Posts Taged messaging

The One Year, Thirty Minute Challenge :: Week 30 :: Marketing :: Messaging

If there’s one business discipline that gives me indigestion, it’s marketing. When I sit down to write about strategy or operations, the words flow freely, but when I have to write about marketing or, even worse, prepare marketing materials for my own business, I feel like my IQ drops 30 points.

I know the discipline is vital, so I’ve enlisted the help of people I trust. You’ll find my Kindle full of books from Donald Miller, Seth Godin, Bernadette Jiwa, Jay Baer and Jonah Berger. People who can help me decide what to say and how to say it. You’ll find my recommended reading list at the bottom of this post.

This week’s One Year, Thirty Minute Challenge is devoted to the most rudimentary of marketing disciplines – messaging – What do I say when I talk to customers? I’m afraid we devote too much attention to branding (logo design, colors) instead of the real words we say to the people we desperately want to talk to.

So, my goal for you in this week’s thirty-minute exercise is to use the criteria below to evaluate your communication with current and potential customers. Check your website, email campaigns, social media posts and written materials. These are the some of the most crucial truths I’ve gleaned from the smart people listed above.

Be brief – People are busy. They scan instead of reading. You’ve probably got 5-10 seconds on your website, 1-2 seconds for an email subject line and 3-5 seconds on a social media post to convince someone to go deeper. On your website, succinctly state the problem you solve, how you solve it and how the customer’s life will be better after consuming your solution. On email and social media, quickly say what the email or post is about and why they should continue reading.

Be clear – Don’t be cute, be crystal clear. A clever play on words might be tempting, but a solid message is always better. Don’t make the reader work hard to figure out what you’re trying to say.

Be valuable – Give value in every interaction. Let current and potential customers know what kind of information and work they can experience when they interact with you or your organization. Give them a taste of the value that will be returned for their investment of time and money.

Solve a problem – Current and potential customers don’t really care about you; they care about themselves. How will you resolve an existing issue or make their lives easier, better, or happier?

Be Mick, not Rocky – If you’re listing the top feel-good movies of all time and Rocky doesn’t make the list, you’re doing it wrong. The film about a struggling boxer, Rocky Balboa, who finally gets a shot at the title is Hollywood gold. But the pivotal character in the movie isn’t Rocky, it’s Mick, Rocky’s coach, mentor, friend, butt-kicker and confidant. In your marketing, be Mick the trainer, so your clients can be Rocky the hero.

Be empathetic – Let current and potential customers know that you “get it”. You understand their struggles, their frustrations, their obstacles, and their aspirations.

Be trusted – After you’ve shown that you understand their problems, demonstrate that you know how to solve them. Your proof might be in the form of years of experience, testimonials or case studies.

Be patient – Don’t be the weird person who discusses how many children he or she wants on the first date. Take your time, build trust, ask more questions, and learn everything you can about current and potential customers. Earn the right to heard.

Be transactional – In contrast to the previous question, don’t get stuck in the “friend zone”. Let potential customers know that the goal of your interactions is a paid engagement. Give potential customers a chance to begin the engagement with early and frequent calls to action. Be ready when they’re ready.

Be aspirational – Paint a picture of what their life will look like after using your product or service. Will they have more free time, more money, more security, more piece of mind, happier employees, better data enabling them to make better decisions?

If you’ll critique your communication using just the truths above, you’ll remove some clutter and make your message easier to read and easier to act on.

If this whets your appetite to go deeper on your marketing, you’ll benefit from these books.

Donald Miller, Building a StoryBrand

Donald Miller, Marketing Made Simple

Seth Godin, This is Marketing

Bernadette Jiwa, Marketing: A Love Story

Jonah Berger, Contagious

Jay Baer, Youtility

 

Five Strategic Things I Wish I Could Force You to Do in 2018

There’s not a better job in the world than being a consultant. I have the opportunity to see the inner workings of multiple industries and competitive companies inside those industries. And, I get to work with great, smart people all the time. The one thing I can’t do, however, is make decisions for clients. I supply informed opinions, actionable recommendations, a framework for execution and accountability to get it done, but I can’t pull the trigger.

But, if just for a moment, I had free reign in every client organization in 2018, here are five things I would do.

Ratchet Up the Employee Engagement – According to a Gallup survey, unengaged employees comprise 70% of the workforce. These unengaged employees collectively cost business owners $550 billion annually in lost productivity. The mechanics of creating, increasing and retaining engagement are not mystical, but they do require a specific set of attitudes and behaviors from employers. To get started, download Employees As, a primer for Employee Engagement.

Innovate Using Jobs Theory – Of all the big thoughts devoted to innovation over they past 20 years, I find those of Clayton Christensen in his excellent book Competing Against Luck to be the most practical, most easily grasped by an organization and most likely to yield a viable new product or service. Jobs Theory positions innovation as supplying the best alternative for the progress a potential customer wants to make in resolving a problem.

Implement a Plan for Focused Execution – Most organizations either throw up their collective hands and run from crisis to crisis OR undertake strategic initiatives that have too many moving parts. To effect real change in an organization, only work on one or two initiatives at a time. When those are done, move to the next one or two. Successful execution requires a laser-like focus, shared vision, education, identifying the correct leading indicators, overcoming the obstacles that surface in the course of the project, great teamwork and accountability.

Clarify Your Messaging – Great marketing and subsequent sales all hinge on an easily understood message. Make sure potential customers know exactly what you do. The message from salespeople, your company website, your social media channels and your sales collateral should be simple and unified. The value proposition should be communicated in language that correctly identifies the client’s problem, positions your organization as a capable resource that can guide them to resolution and describes a desirable future state.

Set Aside Time for Deep Work – I can’t say enough good things about Cal Newport’s book Deep Work. I was challenged by the empirical and anecdotal evidence he presented to regularly and methodically step away from our distraction-fueled world to do work that requires complex, contemplative and deep thought. It’s changed the way I approach my preparation for consulting engagements and the engagements themselves. It’s the best defense I’ve ever seen again distraction and the always present “tyranny of the urgent”. Make time to do this no matter what else is going on in your organization.

There are very few guarantees in this world, but if you take these five things into your organization, I can almost promise that 2018 will look markedly different from 2017.

Again, I encourage you to download the Employees As guide to Employee Engagement. I also have resources available for the other strategic initiatives discussed in this post.