Getting clear on your basic messaging.

Until you get crystal clear on your basic messaging, who you serve and how you serve them, you’ll find yourself attracting either no clients at all or the wrong clients, and your customer acquisition efforts will take a whole lot longer.

David:                   Hi, and welcome to the podcast.  Today co-host Chris Templeton, and I will be talking about the idea of getting clear on your basic messaging. Welcome back, Chris. That’s my basic message.

Chris:                     I like that basic message. You’d think that most business owners and salespeople would already be clear on at least their basic messaging, but that is not always the case, is it?

David:                   No, it’s surprising how often it’s not the case. Very often people think in terms of just their products and services instead of the needs they fill and the problems they solve. And as we discussed in a previous podcast, there’s a big difference between product buyers and solution buyers.

David:                   And there are always a lot more people who are willing to pay for solutions. So the better we get at crafting our messaging so that it’s directed to the things they really want and need in their lives and in their businesses, the better off they’re going to be in terms of getting what they need and the better off we’re going to be in terms of being able to provide the solutions they need.

Chris:                     What do you think the biggest problems are in terms of people developing what their messaging is going to be?

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David:                   I think a really big problem is that much of it is "me focused." It's all about me and my business and what I do and how I do things, and it's not enough about them. It's not enough about the prospects and clients that we're actually trying to appeal to. So if I had to rank them in order, I would say that's first too much me-centric communication.

Chris:                     Yep.

Product-Focused vs. Solution-Focused Messaging

David:                   A second thing I would say is that it's product-focused instead of solutions focused, which is what we were just talking about a moment ago. When we're talking about the product itself or the service itself, then we're not focused on what it is that they're trying to accomplish. And before we can ever get to the solution, we need to sort of stir up the problem side of it a bit.

So when we're talking to them about what they're looking to accomplish and what it means in their business or what it means in their life to accomplish this, that's what really gets them focused on the idea that they need it. And so when we leave out this component; talking to them about the issues they're facing before we recommend our solution, then we're missing out because they're thinking of it in terms of something that might be okay to have, but they're not thinking of it in terms of something that they really desperately need.

Once again, that comes from focusing too much on our product and not enough on them and what they're looking for.

Chris:                     Give people an example of what that looks like and a little more detail in terms of stirring up that need.

David:                   Well, it’s depending on what it is that's being sold. If I start talking to you about sales training, for example, “Hey, we sell sales training, we help train salespeople and we're really good at sales training.” People think I don't necessarily need that. Why do I need that?

But if we're talking to them about, “Hey, listen, how much are your salespeople costing you when they're out in the field and they're not doing the job that you've paid them to do? Have you had situations where you've got salespeople and they're out there approaching the wrong people and saying the wrong things? They're not closing sales and they're leaving long gaps in between communications? They're creating a situation where they give your business a black-eye because don't do what needs to be done in terms of communication? They fail to present what you're able to do and the way you're able to do it or the way that you want that to happen?”

That's an example of creating a scenario where they look at it and say, “Oh wow. Yeah.” Either that is happening, in which case I might be able to see the need for sales training or they say, “No, that's not happening. All my people are great.” In which case they're not really qualified.

Chris:                     And that's okay too. But you know, I think that that's really important in terms of getting to, what's the story that you can help them to be aware of? It's not doom and gloom. It's more about, Hey, these are the types of common things that I see from where I sit with the people that buy my products.

They want to have their people be more effective or they want them to be communicating more often as salespeople. Those sorts of things really help to frame up and get the person who probably, especially if you're on an initial call is probably resistant anyway, and now what you've done is you've completely shifted the focus from me with the product to sell, to you and the need, right?

David:                   Yes. And it goes for whatever product it is that someone is selling. You know, if I'm a realtor and my job is to develop real estate clients, then talking to them about all the properties that I have right off the bat probably isn't a good approach.

It might be better to talk to them about, “Hey, listen, have you ever had a situation where you approached a realtor and they were trying to figure out what you needed and they just couldn't get a handle on what you're looking for and you wasted lots of time and burned lots of weekends looking at places that just didn't meet your needs at all?”

You know, that type of thing. You're creating a scenario where they can say, "Oh yeah, I have had that situation." And then you talk about how you are different. This is how we position ourselves differently.

Painting Mental Pictures with Your Messaging

So no matter what you're selling, you need to have a clear idea about some of the issues this prospect might be facing. Can I paint a picture of that for them? Can I paint a negative picture of potentially doing business somewhere else first? Then can I paint a positive picture of what happens when they're doing business with you? That's sort of an ideal scenario in terms of messaging: to be able to create that contrast between what they're likely to experience elsewhere and what they're likely to experience with you.

Chris:                     Okay, so I'm going to have you do that again because it's important. You think about the pieces of advice that we give on this and we talked about you know, how to get to the decision maker in the last podcast. This is huge starting with issues that the prospect may have.  Right? And go through that process one more time just for good measure.

David:                   Okay. Well, it's simply thinking it through from their perspective. What types of obstacles might they run into? What type of situations might have them feeling infuriated? We do a lot of business in the promotional products industry and the print industry. Many printers and promotional products people find that their clients might have had experiences before where things didn't happen exactly the way they want them to.

Maybe they didn't get the ideas they needed. Perhaps the stuff wasn't delivered on time. Or maybe it wasn't printed the way they wanted it. All these types of things.

So when you're interacting with a new prospect for the first time, you may be able to paint those pictures and say, “Hey, have you had much experience dealing with companies like ours? Because a lot of the reason that we get the business we get is that we are able to overcome a lot of the problems that other companies face. For example, if you ever had a midnight madness sale and the product you ordered arrived the day after that, then you know that's problematic, right?"

So you can look at the situation, ask them questions, and maybe they haven't had that exact experience. Maybe they say, “Well, no, the person that I've had has been pretty good…” But you might be able to find some issues they've had along the way and then counter-program yourself essentially and say, okay, well we're designed to be able to avoid those types of issues."

Chris:                     It really handles the whole me-focused concern that we talked about earlier in terms of the biggest problems that people have with their messaging. It totally shifts from me as the salesperson to you and then being able to provide a solution to that. I don't… Why is it David, that so many salespeople are so product oriented versus buyer oriented?

David:                   Well, it's probably easier because if we understand our products and services, we just want to talk about them. If I sell air conditioners, I want to talk to you about how big it is and how much air it's going to blow and the BTUs and all that kind of stuff because that's how I'm trained, but we need to think about it from the standpoint of the person who wants to buy it. They don't care about any of that stuff.

You know, there's a lot of talk and sales about features and benefits. I know we've touched on this in previous podcasts and so the feature is that it's X number of BTUs and this is the size, so it fits into these different areas. The benefit will be that it fits into smaller areas. The feature is that it's this particular size, the feature is that it's this many BTUs and the benefit is that it cools your house fast or whatever it is.

So there are features and benefits. People largely don't care about features. They do like benefits a little bit more. But beyond features and benefits, we really get into the area of experiences and emotions. What's it going to feel like when you come home at the end of a long day and it feels great the moment you walk in the door, right? That's creating emotion and an experience. So it goes well beyond features and benefits. That's some of what many people fail to do in their messaging.

Chris:                     You know, you said something that I think is really important as well.  As part of what is important to the person buying is getting to those feelings, without it being sappy or that sort of thing; but really helping them to get to those feelings that they're going to solve through the purchase of the product that's being sold. How do you do that in a way that doesn't come across as silly or sappy?

David:                   Well, I mean we're talking about two sides of the sale. We're talking about the logical side of the sale and we're talking about the emotional side of the sale. And people are going to be making decisions based on both those criteria. I would love to think that I am completely logical and I will only take action on the facts as they are presented. Or as I understand them and believe them, right?

So, if I believe all the facts, I'll go in completely objectively and make the right decision based on the facts. But the truth of the matter is that if we meet someone and strike up a conversation and we like that person, we will be far more likely to want to do business with them than if we meet someone else who presents the same information but maybe doesn't come across as likable.

That's an emotional decision versus a factual one. And many of our decisions, along with many of our client's decisions will be made that way. So if you want to stack the deck in your favor, you need to make sure that you're firing on all thrusters. You're firing on all cylinders. That means approaching it from a factual standpoint, but also approaching it from an emotional standpoint. And it doesn't have to get too involved. You don't have to go into it too deeply.

In the air conditioning example, it can be something as simple as that. Can you imagine what it feels like getting home now? You walk into the house and you're all sweaty. It's hot, and you feel miserable. Can you imagine a scenario where you get home and you're happy to walk through the door? You feel great about it. You know your spouse feels great about it. Your family loves it. Even the dog loves it.

You're just in a better environment as a result of making this decision. You're painting that picture for them and allowing them to write themselves into the story and envision it the way that you want them to envision it.

Chris:                     Boy, that is a great way to put it, it allows them to write themselves into that story and I think it's such a critical piece of looking at it from an emotional standpoint as well. Jeeze this feels good.  Now, it doesn't have to be over the top, that sort of thing, but just really tap into the whole story and the fullness of that story, both from what it does, features and benefits wise, but more in terms of how I'm going to feel, how much I'm going to enjoy having this product.

There's one question that I want to come back to. Getting clear on messaging. It doesn't just help you communicate better, does it?

David:                   No, it helps with a lot of things. First, it helps with all of your marketing, because people can read it; like if it's a newspaper ad or an online post or social media, something like that. If it's crafted well and they read it, it's going to impact them better. They can listen to it. So if it's a radio ad, if it's an audio podcast, if it's online audio, they can hear it. It can make sense to them and you're going to be able to get through.

If it's a matter of seeing it, if it's a TV ad, if it's a social media video, if it's a video on Facebook or YouTube, all of these things, when your messaging is right, when it's coherent and they can buy into it, it just impacts all of that. And when you think about it from the standpoint of referrals, the easier you make it for people to understand what you do, the easier it is for them to refer you to others.

So the better we get at crafting our communication in a way that makes it easy for people to understand and explain, the more referral business you're going to get, the easier people will understand it and they will be able to share it themselves.

Chris:                     Boy, it's really important to just keep that in mind that as you develop this messaging,  you're shooting yourself in the foot if it's not consistent across all of your communications so that you're building that sense of, I guess it's trust, David, just that we're consistent in our messaging.

David:                   Yeah, it certainly is that and also when we think in terms of making the messaging easier to understand, we can make it easy for our friends and our family to talk about what we do and how we help people and very often we make this mistake, particularly if we're operating in a business-to-business environment.

We figure that our friends and family aren't necessarily related to all that, but they probably all know someone who is in a business-to-business environment and if they can explain to other people what you do in a simple enough way where they'll actually want to hear from you, then it's a lot easier to get those referrals.

Chris:                     Keeping it simple, stupid, right?

David:                   Yeah, exactly.

Chris:                     The old KISS method, I like it. Right. Okay. Let's talk about action steps that listeners should take if they want to make sure that their basic messaging is clear.

How to Make Sure Your Basic Messaging is Clear

  1. Change the Focus from you to them.
  2. Be Consistent. Make sure your messaging is consistent across all platforms and people.
  3. Use Simple Language. Make it easy for people to talk about what you do and refer you to others.
  4. When Explaining Benefits use "I am, I do and I help" statements, with particular focus on those you help.

David:                   Okay, well first thing we want to do is we want to change the focus from you to them. Make it about your prospects. The more you make it about them, the better off you'll be, their concerns, their problems, their issues, and how you help those problems.

Second, you want to make sure your messaging is consistent across your organization and in all your marketing. If you've got one sales guy who says one thing and another sales guy who says another thing and that says something different than what's in your printed materials and that's different than what's on your website. You are just confusing people. So you want to make sure that your messaging is consistent across all platforms and people.

Third, you want to use simple language that makes it easy for people to talk about you whenever they're referring you to other people and simple messaging that when they read it in an ad or hear it in audio or see it in a video, they can understand it, internalize it, and they can then communicate it to other people.

The way that we do this -- and we didn't really even get into this, but just really briefly -- one of the ways that you want to think of this is in terms of three things. Okay? So if you want to put together some basic messaging that will position you correctly, think in terms of three things.

The first thing is "I am." Who am I? I am a chiropractor, I am a sales representative. I am a printer, who am I?

The second thing is "I do." What do I do? I adjust spines, if I'm a chiropractor. I provide the appropriate solutions for my clients if I'm a sales rep. Or I provide printed solutions designed to get you the results you want, if I'm a printer.

So it's "I am," "I do." And then probably most importantly...

"I help." Who is it that you help? I help people with back pain to experience quick relief, if I'm a chiropractor. I help local businesses to achieve their desired results with printed materials that highlight their biggest advantages and benefits, if I'm a printer.  I help my clients get the results they need if I'm a sales rep.

So we think in terms of those three things, and more often than not, it's the ‘I helps’ that are really going to make the biggest difference in terms of positioning you with clients and allowing them to understand what you do for them.

Chris:                     Well, and I think it also takes care of the default objection of you're just trying to sell me something when I move to I help you to accomplish X, Y, or Z. That is a whole different change in focus, isn't it? Absolutely. Another outstanding podcast. What do we have coming up in our next podcast, David?

David:                   Alright, next time we'll be talking about what works and what doesn't when it comes to your marketing vehicles.

Chris:                     Excellent, David, thank you. See you on the next podcast.

David:                   Sounds good. Thanks Chris.

If you're tired of flat or declining sales and losing business to your competitors, be sure to check out my latest web presentation entitled Programming Clients to Choose You. Who are your very best prospects currently programmed to buy from? Is it you or someone else? If you want it to be, you, visit and register for the free presentation now. That's

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