Why people aren’t buying from you

Because this is how you communicate your product:

The active ingredient inhibits the body’s own formation of messenger substances, the so-called prostaglandins, which increase the sensitivity of the pain receptors in the body. By inhibiting their formation, the increased excitability of the pain receptors at the nerve endings is reduced and the pain and inflammatory symptoms subside.

Of course, sooner or later marketing comes along and argues that you need a fancy packaging. With a beautiful logo on it and bright colors that make it stand out on the shelves.

But somehow that didn’t work, either.

So, performance marketing comes along and says that this is what you need to say:

Hey, look, if you don‘t buy just one of these litte white pills, but three, we’ll give you a coupon that’ll save you 10 bucks the next time you buy five of the pills. You’ll just need to scan the receipt and email it to this address …

Well, somehow that didn’t work, either. So, you build a funnel. And an Instagram channel. You design landing pages for each target group and host live webinars. You discover TikTok as the next big thing.

And then, you’ve really got a headache. Which makes you realize how easy everything was from the beginning:

Got a headache? This pill will make it go away.

So many communicators just forget to tell us what their product is for. Until people know, most of them just don’t care. But when they know and when they have that problem, they will want you to tell them more.

Wouldn’t it be great?

The phrase “Wouldn’t it be great?” has been the seed of many great products.

Wouldn’t it be great if we could freeze food so it lasts longer? Wouldn’t it be great if we could take music with us when we go for a walk? Wouldn’t it be great if we could send a letter to someone that arrives within a second?

Asking “Wouldn’t it be great?” leads us to products that solve a problem, serve a need, or right a wrong. It leads us to solutions that would actually be great if they existed. I mean, at some point in the past electric guitars didn’t exist.

Yet, when people present their finished products, often they loose themselves in the details, trying to explain the how rather than the why and the what. Most importantly, they forget to spark the enthusiasm that made them start on the journey in the first place. They would rather show us a bunch of PowerPoint slides rather than just play that gorgeous electrified guitar.

What is so great about your product? Seriously! Why should I be enthusiastic? What problem does it solve? What does it enable that was impossible before? Why are you yourself super-proud of what you achieved? How does it make you feel? Can you make me feel it?

These are the kinds of questions that get buried too often when preparing a slide deck. Yet, these are the kinds of questions that bring your presentation to life and make it more than a bulleted list of details. These are the kinds of questions that turn a boring presentation into an exciting personal story.

So, wouldn’t it be great if you could spark that enthusiasm in your audience?

PS: I’m happy to help because I sure think that you achieving this would be great!

Don’t sell bad news as great news

A question I get asked a lot is how to offer bad news.

The thing with bad news is that they won’t magically turn into better news if you put a sugarcoating on top.

So, if you ask me, then just tell the bad news. Make it short and stick to the point. It’s going to hurt, but it’s going to hurt, anyway.

One thing that this attitude does for you is that it increases your credibility. If you earn a reputation for meaning what you say then people will trust you not only when you offer bad news but also when you offer great news, especially then.

However, if you hide bad news behind a curtain of dust and smoke, or worse, if you sell bad news behind a façade of great news, sooner or later people will notice because sooner or later it is going to hurt. And so, whenever you have news, they will be unsure about what to make of it.

Don’t sell bad news as great news.

What will they say …

… when you leave the room? When you’re not there to correct them? Or to explain what you actually meant to say? Or that this was not the point?

Yet, it’s exactly what they heard and what they made out of what they heard. If you want them to say it differently, then you’ll need to give them the words to do so. Use a clear structure that helps them see your point. Use metaphors and analogies they can relate to so they understand exactly what you mean. And use words they can easily memorize in simple language that have a meaning in their minds (as opposed to your mind).

You’ll never know what’s in their minds and there’s never going to be a guarantee that they understand it the way you intended it to, but you can always try harder to empathize.

A diamond needs to be polished, not decorated

Purity is what makes diamonds beautiful.

You polish it and shape it to take it’s purest form.

What you specifically don’t do with diamonds is to decorate it with fluff and stuff.

Why then do you decorate the diamond that is your product with all sorts of gimmicks and fluff and stuff when speaking about it?

When polished what is it that makes your product shine by itself?

If time runs out …

If time runs out, we tend to switch our attention to what’s urgent. But it’s precisely then when it matters most to focus on what’s important.

For example, if I don’t have much time to prepare for a speech, the least thing I care about is my slides. Slides always scream “urgent”. But they are rarly important.

What’s important is that I get my point across. That I resonate with my audience. That I build a connection with my audience. That they can follow me so I can lead them.

Slides don’t help much with that if your content isn’t great. It’s much more important to reflect upon how your message relates to your audience. For example, if there’s only one thing they take away what is it? What do they need to understand that? What matters to them? What do they believe now and what do they know now?

It’s much more important to have a compelling story without slides than to have compelling slides without a story.

So, if time runs out, focus on what’s important.

WOW vs. AHA

A wow effect is relatively easy to achieve – if only because you can always throw money at the problem of making a show more breathtaking, more thrilling.

The thing is, though: a wow effect is rarely the point. When the show is over, when the wow moment is consumed, then what sticks? And for how long?

The aha effect is different. It’s what makes people care. It’s what makes people resonate with your message. It’s what makes people get what you have to say. The aha effect makes them see your point in a way they cannot unsee.

The thing is, though: an aha effect is something that money can’t buy. It requires effort. The effort of meticulously thinking it through and sweating the details. Of doing the hard work of empathy. Of walking in their shoes so you can speak their language. With clarity.

A wow effect can be a terrific tool to support an aha effect. To grab the attention that’s required to deliver an aha. But wow is never a means to an end. Wow is always a servant to aha.

Pink bunny won’t stop drumming

Duracell provides 25% of all batteries worldwide. When you think of Duracell, what do you think of? Quite likely it’s one of these commercials:

The pink bunny is Duracell’s mascot for as long as I can remember. The bunny keeps drumming when other batteries have long given up. That you remember this bunny so well, is no coincidence. It’s enabled by a conscious decision by Duracell that’s based on their brand’s promise.

The pink bunny makes a simple promise: peace of mind. You’ve got kids and want to avoid tears under the X-mas tree at all cost? Get a Duracell so that the batteries will last. You go camping and need your batteries to last for the whole trip? Get a Duracell. You’ve got a pool party and the batteries need to last until sunrise even at full loudness? Get a Duracell.

It’s even in their name: durable cell.

Duracell has consciously decided on their core value: durability. They have framed a promise that matches perfectly to that value. They have looked for a way to make us visualise that promise. And then they have stuck with it.

Only one message, one promise, one visualisation. Each and every public communication you ever saw from Duracell was in some form or the other related to durability, most of them accompanied by the pink bunny.

So, what do you stand for? Is it in your name? Do you have a simple promise? One that is easy to visualise and remember? Will you stick with it?

What’s your pink bunny?

How to look at things

Objectively your brand may be quite extraordinary. It may be innovative, years ahead even. It may adhere to ethical work practices. It may foster sustainable production. It may be funding social projects. While at the same time delivering the highest production quality.

Someone looking objectively should come to the same conclusion as you do: This is extraordinary.

Looking objectively might not be the point, though. In fact, looking subjectively is. People do look subjectively. They ask things like “How does this fit into how I see the world?” or “Is it useful for me?” or “Does it make me happy?” or “What will my peers think?” …

And they are right. Because they owe you nothing. In particular, they don’t owe you objectivity. They didn’t ask you to make that product. You made it and now you’re asking them to buy it. They will do so if they decide it’s for them. But they will decide from their subjective perspective.

What makes a brand so difficult to grasp and so difficult to communicate is that everyone looks from their own subjective perspective.

How do people look at your brand? What do they see?

Shouting is easy

Shouting is easy, getting people to listen is not. Yet, it’s all about being heard and not at all about talking louder. Or talking more. People listen when what you say resonates with them. And that means talking smarter, not harder.

Shouting louder seems like the easy thing to do. More posts, more ads, more promotions, a bigger show, shinier decorations. And it might work.

Or it might not.

What shouting does is provide you with a moment of attention. People look over. But they might just as well move on when they decide it’s not for them.

People will stop to listen when what you say resonates with them.

Instead of pushing hard to make them care about you, the smart thing to do is to care about them. To look at things from their perspective. To try hard to understand what matters to them. So that you can articulate what they feel but what they can’t put in words themselves. And when you do this, you won’t need to shout. They will listen – even when you whisper.

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Dr. Michael Gerharz

Dr. Michael Gerharz