Lead generation and business development have become increasingly complicated over recent years.
There are so many more ways that customers can get the information they need when researching products and services, while sales and marketing people have many more tools at their disposals. Dazzled by all these exciting new possibilities many businesses have taken their eye off the ball as far as the basics are concerned whilst getting all of a twitter, going pay-per-click crazy, or mesmerizing themselves with mountains of data, they've forgotten the simple fact they still need a great sales story.
Get a story that sells
You can get as geeky as you like with all the new technology but it's all a huge waste of time and money if the message on your website, your brochures and sales literature, your exhibition stands, your social media profiles, and across all your other communications, isn't right. If it doesn't get noticed, doesn't engage people, doesn't make them like you and doesn't persuade them to choose you over your competitors your whole sales and marketing process is derailed.
So how do you go about getting your story straight?
Marketing consultants, design agencies and professional copywriters can baffle for Britain on the subject of branding and storytelling for business. But it's worth remembering what Einstein once said 'if you can't explain it simply, you don't understand it well enough'.
Keep it simple, stupid. So here's a very basic 3 step process for coming up with a message that works.
Step 1: make it clear how your business and offering differs from your competitors.
Step 2: make that difference matter to the people in your target audience.
How do you do that?
Step 1 is about features (facts about your business, services and products) while step 2 is all about benefits (what consumers get from these features and how these aspects of your offering make life better for them. If you just give them the features they'll probably respond with - so what, why should care, what's in it for me? The benefits answer these questions for them).
Next, get your features and benefits clearly defined and down on paper. Now you're ready for the next stage.
Step 3: park your features and benefits, walk away, and put yourself in the prospect's shoes. Now ask yourself things like "what does the prospect want, why do they want it, what are their fears and aspirations, what is their problem and what kind of solution would make them feel most comfortable?"
You've got to move people
The key is to get into the prospect's head and heart. The latter is especially important. There's ample research to show that people, even when they think they're being cold and calculating, are being anything but - they make decisions based on emotion, then justify with logic. Or, as a psychologist once observed, 'logic leads to conclusions but emotion leads to action'.
So a story that sells starts by letting the reader know that you understand exactly what they want. Then it promises a solution and starts to introduce the benefits.
Finally it substantiates the promise with the features.
Don't put the cart before the horse
Doing it this way, and talking about the prospect before yourself, then talking benefits before features, makes it more likely the person will keep reading, become engaged, warm to the message, and choose you over the competition.
Because guess what? Most of your competitors make the classic mistake of doing it the other way round. And it don't sell half as well!