Don’t “shoot” the mayor!

The context in which language is used matters. I was reminded of this last week when our team that is helping with economic development efforts in the Greater Austin area attempted to interview the mayor. We were producing a video and wanted to schedule an appointment to “shoot” the mayor. Anyone in the film or TV industry would know exactly what was being requested. However, the mayor’s office was a bit concerned until the request was rephrased to “film” the mayor.

This principle applies directly to effective search engine marketing, both PPC and SEO. Marketers are often too close to the language they use to think about their products and miss opportunities more aligned with the way consumers or business buyers think. I was experimenting with Google searches for a common computer peripheral last week in preparation for a call with a leading manufacturer. The first two phrases I used returned no results for this company. When I used the most generic term possible, the company finally appeared.

Two linguistics lessons relearned:

1. Think as randomly as consumers do when planning your search marketing efforts.

2. Don’t ever ask to “shoot” the mayor!