At an intellectual level, it’s easy to accept that our prospects are far more interested in addressing their issues than they are in the merits of our solutions. If the two align, then that’s all well and good and - hopefully - much more than a happy coincidence.
So why, then, do so many companies still spend so much time explaining what they (“we”) do and how successful they are as organisations, rather focusing on what they can help their potential customers (“you”) achieve?
As Tim Riesterer of Corporate Visions points out in a recent blog on MarketingProfs, the three little piggies might have gone “wee, wee, wee” all the way home but it isn’t really an effective basis for engaging with our audiences. But enough of the nursery rhymes.
Who really cares about your company?
How many corporate presentations have you sat through (or, let’s be honest, subjected your audiences to) that start with a lengthy “about us” section that highlights the company’s achievements, global presence, market leadership, and so forth? Zzzzzz...
Do you really think that the audience really cares about how great or successful any company is until and unless that have been moved to believe that the potential supplier has got something interesting and relevant to say about their own current situation?
Of course not. In fact, drowning the audience in all this utterly irrelevant and often terminally boring “we, we, we” stuff upfront is likely to stop them paying proper attention to anything you might subsequently have to say. If you think it gives you credibility, think again.
Don't waste their time - or worse
In fact, those amongst the audience with a taste for more salty and robust language might well be silently accusing you of wasting their time and even - heaven forefend - of "taking the p**s". It’s not a very promising start, is it?
By the way, when I talk about "audience", I’m not assuming that you’re all in the same room together. The same principles apply to your website, your marketing materials, your press releases and, yes, your sales conversations.
Living in your prospect's world
As Tim points out, adopting “you” phrasing encourages you to live in your prospect’s and customer’s world, to talk about issues that are likely to be relevant to them, and to use language that is likely to resonate with them.
It makes them feel like they are participating in the conversation. It connects your story with theirs. It helps them to project how you might be able to help them deal with something that is of real importance to them. You’re talking with them, not about you.
And as an added bonus, if you’re really thinking about what your prospect wants to hear, and not what you want to say, you’re far less likely to trot out all that “scalable-adaptable-flexible” technobabble and gobbledygook that pollutes so many of our messages today.
A muscle memory (or worse) problem
It all sounds like a good idea, doesn’t it? But I'll offer a word of caution: it’s harder to embrace this mind-set than you might hope. Those of us who have spent any time in corporate life (myself, sadly, included) often seem to have a muscle memory that drags us back to corporate speak.
This muscle memory effect (in the context of this article, you might think of it as a bladder control issue) seems to drag us back to talking about our company, rather than their issues. It causes us to leap to prescribe solutions when we ought to be investing time in exploring the prospect’s issues and their implications.
Time to break the habit
It’s a hard habit to break. But the sooner we break it - the sooner we all stop "weeing" all over our prospects - the sooner we’re going to have much more compelling communications with our audiences.
Here’s the link to Tim’s article again. Let’s all apply this thinking, and let's all agree to put our prospects and customers where they belong - at the centre of the story.
p.s: anecdotes are a great way of communicating with your prospects. You can download our guide to them here.