What are you actually selling? Some say a concept, an idea, a benefit, or value. But one thing is for certain, if it’s not tangible, it can’t be sold.
This is the second of five articles about the 5 Pillars of Marketing, my marketing model that helps get your marketing on track. Read the original article here.
Imagine this scenario: You walk into a car dealership and a salesperson approaches you and asks, “How can I help you today?”
And you answer, “I’d like to buy some transportation.”
Well, yes, you want transportation, but the salesperson can’t actually sell you that, it’s only a concept. But they can sell you a tangible thing: a certain model of car, say a Chevy Volt.
I know, this sounds stupid, nobody would try to buy ‘transportation.’
But every day, independent professionals are trying to sell concepts that are just as abstract as transportation. They are trying to sell intangible benefits such as:
– Increased productivity
– Decreased employee turnover
– Better cash flow
– Enhanced teamwork
– Reduced conflict
But these intangible benefits need to be translated into tangible services and programs, just as transportation becomes real in the form of a Chevy Volt.
Something is tangible if it’s real, physical, solid. It must have a form and structure and perform in a certain way. It must be usable and practical.
The challenge is simple: Turn your conceptual benefits into actual services and program.
You accomplish this is by “writing a service or program into existence.” This pure act of creation transforms the intangible into the tangible. And now you really have something to sell.
You do this by asking these nine questions:
- What is the Name of the service or program?
- What is the Purpose of the service or program?
- What Problems does it solve?
- What Outcomes does it produce?
- How does it Work?
- What is its Form and Structure?
- How has it worked for Others?
- Who are You and how are you qualified?
- What should I Do next?
And then you turn the answers to those questions into a marketing piece, often called an “executive summary” that’s two or three pages long.
The purpose of this executive summary is to clearly communicate the value of your service or program.
This won’t convert most prospects into paying clients just by reading it, but it will give them enough to know if it’s worth engaging in a selling conversation.
This is very much how we buy cars, isn’t it? We do a lot of research online to find the right car for our needs. We look at all the reviews, the features, the add-ons, the mileage, and the price. And we pretty much decide on the car we want before we walk through the showroom door.
When someone is “shopping” for professional services you may get a call from someone who was referred to you. They hear you’re great at helping companies like theirs speed up their supply chain. And they want to talk.
What do you do next? You send them your executive summary and tell them, “Please take a look at this executive summary about my program. It will give you a better idea of how I help my clients, and when we meet it will save us time.”
What goes into a marketing piece like this?
Well, the content can vary widely, depending on what you’re offering, and you also want it to be flexible enough so you can customize your offerings. But all executive summaries have the same essential components that answer those nine questions.
1. Name of the service or program
I.e., “The Supply Chain Speed-Up System”
2. The Primary Purpose of the service or program.
The purpose of this program is to help our client companies measurably speed up their supply chains and to reduce or eliminate bottlenecks in the supply chain, which results in products going to market faster with fewer delays.
3. The Problems this service or program addresses.
Here you’d have a paragraph or two about your insights into the problems of supply chains, what stalls them, where the breakdowns occur, what most companies miss, etc. This isn’t anything your client companies don’t know, it just proves you know your clients’ industry and the challenges they face. And it reminds them that they have problems that are causing them some degree of pain.
4. The actual Outcomes they want to accomplish.
Again, you’d have a few paragraphs outlining what a smoothly working supply chain looks like. What systems would be in place? What automated processes would be in operation? You want to give a picture of what it would be like after you’ve come in and put your program into place. These are the actual results the client is buying from you. Paint a picture of a more favorable future – one that is believable.
5. How the service/program Works.
You don’t want to give away the store here, explaining all your proprietary approaches and technology. But you do want to assure the reader that you do have the methods and the technology that have been proven over a period of time. This is where you talk about how your approach is unique, effective, and proven. This instills confidence that you know your stuff.
6. The Structure and Format of the program.
Is this a one-day training or a six-month initiative? Who will be involved? Will it include coaching or consulting, or a combination of both? What is the sequence in which things happen? How will results be tracked? Paint a picture that’s as clear as day.
7. Prove that your service/program delivers the Goods.
What results have your other clients gotten? What was their situation before your solution and the changes after it was implemented? The closer these examples are to your prospective clients, the better. Testimonial quotes are good as well.
8. Tell a little bit about who You are
This is not a long biography, but a short sketch of who you are, your major accomplishments and credentials.
9. Tell them what to Do next
Invite them to contact you for an informal conversation to explore the possibilities of you helping them. Include contact information. Of course, never wait for a prospect to follow up. That’s your job!
Voila, you’ve done it. The intangible is now tangible.
I believe in straightforward, concise, conversational writing that is hype-free. This format builds a strong case that your service or program addresses your clients’ problems, is an approach that is proven to work, and has a track record with satisfied clients.
Of course, everyone’s service is different, but if you follow this basic executive summary outline, you will have transformed your conceptual benefits into services and programs that are real, tangible, and attractive to your prospective clients.
I promise that if you use this executive summary as a marketing tool, you’ll have better selling conversations and ultimately close more deals with clients who are confident you can help them.
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