Many advertisers think you’re stupid

… and this is an opportunity for marketing your own offerings.

Because simply by showing up as the person who thinks their customers are smart and deserve to be treated as such, you’re going to make a huge difference for them.

Dumb marketing slogans, lazy empathy, and sneaky sales tactics work as long as there is no better alternative. But once someone shows up who trusts their customers to make the right decision, things change. Because this someone understands that she needs to start with work that matters, with a product that’s actually great. And when she does, all she needs to do is to tell a true story about it – which creates trust because the product delivers on the story that’s been told.

Are you that someone?

A different perspective on price

A common approach to sales processes is to try to squeeze out the maximum price for an offer.

That’s because price is often an afterthought. There’s the product. And then there’s the price. The goal is to charge the highest possible price for the product and maximise the profit for the seller.

Yet, price is a story. People buy the price just as much as they buy other properties of our product. When they buy a premium priced product, they might tell themselves the story that deserve only the best. When they buy at a bargain, they might tell themselves the story about how clever they are. A million similar stories exist around price.

Thus, a different approach is to embrace that fact and treat price as one aspect of the product. The goal then is to try to squeeze out the maximum value for that price and maximise the value for the buyer.

What stories do your customers tell themselves around price? How can you deliver on that story and maximise the value?

A third kind of marketing

First, we had push marketing, then came pull marketing. We need to go beyond both …

Back in the old days, marketing was basically push marketing. In a disconnected world where mass attention was controlled by a few TV stations and a couple of magazines, whoever had the biggest budget could basically buy attention and get a huge advantage to sell their products.

With the rise of the Internet, things changed. Now, it was possible to reach masses of people without a big budget. Rather than to be unavoidable, marketers figured out a way to become irresistible. They built magnets, traps, and things like scarcity campaigns which customers couldn’t resist.

Yet, more and more people feel like they don’t really like being pushed or pulled. In fact, they dislike any kind of force. They feel quite comfortable deciding on their own where to go. This is why we see a new kind of marketing emerging that doesn’t rely on force.

Instead, this new kind of marketing is about giving our audiences a choice and letting them decide. This kind of marketing favours those who deeply understand what matters to their customers. By starting with work that matters and creating relevance, these marketers manage to resonate so strongly with what matters to their audience that customers will want to learn more … and when they do, they will want to buy their product because it will be a perfect match.

Rather than pushing or pulling someone, this approach to marketing is about lighting the path. This fall, I’m going to launch a masterclass on it. Register here to get notified (or just drop me a note).

Price as a message

In our regular Clubhouse session on leadership communication we had an interesting discussion about price. One of the participants reported that they managed to get a deal despite having the most expensive offer (by far) among 12 competitors.

Upon further dissecting the pitch it turned out that they got the deal not despite being the most expensive competitor but because of it.

The customer’s management told themselves the story that they only deserve the best. The high price communicated exactly that.

So, when it came to pitching the concepts, the decision was basically already made at the moment the customer heard the price. Everything that came after that was just there to justify why this was indeed the premium offer that they deserved.

This is an important lesson about pricing. Often, the price is seen as the result of adding up the effort of everything that went into building the offer. Yet, price is essentially a story. And so a different perspective on price is that it can also be the starting point of the story. The task of building a product is then to build a product that deserves to be sold at that price point. How does our offer need to look like so that – despite the premium price tag – it still feels like a bargain?

Showing up as a human

Companies speak to target groups. Humans do not.

And this makes all the difference between communication that builds a connection and one that doesn’t.

In a presentation, we may be speaking on behalf of our company and the audience may be part of our target audience. But that doesn’t mean we can’t treat the people in our audience as people.

Target groups don’t sit in an audience. People do.

Companies say “innovative” and “flexible.” Companies love cliché images. Companies hire marketing agencies to create glossy presentations and fancy slogans. They aim for larger than life stories that appeal to their target group – the masses, the average.

But humans are different. Humans are not masses or average but individuals. Humans prefer the tangible. The everyday language. Stories that are taken out of life as opposed to stories that are larger than life. When we narrate our story, rave about our product, or share a thoughtful insight, we can let ourselves shine through.

Humans prefer to have a conversation with other humans rather than being talked to by a company. When we show up for an audience, we may be speaking on behalf of our company. But we can still show up as a human being. If we don’t, the audience might as well watch an ad.

Tesla’s marketing

The easiest way to get people talking about your product is to start with a product that’s worth talking about.

That’s why, for example, the new Tesla Plaid S accelerates from 0—60 mph in less than 2 sec – or 1,99 sec to be more precise.

It’s the fastest acceleration for any production car ever sold. And it gets talked about a lot. It’s what spreads the word about Tesla’s updated Model S.

Tesla excels at this kind of marketing. It’s easy to overlook that this is by design: a clear focus on messages that spread.

Rather than mentioning the acceleration as one technical feature among a thousand other things that could be said about the car … rather than mentioning it as bullet point 3 on slide number 17, they started with the message and made it the key pass-along phrase: this is the fastest acceleration ever built in production cars. Even more: they designed the car so that it can accelerate that fast. The message is not an afterthought after the car was built. The car was built with the message in mind. It’s by design.

What’s worth talking about for your product? How can you make it the centrepiece of your communication so that it can spread because you made it super easy for your audience to pass it along? How can you build your product so that it becomes worth talking about?

All the things we’re not

Many companies are quite good at explaining what their product is not but not at all good at explaining what it is instead. When you push them they will keep reminding you that “no, this is not quite what we do.”

The problem with this is that we don’t have hooks in our brains for what a thing is not. There just isn’t a place for “not Netflix”, “not a streaming service”, or “not a film producer”.

Often, the effort that’s required to remind us of what you are not and why we got you wrong is better spent at understanding what we know already and what hooks we have already so that you can attach to these hooks.

Saying what you mean

Is actually quite easy: Just say it.

It’s amazing how much time we spend with looking for fancy ways of phrasing what we mean when the most powerful way of saying things is actually to just plainly say it.

Fancy is much overrated. Take one of the most famous advertising slogans of all time: “A thousand songs in your pocket”. There’s really nothing fancy about it. It’s just plain English.

But it’s concrete. It’s specific. It’s the result of asking “But what does it mean?” repeatedly until you’ve arrived at a plain English version of what “An MP3 player with a 5GB hard drive” actually means.

Relevance creates resonance. Fancy often misleads us away from relevance.

The stories we make

“I don’t tell stories.” the restaurant owner said, “so that’s not relevant to me.”

Which is half the truth. Because while he doesn’t tell stories, he surely makes stories.

By the name he chose for the restaurant. By the way he designed the interior. By the way, guests are greeted when they enter the restaurant. The way the tables are laid out. And the menu looks. What’s on the menu. What music is playing. By the smile on the waiters’ faces. And many more details … all of which turn into stories that his customers tell.

And it’s a lot of stories.

Even if we don’t tell stories, we still have a story by the things we make and the way we make them. Everything we do influences our story. And the stories that people tell about us.

Magic happens when we get conscious about it. When we see the story we make. When we understand and feel why our audience feels welcome at our place. Why they enjoy the interaction so much. Because then we can adjust the tiny details to make it even more enjoyable. To attach even better to what our customers love. And influence the stories our customers tell. Make them consistent. So that others recognise the stories’ origin.

What’s the story you make?

Using up trust

We tend to think about sales as a competition. About winning the pitch, making the sale, and getting the deal. And when we do get it, the deal is the end to the story, isn’t it? (A happy end for that matter!)

But what if you considered it to be the beginning of the story? The inciting incident of a story about a long-lasting relationship with a client …

Would that change the way that you approach your pitch? Your ad? Your conversation?

For many of my clients it does. Instead of using up trust to make a deal they shift to building trust to enter into a relationship. It immediately rules out hyperbole and favours the truth.

Telling a true story about the things that you care about is what builds trust. Investing the empathy to relate it to what matters to our audience is what creates resonance. And resonance has no end. There is no winning. The whole point is to keep resonating.

Spread the Word

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin
Share on pinterest
Dr. Michael Gerharz

Dr. Michael Gerharz

GET

Work with me 1:1

Create messages that resonate so strongly that it leads to change!
Focus your message to what matters most to your customers and communicate it with clarity

SEARCH THE SITE

Yes, I love talking to you. Call me at +49.2241.8997777
Or reach out at michael@michaelgerharz.com