” Sorry, I was miles away “.
How many times have you said that?
It happened to me just the other day. I was walking down the High Street, thinking about the things I needed to do ( go to the bank, buy some milk ) and trying to decide whether to treat myself to a sausage roll for lunch ( this is a fascinating glimpse into my daily life, isn’t it? )
Anyway, I was lost in a world of my own.
I was vaguely aware of people around me. I could hear voices but I wasn’t taking in anything they were saying. I assumed they weren’t talking to me so it didn’t matter. I was so involved in my own thoughts that I didn’t realise that someone was trying to get my attention.
I gradually became aware of a voice right next to me saying, ” AlanALANALAN!! ”
Eventually the voice broke through my daydream and I realised it was a friend of mine standing next to me. I don’t know how long he had been calling my name but, from the look on his face, it had taken him a while to get me to hear him.
What does this have to do with the price of fish, you may ask?
Well, it occurs to me that this situation is marketing in a nutshell.
My friend was having the same problem we all have when we try to attract the attention of potential clients. Most of the time, they’re just like I was the other day, lost in their own thoughts, oblivious to most of the messages we’re trying to get across to them.
If we’re speaking, they may be vaguely aware of our voices but, for the most part, we’re just part of the background noise. They assume we’re not speaking to them so they don’t have to listen.
Unfortunately, most business owners don’t seem to realise this. For example, take networking events. So many people seem to think that, just because a person’s eyes are open, they must be listening. They go on and on about themselves and what they do, completely ignoring the fact that the other person is far away in their own little world. Nothing they say actually gets into the consciousness of the person they’re talking to.
If you want to get someone’s attention, you need to break into their reverie and make them listen. You need to stop them in their tracks, smack them between the eyes, interrupt their train of thought.
Think back to the day when I was walking down the street. How did my friend get my attention ( eventually )? By saying my name over and over until I realised that he was talking to me. How does this apply to marketing? Well, you need to make sure that anyone you’re speaking to ( or writing for if it’s a letter, brochure or website ) knows that you’re talking to them specifically. You need to break through the background noise so they hear you.
You can’t use their name, unless you have some weird sort of business that only applies to people called Kevin or Angela. But you can identify them in other ways. You can identify their situation, the problems they have, the way they’re feeling, the thoughts going through their heads. And the more closely you identify these things, the more likely you are to get their attention.
One way you can do this is by using rhetorical questions. These are really powerful for two reasons. Firstly, they force people to respond in their heads. It’s hard to ignore a question, we’re programmed to answer. That’s why so many public speakers use them to engage their audiences.
Secondly, they identify the people you’re talking to. For example:
” Are you a solo professional, running your own business with no one else to help you? Do you seem to spend more and more time every week on admin and less doing what you really want? Are you getting frustrated by the amount of time you’re losing, submerged under paperwork? Do you wish there was some way you could break out from it and spend your time doing what you’re best at? ”
This approach can break into a person’s thoughts because it taps into them. If you get it right, it’s like saying, ” Is this who you are? Is this what you’re thinking? Is this how you feel about things? ” As the person hears the questions, he thinks, ” Yes, yes, yes, that’s me, that’s exactly how I feel! ”
Not only does this get people’s attention, but it also shows that you understand them perfectly. That can have a tremendous impact. It immediately gives you credibility.
Of course, you do have to get it right. If you ask the wrong questions, you’ll miss the mark and the person you want to speak to will think, ” No that’s not me ” and they’ll switch off again.
This depends on how well you’ve identified your target market and how thoroughly you’ve thought through their problems and concerns.
So, have a look at any written material you use for marketing. Think about what you say when you talk to people at networking events. And make sure you have a message and a delivery that will really get the attention of the people you want to speak to.
Otherwise, you’ll be wasting your time talking about your business when all they’re thinking about is sausage rolls!
” Sorry, I was miles away “.