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Why Less is More

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I had an epiphany this week.

It happened because I was seeking to create a video . . . to introduce an idea to others.

My first attempt was, I thought, “Pretty good”.  I mean, I was willing to share it with some people I trusted.

Less Is More
I’d asked for feedback and I got it.  In spades.  “You’re trying to cover too much.  FOCUS!”

Sculpting a Message 
Michaelangelo, the Italian artist and sculptor, created magnificent works of art that included ‘David’ and the ‘Pieta’, among others.  In the beginning of every masterpiece he created, Michaelangelo was staring at a big bland ‘block of rock’.

In his day, it was the equivalent of a ‘blank page’ in a Word or Powerpoint document.

Slashing and Burning is Best Done with a Laser
My original ‘message’ covered far too much.  Everything it included, suffered because of it.

So I sought to create an ‘under 2 minute video’.  That meant I had to do some serious ‘editing’ of the video.  And, the message I was seeking to convey to my audience.

Find The Filter
That’s when something rather amazing happened.  Creating a ‘shorter’ message forced me to refine what I was seeking to say.  I must credit my colleague, Craig Chapman with his challenge to craft a video that runs “under 2 minutes”.  Without that, I doubt the final product would have been what it is.

The Pleasant Surprise
As the message was filtered to fit the time allowed, it changed.  For the better. My original message was really a number of messages.  Not unlike an orchestra when they’re tuning up.  It was more cacophony than concert.  As the production time reduced, the message was refined.  It was tighter.  It was better.  It became a concert . . . where everything in it was in tune and harmonically reflecting the same note.

Once again, I am indebted to Craig Chapman of Cray Marketing for his admonition to ‘Cut It Back’.  Pruning is good for plants.  It’s even better for your marketing messages.

If you’d like to see the final product . . . VISIT THIS PAGE.

KEY POINT:
Less is (definitely) more and . . . better in the end! 

How Do YOU Stand Out in Business?

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Four (4) things prospects like to know when they first meet you:

WHAT . . . do you do for your clients? (Value Proposition)

WHO . . . you do that for? (Target Market / Ideal Client)

HOW . . . you do that? (Secret Sauce)

WHY . . .  are you better than other firms? (Unique Selling Proposition)

Your TALKING LOGO addresses most of these questions.  But what’s the REAL basis for ‘standing out’ from your competitors?  It’s NOT (darn it!) as easy as crafting a great message you can use when you meet someone for the first time.

How Do You STAND OUT . . . to a Prospective Client?
Years ago a famous marketing professor at Harvard Business School (Ted Leavitt) was asked to help a major accounting firm ‘differentiate’ their audit services.  A major corporation’s audit business is worth a LOT of money to the accounting firm that “wins the audit” away from other competitors.

To differentiate a product or service, it must be BOTH:

1)  Beneficial . . . i.e. it must offer a meaningful benefit, and
2)  Unique . . . i.e. it can’t be like anything else

Then, he explained the challenge . . . “If something is truly beneficial, it won’t be ‘unique’ for long — competitors will follow suit and if something is truly unique, maybe what you’re offering isn’t all that beneficial”.

Everything this firm offered in an audit was also being offered by their competitors.  So where was the opportunity to differentiate?  It didn’t (seem to) exist!

The Challenge of Differentiating Your Business and Services
But Leavitt had an idea.  He asked to interview their best audit clients to learn, “WHY . . . did they choose your firm to get an audit?”.  The client agreed.

A large number of their clients later told him, “We just liked them better than any other firm”.

“Perception IS Reality”
In marketing, being ‘liked’ isn’t about being ‘nice’ (even if you are!).  It’s about being seen as a Preferred Provider relative to your competitors.

The clients suggested a number of PERCEPTIONS about Leavitt’s client and told him that it was how they behaved during their meetings that convinced them his client was the ‘best firm’ to use to get that audit.

Basically, what they SAID and DID convinced these prospects to go with Leavitt’s client!

The Big Lesson Here
Ask your ‘best clients’ the question, “Why did you choose OUR firm?”.  Follow that up with, “What did we SAY or DO to make you believe we were ‘the best’ firm to use?

You’ll learn what you need to say and do in front of prospects . . . to ‘Stand Out’ from the crowd of your (alleged!) competitors.

The Deadly Direct Mailing

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I just received a direct mail piece from a firm I did business with years ago. They’re still in business.  Which is nice to know.

But their mailer is, well . . . ‘deadly’ to say the least.

The copy is self-centered drivel and their offer is non-existent.  How sad.  For them.  I hope his mom ordered extra copies for her bridge club because at least she’ll see some value from this mailer!

What’s The Goal?
The creation of any promotional marketing communication must begin with as clear an understanding of what you want to happen after someone receives it as is humanly possible.

That implies, of course, that you expect ‘some thing’ to happen as a result of receiving and processing your message in whatever medium of delivery you may choose to use — print, verbal, online, etc.

Response . . . Must (ALWAYS) Be Your Goal
Given the time, money and effort required to produce and deliver a message these days, you really can’t justify any marketing that doesn’t call for your reader, listener or viewer to do something in response to your message. This is a ‘Call To Action’ or ‘Offer’.  Same thing.

Of all the goals for your marketing communications, make sure a response is one of them!

KEY POINT:
Any communication that doesn’t invite response is a wasted opportunity.

Be Relevant

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There’s a lot of truth to the saying, “If you want to be heard, say something worthy of my attention”.

The image to the left was part of a sidebar on a blog where the ‘offered information’ is highly relevant to the ‘Ideal Client’ or ‘target audience’ who’s seeking to use their telephony more easily and effectively.

The Lesson:  Be Relevant!
In the ADHD world of today where people may have less time to do what they want and less attention than they’d like . . . to invest in a meaningful exchange with you . . . you must be relevant or you’ll be history very quickly!

Key #1: “Have a Goal in Mind”
Anyone can create a presentation, not everyone will get a desired result.  All communications should be based on the result or outcome you’re seeking.  In business, that’s often to ‘get a sale’ or ‘move the chain’ in the sales pipeline.  But it can’t be simply to ‘communicate’ . . . a grunt will do that (and not much else!).

Key #2: “See The World As Your Audience Sees It”
“If you can show me a Tisch, I’ll give you $5,000, right now”.  If you speak German, I’m probably about to part with $5,000!  If not, I’m probably confusing you.  So ‘losing’ you isn’t far behind.  Effective communications implies getting to understand the world as your prospect sees it.  Knowing their hopes, fears, dreams, concerns, etc. is the basis for knowing what they’ll find is relevant.

Key #3: “Learn To Construct a Compelling Argument”
Most schools and universities aren’t teaching young people how to communicate ideas effectively (i.e. persuasively).  That’s a vital skill-set that’s rapidly becoming a lost art.  Good news.  If you learn how to create a compelling argument, you can move people to take action.  Often, actions that will benefit both of you.  My recommendation:  read “How To Get Your Point Across in 30 Seconds or Less” by Milo Frank.  Master what Milo is telling you and you’ll communicate more effectively than most people on the planet!

Key #4: “Communicate Consistently”
With the many distractions all around us, even a well-designed message will be ‘missed’ unless it is repeated consistently.  You’ve seen an ad on TV that seems to show up every time you watch TV?  The reason is because the marketers know you’re probably not even going to notice it unless you have a number of opportunities to see it.  Same thing with your messages.  Staying ‘in mind’ without getting ‘in face’ is an art form.  But it’s an art form you’ll want to learn and practice if you want to move people with your messages.

KEY POINT:
Being RELEVANT, having a GOAL to achieve, being COMPELLING and sharing your messages CONSISTENTLY will make you a far better communicator with prospects and clients than most of your alleged competitors!

How Can You Help People DO Anything?

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After a week of being out of computer due to a myriad of mundane mistakes that produced a major disruption in my life, I’m back.  Thankfully.

Learning What Motivates Clients
Today, I want to recognize an insight prompted by a Duct Tape Marketing Colleague of mine in Davenport, IA — AJ Perisho.  (Check out his potent post right here!)

A Simple Three Prong Approach
AJ recently conducted a survey of his target audience — i.e. small business owners — about how they feel about ‘marketing’.  Specifically, AJ asked people for three (3) things:  “With respect to ‘marketing’, what are your biggest FEARS . . . FRUSTRATIONS . . . DESIRES?”

That’s a powerful question that YOU can use to learn more about what moves your prospective (and, existing!) clients to act on your value proposition.

People Act for Their Reasons, Not Ours
A wise person one told me, People tend to maintain the status quo more than they are inclined to take actions and make changes”.  I tend to agree.  What I’ve also learned, however, is that changes are made when the need to do so is clearly understood . . . in a context defined by the person him or herself.

THAT . . . is why knowing what makes someone feel ‘less OK’ than they like . . . may hold the key to helping them take action with you.

KEY POINT:
If people do things for their reasons, LEARN THEM . . . and use them to help them take actions that make their lives better! 

 

What Do Clients Truly Want?

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In the end, clients want . . . a valued result.  That’s what they’re buying from you.

How you make that desirable result happen for a client, while important, is less critical to generating a client than understanding what they want and why that’s important to them.

“I’m Getting a New Knee”
Some years ago, I received a call from my mother who had moved to Ft. Lauderdale, FL for her retirement.  She said, “I’m going to do it, Bill!”  Mom seemed rather excited and I was very confused.  “You’re going to do WHAT, mom?”  That’s when I learned that ‘it’ was a ‘total knee replacement’ –– a serious surgical procedure.

I was a little freaked out at hearing that.  I asked, “Why are doing that, mom?”  “I just want a new knee”.  Again, I asked, “Why?”  Mom replied, “I just want to dance again, Bill”.

How It All Happened
Mom told me she’d been invited to a ‘lunch ‘n learn’ session sponsored by her church.  As she entered the gym/theater of the church, she heard music playing and saw all these people (some of whom she knew) dancing upon on the stage!  As people continued to arrive, the music and dancing continued.  Apparently to the delight of those in attendance, I’m sure.

The Shortest and Most Expensive Presentation . . . EVER!
Mom told me that once everyone was seated, the minister welcomed the guests and introduced the doctor who was speaking that day.  “Dr. _______ (name not used to protect the guilty!) is an orthopedic surgeon at the Holy Cross Hospital here in Ft. Lauderdale.  He’s an expert on Total Knee Replacement surgery. Blah, blah, blah . . . so now, without further ado, I give you . . . Dr. so-and-so”.

The doctor then stood up and gave a 1 minute presentation to the people at mom’s church:

“I won’t bore you with all the details of knee replacement surgery — as fascinating as that is to me.  Instead, what I’d like you all to learn today, before you return to your lunch, is this:  Everyone you saw dancing on this stage when you came in today . . . is a patient of mine.  They had been unable to dance BEFORE they had knee replacement surgery. Many of them attended a lunch ‘n learn similar to this one today and, like many of you, required canes, walkers and even wheelchairs to simply get around.  After surgery, they’ve been able to dance and do many other things they feared they’d lost the ability to do ever again. 

Then, he ‘closed’ his presentation very simply (and highly effectively!):  “If you have any questions about whether you may be a qualified candidate for knee replacement surgery . . . please see me before you leave.  Thank you”.

And THAT . . . is all it took to get my mom to ‘go for it!’ and get the surgery.

KEY POINTS:
•  Prospects for your services want to know the RESULT you offer, not the way you create it
•  Gaining access to quality prospects in an ‘endorsed’ manner is a huge help
•  Be laser-focused on your point — it means a shorter message and . . . better results!

Standing Out

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Who doesn’t love a little red sports car?  
I recall how my ‘favorite car’ was exactly that — a 1987 red  Toyota MR2 . . . OMG I loved that car.  But, I digress . . .

“It’s a chick-magnet”
That’s how the salesperson (a woman no less!) described it to me.  Maybe she thought I was having a mid-life crisis and a ‘little red sports car’ was exactly what I needed.  Regardless, I bought that car for my own enjoyment and boy, did I love that car.

And truth be told, that’s what most people understand a ‘hot-looking’ car is going to do for the owner.  Of course, truth and fantasy blur easily and rarely does the latter influence the former.  But that’s what most people still believe a ‘little red sports car’ will do for the driver.

What Does a ‘Little Red Sportscar’ has to do with ‘standing out’
One part (1/3, actually) of your marketing strategy is to ‘differentiate’ your self, business, products and services from the ‘alternatives’ your prospective client may consider, right?  So how do you do that?

Leverage a Common Perception with An Uncommon Twist
Al Ries ad Jak Trout wrote a book called, “Positioning: The Battle for Your Mind“.  In it, they suggest adopting “a competitive mental angle”.  That simply means you assume your prospect is aware of who your competition is and you use what people associate about them . . . to your advantage.

For example:Ad for mini-van

What if you wanted to promote your mini-van?  It’s no little red sportscar, right?  EXACTLY!

That’s why the common understanding of what a ‘little red sportscar’ is all about makes it ideal to use to make your reader relate to what your benefit really is:
” . . . BETTER at picking up women than an exotic and expensive sportscar!”

KEY POINT:
Differentiation is never done in a vacuum — always use a context your reader already understands and THEN . . . add an ‘angle’ . . . to make your benefit ‘stand out’ in their mind.

The Secret of a Great Review

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One of my Duct Tape Marketing colleagues, David Smith from Boise, ID and I were kicking around ideas on how to get and craft a good review — to support local marketing — a program David’s delivering to a group of Idaho business owners.

My input, while not the most academic, may be of some help to you as you consider the same issue:

Be Real . . . Be Counter-Intuitive . . . Start Off Negative
I find that ‘glowing’ reviews, i.e. overly positive are dismissed more quickly and easily than clients will like.  An idea I picked up from a friend and colleague, Sean D’Souza is:  “Lead with a negative”.  The CREDIBILITY of what follows is so much greater and it won’t seem like it was written by groupies on drugs stalking their favorite rock band.  e.g.
“When I first heard about ‘Duct Tape’ Marketing, I thought, “What The Heck?”  Then, I thought, “Oh boy, here we go again!  Just gonna be another BS way of saying what everyone else is saying we ought to do only they’ll charge a lot more for it.”

That’s real.  It’s what your prospects are probably thinking.  So JOIN the conversation in their heads and THEN . . . bring them to know something you know that they probably weren’t thinking about . . . eg. “Well, BOY, WAS I WRONG!  Dave Smith, the local Duct Tape Marketing consultant met with me and my team last week and I had to say, “Wow” . . .”  

See what a credible impact that makes vs. a sugar-coated, lop-sided but utterly bland compliment that doesn’t stand out in a meaningful way?

Be Specific!
The other thing I believe is important to include in a review is SPECIFICITY of a VALUED OUTCOME.  The luke-warm (i.e. ‘safe’) comments are useless because they sound like what everyone else is saying.  e.g. “ABC’s food tasted great and the service was good.” (Well, I’d sure hope so!)

You’d be better to focus on a specific ‘outcome’ enjoyed from using (consuming) your product or service –e.g.  “We used to have WWIII on our hands trying to get the kids up in the morning.  Now, thanks to Tasty Chew Cornflakes, our kids are waking US up to make sure we’re in the kitchen for breakfast!  Kind of refreshing, actually.”

Help People Give You a Great Review
It’s always helpful to end a review with a RATING and a CALL-TO-ACTION.  Let your reviewers be your promoters — e.g.  “Overall I’d give these guys a 9 out of 10 (and I never give anyone, anywhere a ’10’)  so the next time you’re hungry in the KC area and the family wants to go out for a bite, be sure and put Oklahoma Joe’s on your ‘short list’ of ‘must-know-gotta-go’ places and get yourself a REAL pulled pork sandwich for a change”.

NEVER ‘Write’ Someone’s Review  
You do, however, want to explain the ‘structure’ and provide an easy way to invite them to ‘bullet point’ their key points.

You may want to say, Hey, can I write-up what I think you just said to me . . . and see if you approve the copy or would like to make some edits?”  That’ll work every time!

KEY POINT:
People love being editors vs. writers.  If you make their ‘job’ easier, you’ll make your reviews even better.

5] Orchestrate The Lead-Generation Trio

The popular belief is that you do ‘marketing’ to ‘fill your selling pipeline’. True enough. But your ‘mix’ of:

1.  referrals,
2.  advertising, and
3.  public relations

varies with your Ideal Client, target market and available budget.

So the way you’ll choose to use referrals, advertising and PR to generate selling opportunities will, of necessity, be unique to you and your business.

Marketing Synergy . . . When The Whole is Greater Than The Sum of The Parts
Marketing pros have long held that someone needs to see or hear about you 7 times BEFORE they’re likely to even be aware of you much less consider responding to your marketing offers. While the numbeer of contacts required may vary, the basic principle is sound.

A marketing ‘contact’ can result from seeing your ad, getting a referral to you via word-of-mouth, reading your special report, attending your webinar, reading your client case studies or client testimonials, and so on.

Together your lead-generation trio helps you build the ‘know, like and trust’ your prospects need to take action on your offers to ‘try or buy’ what you’re selling.

KEY POINT:
Referrals, advertising and PR can easily fuel up your ‘lean, mean marketing machine’ — if you use them consistently and conscientiously. 

6 Questions to Ask Every Client (#6)

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What would you type to find firms like ours on GOOGLE?

As you probably know, it’s 2011 and marketing is increasingly less about interrupting potential clients to share your messages and more about being found by prospects when they are searching for an answer or solution you have to offer.

That’s the basis of Inbound Marketing — being find-able when people are searching online for what you offer.  The way you get found, of course, is to have content on your website that’s based on the very phrases (i.e. keywords) that people are searching for on Google.

So asking your Ideal Client, “What would you type into Google to find firms like ours / that do what we do?” is going to really help you create content that is going to increase your attraction and traffic levels.  Nice!

KEY POINT:
Learning WHAT people would use to find a firm like yours makes it easier for you to create content that will make them find you . . . rather than your competitors