Even as a self-proclaimed serial introvert, I really enjoy small, intimate dinner parties. When the host has invited the right mix of people, it can make for an extraordinary evening of sharing and learning and growing. It’s fun meeting people I might not have otherwise crossed paths with. And I enjoy hearing their stories, perspectives, and opinions. BUT–all it takes is ONE SELF-ABSORBED guest to reduce the entire gathering to a pile of burning embers and ash. (Well, that might be slightly overstating things. But, you get the point.)
What does this have to do with your business? Well, pretty much everything. Because if your ideal customer–the avatar you’ve created that represents EXACTLY who you want to do business with– is feeling like you’re always talking about yourself (a.k.a. your business)–then they’re probably going to kick you out of the party that’s called their “inbox.” Or, at the very least, they’re going to ignore anything and everything you’re saying and hit “DELETE” whenever they see you showing up. To put it rather bluntly, they’re DONE with you.
So, here’s my question for you: Is your business the guest your ideal customers have on their “MUST INVITE” list? Or has it made its way — even unintentionally — to the “NEVER EVER, EVER INVITE” list?
Not quite sure what the answer is? Here’s a quick and easy way to find out: Take a look at your marketing materials — your website, brochures, sales pages, email campaigns, videos, social media content — and see if they do these things:
- Focus primarily on the features of your product or service. (Things like “Our lawnmower has 5 cutting levels.” “Our law office gives you personalized attention.” “You’ll learn better time management in this seminar.”)
- Loudly tout awards you’ve received or credentials you’ve earned. (“I graduated summa cum laude from ABC University.” “We’re the #1 choice!!”)
- Use words like “we”, “us”, “me”, “I”, and “our” more than the word “you.”
- Selling and telling more than teaching and acknowledging. If you’ve ever signed up for someone’s email list and 95% of the emails you get from them are trying to sell you something, how does that make you feel? And what does it make you do? For me? I’m looking as quickly as I can for the “unsubscribe” link.
If you’re doing any of these things, odds are you’re ending up on the “NEVER EVER, EVER INVITE” list of your ideal customer. They simply don’t see how it helps them to get to know you.
So, what can you do to get on (or back on) the “MUST INVITE” list? Here are three simple things to start with TODAY:
- Focus on BENEFITS instead of features. People don’t buy a particular toothpaste because it has whitening ingredients. That’s a feature. And there are a LOT of toothpaste brands that offer it. So, how do you differentiate yours–even with the headline? By doing a better job of appealing to your ideal customer’s emotions than the other brands do. Your ideal customer buys toothpaste with whitening agents because they want to feel more confident about their smiles. They want to feel more attractive. In other words, they’re buying the benefits of the whitening agents in the toothpaste. And that’s what needs to be communicated. You need to clearly explain how your product or service is going to benefit your customers. How is going to make their lives easier or better or more meaningful? If you’re only focusing on features, you’re losing sales.
- Show empathy and understanding by putting the customer at the center of all of your communications. If all you’re saying on your website or in your brochures or any other marketing materials are things like “we can” or “we are” or “I know” or
“our solution”–you’re a bad dinner guest AND a bad communicator. People don’t care about you. They care about what you can do for them. So, how do you express empathy in your marketing? Here’s a quick example showing the difference in approaches a divorce attorney might take to market herself to potential clients:
I’m an attorney with 15 years of experience in handling divorces. So I know exactly what it takes to help you with matters including property distribution, custody, and spousal support.
Going through a divorce is one of the most difficult things you’ve ever done. You have so many questions. How are you going to pay your bills? What will happen to your house? How are your children going to react? And you’re trying to figure all of this out while your entire world seems to be crumbling around you. This is where I come in. Together, we’ll find the solutions you’re looking for.
See the difference? The first example is completely self-centered, while also being indistinct. There are a LOT of divorce attorneys who have at LEAST 15 years of experience AND that know exactly what to do.
But, the second example connects to the emotions a person is feeling when going through a divorce. It shows that the attorney understands and is very empathetic.
Which one would you choose to speak with? I know which one I’d pick.
Focus on KNOW. LIKE. TRUST. We hear this all of the time. But are you putting it into practice? Have you introduced yourself and clearly expressed an understanding of the challenges your ideal customer faces? Have you connected with them in ways that make them say, “Hey! I really like this person (business)!”? And have you put time and effort into providing value to your ideal customer so they’ll trust you and your expertise? All of these things need to happen FIRST before you try to sell anything at all.
In the end, it’s important for us to remember every day that we’re not simply reaching out to customers. We’re reaching out to human beings who have dreams and hopes, as well as fears and concerns. If you want your ideal customer to listen to you — and, ultimately, buy from you — you have to connect with them. Pure and simple. And to do that, you have to show that you care about them, that you understand and empathize with their problem or challenge, and that you are listening to them. This alone will set you apart from many of your competitors. And it’s SO easy to do if you just think about it. When you keep your ideal customer at the center of your communications, you’ll be the dinner party guest they’ll want to invite to the table and sit next to for an evening of dazzling conversation.