By Robin Robins, President, Technology Marketing Toolkit, Inc.
There is an old cartoon loved by many sales people that shows a machine gun salesman calling on a General right before he’s going to lead an army to war equipped only with pitch forks and swords. The caption on the cartoon shows the general saying, “Tell him (the sales guy) I don’t have time to talk right now; I’m about to go to war.”
This cartoon is favored among sales people because they feel like that smug salesman in the cartoon trying to sell to dumb prospects who won’t even take a look at what they are selling. What they don’t realize is that the SALESMAN is the idiot for not being able to effectively communicate the incredible value he has to offer.
I laugh at this cartoon but for an entirely different reason than everyone else…it is a perfect demonstration of just how bad most companies are at effectively communicating the value of what they have to offer.
Marketing communications in every written and spoken form is more important in the world of selling computer consulting services than many people think. Physical products sell themselves. You can see them, touch them, smell them, use them, and experience what you are buying before you commit. It’s also obvious and easy to tell when a product is broken or is not performing.
Services are far more elusive. Prospects worry that you are going to provide inadequate or wrong advice. They worry you are going to overcharge them or sell them something they don’t need. They worry that you are going to fall short on your promises and deliver less than satisfactory results. To make matters worse, customers don’t always know how to tell good service from bad service and fear they are in a position to make a very expensive mistake.
Because of this, marketing communications for service carry a much larger burden than marketing communications for products. They have to paint a picture of results that cannot be shown with a sample or tangible product. They have to convey trust. They have to make the service more real and must alleviate the natural skepticism prospects feel before hiring you. They have to make your promises believable.
That is why you have to talk RESULTS in your marketing. You cannot just talk about you company and what you do. You have to promise your prospects salvation from their problems. You have to demonstrate how you are going to save them money, make them rich, increase customer loyalty, give them a competitive edge, and make their life easier. Your communications have to assure them that buying from you is the smart decision to make, and that waiting, choosing another vendor, or choosing to do nothing is going to COST them dearly.
Your customers are interested in themselves, their life, their problems, their wants, and their worries. They ONLY pay attention when you focus your communication on THEM. They want to know the answer to the age-old question, “give me one good reason why I should buy from you now.”
What’s your answer?
The typical answer I hear is, “our guys are technically much better than the other consultants in our area” or “we do a better job.”
If that’s your own answer to that question (or some variation of it) be honest; is that a compelling, believable answer? Don’t you think that every other computer consultant in your area is saying exactly the same thing? Do you really think that gives the prospect absolute confidence to hire you? Does that statement position you to command a higher rate and instill confidence in the prospect?
I agree there definitely is a difference between a good technician and an incompetent one. There is no doubt that a good technician can save you a lot of time, money, and aggravation. But if your marketing communication looks, sounds, and reads like everyone else in your area, how can you possibly expect your prospect to know if you are the good one or the incompetent one, and how can you possibly hope to get a measurable response from your marketing communications?
My advice: Invest time into learning how to be a great wordsmith and communicator so you convey the honesty, trust, service, and integrity of your products and services; the benefits go far beyond the financial and competitive advantage it will offer you.
Plus, learning how to do this is not as difficult as you might think. Study and practice on the topic of copywriting for about 30 minutes a day will dramatically improve your communications skills in no time at all. But if you simply are not willing to do this, at least learn enough to know the difference between great copy and bad; then, hire a copywriter or marketing consultant who understands your business and customers to help write your marketing communications for you.