By David Mastovich
Have you ever driven past a billboard that would cause an accident if anyone actually read the whole thing? Or wished a salesperson would stop blabbering about how perfect his product or service is? Worse yet, have you ever sat through a presentation that featured a bunch of PowerPoint slides being read to you by the speaker?
In cases like these, the advertiser, salesperson or speaker misses the opportunity to truly reach and influence their target audiences. Time and money are wasted. Productivity suffers. Its time for an extreme messaging makeover. Here are five ways to achieve one.
Focus on One Big Idea
Were bombarded with messages from the time we wake up until we crash at the end of a long day. We cant afford to spend more time processing information unless were sure we need it. But we remember creative messages that make an emotional impact. We relate to them because theyre focused on a single main idea. Think about ads or slogans you probably couldnt forget even if you wanted to, such as Can you hear me now?, Dont leave home without it and Got milk?
Try to remember the last time a salesperson made just the right pitch, or you thoroughly enjoyed a presentation or speaker. The message was focused on you and one big idea you still remember today. The next time youre creating an ad, talking with a customer, or composing an e-mail, improve your message by asking yourself: Whats the big idea?
Tell Your Story by Telling Stories
Stories resonate and help us relate to others. We remember vivid details of stories from our childhood. The most influential speakers tell memorable stories that stir multiple emotions. The most successful advertising campaigns use storytelling to make a lasting impact. The best media coverage is created by compelling stories.
When talking with prospective self-storage tenants, take your messaging to another level with meaningful and memorable stories. Build your self-storage brand by telling multiple stories that become your key message points, convey your real narrative and create the image you deserve. Tell your facilitys story in a way that focuses on your target audiences. Make it about them and their wants and needs.
Instead of sending boring press releases to the media that end up being ignored, tell interesting, real-life stories people will want to read and hear. The media then becomes your conduit.
Use Startling Stats, Numbered Lists and Acronyms
People tend to remember memorable facts or numbers rather than theories or abstract ideas. Beginning with a relevant fact or statistic can be an effective way to grab a customers attention and provide him with an easy-to-remember point. Trident gum famously used the phrase Four out of five dentists surveyed would recommend sugarless gum to their patients who chew gum in its advertising for decades. Why? It was a startling statistic that made a memorable impact. Trident provided a key takeaway that gained credibility with its target audiences.
We also remember numbered lists better than a simple statement of facts. If you number points in accordance to importance or relevance, your audience will at least remember the top few and maybe more. Think back to when a speaker used this technique and said he was going to talk about three major points. Once he said the first two, you were waiting for the third. After the presentation, you probably even tried to remember the three main points to tell others who were not at the presentation.
Acronyms and abbreviations are also an effective way to help your customers remember things they might not normally retain. Within many organizations and industries, this practice is so popular that a maze of acronyms can actually lead to confusion. When that happens, you might find a CQI team is developed to focus on PI and maximizing ROI to reduce stress and avoid increased visits to doctors in the companys PPO or HMO. Try not to overuse this tactic.
Get Them to Feel Something
Your messaging must make an emotional impact with your target audience. They have to feel something. When we listen to a political candidate, entertainer, coach, religious leader or rock star, we typically feel something. Were emotionally tied to the subject and the speaker. These communicators know how to stir emotions and engage their audiences.
While you might not see yourself as a rock star or view your message near the level of a coach or politician, you still need to think about how you can make an emotional impact on your customer. Dont fall back on the same old speak. Do you touch on emotions like excitement, fear, happiness or sadness? If not, youre reducing the likelihood of your message resonating and being remembered for more than a brief time.
Touch emotions to capture peoples attention. Focus on what customers stand to lose as well as what they stand to gain. Put the message in their terms and focus on the impact on them, positive or negative.
Tell the Truth
Most marketers have heard the phrase truth in advertising. Theres even a spoof on YouTube about the lack thereof. The term spin doctor pretty much covers the perception of truth in PR. And as far as sales, nobody likes to be sold, right?
As our parents and kindergarten teachers taught us, telling the truth is the ethical way to go. Its also the practical approach. Telling the truth is essential to successful public relations. Pick your favorite media gaffe that resulted from a public figure being less than truthful. The media will find and report contradictions and the story can potentially reach the masses within minutes online. If you hide behind a no comment or offer a less than truthful response, youll be perceived negatively when the reporter eventually does break the story (and someone will).
With regard to truth in sales, think about how you feel when a salesperson goes on and on. You probably wish he would shut up and listen to what youre saying so you can tell him what you want. Salespeople need to listen, ask probing questions and match needs based on the strengths of their product or service. Admit weaknesses early because the prospect will usually figure out your product isnt perfect. Focus on true strengths and leave the hyperbole to your competitors.
Truth in advertising does exist, and the winning companies adhere to it. Truth in PR must exist or you and your facility will lose credibility. Truth in sales will help you stand out from the competition and ultimately lead to more business for your facility.
David M. Mastovich is president of MASSolutions Inc., which focuses on improving the bottom line for clients through creative selling, messaging and PR solutions. In his recent book, Get Where You Want to Go: How to Achieve Personal and Professional Growth Through Marketing, Selling and Story Telling, Mastovich offers strategies to improve sales and generate new customers; management and leadership approaches; and creative marketing, PR and communications ideas. For more information, visit www.massolutions.biz .