Be different, please . . . !

2019/02/11 Tell a story

Far too often we run into a business owner who sees the success of another and then they want to copy the formula that made the other guy successful. That’s not a bad idea – in theory, but it becomes transparent and predictable in the long run. There’s a couple of reasons why this happens and one of them is because all the thinking is done for you by someone else and the success is proven, at least on the surface.  Even if you copy only portions of a successful formula it still lacks a unique quality that is your business.

This is why everyone and their brother sends bulk emails.  Bulk emails?  Really?  The success rate for bulk email is so low it’s not worth mentioning but the business owner feels like he’s at least doing something.  And, in all honesty, it’s pretty easy to put together an e-mail. Be different!  Work harder!  The new normal, whatever that means, is upon us now and it’s not pretty and the small thinkers are going to get eaten by the big thinkers.

Just another brick in the wall isn’t a good thing.  It’s dull and uninspiring.  People like originality.  I like originality and so do you.  Inspire people with a little creativity in your marketing and your customer’s will see the difference.  Make yourself interesting if you can, and by all means, stop talking about yourself in your marketing with “we” and “I” all over the place.  Nobody cares about you, they only care about themselves.

Taking your marketing to levels never seen before is how you win the game and to do that you have to keep at it and test what works and what doesn’t. Have some fun with this and build upon interesting ideas that really stick in your customers mind.  As a marketer, we are constantly reading and learning new ideas and all of us read a fascinating book called “Made to Stick” written by Chip and Dan Heath.  In this book, the authors speak about how ideas stick in the human mind and they give six principals for this.  I bring this up because all of you can use these principals to improve your marketing.

1.  Simplicity – Finding the essential core of our ideas.  A successful defense attorney noted that a lawyer could argue ten points to the jury and even if they are excellent points when the jury deliberates they will have forgotten all of them.  Strip away everything down to the core and use a catchy phrase to sum up the case.  Does anyone remember, “. . .if it doesn’t fit you must acquit.”  Hard to remember anything else about that trial, right?

2.  Unexpectedness – How do we get our audience to pay attention to our ideas?  Shock or surprise them for one.  A bag of movie popcorn is as unhealthy as a whole day worth of fatty foods. But things like this don’t last that long so we need to go deeper and doing so means we need to continually open gaps in a person’s knowledge and fill in those gaps with interesting things.  Instead of selling all the time try teaching your audience about new ways to use old products, etc.

3.  Concreteness – How do we make our ideas clear.  You have to explain our ideas in terms of human actions and in terms of sensory information.  Most business owners fail miserably at this.  Mission statements, synergies, strategies, plans, are so boring and uninteresting that it makes everyone not even care about them anymore.  I still remember the warnings about razor blades placed in apples on Halloween and the mental image that created in my head still gives me the heeby-jeeby’s.

4.  Credibility – How do we get people to believe our ideas.  Credibility is a big issue for me on many levels.  When the surgeon general makes a public health statement we generally believe what he or she has said without question, however, most of us rarely believe anything anyone says these days.  Fact checkers need fact checkers and the cloud of BS is thicker and heavier than ever.  Sticky ideas have to carry their own set of credentials before we believe them.  They need to have a personal attachment to them that clears away the clutter which allows you to relate.  In 1980 when Ronald Reagan was debating Jimmy Carter he could have stated fact upon fact about the sluggish economy but instead, he asked us one question that stuck in the minds of everyone.  “Before you vote, ask yourself if you are better off today than you were four years ago.”  Game over!

5.  Emotions – How do we get people to care about our ideas?  We make them feel something.  In the case of the movie popcorn, we feel disgusted about how unhealthy it is.  Would you feel the same way if I said it was only 37 grams of fat?  Dig deep and find a mental picture of your idea and work it.  This is a good one for me because we use the following phrase all the time in our work.  “Having no website is better than having a bad one.”  I say that all the time to clients who need a website and that’s about the only thing they heard when they call me back.

6.  Stories – Given the opportunity, I would rather use a story about an experience to sell a service or a product than do anything else and becoming a good storyteller would be a valuable thing to learn in marketing.  People love stories and when you can connect the product you’re trying to sell to a story the product magically has meaning and becomes their own.

Using any or all of the above would dramatically improve the relationship you have with your customers and it would be fun to try some of them out. But like anything else, you have to keep at it.

Jim