By Tony Vidler
I listened to a great friend, who is also a client, a fabulous centre of influence and an advocate, explain what I do to someone.
He has known me for my entire career, but when he tried to explain to someone else what I do for a living it highlighted dramatically why prospective clients see advises they way they do. I flatter myself perhaps, but I think I am better than most in articulating what I do, in terms of benefits for customers, and doing it in plain language that anyone can understand….but apparently not.
His explanation (not quite verbatim) was essentially: “he’s a financial planner and insurance broker and a consultant. He helps you hide money from yourself really you so can’t spend it all…and can help your business do that too“.
I am sitting on the other side of the table listening and thinking “WTF? I don’t hide people’s money from people…”
My friend was putting his own interpretation into it of course, but in the context of how he perceives that I have helped him. His perception in personal benefit terms, together with his own choice of language, and enthusiastic pitch on my behalf all combined to transform my core offer and message.
It reminded me of a legendary story going back to World War 1 of an English officer who realised that the enemy had withdrawn slightly in his sector, and he saw an opportunity to attack relatively easily to exploit their error. He sent a runner with a message: “Send reinforcements, we are going to advance“.
The runner left with the message, and passed it verbally onto another person, who in turn carried the message onto another, and so on. Some 6 runners were involved in relaying the message from the front lines and carrying the verbal request back to General Headquarters (GHQ) some miles behind the front lines.
The message that was delivered to GHQ was actually: “Send three and fourpence, we are going to a dance“.
Baffled, they did nothing other than send runners back to find out what this cryptic message meant….and the opportunity was lost.
Each tired messenger, facing their own perils and physical hardships, passed on a huffing and puffing hasty message – with a slight variation. Each new runner listened and heard the message their own way. In short order the message was completely altered to meaningless nonsense.
So it is with so many of our own marketing efforts, and coaching of clients. We explain what we do to them. We actually do that for them personally, and they get to experience it. When they try to articulate their experience and beliefs of what we do the message changes. IF they were impressive enough to convince their friends that we are worth talking to, and their friends in turn talk to others, the message about what we do and how we do it changes yet again.
Then we wonder why the prospects do not understand what we can do for them. We have a world of people with often wildly differing views of what we do:
The recent experience of witnessing first hand how prospective customers come to see us the way they do highlighted the necessity of creating written collateral (digital and physical) that succinctly says what we really do. For our COI’s and advocates we need to subtly coach them to use the words we want used – that we know will actually send the message that we want the market to hear.
That way we are in with a decent chance of having prospects see us the way we want to be seen.0