How to Sharpen Your Marketing Message, Part One

How do you talk about your business in the marketplace?

Surprisingly, many business owners struggle to effectively communicate what they do and why it matters. Obviously, it’s not because you don’t understand your business. It’s usually the opposite problem – you’re so deep into the weeds of operating your business that it can be difficult to communicate with people who know little or nothing about it.

It’s like asking an astrophysicist to explain the complexities of the universe to a layperson. Both parties in the conversation are likely to walk away frustrated, and the average joe is probably going to be more confused than he was before the conversation happened!

When it comes to your marketing, confusion is your worst enemy. To understand why, you need to know a little bit about how the human brain is wired. The brain serves one primary purpose, and has for millions of years – it’s number one job is to keep you alive.

And keeping you alive requires avoiding danger. To your primitive brain, confusion and uncertainty represents a strong possibility of danger. To your ancestors thousands of generations ago, entering a dark, unknown cave could be walking into a deathtrap. Venturing out into the jungle in the pitch-black night could be a suicide mission. We have evolved to strongly prefer familiarity to uncertainty, to prefer the known rather than the unknown.

As a result, our brains are naturally repelled by uncertainty, and attracted to clarity.

Think about the last time you were having a conversation with somebody who was doing a poor job explaining a complicated concept to you. How long did it take for your eyes to glaze over and your mind to lose interest in making sense of the conversation? That reaction is your brain’s attempt to keep you save – to keep you from wandering down a dark and potentially dangerous jungle trail.

All that to say – it’s absolutely critical that you can talk about your business in a clear, compelling way. And that you completely avoid confusion!

The first step in this process requires thinking like your customers and clients. You need to forget everything you know about your business from an operational perspective. And you need to instead approach your business from a customer’s perspective. There’s a simple, overriding question you need to answer for them: what’s in it for me?

How does your product or service make their life better?

At Spotlight Branding, we create a premium brand for lawyers which allows them to attract more clients, better clients, charge higher rates, and generate more referrals.

FedEx gets important packages delivered, anywhere in the world, quickly and reliably.

Jimmy John’s delivers delicious sandwiches – fast.

TurboTax makes it easy – and cheap – to get your taxes done.

If FedEx were run by the average small business owner, he’d probably spend way too much time talking about shipping networks and intermodal transportation and data transfers and border exchanges. That’s the world he lives in, but it’s not the world that his customers live in, and it’s not what they care about!

People don’t want to know how the sausage is made. They just want to know that it tastes delicious.  

With that in mind, you need to create a marketing message that accomplishes the following:

Clearly communicate what you do. Not from your perspective, but from the perspective of your customer. How do you make their life better?

Clearly communicate who you help. An effective message is attractive to your target clients and customers, while also keeping the “wrong” prospects away. Your message should instantly let target customers know that they’re in the right place, while encouraging the rest of the world to find a different solution. 

Clearly communicate what makes you different from your competition. Why should a customer do business with you, instead of another option? Note that you generally don’t want to state this explicitly – it’s not about trashing the other guy, it’s about highlighting the key unique benefits that you provide.

Clearly communicate urgency and explain the stakes. Marketing is hard because people are lazy and set in their ways. Successfully creating new business involves persuading someone to take action, make a change, and take a risk. The average human is averse to all three of those ideas! We’d generally prefer to stay on the couch, do things the way we’ve always done them, and play it safe. So your messaging must create a sense of urgency in order to motivate action. And it must explain the stakes – why is it so important that the customer takes action, what good thing will happen if he takes action, and what negative thing is likely to happen to him if he does not?

Clearly communicate the path forward. Remember, the human brain is programmed to fear uncertainty above almost everything else. So, you have to make the path forward crystal clear. That often involves spelling out the initial steps in 1, 2, 3 format. For example, the process for working with Spotlight Branding is as follows. First, we’ll have strategy session to get to know your law practice. Then, we’ll create a plan and make sure you feel great about it. Finally, we’ll execute that plan for you while you focus on practicing law! Simple, clear, and no ambiguity or confusion.

Stay tuned for part two in this series!

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Danny Decker

I work with business owners to create real, practical marketing plans – and create systems to make sure the plan actually gets executed. I’ll help you put a strategy in place to create predictably positive cash-flow, to generate new leads consistently, to create more referrals and word-of-mouth marketing, and much more.

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