No matter what business you are in, your customers do business with you because of what you communicate. When you are successful in gaining a customer and a sale, it’s because someone heard your message, understood it, related to it, and decided that its content held some value for them. When you are NOT successful, it’s because one of those steps did not occur.
If we unpack that a bit, we can break down the whole process of marketing and advertising into these four steps. First, the customer has to hear your message. How, where, and to whom do you communicate? Have you decided who your target customer is and how to reach them? Is your strategy working? If you suspect that the people you want to reach are not receiving your message, what would you need to change to accomplish that?
Second, the customer has to understand your message. Donald Miller, the author of Building a StoryBrand, talks extensively about this problem. A lot of websites and ads are needlessly complex because their authors are trying to be cute or clever. In the process, they dilute the message to the point where nobody has a clue what they are trying to say. How many “clever” ads have you seen, where you remember the ad vividly but have no idea what product or company it was promoting? We appreciate the free entertainment — let’s face it, a lot of people watch the Superbowl for the ads — but if you were hoping to earn out your investment on that expensive, “clever” commercial, brace yourself for disappointment. Your customer needs to understand your message. How much time does a prospective customer need to spend on your website before they know what you sell and how they can buy it? If it’s more than about ten seconds, you’ve lost them.
Third, the customer has to relate to your message. It’s important that you know as much as you can about the kind of person who is most likely to use your product or service, and to communicate in a way that will resonate with those people. Your offering does not resonate with everyone. Believing otherwise is delusional, and wastes your time as much as that of the people who are never going to do business with you. Who is your ideal client? Describe them in as much detail as you possibly can, and then craft a message that connects to their wants and needs. (Hint: if you don’t know, ask your best current customers!)
Lastly, and most importantly, the customer has to see value in your offering. The good news is, if you have been successful with the first three, this last one will probably take care of itself. As long as your product or service is of good quality and priced fairly, the people who have stayed with you this far are likely to commit to do business with you. If you’re not sure whether your offering has value, simply ask yourself, “if I were a new customer, would I buy this from me?” Your own belief in your value is the most compelling piece of your marketing strategy.
If, in light of these insights, you find yourself wanting some fresh copy for your advertising or website, drop me a line. I’d be glad to help.