It’s Not About You, You Know — The 3 Fundamental Reasons Your Marketing Message Misses The Mark
How to go beyond the features of your service, focus on the results they give, impact those results have, and create a psychological bridge to your client’s “desire” center, craving your solution.
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“Bells and whistles won’t get you heard if your market is wearing headphones”
I was born a “systems and organisations” guy! While others played cowboys and Indians, I was seeing how things worked; and while they were reading football annuals, I was reading encyclopaedias. While I still wouldn’t define myself as a geek (certainly not while I was in the military), for me the world was orderly and functional. No surprise then, that I gravitated into semi-tech and professional careers.
But, as I began my climb up the professional ladder, and shifted from “doing” my profession, to “leading and growing” the business, it was quite a shock to find that there was an entire new world I needed to master. The world of “people”! Their weird and wonderful ways was no way near as simple and obvious as how “things”, logic, numbers and even legal requirements worked for me.
I would see people as intricate, unpredictable, and highly fickle, especially when it comes to buying our services. But people are an organism, there was at least a process behind it, surely? And it took the next 11 years and tens of thousands in investment in learning and applying influence and marketing psychology to find out. And I’m going to share with you here, the THREE most important lessons I learned about “marketing” tech, consulting, and professional services in the process.
“If you can read minds, you can influence decisions!”
Lesson 1 — It’s not about what you sell, but what people buy.
The buying process for your client begins further down the line than supplier selection. If your prospective client is at the point where they are looking for a specific solution (what bells and whistles they want), they’ve already gone through a series of buyer phases:
Phase 1 — Realising they have a problem, need, or aspiration.
Phase 2 — They know what the result they want looks, sounds, and feels like at many levels.
Phase 3 — They’re exploring what kind of solutions are available, that get that kind of result.
Phase 4 — They’re considering the impacts (positive and negative) of those solution types on them personally.
Phase 5 — They’re actively sourcing where that solution can come from and how.
Phase 6 — They contrast and compare, then decide which source and solution they will use.
Phase 7 — They obtain and implement that solution, monitoring the effects along the way.
Phase 8 — They contrast and compare the results obtained against their expectations.
Why is this important? Because Most Marketing messages (the old Features & Benefits model certainly) are trying to attract clients at phase 5 and 6, where they are immediately being compared against an active hunt list. Even after they’ve bought from you, the buying experience still exists until they’re happy they got what they want.
Yes, it’s important to have those features and benefits visible and understood, but you’re focussing on a place where you’re not addressing the most important of things… That’s Lesson 2!
“Yes, very cool, but does it work?”
Lesson 2 — People don’t buy solutions, they buy the results the solutions give them.
Features and their benefits are often subjective in importance, explained by the supplier, interpreted by the buyer, and in many cases not fully understood. Especially if the buyer isn’t as technically/professionally aware as you.
What they do understand however, is the language of the results those solutions give. Whether that is a manufacturing efficiency gain and its cost savings; the sense of relief that a potential legal issue is covered; safety that the property they’re buying won’t collapse; or they have a water tight secure data network that won’t have customer details leaking in to the dark web.
I recall a conversation many years ago, when I was leading a risk management business, and extolling the virtues of a very rigorous audit process we used. To which the prospect interjected with “That’s great, but will it stop me from being prosecuted?”. Now regardless of how ethical his priorities were, he was simply interested in the result, not how we got it. That’s just data, to give a sense of confidence in the claim.
The truth is, they want the RESULT your solution gives them, not the solution. What is important about that result however, is lesson 3!
“You say the Mayan’s built this crossing eh?… Did they use steel?”
Lesson 3 — Next to the Results, it’s all about the journey.
If you go back to those 8 buying phases, they begin right at the very beginning: Becoming aware that there is a problem/need/aspiration. By default, that means there is a condition or circumstance they are in at that moment, that is undesirable compared to some other condition or circumstance that IS perceived as desirable.
So the earliest and generally easiest stage to engage at, is when they want to better understand where they are (such as poor staff performance for example). This is where you can demonstrate two important trust building foundations:
1. You recognise their situation — EMPATHY
2. You can explain it, and how to fix it — EXPERTISE
Now, it doesn’t end there. Because now you can either point them in the direction of the desired result (if they don’t already know it), or show even more empathy and expertise, by talking about those results, and how to achieve them. Of course, if the HOW links nicely to your specific solution, then great, but at this stage it’s all about creating trust through empathy and expertise.
Finally, and this is often the most overlooked. As well as identifying and demonstrating that you are the bridge between where they are now, and where they want to get to. You also need to talk about the journey of crossing that bridge. Having the best solution in the world won’t help you, if your potential client believes its going to be too costly, too slow, or too dangerous, in terms of the broader impacts.
It’s your job to show them the path, explain how you’ll be guiding them, and what precautions you’ll have in place to protect them. They want the result yes, but in as quick and painless a way as possible.
Have You checked Your Messages…
So, if you find your marketing message is missing the mark, make sure you’re:
1. Engaging them as early as possible on the journey
2. Show empathy and expertise in relation to where they are
3. Focus on the results, not just the solution
4. Explain how you’ll get them across the bridge to the result.
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And if you’re interested in how to apply this understanding (and many others) in your tech, professional, or consulting practice as a way of breaking through any growth barriers, get in touch by connecting with me through social media (links below), or book a consultation via my webpage www.darranhughes.coach