Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Make Your Message Clear

My hat is off to the entrepreneur who saw the intersection guy with the cardboard sign that said “Will Work for Food” and turned it into a business. Nowadays what intersection does not have the sign-waver with a professionally produced sign? “Mattress Sale,” “Liquidation Sale,” “Condos For Less” and the like must be working. They are everywhere. The messages are short and clear.

Let’s consider our “Will Work for Food” example. The message is clear. It is exposed to a lot of views. The prospect is well defined – people stopped in cars that have change or a couple of bucks to spare. The location is important, facing the driver’s side of temporarily stopped vehicles. The sign holders likely look as if they can do some kind of work. The “for food” bit suggests barter is acceptable and looks better than begging.

“Will Work for Customers” is our message. We can apply this message to finding customers and clients: a clear message, frequent exposure, clearly defined prospects and an organized presentation. I am concerned that many business owners make this more difficult than it needs to be. They think that their message has got to be more messagey, whether it is their business card or website, which is a digital business brochure.

Here are some tips on getting your message across.

Less is more

You do not need an hour long documentary when all you need is a half-minute commercial. If you start with five hundred words to describe who you are, what you do and how to get ahold of you (and I hope you do start with 500-words), whittle them down to fifty.

Use a pro

Unless you, your spouse, child, sibling or in-law is a professional – i.e., gets paid regularly for their expertise – do not think you can save money having them create your cards, brochures, websites, logo or signage. By all means let them help with the 500-words but that is it.

Organize your presentation

The key elements to keep in mind here are that you sell what you show and that you want your prospects to ask questions. When a prospect starts asking, they start owning. Do not interrupt them.

Expose your business

Carry extra cards with you at all times. The person standing behind you in a line, the person checking you out at a counter, anyone you speak to is one of two people: someone who is a prospect now or in the future or someone who knows another person who just might be a prospect now or in the future.

Remember your name

Unless your business is named “My Company,” always refer to your business by its name. In fact, go out of your way to repeat your business name at least three times when it comes up in conversation and you offer your card. Make repeating your business’s name a habit. Rehearse it.

Share some enthusiasm

With whom do you want to do business – someone who has got a job to do or someone who enjoys their work? While you are rehearsing your business name, do it with a smile. If it seems silly to practice in front of a mirror, my advice is Get over it.

We are all in the sales business whether we hire salespeople or not. That is why it is of utmost importance that we have a clear message and get it across to people as often as we can. The effort takes practice and consistency, to be sure, but the rewards are gratifying when we do. You will see them on your bottom line.

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