This month I am hosting a Japanese student through my Rotary Club’s involvement in the Rotary International Student Exchange Program. Over the past seven years, since I’ve been working exclusively online as an entrepreneur I’ve had the pleasure of hosting young people from eight different countries, including Norway, Mexico, Sweden, Nepal, the Netherlands, Peru, Sweden, and now Japan. They range in age from fifteen to twenty-two, and it’s lots of fun to be a part of someone’s life as they get to know you, your family, and our country and vice versa.
My Japanese student is a seventeen year old boy named Ryosuke (ree-OS-kay). During the first few days my family and I got know him better. His English is not very good, so we had fun with Google Translate and a pocket dictionary to better communicate back and forth. We wanted to learn which foods he liked (loves eggs, hates tomatoes, allergic to peanuts), if he was into sports (plays tennis on a team, plays baseball for fun, and is not involved with any others), what he most wanted to see in southern California (Disneyland and as many beaches as possible), and more about his family (he’s the youngest of four, lives in a city of almost a million, loves astronomy, has never had a pet).
Based on this information we offered him eggs every morning in the form of scrambled, poached, hard-boiled, and French toast; got rid of the peanuts and peanut butter in our home; took him to play tennis twice; spent two days at Disneyland; visited several beaches; dug out our telescope and set it up in the back yard; and made sure he had time to get to know all of our little dogs.
As the days went on I saw that what we were doing was very similar to what we do when we are trying to reach our target market online. We get to know them over time by offering them more about what they came to us for in the first place, never offering them anything they have not asked for, and asking them questions to learn more about them and their dreams for success. If you are doing this every day you are probably already seeing your business grow. It’s when we get off course and start marketing to our community in a way that does not resonate with them that our business begins to stagnate.
One Saturday we took Ryosuke to a field day event hosted by our city. I was hoping he’d get a chance to participate in a tennis clinic or throw a few pitches, but both of those activities were set up for much younger kids. Then we saw the volleyball nets and encouraged him to give it a try.
Ryosuke was a natural! Because of his years of playing baseball and tennis he had many ‘crossover’ skills that served him well in this sport. The high school kids added him to their team and we watched in admiration for almost an hour while they played. It was only afterwards that they learned he had never played volleyball even once in his life.
As you are exploring how to reach your target market, think about the crossover skills you have from your previous job, career, or educational training. Most likely you also have skills that could be helpful to those you are now coming to you for advice. I had been a classroom teacher for twenty years, as well as working as a residential appraiser and broker and used that as a basis for teaching adults how to write and market their content and to build a profitable online business.
Having an exchange student in your home also allows you to spoil them. This is an interesting process as you find yourself doing things for them that you might not have done for your own family members for many years, including preparing special foods, listening to every word they say, and taking them to places they have expressed a desire to know more about. If you do this in your business you will see how quickly people respond, as we all like to be made to feel special by those we are interacting with.
I love how real life situations can be beneficial to us in our businesses. When you learn how to reach your target market, whether it’s people you are connected to within your family or those you are doing business with, everyone wins.