Spoiler alert: practical, field-proven messaging aid and framework available at the end. No signups or money needed!
“Whata mistaka to maka!” was an often-used exclamation in a wonderful family sitcom called “’Allo, ‘Allo!” that I used to watch growing up in the UK, where I’m originally from. It was set in World War 2 France and centered on the activities of a local restaurant owner who helped British airmen escape capture after being shot down. Yes, a situational comedy set in WW2 France! It was fabulous.
There was a character in it who was supposed to be an Italian army officer, working with the German occupiers. His name was Captain Alberto Bertorelli. He had a ridiculous hat and Italian accent. In this sit com things rarely went quite according to plan, either for the Germans or the French Resistance, but always came good in the end. Whenever something went wrong, as it frequently did, this Italian officer would often be around and would make this exclamation.
In working with over 1,200 sellers around the world in the last few years, and receiving over 500 marketing messages & emails myself every single week for years, I’ve noticed the same mistakes being made over and over again.
And often I find myself using the same exclamation as Captain Bertorelli – and not always with my ‘inside voice’!!
By mistakes, I mean sellers and marketers are doing things, or not doing things with their messaging, that effectively kills any chance of success they might have had.
In this short series of articles I will share with you the main 8 that I keep seeing. There are others, but these 8 make up about 90% of the mistakes I see. I know from experience over the last 6 years or so in particular, that these are the biggest killers of marketing and related sales success.
Mistake #1 is perhaps the biggest in terms of negative impact on marketing & related sales success. It’s also the quickest to fix. But it is perhaps the hardest to fix in one sense because it requires the adoption of a very different mindset. But get this new mindset adopted, and all the other mistakes become both easier & quicker to fix too, AND also inherently less frequent, in my experience.
So what is this numero uno big marketing mistake?
Mistake #1 is that the message leads with your ‘stuff’. What I mean by your ‘stuff’ is the products & services you offer. The focus of the message is you and your stuff. And perhaps (but no guarantee) how it connects to the readers’ own challenges, problems and desires.
Why is this an issue? And shouldn’t you talk about your stuff at some point, otherwise how will the reader, a prospective client, know what you have to offer that they might need?
The answer to that last question is ‘yes’. Yes, you should talk about your stuff. But not out of the gate at the start of any messaging and outreach to prospective, or even existing clients.
Which brings me to the first of the 2 questions above.
It’s an issue for 2 reasons. I’m going to assume you make this mistake because frankly, just about everybody does. Apologies if I assume wrongly, but read on anyway – be clear why and how this is an issue to avoid. Firstly, it’s what ALMOST EVERY OTHER MARKETING MESSAGE does. It’s a big part of why you and all your competitors look, sound & feel essentially the same to prospective and even existing clients. And in doing so, you all make life harder for a prospective client to decide which solution to go with, and from which supplier or partner, not easier. Given that by definition in the mind of the prospect you all have a viable solution, the only thing they really have to go on to make a decision is price and availability… which is why so often the first contact you might have with such a prospect is a request for a quote and ‘best pricing’, which is code for ‘lowest possible’. Right out of the gate you’re probably in a price battle, with little chance of engaging with the prospect on what they’re trying to achieve and why, and how best to tailor your offering – they’ve gone too far in their decision making process, the toughest part of which they know is behind them – why would they backup and revisit the toughest parts of that process again, especially when they’ve now finally narrowed things down to just 2 or 3 options and prospective suppliers?
The second reason, perhaps the biggest from the prospect’s point of view, is that they could care less about your stuff, who you are, who your other clients are or have been. They have 1-3 critical challenges or problems to overcome, or major opportunities & desires to fulfil. They care more about what’s going on for them.
They’re incredibly busy, they at least tolerate, in most cases, their current situation, and so are already predisposed to not having to make changes in their world if they can help it. And then your message comes along, just like all those from your competitors, interrupts them, perhaps at a critical time (and so pisses them off – great start!), and then out of the gate your message blathers on about your stuff. That is a recipe for failure my friend! They can’t press the delete key or the next button quickly enough.
This is the single biggest killer of marketing & related sales success that I’ve seen. And it’s the same the world over. I’ve worked on every continent except S America and Antarctica, though I’ve worked with S American businesses. And I see the same thing – no matter what the language or cultural norms are. This is a true killer!
What’s the fix?
The fix is to make your focus be all about them. You’re not trying to make a sale in this message – you’re trying to get their attention so that you can see if you can genuinely help them, and if you can’t, you want to get out of their path as quickly as possible, and not waste your precious, limited time, energy & money on them any further at the moment. And neither do they want to waste theirs.
So you do some homework, find out what are their likely top 3 issues, challenges, problems and desires, pick 1, and ‘go to town’ on it… you get them curious about what options are open to them, what pros and cons there are that they might not have considered, and so on… you get them to want to have the rest of the conversation with you.
Help them understand why they may need to change, why change now, and why change to ‘this’, where ‘this’ is an alternative path to the one they’re currently on. Your intention is to disrupt the relative safety they feel in being where they currently are. Help them see the reality of their current situation, that it is more expensive, painful & risky than they thought to stay with their current situation – unacceptably so. Until you do, they see no compelling reason to shift, no matter how amazing the alternative may be. In close to 61% of situations where the prospect clearly understands and acknowledges the much better path and outcome available to them, and they have the authority & resources to make the shift, they don’t. They stick with their current situation. It seems to be something in the way the brain is wired up.
So help them see the true nature of their current situation. Your messaging needs to start this disruption, and do it enough that they will at least want to learn more, to have the rest of the conversation with you.
And if you’ve chosen the wrong top 3 issue for some of those you reach out to, they will very likely not notice – it doesn’t harm your future chances with them!
You will find very specific instructions, tools and details on how to put this in to practice with your own sales operation, when you download <<this>> resource. It’s free as in $0, and free as in no email sign up of any kind is needed. This is all about you – not me!
In it I do make brief references to all 8 mistakes, and how you can use this tool, which is about a high impact messaging framework, to avoid making these 8 mistakes yourself.