In Rolf Dobelli’s amazing book, “The Art of Thinking Clearly” he enumerates 99 thinking mistakes we all make and how they affect our lives.
But it wasn’t until the Epilog that I grasped an idea that could change your marketing forever. Dobelli states:
“We cannot say what brings us success; we can only pin down what blocks or obliterates success. Eliminate the downside, the thinking errors, and the upside will take care of itself. This is all we need to know.”
So, in marketing, what are the prime thinking errors? I can find two major ones that greatly impact marketing effectiveness.
1. We believe our thoughts that tell us that marketing is hard or unpleasant and will lead to rejection.
2. We do not prepare our opening and closings to marketing communications, and since we are unclear what to say, we avoid saying anything.
The first one I’ve been addressing for years: Confront and inquire into those limiting, fearful beliefs and you’ll ultimately find there is nothing really there. Nothing is stopping you except your thoughts, and what your thoughts are telling you are not real about 98% of the time.
The second is just as profound. All marketing is communication. But why do we have such a problem with communicating about our services when everyday communication is easy for most of us?
It’s because we’re afraid we’ll say or write the wrong thing. The error we make is not paying attention to the openings and closing of marketing communication. If we get those right, the rest of the communication is relatively easy.
We can stop worrying about getting it ALL right. We never will get it perfect, but we can still get our marketing to work if we concentrate on those openings and closings.
Let’s look at these in various areas of marketing
In-person marketing conversations
All you need to do is to say something interesting enough to get a response. You don’t need to say everything about your business when someone asks you what you do. I’ve shared this formula many times:
“I work with these kinds of people/companies who have this issue or want this result.”
Take some time to develop that simple message and make sure you are grounded in it, that every word means something. Then when they respond, you can explain in more depth. Don’t worry about explaining everything perfectly, just don’t blow your opening line!
And if the other person is showing some interest, learn how to close the conversation by asking if you can give them something:
“I’ve written an article on this topic. Can I send you a copy?”
Almost everyone will say yes and you’ve set up the conversation to lead to a follow-up call.
Can you learn and master these openings and closings? Of course, you can. And if you do, the rest of the conversation will flow more easily than you think.
Making Follow-up calls
OK, now that you’ve met someone (either through this in-person meeting), or after a talk or a referral from a client, etc., it’s your job to follow up. Everyone resists this. Why? Because they don’t know what to say to open the conversation. Try this:
“Hi, this is James Hudson, we talked a couple days ago at the Chamber of Commerce meeting and I sent you an article. I wanted to find out more about your business. Is this a good time to talk?”
The rest is relatively easy: Ask them some questions about their business or their situation. Get a sense of whether they have a need and an interest in your professional services. If no, thank them and move on. If yes, suggest the next meeting:
“From everything we’ve talked about, it sounds like I could help you get better results with X. I’d like to talk with you in more depth. Can I suggest a more in-depth strategy session to learn more about your situation, goals, and challenges? How does that sound to you?”
Writing marketing materials and articles
When faced with a blank screen, it can be hard to know where to start. Always start with your target market and an issue they are familiar with. This gets immediate attention and interest.
“If you manage a team, you know the challenges of pointing everyone in the right direction and getting things done. But what do you do when one or more team members are not cooperating?”
By setting up a scenario like this that is familiar to them, your readers will be instantly drawn in. Then write more about the challenges before you outline your tactics to getting their teams aligned.
To close the article, summarize the key points and invite the reader to find out more and get your report on your website.
Giving a talk, teleclass or webinar
You can open a talk, class or webinar in much the same way. Open with an issue that is troubling your audience. Build immediate rapport by talking about their situation and challenges and then make the bulk of your presentation about what they can do to overcome those challenges.
In your closing, ask for the participants’ cards and follow up with more information after the talk.
Interacting on Social media
If you join a group on social media such as Facebook or linked in, don’t start posting a lot of information and directing people to your website. This just feels like spam. Instead, jump into discussions and offer your perspective and resources. Start threads that will get conversations going.
Ultimately this can lead to valuable connections that can actually go somewhere, because you’ve built a favorable impression and a degree of trust.
Create, deliver and fine-tune your openings and closings
Again, where I see Independent Professionals making the most mistakes is with their openings and closings. They are unclear about what to say and are worried about being judged or rejected.
Think about how you’d like to be approached. Wouldn’t you want direct and simple communication that had no hidden agendas?
The first step is to sit down and actually script out these openings. Practice them out loud until they come naturally and easily. Get some feedback from a friend or associate. Don’t worry about being perfect!
Before long, you’ll start seeing marketing as an opportunity to make connections that turn into real opportunities for new business.
MARKETING GENIUS = MORE AWESOME CLIENTS
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