Back when I worked as a news anchor and reporter the television networks would occasionally bring in consultants to evaluate newsroom performance and recommend changes that helped us boost ratings. News and entertainment consultants tend to base their advice and coaching on a combination of industry research, socioeconomic and entertainment trends, their own observations and the recommendations of audience focus groups.
While these seasoned advisors always added a new concept or twist to every round of coaching, there were some solid pieces of advice that were often repeated and will always hold true. Whether you’re creating simple marketing materials, a detailed proposal, or an oral presentation, these pointers can help your organization connect with prospects on a deeper level.
Know What’s Most Important to Your Audience
Media organizations often use focus groups to “take the pulse” of their ideal customers–current and potential viewers, readers and listeners. Members of these focus groups offer their opinions on a variety of issues and concerns, in a variety of ways. For example, they might be asked to rank in order of importance the issues they consider to be the most critical in their lives and community. In addition, they might be asked to score recent newscasts minute-by-minute in order to indicate what they like most and least about the stories, reporters and delivery. Newsrooms consider these opinions when selecting stories to cover.
If you’re not financially equipped to launch a complex market survey of your own, you can still get your finger on the pulse of your customers’ wants and needs. Just keep it simple. Take a survey of current and past customers, fellow business owners and colleagues. Their input can provide valuable information that will help you clearly define your brand and refine your message to increase appeal to your audience.
Keep Your Message Clear and Concise
In today’s busy society people tend to have a lot on their minds all of the time, plus they’re bombarded with tons of new information daily. When would-be customers find it hard to interpret your message they are likely to move on to a competitor who makes a very clear statement.
Even when presenting the most complex of stories, reporters are encouraged to “keep it simple” by writing and speaking at a level an eighth-grader would be able to understand. That way, more people can readily identify with the message and feel compelled to tune in again.
For best results, make sure every message is one your audience can digest quickly and easily. Give people a reason to stay connected!
Use a Conversational Tone
When you want to convince others that you’re great at what you do, it can be tempting to write and speak a language I call “officialese”. In other words, a collection of formal or complicated phrases that are designed to impress people and prove how much we know. I see the use of officialese in business writing and presentations quite often. Unfortunately, it’s a practice that backfires because it alienates and confuses potential buyers.
When crafting marketing communications of any sort, pretend you are speaking one-on-one with a friend. You will find that your message flows more naturally, gets to the point, and intrigues rather than repels the people you most want to attract.
Internalize Your Message for Powerful Delivery
Watch closely, and you can easily tell the difference between an anchor who is just “reading” the teleprompter script and one who really “feels” what he or she is saying. How does the delivery make you feel? Whether you like a given story or not, you will no doubt have a stronger reaction to the anchor who delivers with conviction.
While you want to avoid cheesy, over-the-top hype (which can be a huge turnoff), you do want all of your marketing communications to reflect that you are passionate and genuinely excited about the results you help clients achieve. Passion is contagious and–even when the listener is not ready to buy–can help you make a powerful impact that leads to referrals and new business down the line.
“Practice, practice, practice.”
Never underestimate the power of this oft-used advice. By taking the time to craft a message that is truly customer focused and learning to deliver comfortably and sincerely in any setting, you will find that you begin to draw more and more of the individuals and organizations you’re in business to serve.
Just as media outlets use these techniques to build an audience, you can use them to draw in new customers.
About Your Message
In just 10 to 30 seconds of introducing your business verbally, or in just one to three written sentences, your message should make me–your prospective customer–feel like:
- You truly understand what I’m experiencing in my life or business.
- You understand what’s causing my struggle or challenge.
- Your company is uniquely qualified to provide the solution I need.
How do you describe your company, what you do for clients, and the results your clients experience? You can refine your message now to engage prospects more effectively.