If you are selling to consumers, you may want to skip this. Or not. You know my articles are informative and interesting.
It may have escaped your attention that businesswomen and men are people.
Maybe I should say “people first.”
I think this is a big deal. I see (and hear) business communications all the time. Many of them are very impersonal. Stiff and formal.
Frankly, it’s a misuse of the word “communications” to call them that. No communication is occurring. They are exactly as meaningful as the “Sincerely Yours” in your email signature.
Or the “How are you?” that opens many conversations (hey, I do it all the time myself).
With phrases like “How are you”, nobody expects an answer. It’s just a noise. But how about “Let’s circle back.” “Hoping all is well with you” “At your earliest convenience” and many more such expressions. We used to talk about buzz words. Now it’s whole buzz conversations.
If you were talking to a true friend or loved one and asked them, you’d expect to hear not just a reply, but an honest answer.
Why should it be different when you are talking to a prospective customer?
The truth is, it shouldn’t.
TALKING TO TREES
After all, you aren’t talking to a tree. No matter how formal a business situation, you are talking to a real, living, breathing person. She or he is probably not that different from you. Talk that way to them! To do otherwise is a big mistake.
You must talk with the idea that they will hear and understand what you are saying. And very much that they will CONNECT with you.
I talked a few articles ago about engaging your audience. Now let’s get the rubber meeting the road. This is what we mean by engagement.
I bet, if you were talking to a business connection, you’d be surprised, perhaps a little dismayed if, when you asked them “How are you?” they started telling you about some disgusting disease they contracted, or how their dog died.
Well, that might be going a bit too far. But you see where I’m going with this?
ALL COMMUNICATION IS PERSONAL.
There are two points I want to make here:
- Why this is important.
- How do you make it happen.
WHY IT’S IMPORTANT
There is a very simple point here. You are trying to change something. You want the reader to get interested. Or the viewer to change their mind.
The problem with mindless “communications” is exactly that they change nothing. They cause no effect. They might as well be the sighing of the wind or the barking of a distant dog. Or talking to a tree.
If you want to accomplish something with your marketing messages, you must pay attention to this.
This is why you can make a difference. And it is the whole basis of marketing.
People care about things. Even businesspeople.
This is easy to see in higher priced consumer marketing. Home buyers spend enormous amounts of time to decide where they should live, what the house should be like, what the price range should be, what the mortgage payment should be, and looking at house after house.
If you’re a bachelor buying a toaster, you probably don’t spend a lot of time agonizing over the purchase. If you’re like me, anything over two minutes deciding is a lifetime. It just isn’t that important.
If people don’t care, on what basis are you going to pitch your marketing to get a response? If it isn’t important to them, the response is going to be “whatever.” Or a dial tone.
This is where in people’s minds, business-to-business marketing can be radically different from consumer marketing.
Well, sometimes it is different. If you’re dealing with someone not invested in the company they work for, they are just going through the motions. Those people are like me buying a toaster oven. “Whatever.”
But maybe what they care about is keeping their job or looking good. Then maybe you have to appeal to a desire to keep their job. You market on the basis of how impressed their boss will be.
You see, even then it is based on what they care about.
MAKING A DIFFERENCE
So consider this: If you are talking to a business contact (through your marketing or in sales), the first thing you need to know is what they care about.
THEN you have a basis of carrying on a real conversation.
People care. Robots don’t care. You’re talking to people.
Your effort has to be to understand what they care about, and to communicate on that. NOT what You care about.
You should actually make an effort to understand them and to connect with them as a person. I don’t mean “let’s go out for a beer” friendship. What I mean is, the best business relationships are ones of mutual trust and liking between the parties.
It starts with an honest belief in yourself and your products or services, and that you are there to help the prospective customer.
Then what to say and how to say it becomes natural. Instead of a “sales pitch” or “marketing pitch” you’re just helping someone.
That may sound corny. But it also works, and there is no substitute for it.