Have you ever been trapped at a cocktail party by a guy who just talked about himself the whole time? How did you feel? Did you think he was interested in anything about you? Did you get the impression that he respected you and valued your time? Think about that scenario the next time you’re given the opportunity to talk about your business.
Quite often, as a business owner, you’re going to hear the question, “What do you do?” Your response can create a positive, memorable impression on a potential client, or make that person a disinterested party…or even worse, someone who wants herself and her money to be far away from you.
Successful marketing starts with your message and the most powerful word you can use is, “You” (or “your” or an understood “you” or “your”).
People are selfish for the most part. That’s not meant to be an insult; we’re literally selfish in that we want to know what’s in it for us and we won't wait long or expend much effort to find out. Determine your potential clients’ needs and address them in your messaging. Let them know right away how their lives will improve with your service or product. Effective marketing is about addressing an emotional need—quickly. Your chances of landing clients are better if you create emotional connections with them.
Let’s take a look at two approaches of talking about your business. If you’ve ever been to a Chamber of Commerce meeting, you might be familiar with speed networking. It’s like speed dating, but you sit at a table with other business owners and have two minutes each to talk about your businesses. I’ve seen so many business owners (even marketing folks) blow this opportunity with a captive audience.
The most common, ineffective approach (Hank):
“Hi, I’m Hank. I’m an accountant. If you need an accountant, call me. Here’s my business card.”
A more effective approach (Phil):
“You’re all business owners. Which do you prefer: constantly worryIng about the accuracy of your numbers and financial records, or hiring a professional to take care of all that so you can have fun, spend more time with customers, grow your business, and remember why you started your business in the first place? I’m Phil, and I’d like to be your accountant.”
See the difference? Hank figures people know what an accountant does, so he just says his name and hands out his card. But Phil has done his homework. He knows that, for the most part, small business owners don’t want to spend their time on the thoroughly unsexy activity of accounting. He makes an emotional connection by addressing their distaste for accounting work. He also puts his audience first, knowing that they don’t care who he is yet. First, they want to know what’s in it for them, THEN, they may want to know who he is.
Here’s my usual approach for my business.
Potential client: “What do you do?”
Me: “Do you know anyone who runs a business?”
Potential Client: “Yes, my uncle owns a bagel store.”
Me: “Well, your uncle would have a better image, improve his customer relations process, and attract more customers with my help. I assist businesses and non-profits with marketing strategy, branding, and graphic design.”
I show interest in the potential client by asking her a question and using words like, “you” and “your.” AND I’ve begun to paint a picture in her mind about what I do and how I can help people like her uncle. When I pitch automotive companies, I don’t say, “I’m a marketing and customer relations strategist.” I say, “You will sell more cars if you hire me.”
To make things easy, get out of the habit of starting your marketing message with, “My company does ____________ .” Switch it around and focus on the potential client: “You can have a better experience with ____________ if you hire my company.”
We’ll continue to discuss the importance of “you” in future posts, but this is a good start. Just remember, it’s not about you, it’s about what your audience will experience or accomplish by hiring you. Ask yourself, “What’s in it for them, and why should they choose me over my competition?”