In Marketing (or PR or Advertising) 101, we hear the adage of what makes for a great marketing message: you must tell a great story. Yet, as marketers, we too often fall in the trap of feature speak, making the conversation all about us and our products. Even when we talk benefits, we often fail to engage the buyers. All a salesperson has to do to ensure the prospect does not become interested is open their 40-slide PowerPoint deck and start reading the bullets. It does not matter if you are selling the greatest invention known to mankind, the buyer will become disinterested and tune out.
- Imagine if you… It is always better in your messaging to talk about the customer and their needs, than it is to talk about yourself. To do this, use “you phrasing.” Some examples of “you phrasing” include “imagine if you could…” or “what if you could do this.” In this type of communication, the buyers are asked to become part of the story, which instantly makes it more interesting to them. As a result, they can imagine themselves using your solution and enjoying its benefits.
- The good ole number play: A number play provides a series of numbers to the prospect that seem random, yet are related. For example, if you told your prospect in a presentation that they really need to understand how the numbers 87, 422 and 17 are related, it will peak their interest. Their brain will immediately engage to try to figure out the riddle. Of course, you must have a great story about these numbers that link to an important point you are trying to make in your presentation.
- Words in common: Another successful communication strategy to keep prospects engaged is to provide them with three things that on the surface seem to have nothing in common. You ask, “What do X, Y, and Z have in common?” Again, the buyer will immediately engage to figure out what you are talking about. Then, proceed to share a story about each of these three things, with all of them linking to your solution or value proposition. To use this technique, you must first figure out your message, and then work backwards to which words you can use that will make the word association succeed.
The goal in all of these strategies is to keep the user engaged before s/he drifts off. A nice side benefit is that their retention of your message will increase. Buyers may not remember the endless list of features and benefits, but they will most certainly remember a good story or number play. When it comes time for the buyer to decide who to go with, having your story fresh in their mind may be the very difference in your progressing to the next round in the sales cycle. As they say, everyone loves a good story.
[Ideas for this blog were used with permission from Master Messaging (www.mastermessaging.com) and David Kurkjian.]