So often, our efforts to outshine our competitors result in overselling ourselves. We attempt to position ourselves as experts in our field and confirm that position by using complex language and industry-specific terms. We try to impress rather than inform, and we end up with a message that is more confusing than compelling.
Clients often tell me they don’t want to “dumb down” their message. “If people don’t understand our product, they’re not our target customer anyway.” Well, I don’t know how a refrigerator works. But I definitely need one. And when I buy one, it’s not because a refrigerator expert gives me a lesson in refrigerator technology that optimizes cooling and tells me when I should buy more fruit and less ice cream.&
Holidays are amazing. They’re spiritual, emotional, and economical. Whatever your target market’s holiday persuasion, associating your products & services with the spirit of the season creates common ground – a level on which your customer can relate to you – a reason for them to like you. What you’re selling might be good. But if it’s what festive folks are enjoying while “rockin’ around the Christmas tree,” it’s even better! And let’s not forget song tie-ins. People who hear your name in a jingle on the radio or the web might remember you for a while. People who hear your name in “Jingle Bells,” will think of you every time they hear that song (roughly 3-bazillion times between Nov. 1 and Dec 24).
I remember discovering spellcheck…a seemingly magical function of the fancy new typing program on the newfangled computer.
I thought to myself, “It’s like an English teacher in the computer!” Turns out, it’s not. Because while spellcheck may indicate when you’ve typed the wrong spelling, it will not indicate when you’ve typed the wrong word.
Skipping through the cable guide the other day, I came across the cinematic masterpiece, “Revenge of the Nerds.” I enjoyed that movie, but not for the same reasons as my friends (not entirely). Beyond the triumph of the super-smart over the super-strong, the nerds demonstrated the power of packaging and how it affects perception and acceptance.
When it comes to creating your message, I’m all for scribbling-out your thoughts. It’s the only way to really see what you’re thinking. Letting questions rattle around in your head and then emptying every possible response onto paper can be enlightening, and lead you to a “Wow, is that what I do?” moment.
People often ask, “So, what do you do?” But they never ask, “So, what do you sell?” And with the zillions of ads and promotions being driven into our laptops, tablets, and phones every moment of every day, we’ve become very skilled at recognizing and ignoring sales pitches…online, in print, and in person.
Elevator pitches are about being efficient. You need to be quick, because when the bell rings and the doors open, your audience is going to leave (or depending on the length of the ride, run away). You need to be thorough, because if you don’t name every product you have, you might miss the one your listener needs. And you need to offer (force-feed) your business card, because it’s possible your business name or logo might remind them of the commercial they just ignored while counting down the moments until their escape.
“What do you do?” It’s a simple question that drives business professionals to a complex series of responses that often include information like title, job-description, products, services, maybe even location (at the corner of So What Street and Who Cares Boulevard). Given the chance to introduce ourselves and our businesses, we slip into a sales-trance and begin reciting a pitch.
The elevator speech is a great concept; a concise yet compelling description of your business that you’re ready to deliver whenever the opportunity presents itself.
For many, though, the elevator speech is little more than a commercial; a rapid-fire list of products or services, and the offering of a business card that will soon be at the bottom of a recycle bin.
We love buying things, but hate being sold things. We go shopping looking for stuff to buy, but we tell the persistent salesperson to leave us alone. We like searching the web for information, but we cringe when online ads and pop-ups search for us. We enjoy the idea of getting something, but we hate the prospect of being told what we “must have.”
If you went to a party and saw a friend wearing their pants backward, would you tell them?
What if it was you with the backward pants? Would you want someone to tell you? And if they did, how would you respond? Would you be angry for the criticism, or thankful for the critique? Would you tell yourself, “This is how I’ve always worn them,” and move on? Would you change your pants but put them on the same way? Or would you consider the observation and ask for help?
Businesses have more opportunities than ever to introduce themselves. But more chances to share a message means more chances to send the wrong message. Publishing content with misspelled or misused words…stumbling through an elevator speech that’s unprepared or unfocused…giving a presentation
1. People rarely realize when they need them.
Personally, we like to think we look good. Professionally, we like to think we sound good. Unfortunately, nobody wants to be the one to say you need help in either area. Topping the list of things you’re NOT going to hear at your next networking event… “Your jacket makes you look like a clown,” and “Your elevator speech makes you sound like a used-car salesman.”
I recently read an article that recommended replacing your elevator pitch with one of six “new” pitches. The piece suggested that by squeezing your message into a cleverly named format, you can more effectively move people to the response you are seeking.
What I remember most about my first visit to the Wisconsin State Fair was the guy in the vendor building selling “super-shammies.” A miracle of spill management technology, these super absorbent sheets were able to soak up copious amounts of anything you might drip, dribble, or spill. More incredible than the sheets, though, was the way the guy
One of the highlights of my first day at my first job out of college was the trip to the mailroom. I was introduced to a marvelous device called a facsimile machine. The “fax,” as the technology savvy mailroom manager called it, could send copies of documents anyplace in an instant (which, back then, meant sometime the same day).