few minutes looking around, doesn’t mean they’re interested in buying. Chainsaws typically aren’t thought of as being an impulse buy. The person searching for a chainsaw could be planning on cutting down a tree in their yard next summer. Maybe they’re planning on starting a tree trimming business? Maybe they are looking for a gift for their handy friend? You really don’t know how committed they are to buying a chainsaw, and why would they be interested in buying from your small business, when there’s no shortage of cheaper places to buy chainsaws in their local markets or online?

The social media culture we now live in, exposes people and allows anyone to be whoever they want to be. For example, I have a social media account where I’m a designer, and I have another handle where I’m a scuba diving instructor, and I have an account under a pseudonym for writing. I could research chainsaws under all 3 different handles, and elevate the social media analytics of your chainsaw business, but it wouldn’t result in you making money. But if you saw my 3 social media profiles sharing your chainsaw content, you would start to label me and categorize my identity very differently based on my interest per social media channel.

Imagine, what you would think, if a graphic designer, scuba instructor and writer all shared your chainsaw content. You would be thinking, why would any of these three need my product? None of these seem like they would find my product useful.

Close your eyes and think who you’ve seen holding a chainsaw? You’ve seen people cutting through trees in your local community, you’ve seen lumberjacks in commercials or real life, you’ve seen at least one horror moving with a chainsaw wielding maniac, and you’ve might of seen a performance artist juggling chainsaws, physically not metaphorically.

Now since you’re in the business of selling chainsaws, who do you want to sell your product to? The performance audience market is small, and you don’t want to support the maniac, that’s bad for your business. The logical approach would be go towards the larger audience. The majority of people who use a chainsaw are men and women who work in a manual field such as construction. And if you look at the ratio of men to women in construction, more men work in this field and the majority of these men will have a high school education and experience in building and maintenance.


Think of any male you know who might find a chainsaw useful. The first big niche they’re in, is being a guy. Now where does that guy live? Now he’s a guy who lives in a specific location. How much money does this guy have? Now he’s a guy living in a specific location with a certain amount of money. In that short thought pattern, this male you know has went from one niche, to another small niche, to another smaller niche. And this can keep going as deep as you want by taking one label after another will be continue to put this guy into a more focused niche.


  • Start with general labels such as gender, race, age and location.

  • Then move into specific societal labels such as sexual orientation, income levels and priorities.

  • The move into personal labels such as happiness, health and perspective.

  • Then move into specific interests and narrow down. Does the guy like sports? If so, what sport. Does he like technology? If so what types? Does he like fashion? If so what types? This goes on and on.


This article covered a lot of ground. It’s a wide angle portrait of 2200+ words on how to start thinking about your customers, because without understanding who your target audience is, your social media efforts will be pointless and selling your small business will be a struggle.

To give you a personal example. My scuba diving business is a small business of only me. If I create a piece of marketing content to share on social media, I’ll get likes, retweets and engagement from all kinds of people. I might have a teenager who is doing a school project in another country or state, I might get engagement from fellow scuba diving businesses and I might get a few random people who have an interest in diving.

This is a nice feeling, I’m glad people are viewing my work, but does it correlate with people buying my service? No. If a dive business shares my work, it’s nice to be known in the industry. If the student shares my work, maybe they have a family member or an adult in their network who sees it. But this is all speculation and hoping I hit the lottery of getting a dive booked.

If I really want to increase my chances of having people book my scuba service, I need to find people who are researching Scuba Diving in Maui. These are the people who have shown an interest enough to actually search for the service. They own the label of being individuals interested in scuba diving Maui, and it’s my job to start organizing them into smaller niches so I can better understand their identities and cater to their needs.

Chris Brock