Caring on behalf of your customer

When you’ve got an important story to tell, it can be super-hard to focus on a clear and concise message. It really hurts to leave out the details. After all, it’s precisely because you care for the details that your product is so extraordinary.

It’s also the reason we buy from you. We buy from you because you care for the tiniest pieces and sweat the details.

But I myself don’t need to know all the details. I don’t need to become an expert in your craft myself to appreciate your craftsmanship. I don’t need to become an artist myself to admire your art.

On the contrary: I want you to be the expert so that I don’t have to become one. I want you to tell me the essence of your story so that I can decide for myself whether I want you to dig deeper. What’s easily overlooked: If I don’t want you to dig deeper, it might not mean that I don’t care. It might just mean that I trust you to care on behalf of me.

Oh, that’s me!

“Oh, that’s me! I’m struggling with the exact same thing.”

When a marketer sparks that feeling, it opens the door to my attention.

The default marketing communication is different, though. It sparks a thought that goes more like this: “Oh, that guy seems to be pretty proud of their product! I’m wondering why he’s showing me all these bells and whistles?”

Customers don’t show up to cheer for you. They want to be seen and heard instead.

If I’d be you

“If you understood everything I said, you’d be me.” – Miles Davis

I can’t look inside your head. I can’t know what you think of when you say “blue”. Or what images pop up in your mind when you say “butter”. What feelings you have when you talk about the “2nd quarter of 2020”.

You can help me see what you see and feel what you feel by being specific and describing in great detail, using analogies, examples, stories, comparisons, definitions.

Yet, this is only the first hurdle. Once your thoughts are in my mind, they still look different than in yours. I associate different things with the same images than you do. My memories and experiences are different than yours. When your images meet my context, when your thoughts meet mine, I might understand them differently than you do or come to different conclusions than you do – even if they are the same images and thoughts.

Keep that in mind when telling your story. You shouldn’t assume that others will understand every thought you pass along. If they would, they’d be you.

I’ve got a question for you

It is this: Which question have you been afraid of asking yourself?

When we decide where to go next, we’re looking for the right answers. But sometimes the more helpful approach is to look for the right questions.

Because, we will only get the answers that we were asking for. Avoiding the difficult questions, especially those for which we are afraid to hear the answer might be the reason why the breakthrough that we are working towards, hasn’t come, yet.

What’s a difficult question for you? What question have you avoided because you feel that you might not like the answer?

Almost dying changes nothing

“Almost dying changes nothing. Dying changes everything.”

This is a quote by Dr. House from the TV series. He says it to one of his assistants, who has been diagnosed with a fatal genetic defect, the Huntington’s disease.

House makes her see what she can’t understand: why one of her patients is slipping back into her (dull) role as an assistant instead of striving for a leadership position herself, which previously she had decided to pursue in the face of her (subsequently prevented) death.

A less harsh version is true for many changes that we pursue in our life. Almost facing a consequence is not the same thing as actually facing a consequence. We’re much more committed when “almost” turns into “actually”.

Deserving

I’ve worked really hard so I deserve this vacation.

I’ve saved my whole life so I deserve this new home.

I’m helping everyone anytime so I deserve this luxury.

My job is super hard so I deserve this gadget that makes it a little easier.

What makes your customers feel that they deserve your offer?

Why me? Why now?

These are the two obvious questions that are too often overlooked in communication.

I get that you are excited about your product. But why should I?

I understand that you need an investor to grow your business. But why me?

I see that it’s urgent for you. But why should it be for me?

You’re not communicating for yourself. You already know everything that you’re going to tell me. You’re already convinced. The purpose of the pitch, the website, the social media post, … is not to make me see what you see. It is to make it obvious why I should care for what you make me see.

“I don’t have time for that!”

… because I’ve got three meetings, a proposal that needs to be sent out, my email inbox has 127 unanswered emails and there are a bunch of other pitches that we need to prepare besides this one. We really need to get this done quickly.

Which is totally understandable.

And yet …

All of this is a choice!

The choice between crafting this one proposal meticulously well, fully committed to the outcome and between rushing a whole bunch of things half-heartedly.

Some work is better than others simply because the makers were focussed on that work much better. Rather than doing 5 things in an ok manner, they fully commit to making this one thing shine.

What exactly is it that you don’t have time for?

Everyone, anyone, or this one?

Even Star Wars is not for everyone. It’s highly unlikely that your message is.

And it shouldn’t be for anyone, too. Because “for anyone” almost certainly means average. And vague.

It’s much more powerful to craft our message for this one. And in a way that this one falls in love with it.

This is impossible to do if the message needs to appeal to anyone. Because for everything that this one over here loves, there’s someone over there who dislikes this specific thing.

Who do you see when you craft your message? How can craft it stronger so that she falls in love with the message?

I’m hooked. Now what?

Surprisingly often, this question is a lot harder to answer than it should be. The website made a great job of hooking me up. The video made a great point of why this is just the right product for us. The talk was brilliant.

But now? What shall I do? Where do I go from here?

Lighting the path for your audience includes making it obvious where to go next. Things can go wrong in a couple of directions.

First, there is no obvious place to go from here. There might be five places while I need one. But when it’s too difficult which of your five calls to action is the right one – at this moment in time – I might just give up.

Second, I can’t find a place to go from here. E.g. because it’s hidden deep down in the website. Or you forgot to mention it in your talk. I might not be willing to go hunting for it.

Third, it’s too difficult to get to that place. I’m hooked, but probably not all-in, yet. So I might not be willing to invest that much effort right now.

Make it one place, make this place obvious, and make it easy to get there. Then, when I’m hooked, I’m almost guaranteed to go there.

Dr. Michael Gerharz

Dr. Michael Gerharz

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