If you want customers to converse with you, and about you, you’d better enlighten them first and foremost. (No, I’m not talking about bringing your customers up to a mountaintop so they can converse with a mystic.)
We all operate on perpetual information overload. That means that our mental filtering systems are on high alert, constantly having to cast aside that which is irrelevant or unclear. If you’re curious about how this happens, read this simple overview of the RAS (reticular activating system ) in your brain. It’s… enlightening!
Stop thinking about how you can make an immediate pitch for your business. Starting thinking about how you can shine a light into, and through, your audience’s RAS filters.
So, how do we create customer enlightenment? You need four things to gain attention and earn memory space.
A clear message. “I help people solve their business problems” is not a clear message. I have no idea where to place you. “I take you from A to Z through the entire process of publishing your first book” is a very clear message. I know what you do immediately, and I know right away if you’re relevant—for me, or for someone else I might know. In the limited closet space of my memory, I now have a hanger for you.
A memorable story. “I got a business degree in college and kinda worked my way up the corporate ladder” gives me no reason to think of you in any special categories. You just got RAS’ed. “After trying my hand at technical programming for 5 years, my co-workers kept urging me to use my design talents to create niche websites, so now I do that full-time.” OK, I’m intrigued. You had a change of course. You pivoted based on a hidden skill. Your market spoke, and your listened. You’re not JAWD (Just Another Web Designer).
A verbal business card. “We’re your family photographer when you need heirlooms, not Facebook Likes.” There are a million photographers, and a bazillion casual photos on Facebook. But you just carved out a very peculiar niche. I’m calling you (or telling me friends to do so) when I want great picture-taking. You’re also now positioned at the higher price point you’re seeking simply by classifying yourself above the majority of commodity photographers. Plus, I can pass along this description just like a business card—short, sweet, distinct.
An analogy. “Our washing machine is pretty much in the mid-range of this category.” Forgettable. “This is the Rolls-Royce of washers—you’ll feel the difference every single morning when you get dressed!” Bingo! For people to quickly get “light” about your offering, a bridge needs to be created into the understanding. That is the role of metaphor and analogy. You use prior association to make a point immediately.
Long-winded descriptions and 30-slide Powerpoint decks will not survive the RAS-filtering gatekeeper. Enlighten quickly, and you’ll have a shot at that rarest of real estate: mindshare. But if you’re not clear, don’t expect the customer to figure it out. That’s your first (and foremost) marketing challenge!