Have you ever met a client that said, “I feel like I already knew you”? That’s the kind of rapport you want to build before your potential clients ever pick up the phone or reach the front door of your office.
How do you do it? You tell your story. In your words.
Getting your message out in an easily digestible format for consumers is the best way to get them to know and understand you and the products and services you offer. Try these ideas:
- Use video. Posted on your website and hosted on your YouTube channel, the easiest way for customers to get to know you is to see videos of you introducing your business and explaining some of the frequently asked questions that you get from customers. 80% of online users will watch a video, while only 20% will fully read your website.
- Write a good “our story” page. Everyone appreciates understanding that there are real human beings behind the products and services they buy. They actually do want to know who you are and what you stand for. Make sure your about us page conveys who you are even if you keep it short and simple.
- Give personalized tokens of appreciation. At your first point of contact, make sure you have a small token to give customers to take away. It can be a small, inexpensive item, but make it memorable and brand it with your custom messaging.
If you take the time to reflect on your own journey, on what exactly has made your business unique, you will be able to properly communicate your value to people who are first getting introduced to who you are and what you do. Something that helps is to think about the human elements of your company successes. What were the struggles involved in setting up your infrastructure? What were the real lessons you learned, that you couldn’t unlearn if you tried?
Once you are able to pin down your own epic story of company success, you will be able to mimic those values within the marketing and outreach efforts you are using to get clients. Bottom line, people absolutely love to hear genuine stories of how people failed, succeeded, failed, ad infinitum. Your story, once thought out and chronicled within great content, will capture the imagination and admiration of potential clients visiting your site or receiving a handout.
Best Marketing Practice: Show, Don’t Tell
Remember back to high school English class? When your teacher reviewed your essays and said show, don’t tell for whatever you were trying to describe.
Well, she knew a thing or two that would help your marketing efforts today.
That basic principle, show, don’t tell, is more important now than ever. In our society of eight-second videos and evening news by sound bite, it’s important to show your marketing message quickly and succinctly.
Show Your Personality
In today’s marketplace, consumers want to connect with the brand they are purchasing from. And you should want them to feel connected too. The more they feel like they know you, your story, and your brand, the more likely they are to become loyal customers who keep returning.
When thinking about how to show your marketing message, ask yourself “What attribute of our brand do I want customers to experience for themselves?”
– Is it your personal service?
– Your ability to make life easier or convenient?
– Your product creating a greater sense of self worth for the consumer?
Only you can answer that question, but once you do then you are on the road to showing the consumer what matters most to you and what matters most to them about your brand.
That’s how you make a long-lasting connection.
From there you have to spend some time selecting the right images and brainstorming the right tag lines to show your brand’s best attribute to the consumer.
This is where a professional designer can come in handy. Hiring a freelancer or finding a promo company that has an in house design team can make the difference between a forgettable ad and one that sticks with clients for years.
Do It With Style
Once you create the images and tag lines that will show your customers who you are and what you can do for them, you have to think about the appropriate medium for your message.
Of course digital media, online ads, and the various internet platforms for promoting your company are effective in getting your brand seen, but will it be memorable to potential clients?
It’s far more effective to hand out an actually useful promotional product, like phone screen cleaner stickers or USB chargers, than to blast potential clients with online ads that are already over saturated. The reason is that you get important repeated impressions with a useful giveaway from people that received the handout.
Why the Need to Build Relationships Is a Myth
In 1937 Dale Carnegie published his celebrated How to Win Friends and Influence People – the first book suggesting sellers build relationships. 1937: with primitive transportation, sellers found clients closer to home; telephones were emerging (FYI – Morse Code was preferred for 40 years after the telephone was invented!); marketing avenues were limited, as was advertising (Sears Catalogue, Life Magazine, The Farmer’s Almanac, the local paper or general store). Obviously there was no technology, or global competition.
Selling focused on natural customers – face-to-face relationships with neighbors and friends. And buyers needed sellers for information and relevance. Relationships were vital.
It’s now 2016. We have a plethora of options to present our solutions. Our communications capability is global, cheap, and ubiquitous. With safe payment and delivery options, global competitors are pervasive. And – here’s the big one – our prospects have the ability to receive the information they need to easily choose a solution without us. Buyers contact us only when they’ve done their Pre-Sales change work and are ready. They don’t need a relationship with us.
THE PLOY OF BUILDING RELATIONSHIPS
So why do we continue to think we must ‘build relationships’?? As a carryover from Carnegie, relationship building has been used as a ploy to manipulate a sale. If buyers like us, the thinking goes, they’ll buy. Here’s the reality:
- Everyone knows you’re pretending. Until you’ve known people over time, through the good times and bad, you’re not in a relationship with anyone, especially when you’re trying to be nice so you can meet your own agenda.
- Your ‘relationship’ will not facilitate a sale. Buyers cannot buy unless they have managed their internal change management journey that
1. assembles all the people needed to be involved and hears their voices/concerns/criteria;
2. gets buy-in from the Buying Decision Team that something must change;
3. figures out how to meet everyone’s needs and make adjustments that fit without internal disruption.
Buyers can’t buy until they’re ready, willing, and able to bring something new into their status quo regardless of how ‘nice’ you are.
Buyers aren’t swayed by your niceness. It will, however, make you a preferred vendor WHEN ALL ELSE IS EQUAL and WHEN THEY HAVE REACHED THE POINT OF CHOICE.
It doesn’t work when your focus is a sale. Here is a real dialogue:
SELLER: HI SHARON! AND how are YOU today??
SDM:[picking up the phone in tears, thinking it was my friend] My name’s not Sharon! And I’m rotten. I just put my dog down!
I offered an ‘authentic’ moment, useful as an opportunity to connect: he should have said ‘I’m sorry that happened. Obviously you can’t speak now. Is there a better time? This is a sales call and I’d like to discuss X when you’re feeling better.’
Whether for a large, complex sale, or a small personal item, buyers cannot buy until they have their internal ducks in a row, and then agree to seek an external solution (Step 10 of a 13 Step process). Because the sales model focuses on placing solutions – possible only after buyers have completed their Pre-Sales change management issues – we can’t discern where buyers are along their Buying Decision Path and buyers show up seeking a transactional connection. Our ‘niceness’ (which I’m differentiating from real customer service) is irrelevant; we just sound like everyone else trying to sell them something.
I’m told sellers use the ‘make nice’ ploy to differentiate – difficult using the conventional sales route. Following acceptable marketing criteria of the era – words and phrases that are in vogue, graphics and colors that are deemed ‘what everyone is doing’ – it’s hard to be unique. And the myth of being a ‘Relationship Manager’ or ‘creating a relationship’ is supposed to show buyers why they should choose us over the competition. See?? I’m NICE!
Here’s the truth: buyers don’t start off wanting to buy anything whether it sounds like they have a need or not. They merely want solve a problem. But they have work to do before they’re ready. It’s only once they’ve determined their systemic change management requirements that they’ll buy – but by then they’ll haven chosen their list of vendors and solutions from online data or referrals.
By focusing on attempting to influence people to buy because we’re nice, we’re left out of their behind-the-scenes decision process and reduced to ‘being there’ when/if they show up (the low hanging fruit, or 5%). Not to mention chasing bad leads with folks who we think should be buyers (Prospects are those who WILL buy, not those who SHOULD buy.).
We can mitigate this and REALLY be nice by entering enter early and facilitating buyers along the route of their systemic change/Pre Sales path. Here are the steps in a change/decision sequence that facilitates Pre-Sale Buyer Readiness. You don’t have to use my model – create your own! But entering the buyer/seller interaction as a change facilitator will differentiate you and enable a true relationship.
Buyers would never buy from anyone else when a seller has taught the prospect how to assemble ALL of the folks necessary to be part of the Decision Team, or HOW to get everyone on board for change. Remember: they will do this anyway before they buy – they might as well do this with you.
There’s a way to make money AND make nice. It’s by being a true Servant Leader and change facilitator; by entering into a WE Space in which there is a tract agreement that everyone will be served. Stop using ‘nice’ as a sales ploy. Stop focusing on the low hanging fruit. Add a change management focus and find real buyers who’ve already recognized a problem, and first facilitate them through their route to inclusive, congruent, systemic change. Then you can become part of the Buying Decision Team, make a difference, close more, waste less time, and act with integrity.