As consumers become more easily informed, it’s no secret that they’ve become wiser in their purchasing decisions. They’re also more skeptical of old-school sales and marketing tactics that aren’t tailored specifically to them. Common clichés, tired sales pitches and unrealistic claims no longer work. In fact, they’ll likely be viewed as disingenuous and undermine your marketing efforts. Here, we’ve outlined five ineffective marketing messages and what you can do to avoid using them.
Here’s a reality check. Chances are, you’re not the best at what you do. So, stop telling people you are. Instead, tell them why you do things differently and why it matters to them. Remember, YOU are the only person in the world with your unique experience, talent and passion. Those qualities add real value to what you offer and distinguish you in a positive way that is meaningful to your market. But, leave the accolades to others by earning them. Praise is only credible when it’s in the words of others, anyway. If you do your job well, there will be plenty to share.
“Your one-stop shop.”
You can’t be all things to all people. Wal-Mart can’t even make such a claim, so why should you? By casting the widest net possible, you’ll obscure what makes you special and dilute your brand. We’re not suggesting that you abandon all the other stuff and present yourself as a one-trick pony. Instead, use what you’re truly great at (remember, not the “greatest”) as your marketing foundation and reinforce it with everything else that adds value. But, just like your work load, your message needs to be prioritized. Use your unique strengths to make your mark and distinguish yourself from your competition.
“Sign up for a free consultation.”
Everybody offers free consultations. So, they have no real perceived value. It’s okay to offer them. But, they are ineffective as a call to action. Information is what people want. Educate your target audience and market influencers by offering free advice, tools and tips through webinars, blog posts, whitepapers and downloads, etc. When people feel they’re learning from you, it positions you as the subject matter expert. This brings great value to your brand and makes prospects more inclined to jump into your sales funnel when the time is right. They’ll remember those times when you helped them.
“I’m looking to meet anyone who wants to …”
Consider the financial planner who declares, “I’m looking to meet anyone who wants to grow their money.” Do you know anyone who doesn’t? This gives your referral sources no real clarity into who your ideal prospects are. Try to be more specific about your target audience and what challenges they face. Tell others what to look and listen for. What job titles do your best prospects have? What life experiences are they currently facing? What specific pain might they be feeling? What are they saying to others that should trigger an intro? Identify those people and scenarios you can help the most and how. Consider also identifying those whom you cannot help, which will help reduce unqualified referrals.
“We do this. We do that.”
Instead of focusing on WHAT you do, focus on WHY it matters and to whom. Remember, most purchasing decisions are emotional ones. Whether you’re selling cars or high-tech widgets, your message should not be about you; it should be about the consumer. Perhaps, there’s a “peace of mind” gained in knowing that a certain problem is being solved. Or, maybe, it’s some form of economic “relief” that the buyer will experience. Or some other pain point that is being “cured.” It could even be about enabling them to spend more time on things that bring them the most happiness. Empathy is your most powerful sales tool. Understand the emotional buttons of your audience and communicate how you can make their lives easier.
I recently visited the websites of some of the top design firms in the world. It was both inspiring and, truth be told, slightly intimidating. However, despite that, I did notice one consistent problem with a majority of them.
In many ways, your website is the face of our business. It’s usually your first and best opportunity to distinguish yourself, connect with your prospects and tell your story. If it’s not engaging, well-designed, easy to navigate and informative, it could undermine your marketing efforts.
We’ve collected a number of the more salient points from our blog and are presenting them as a marketing reality check list. A good number of these apply to new or small businesses. But you’ll also find that some of the largest corporations in the world make many of the same missteps.
We often get too close to our business to see it the way others do. We build a virtual bubble around ourselves and lose the perspective needed to make sound strategic decisions.
When you meet new prospects, network or attend industry events, the moment you hand out your business card, your credibility will be on the line. If you’ve taken a long time to build a first-rate reputation, don’t let a second-rate website undo it.
Even if you’ve been able to put a check mark next to that spanking-new website on your marketing to-do list, get out your eraser. Your work has only just begun. A successful website is never once-and-done.