If I meet a new person and find out what type of business he’s in, I’ll often ask what makes his business special — in other words, why people do business with him rather than seeking out his competition. More than likely, this person can tell me what he thinks are his strongest selling points. And more than likely, his description of those strong points will focus on his customer and how his business can make life easier, richer, etc. for his customer.
Why is it, then, that when I meet with that same person to discuss a marketing campaign — especially one that involves radio or television commercials — Mr. Businessman suddenly talks of nothing but the business? Forget the customer!
The reason is that Mr. Businessman DOESN’T live life in a vacuum. He’s been tainted by listening to every other commercial that uses commercial-speak (to steal an illustration from George Orwell). If you’d like a great example of bad-commercials-made-easy, visit Dan O’Day’s website and check out his Bad Commercial Generator. Just fill in the blanks and in an instant, you’ll have your own very bad radio commercial script. (Unfortunately, there have been stories of media salespeople who really used it and took the resulting scripts to clients. Bad. Very bad.)
But back to Living in a Vacuum: Had Mr. Businessman been living in that vacuum, he never would have learned how NOT to speak to a potential customer. NOTE: Talking about yourself when a person isn’t interested in you is a great way to get the person to ignore you, or to leave you altogether. However, if you first show an interest in that person … that listener … that potential customer, and that you have a solution to one of life’s problems, suddenly there’s some interest. And at THAT point, it’s time to introduce yourself.
Don’t go long. Just give your new potential customer the most direct path to doing business with you. We’ll talk more about THAT in the future.