[Part one of a two article series, read article two here]
It’s happened to all of us. Hours or money are poured into a marketing piece for our new service or widget. We send it off…and there’s no response. Like none. Or so little that you wished it was none. Then you could pretend that maybe there was a technical glitch in the universe and no one saw it, rather than admit it flat out failed.
Why this happens is covered in another article. Here I want to tell you the number one thing to be sure it doesn’t. Ever. Happen. Again. Sound good? Drum roll, please.
The one thing you must do to get response in your marketing—make your message marketable.
By marketable, I mean that it catches peoples attention and opens them to taking a next step with you. Why my message, you ask. Shouldn’t I make sure my service or product is marketable instead? Yes, but I’ve yet to meet a contribution oriented small business owner whose work is truly not marketable. Most of us develop our product or service in response to a problem we see, or a contribution that’s needed in the world, and there is a market for it. But I often see entrepreneurs whose messages get no response from those who could use their services. And that’s a problem.
You can increase the response to your marketing when it's:
- Aimed at a problem or a dream. Your message must answer a specific problem your potential client wants solved. Period. Specific problems are practical and in the real world. Lose weight, regrow hair, get your taxes done, stop the migraine, and make your (fill in the blank) take less time are good examples.
Avoid vague. Messages like “Announcing my new therapy practice” or “Coaching to bring your dreams to life” don’t cause a response. Ditto for get healthy, find your style, get organized, or feel more confident.
Compare these two headlines: Get more clients vs. Double your income.
Both may seem vague but in the first, the person reading it wonders what you mean and if it’s worth reading on. What if they already feel too busy with clients? Not going to keep reading. What if getting more clients conjures up images in their head of making uncomfortable sales calls? They won’t read on. What if they currently have a difficult client or two? Nope. In the second headline, they can immediately see the number that their income would jump to and will likely keep reading to see what else you say about this.
Your message can answer a problem by bringing it up, or if your clients don’t like to focus on the negative or what’s wrong in their lives, by speaking to the dream it meets. Double your income is an example of showing that your service helps make their dreams come true. If you wanted to address their problem, you could say “Stop earning less than you deserve.” Know which your people prefer because those who dislike negativity won't respond to pain point messaging and those who focus on problems don't yet believe their dreams can come true.
Takeaway #1: Get real about what problem you solve for your client and message that directly to the problem, or in the positive of meeting their dream when that problem is solved.
- Aimed at and delivered to someone specific: you have to speak to an individual in your message. Not “everyone” or “anyone.” Then literally “no one” will read it. This can be confusing because we are constantly surrounded by news which is not written this way. Keep in mind that news is called reporting, not writing.
A reader of news decides to read the article based on the headline and if it’s an event that they are interested in. We do not read marketing messages in the same way. We only read marketing messages that resonate with what we are trying to get away from—or go toward—in our very own lives. We may read global news but how often does that cause a response beyond worrying or feeling badly? I may read about the hurricane devastation but I probably only send a prayer, not money.
But when the Red Cross sends me an email with the message that one day a disaster will happen in my hometown and I should be prepared with this emergency pack they are selling, I get out my wallet. This is not a comment on whether this is correct or moral, it’s just how we are currently wired as humans. Yes, we are working on becoming more compassionate, caring people but Maslow’s hierarchy still trumps: most people cannot give more until their own survival is assured.
Your message must be aimed at one person to get that person to respond. The good news is that there are many of those “one persons” out there. Pet owners who live in apartments and work away from home? Tons. Health conscious mid-life women who are struggling with their weight and energy, millions. Small business owners who need to increase their income without adding hours to their business, yep, there are plenty.
For your business to be fulfilling, I would ask you to make this person your ideal client and get super specific. Prefer red heads with a sense of humor? No problem! Niche your message down to her among the millions of health conscious mid-life women who are struggling with their weight and energy if you are health coach and I promise that you will start to get some response from your marketing. Why?
Because by getting crystal clear about just who you like to serve, you are creating a powerful alignment within yourself that the universe can deliver on.
Sure, I know that you can offer your business or service to many different types. But trying to do so will dilute your message and lessen your chance for a response. A message that lets a humorous, red head know that you understood her particular circumstance—that being heavier than she likes might be diminishing her zest for a laugh filled life—would go much further to create a response than asking a many different people if they are ready to lose weight.
For each marketing piece you create, consider who it’s for, how they like to receive their information, and where they consume it. Then create your piece in response to that. Write your messages on this marketing piece to the specific person it’s for.
Let’s say your solution is best suited for someone to lose a few pounds, look trimmer, and feel less fatigue. If your audience was these health conscious mid-life women who are struggling with their weight and energy, then your message would be different than if your audience was mid-level executives who travel often. And where you placed those messages, and the way you styled them, would be different, too.
Takeaway #2: Your message must be to an actual person and about their personal lives.
- It’s from their point of view. Your message must be from the readers point of view, which means it focuses on what they want, or don’t want. Put yourself in their shoes when you are creating your message. Is what you’re saying a benefit to them from the way they see things? Answer how your product or service solves their issues or meets their dreams with language that lets them know you get them. Feeling understood is a deep human need. If you can really understand what your clients need, creating your messages becomes easy. Why? How easy is it to talk to a friend that you really understand? How easy is it to talk to someone you aren’t sure you understand much about? Is it easy to communicate when the understanding is broken, like when arguing with your significant other? Heck no.
Take your time here, this might be the most crucial point to having a successful business—when you understand your client’s needs, you have an easier time not only in messaging to them but in taking care of them and creating new services/products to continue taking care of them.
But, there’s a catch. Your message must address a problem that the client agrees they have. You cannot offer a client kale smoothies or closet cleaning if they don’t agree that’s a pressing problem in their lives. You can however, offer them less stomach bloating or to dress in a way that gets new clients, and you’ll increase your responses. I’ve done both in my life and the person who offered me crazy, sexy wellness (who doesn’t want to be crazy sexy?!) gave me the smoothie as the way to achieve what I wanted.
The person who cleaned my closet up (believe me, I did not know my closet even needed it!) did so by showing me how I could draw in clients more easily if my clothing was in alignment with my inner self. Are you getting this? Message to the dream or problem your client has first. Your product or service is only the tool you use to get them there and is secondary to the message of the benefit they’ll get in their lives.
When your messages tells a prospective client that you see and know them, they respond. Saying that you have an upcoming sleep workshop for professionals is likely to cause snoring, but of the boredom kind. Sharing that sleepless and stressed leaders can befriend their pillows in 3 easy steps at your workshop could get a few hopeful inquiries. Be sure that what you communicate is not from your point of view, meaning all about what you do. Letting them know that you do massage is likely to get some response. Sharing that pain relief is only an hour touch away might get you more.
Takeaway #3: Write your messages from your clients point of view, not yours.
There's more to say on this topic for sure. Here's part two to dive into. And in the meantime, if you found this helpful, share it with a colleague who could benefit, too. Then you'll have a study buddy to work through all this info, and maybe even help you edit your messaging!
Linda believes that small business owners can step into a better version of their business when they embrace authenticity and become more fully themselves. Her 25-year marketing career has included Kimpton Hotels, Jamba Juice, and Disney helping her clients win awards and placements in publications like The Wall Street Journal and TIME Magazine, as well as on the front cover of WIRED magazine. You can visit her website here: lindabasso.com or join her FB conversation.