Imagine you’re the CEO of an established private healthcare business when the economy plunges into the worst downturn since the Great Depression. Up to then, your team has delivered extraordinary results; your bottom line is growing steadily each year and your services are recognized as world class by the hospitals, city councils and large public health facilities that refer work to you.
Imagine choosing that time to tell your Board and senior management team that, in essence, you want to walk away from about half of that business and pursue a very narrow niche market.
No doubt, you may at this point be imagining yourself out of a job. But hear me out…
As you may have guessed, this story is not a fictional one and the “you” in the story is actually a business coaching client of mine. I’m happy to report that the discussion with the Board went quite well, the business has nearly doubled since that day, and my client is still the CEO.
And along the way we both learned some valuable lessons about how to increase sales and become the dominant player in the marketplace. In fact, there is a big difference between being just a good company and being one that your customers can’t live without.
Solve Your Customer’s #1 Source of Pain
Consumer sentiment and spending have decreased dramatically in the past few years and those changes are being felt across every industry. Everything you thought you knew about your customer and why he/she was buying from you has probably changed. And if you do not take the time now to re-discover your prospect’s main source of pain and the reason why she needs your product or service now, you will never increase sales. In fact, you risk losing more sales and more ground to your competition.
Now some of you may think – but my industry is different
Not that long ago, I received a 15-page sales letter from a self-proclaimed small business marketing expert trying to convince me to attend his latest seminar. I was actually blown away at how bad the letter was… and how mind numbing.
Part of what struck me as both humorous and shocking was that he claimed to be an expert in neuromarketing (and small business marketing). Ironically, there is a vast amount of neuroscientific research that proves the average human attention span is incredibly short and that all decisions are dominated by the oldest and most primitive part of the brain – the old or reptilian brain.
So if the decision-making part of your brain is incredibly hasty and primarily driven by survival instincts, what are the chances that either you or I would wade through 15 pages of self-indulgent copy to decide whether or not we want to attend a seminar? Odds are slim, aren’t they?
What Do Successful Small Business Marketing Professionals Do to Compel Prospects to Say “Yes”?
If you are interested in more articles to help you boost the effectiveness of your small business marketing today, then you will definitely want to read the following blog posts:
Is There a Better Way to Find More Customers?
Snagging more customers with a good small business marketing message doesn’t have to be tedious, expensive and stressful. Amen, right? So, let’s break it down. When you’re hungry, which would you prefer: (1) to run to the fridge and grab a tasty snack; or (2) grab your fishing pole, and head out back to catch your next meal?
How to Know Which Half of Your Advertising Budget is Wasted
John Wannamaker may not be a household name but he opened the first department store in Philadelphia in the late 1800’s and is believed to be the inventor of the price tag and the seasonal sale. He was the first retailer to place a half-page newspaper ad, and also the first full-page ad five years later. He is widely considered to be one of the fore-fathers of advertising and credited with the famous phrase: “Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is, I don’t know which half.”
Why with all we’ve accomplished in the last one hundred and twenty years, is this quote still relevant and significant to you (and to all small business marketing professinals) today?
I’ve got a major challenge for you…
I want you to assess what you are currently spending on marketing – brochures, website, pay per click campaigns, PR, newspaper, direct mail, social media etc. – and I want you to slash the total budget by 20%.
No matter what you are selling and where you are selling it, I guarantee that you won’t miss the 20% you just saved and put back in your bank account. And there is a very good reason for that…
98% of the people who see your message either don’t remember it or are not compelled to take action. You are spending thousands of dollars each year on sales and marketing campaigns and the vast majority of the people who see your message don’t really “get” your message – so they can’t possibly recall it or buy from you.
So with the money you just saved, I’m going to show you how to increase your sales. To do that, I want you to take a few minutes right now to re-engineer your message from the ground up and give yourself a better chance of achieving cut through, retention and action with your ideal target audience. Thankfully, it won’t cost you much to take the time right now to create a message that increases your sales (by helping more of your prospects to say “yes”). And if more of your qualified leads say “yes”, the money you do have left to spend in your sales and marketing budget is going to produce a much better return.
To prove my point, I’d like to make you an interesting offer…
What if I were to give you either $50 cash right now or a piece of paper where I will write the net present value of a five year annuity on $10 at a compound annual interest rate of 10%, adjusted for CPI?
Which of these offers sounds more appealing and valuable to you? Which would you rather take right now? Or said another way, which of these can you take now, put in your wallet or spend it at the shopping centre?
Unless you are one of those very rare individuals who can calculate in your head the value of my second offer, I’m willing to bet you’d rather just take the $50. And that makes a whole lot of sense, because everyone knows what $50 is worth. There’s nothing confusing about it, is there?
The part of your brain that makes decisions is not interested in working hard to figure out what my message means and what it’s worth. That part of your brain is looking for something that is tangible and relevant.
And if you’re unsure about whether a message is tangible or not – ask yourself this simple question “would a 6 year old understand it?”
Think about it – if I offer you a $50 note, an orange or a book, you don’t have to think very hard to decipher the value or usefulness of what I am offering you, do you? All of these items are equally easy to understand. As soon as you see them, you know what they are and you know exactly what you can do with them, don’t you? $50 will buy you enough food to cook a meal, the orange is good for you and a book is something that you can read. There are no directions or heavy thinking required to make sense of what I am offering you. Your new brain doesn’t have to do any thinking (and wasting time) to get my message.
So what does this mean for you, your message and your customers?
If you are making it hard for your prospects and customers to understand what you do and whether they are getting a good deal, you need to spend some time right now making your offer more tangible. Ask yourself “does my message include a bunch of big words, fluff and jargon?” Could it be boiled down to something simple that even a 6 year old could understand? What do you need to do today to re-work and re-communicate it more clearly so that your prospects will be able to say “yes”? Can you simplify the words that you use or introduce photos or props to get your message across more quickly and clearly?
Producing a simple, succinct message is a lot harder than being lazy and throwing together an ad full of useless, complicated jargon and information. A good rule of thumb here is to remember that you should work harder to craft and simplify your message than your prospect has to in order to decipher it. Someone has to do the hard work – either you can do it before you put it out there or your audience will be forced to do it which means they may get stuck thinking about it instead of deciding.
Now if you are serious about saving money and you would like to increase your sales, you won’t spend another collar until you review your materials and do whatever it takes to make your message more tangible. You don’t have to spend more money to chase leads and increase your sales. What you really need to do is take the complication and confusion out of your message so that more of your prospects can say “yes” now.
Click on video above to see and hear Rhondalynn in action.
You may be surprised to hear that 95% of your prospects don’t really understand you message. You have to understand that your potential customer is simply in pain (in some aspect of his life) and he is looking for the solution. So he has come to you… and what do you do?
Let’s take a look at your last ad, press release, email or even the home page of your website. If you are being honest, I would bet that more than 60% of the prime real estate here is focused on YOU – your brand, your product/service, what you are doing and why you are doing it. And if you are using visuals they are probably of your products, your machinery, your location or even YOU.
And if you are like most business owners, the last 40% of your time and space is spent trying to cram as many words as you can into this bottom section to let your prospects know just how much you can do. In my experience, most of you are spending way too much time trying to impress your audience with fancy words and descriptions.
Here’s the bad news – you’ve already lost your potential customer. In fact, you put him to sleep about 2 minutes ago.
Your brain accounts for 2-3% of your body’s mass but uses 25% of your body’s energy. This is a very important fact to know if you are trying to influence or persuade others. Your brain is the 2nd most energy consumptive organ in your body – if you don’t give it what it needs, it will control your thinking. For those of you who are hungry right now, you know exactly what I am talking about.
From a survival perspective, the brain doesn’t like to use more energy than it has to. If you can make it easier for your customer’s brain to grasp your message, process it quickly and decide, you are more likely to get a YES.
Just for fun, I would like to introduce you to one of your customers… well, at least the decision making brain of one of your customers.
The part of your customer’s brain that decides is the same brain that you and I share with this crocodile. This part of the brain is solely focused on what? Survival, that’s right. Does Mr. Crocodile care about your brand, your products, your photo or your features and benefits? No. Does it care about win/win? No. It is solely focused on itself and physical survival. This part of your customer’s brain gets triggered within 30 seconds and is permanently tuned into the WIFM (what’s in it for me) radio station – constantly scanning to protect itself from pain or death.
So what does this mean for you? To the extent you understand the pain of your customer and are here to help him solve it, he will listen to you or read what you have to say.
Let’s come back to your marketing message for a moment. How can you use this insight for your next ad, press release, email or your website?
First, you are going to stop wasting your most valuable real estate talking about your products, your background, your brand, your philosophy or who you have been certified by. Your clients do not care. If this box represents 100% of the time and space that you have to get your message across right now, you need to spend 80% of it:
– Showing your customer you understand his pain
– Recreating his pain
– And offering THE solution with proof you can deliver
This means that you should never waste it with a lame opening statement like “Introducing our new spring line”, “welcome to our newsletter” or “here are our latest clearance items”. While important to you, they mean nothing to the part of your customer’s brain that decides. They are like a bedtime story for your customer.
If you are using photos or video, and I highly suggest you do for reasons that we will cover in a session together very soon, you want to select visuals that support what? That’s right – recreating or demonstrating you understand your customers pain. This is not the time or place (if you are an electrician for example) to show a picture of you and your van. That photo is about you and not your customer’s pain. Remember your customer is tuned into WIFM radio station.
Also, if you are going to feature your brand or logo, it does not belong up here in this important 80% area.
That leaves only 20% for your call to action and contact details, which is plenty of space if you have captured your prospects attention up top in the 80% zone.
Do you remember when I made the bold claim that 95% of your prospects don’t really understand your message? As you can see, the reason for that is really very simple – your customer has come to you in pain (in some aspect of his life) and his crocodile brain is solely fixated on finding THE solution. This part of his brain, which is responsible for decision making does not have the time or patience to sit around reading or listening to information that is all about you. If you don’t capture his attention in the first 30 seconds with something that is relevant to his pain, you’ve lost him. He can’t possibly understand your message no matter how clever or funny it is because he’s not even paying attention – his reptilian brain has already moved on to look for the solution that will keep him alive or cure the pain .
I want you to assume for a moment that you are dying of thirst. Would you be willing to sit for an hour while I substantiate my credentials, talk to you about why I started my company and educate you on the value and qualities of my pure spring water? Or would you simply get up, walk across the street and find the water that you need to survive?
What if you were dirty and itchy? Would you be any more willing to listen to me focus on my brand or my product for an hour? How long would it take before you just got up and found something to wash yourself with?
And what if your house were on fire? Would you kick back and read 3 pages of stuff on my website about how great my water is or would you rather find someone right now who can help you put out the flames?
The bottom line is this – the quickest way to connect with your customer and get the attention of the decision making part of his brain is to let him know immediately that you understand his pain and can cure it. If you do this well upfront, he will listen to whatever it is that you have to say.
This insight will help you go from boring your prospects to convincing them and that’s good for your business.