There is a constant struggle going on in my business as I continue to market and grow it. That struggle can be summed up in one question: Do I spend more time marketing in meatspace or cyberspace?
That’s a fairly odd question and one that I doubt any other business blogger has posed in this way before. In order to dive in, we have to look at what in the world is “meatspace”. So glad you asked.
Well, I learned this term when I was having dinner with my family on Sunday night and my mom was recapping what she heard on NPR’s “Wait Wait…Don’t Tell Me!” On the show, they had people guessing what the definition of “meatspace” was. Unfortunately no one at the dinner table at my house could guess it. Turns out that “meatspace” is the opposite of “cyberspace”. Meatspace is the “real world”. Flesh and blood. Brick and mortar.
This is where my business struggle comes into play. I’m constantly debating whether I need to spend more time marketing my business in the “real world”—networking, meeting referral partners, presenting workshops, etc—or whether I need to spend more of my efforts online—SEO optimization, forums, online workshops, content, etc. In other words… Should I spend my time Tweeting or schmoozing at a local networking group? Should I post on forums every day or attend a business conference? Do I file your business card or add you on Facebook?
You might have heard this debate before as described as “global” vs. “local” marketing. Cyberspace is more “global”—the internet gives you access to everyone around the world. Meatspace is “local”. When you market and connect in meatspace, you’re creating direction connection with the physical people and potential customers.
Which way of marketing is more effective?
Of course, that depends on your business. If you are a locally-based business and you only serve your surrounding community, you want to spend more of your time marketing in meatspace. At the same time, you want to make sure that your business website is SEO optimized and that you have done your due-diligence so your customers can easily find you when they search in cyberspace (a.k.a. Google).
If you’re running an online business or a business that can serve customers globally, you’re probably going to want to spend more of your marketing efforts in cyberspace.
Here are 3 pros of making business connections in meatspace:
1. It’s easier to make a lasting impression. Unlike the internet, it’s rude for people to walk away from you before you’ve fully introduced yourself in real life. When you meet someone in person, you get a chance to make a lasting impression and more of a solid (and hopefully memorable) business connection. In cyberspace, someone might view your business’s home page for 2.1 seconds and then quickly move on.
2. You can build your referral base. Most of the time when I attend a networking event or conference, it’s not to meet clients, it’s to meet referral partners. When you meet your referral partners in the real world, you’re more likely to establish trust with them right off the bat than if you met online. There’s something to be said about human-to-human interaction that gives us a sense of familiarity and ease with each other that you can’t always get online.
3. You will get real feedback about your business. When you’re fully online, you don’t always get good feedback from your peers and fellow business owners. If you post something on Facebook, you’re likely to get the “you’re-so-great” feedback which can make you feel good about yourself, but it doesn’t help your business grow. When you meet with people in real life, they can still sugar-coat things, but there’s a chance that they might share valuable thoughts or feedback that can help you take your business to the next level instead of resting on your laurels.
In the end, I’ve found that you have to find a good balance between the two. Personal, one-on-one connections in meatspace can be priceless and aren’t worth giving up all together even if your business is 100% online. Both routes can lead to great opportunity, more profitability and a larger customer base. Either direction you choose, putting together a strategic marketing plan is going to allow you to maximize your efforts in both areas and help you avoid wasting time constantly trying to figure out the right balance from day to day.