He was fizzing with excitement: grinning and hopping from foot to foot. This was big news for our company, huge news for our industry and enormous news for the region. And he was about to step on stage and break the story in his conference presentation…
So, did I have to retrieve my boss from a clamouring crowd twenty minutes later? Keep our press officer in espresso for the next 48 hours? Nope, not a soul picked up on his words.
Why did our brilliant news fail to spark interest?
To turn your company’s greatness into a message that has customers grabbing the phone, you need to do three things…
Know your audience
How much do you know about the people who buy from you? Are the people who pay for your product or service the ones who use it? What kind of language do they use? What matters to them? What worries them? What do they take pride in? Are they interested in the details or the big picture?
A product for kids might need a more formal writing style if your buyers are mostly proud grandparents. Technical readers might be comfortable with jargon, but if you only reach them once someone in Procurement has short-listed your services, you’ll need to use keywords that are easily recognisable across your industry.
When you write copy, you need a clear picture in your mind of whom you’re writing for.
Know your competition
Where do you fit in the marketplace? What makes you unique? Can you do something your competition can’t?
Describing what you do and expecting your potential customer to fill in the blanks is not enough. Maybe your customer has been on a long search for the right product – the calculations and comparisons they’ve already done mean they’ll quickly spot that you are offering something special. But what if your customer is in a hurry, or they find you on the first day of their search? They don’t know enough to recognise your sparkle.
If you have technology or a product or a service that’s one-of-a-kind, say so. Tell your customers why only you can do this. If your product is expensive or new or complex, it could even be worth writing a white paper that dispassionately takes your customer along a learning curve and ultimately shows you as the perfect solution.
Know your value
Of course, your customers don’t care about what you’re selling. They care deeply about what it’s going to do for them. What value do you deliver? In what way are they going to benefit from giving you their cash?
Copyblogger’s Pamela Wilson recommends appealing to your customers with the “magic five benefits”: Health, Wealth, Relationship, Success and Peace of Mind. Andy Maslen suggests turning to the seven deadly sins for copy that grabs your reader. Fire up their pride with gentle flattery, appeal to sloth with the effort-saving benefits of your offer.
Put yourself firmly in your customers’ seat and describe how your company will change their life or the bottom line:
- Detail cost savings
- Describe how smart or attractive or powerful they’ll be
- Explain faster processes and how much time they’ll have for something else
Whatever value you bring to your customers, spell it out for them, so there is no possible way to miss it.
And the very best way of doing this is to have an existing customer tell them about it. Now you can spark envy as a potential customer sees someone else enjoying the benefits of doing business with you. They can picture themselves enjoying that too, and you haven’t had to do any “hard selling”.
Coming back to the opening example: why did the crowd miss this potent news?
Quite simply, my boss hadn’t translated the company’s success into a message his audience could hear. He’d used technical terms in a room full of journalists and commercial folk. They’d blanked the words because it was another language.
It was a leap forward for the industry, but he hadn’t explicitly said that. He’d assumed the audience would scroll through their memory banks and know.
And he’d announced the news to show that we were a company with relevant experience, who could get things done in the toughest circumstances. Anyone partnering with us would stand a higher chance of finding themselves wealthy, and soon. But he hadn’t described that either.
He had left people to join the dots, and they hadn’t been able to.
Focus on these three things and your copy will zing with a potential that has your customers keen to talk. And if you need help, or simply want to get on with doing more of the thing you’re great at while someone else tells your story, get in touch!