I really like your sticky message message. It made think about VEI's message of Seize the green.
The 10 Foot Wall Goes Up
You are telling someone about your business, they are looking right at you, they are nodding their head, and they are not hearing a word you say. That’s because of the invisible 10 foot wall and the ten foot pole they put up to protect themselves. If you perceive that I’m trying to sell you something, your defenses are up instantly. You're 10 foot wall goes up and your 10 foot pole comes out. You may appear mildly interested, but your mind is on the defensive and you can’t wait for me to go away. We usually have these types of experiences quite often. In fact, it happens so often that our defensive response is automatic. In order to grow our businesses you have to successfully overcome the defenses that keep people from buying.
The Big Three Objections
When a customer is defensive here is what they are thinking:
The Reassure Rule
In this recession it is very true that people don’t want to risk a failed purchase or buy a disappointing product. The way to help prospective customers overcome their resistance and gain trust in you is to follow the three cardinal rules of selling:
Explain and reassure them on their time involvement, explain and reassure on the price or investment involved, and then explain and reassure on the satisfaction they can expect. One of the easiest ways to reassure is with stories of other successful clients. This really pays off. They are telling you no not because they don’t want to buy. They are telling you that they haven’t been reassured enough to put down their 10 foot walls and 10 foot poles. They just want to make certain they feel safe doing business with you. Good branding accomplishes this very simply.
Marketing Secrets of Napoleon Dynamite
Here’s one of my 10 foot wall and 10 foot pole experiences that illustrates some important points about overcoming someone’s defenses. When I first heard about the movies “Napoleon Dynamite” and “My Big Fat Greek Wedding” I told myself I would not see those movies. They sounded totally stupid and like a waste of my time. I did resist for a very long time. However, eventually I was overwhelmed by an army of evangelists who loved the movies and insisted I would enjoy them. I finally gave in and have watched them both several times. Have you had similar experiences?
Here is the inside scoop on these movies. They both were independent films with a limited release. Napoleon Dynamite cost only $400,000 to make and generated over $44,500,000 in gross sales. My Big Fat Greek Wedding cost only $5 million to make and generated over $368,000,000 in gross sales. The expert analysis is that both of these films became so successful because the audience related to the situations and characters in these movies. The key word is relateability.
Platinum Rule (The best way to sell anything)
So how do you overcome the 10 foot wall and the 10 foot pole when you encounter it? You start with the Platinum Rule. You’ve heard of the Golden Rule, “She that hath the gold makes the rules.” That’s a great way to say, the customer is boss. There is a lot of truth to that saying. If you please the boss, she/he will pay you. Also, consider the real Golden Rule, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” The Platinum Rule has a subtle but powerful difference, “Do unto others as they want to have done unto them.”
Although I had heard the Platinum Rule many times before, it really started to become more meaningful in light of the 10 foot wall and the 10 foot pole. In fact, the Platinum Rule is the easiest way to overcome that invisible 10 foot wall and 10 foot pole that potential customers use to protect themselves from your selling efforts. If you are presenting people with what they are looking for then you are viewed as a solution to a problem and not as a nuisance. It’s like you are on their shopping list.
The Before and After Photo – You Need a Sticky Message
Picture the person you are selling to as having a “before photo” in his or her mind. Before they meet you or know about you, this is how they view the world. Imagine this person has talked to you, seen your website, your business card, or brochure and now picture that same person with an “after photo” in his or her mind. If you have a sticky message and this person wants what you offer, they will remember your message and it will influence them to buy.
A sticky message is defined as a message that is memorable and creates meaning for your audience in a way that changes their thinking and behavior. There are many examples of sticky messages, PC and Mac commercials, Nike’s “Just do it,” Geico’s “15 minutes will save you 15% or more on insurance,” Taco Bell’s “Think outside the bun,” and messages like “Got Milk?” A sticky message creates meaning and moves customers to buy.
The Sticky Message Formula
How do you create a sticky message? You can read a lot of books, websites, and blogs about how to create a good marketing message or you can use this simple formula:
1. Clearly identify what your customer wants (think Platinum Rule).
2. Decide how your customer will best relate to your product, service, or company (think of Napoleon Dynamite and My Big Fat Greek Wedding).
3. Paint a clear mental picture in word, photo, graphic, video or any combination of these.
4. Reassure on the Three Big Objections
5. Test, experiment, and refine until customers respond by buying.
I was recently working with Rachel Dexheimer, a Biznik from Maple Valley, Washington. She provides a unique transformational experience of walking with horses. Well, we had to think through the formula. What do her clients want? They want a transformational experience. How could they best relate to it? We came up with the idea of relating it to swimming with the dolphins. Now when she introduces her service she tells them it is similar to swimming with the dolphins. People get it instantly. It has made selling and creating word-of-mouth much easier. (Rachel’s Website)
I had a similar experience with Toya Turner, a Biznik from Auburn, Washington. She provides a great service as a virtual assistant. We followed the formula. What do her clients want? They want to spend more time with customers and less on menial tasks and paper work. How could they best relate to it? We tell them that studies show their time is worth $200 per hour when they are working with customers. Her job is to make certain they spend more time with their customers. We then came up with a script that reassured them on the Three Big Objections and came up with the tagline “Make more money. Work less.” It made her sales much easier. (Toya’s Website)
Your marketing message is the best representation of your company. It is the promise you make and deliver. Is it time for an extreme message makeover? So, based on what we’ve learned we need our marketing message to do two things. . .
Paint the Picture then Reassure
Using what you’ve learned so far:
1. Get a clear picture of what your customers want and specifically define their objections
2. Use the Sticky Message Formula to paint the picture you want them to have
3. Decide how you will reassure on the Three Big Objections
4. Write it all out in a script so you can see it objectively and make changes as you go (use the script to train your sales staff)
I really think your business is too good to settle for a mediocre sales script, a mediocre marketing message, or mediocre branding. This recession demands nothing less than excellence. Seek advice from friends, peers, and mentors. It is a very difficult process to do for your own business. The goal is to get more sales with less effort. As you more easily overcome the 10 foot wall and the 10 foot pole you spend more time building your business and less time beating the bushes.
Learn more about the author, Kirk Davis.
I really like your sticky message message. It made think about VEI's message of Seize the green.
Hi Kirk, I see that automatic "no" a mile away, and I just run . Thanks for the tips and the visual! Jill
Selling isn't my specialty but I know fully well, the success of my business depends on how well I sell my product and services!
Thank you for these tips Kirk!
Kirk, thanks for the tips, especially the sticky message idea. I think that will work for many businesses.
I really like your sticky message! For your market, that should be very attractive. I have been seeing sales increase when my clients take the time to develop a sticky message.
Best of success to you!
I have done my fair share of running away when I see that "no" coming. It has been fun to work with it and around it by reassuring. No does turn into yes.
Your comment reminds me that as business owner we are all armed with a sales pitch. In this recession only an excellent sales pitch will do. It sounds like you are a fighter. We need that spirit. No giving up allowed.
That's a compliment coming from you. You are very good with marketing and marketing ideas.
Thanks for the tips. These days I find myself doing a lot of cold calling to follow up on some direct mail marketing my studio has been executing. All in all we've gotten a great return on investment for the marketing initiative. However, I, like everyone, hate to cold call. I still do it, and I do it without shame... that is to say that I put on my armor and just jump right in. But, I know I could be better on the phone. It's so difficult to make a personal connection with someone out of the blue, on a cold sales call. Any specific tips for making such calls more productive?
Ken Peters | Nocturnal Graphic Design Studio
I'm not in sales, but just as Eugene points out, I have to sell my value and creativity. I'll be taking the time to work through your tips and see what I come up with in a more succinct and clear way.
Oh - I did the same thing with My Big Fat Greek Wedding! :)
Thanks for your article.
What a great question! My simple answer is genuine flattery.
Here's how it breaks down. Before you cold call, do some research on the company. Use the research tools available on www.warmcallcenter.com. Sam Richter has written a great book on researching businesses called "Take the Cold out of Cold Calling." His website gives you direct access to tools to find out what is available about their business.
Tell them you are interested in their business and relate some of the complimentary things you have learned about them in your research. People are flattered that you have taken the time and effort to learn about them. They are a great business and you tell them so. I haven't had to make a cold call since. Strangers become instant friends.
There is one line in the article that I directed to you. The line that "good branding accomplishes this very simply." The reason I say that is because good branding reassures most potential customers that you are a reputable business and that you must be good without having to go through a 10 page sales script. So hopefully your simple sticky message lowers their defenses and gives them permission to at least consider your offer.
I've been on both sides of that 10 foot wall many times, I am very familiar with it! The message of "reassure, reassure, reassure" can't be overemphasized, I 'm sure.
Thanks for the great examples and clear points, Kirk!
Jill your website is Wow! I really like your tagline. You can see it at www.christienneoc.com.
I think I had businesses like yours and Eugene's in mind when I wrote the article. So many talented business owners don't tell their own story very well. In this economy it is vital that you do. One of the mistakes we make is talking about ourselves. Customers care more about you only as it relates to them. Often I have my clients rewrite their marketing to at least include the customer in the message and even better if they make the message mostly about them. It isn't easy. I hope the guidelines in article helps.
Thanks for the feedback. I'll check out that site.
Let me tell you what I'm doing currently...
My firm, Nocturnal Graphic Design Studio was recently ranked among the top 10 best design firms in Arizona in a public opinion poll sponsored by Arizona Business Magazine. We appear now in an annual publication called Ranking Arizona, which is a listing of top Arizona businesses in a multitude of industries.
What we did was create a direct mail piece announcing our ranking, and we sent it to targeted businesses who also placed on lists in Ranking Arizona. My follow up cold call usually begins with a congratulations for the prospects ranking, and then a segue into our own ranking. The attempt is to immediately compliment and then establish rapport through a shared commonality. The sales pitch goes from there, focusing on our message of providing clients with an unfair advantage over their competition through design that adds value, not just visual.
I have more than 250 people that we sent the mailer to, so a lot of follow up calls to make. Makes the $50 investment in the bluetooth earpiece worthwhile :)
Your website is a great example of making it about the customer (see http://thegardenofplenty.com)
This was a fun article for me because of the visual images that kept coming to me. Here is a new insight into reassuring. If you think about the biggest reason why a person would tell you no. It has to the Biggest reason for most customers. Then you make it part of your sales script. You say something like, "most people are hesitant to work with me because they are afraid they will have to make painful changes. The truth is when you look at your situation honestly, you see opportunities to make your life happier and easier. There is no real pain. That is an illusion." When you give someone the biggest reason people are hesitant, they tend to put all of their other objection into that one thing. then when you solve the one big concern, it seems to resolve all of the other concerns, sometimes. Of course, I am just making up the script as I go, but I hope that insight might be helpful.
That is why I am telling my clients about you. You are a top 10 business. What a great story to tell.
Same old Kirk Message, Great advice, fantastic tips and what does he ask in return? That we go and be successful You GOTTA LOVE THIS GUY!
Thanks Doug - You Rock!
This was a perfect article for me today & rates a perfect 10! The challenge for most people is to communicate value before the wall goes up, because once it's up it slow coming down... ususally brick by brick. And the catch here is learning to communicate your value "without" selling (either intentionally or just by appearance of it) - because selling too soon is the fatsest way for the wall to go up!
What a great point. I am aware of two ways to communicate your value without the feeling or appearance of selling something. The first way is by educating (start the conversation with, "did you know. . . , of course it has to relevant and in context) The other way is with a story (start with, "that reminds me of a story . . .)
I always say that educating is selling without committing them to take action or sign on the dotted line.
Stories as you know bypass almost all defenses. Our minds are hardwired to learn through stories.
One other little trick is the reverse rejection technique. I like to have my clients build in a rejection line into their sales script. (i.e. "let's talk to find out if your business is appropriate for our service." "If we decide you fit our criteria we can help you . . ." This is subtle way to reverse the power dynamics from the customer has the power to say no to you have the power to say no.
Sue, your comment caused me to dig deep and dust off the cobwebs. Thanks.
Kirk, I loved your message, it is very easy to follow and implement. I'd just follow up with the angle I've found works best.... FIRST and foremost, being really passionate about what you do and being very clear, to yourself, on how you make a difference to your clients. If it feels pushy to talk about/ sell your services, you may want to refocus what you are selling, or certainly, why you're selling. For example, this may be laughable to you but... I truly LOVE being a CPA and becoming part of the team for my clients; watching them breath easier because I quickly answer their needs and remove their fears about finances, taxes, entity structures, etc. as well as having a whole group of amazing professionals to fulfill the needs I don't, such as attorneys, bookkeepers, financial advisors, business development, virtual assistants, organizational experts (clutter cleaners), etc. I'm passionate about being able to remove the same fears that show up again and again with each new client I meet (taxes, IRS, a financial game plan). Once the fears are removed, I get them very excited about the thousands I can save them in taxes, or the investment tools and entity structures I teach them to maximize their tax strategies so they can build wealth and go play (my sticky message). I feel so excited about helping our clients get all the financial aspects of their company handled so they can have fun with what they do best. My passion is infectious and that's why I never have to sell.
Sticky Message, Reassurance, and my favorite- The Platinum Rule of treating others the way they want to be treated, can only lead to success for the new client and yourself.
Thank you for all your comments that added even more benefit to your article. I can just feel your passion in your writing... you really enjoy guiding your clients and educating them on how to get to the next level of their goals and dreams.
Passion is what stirs your soul and makes you feel like you're totally in harmony with what you are doing. That's how you occur in your articles, Kirk. That's what I aim for in all my endeavors, including helping all my CPA clients Build Wealth....GO PLAY! Is that sticky? :) Merry
thanx kirk! that was worth my time @ midnight on a friday!
I like your new profile picture. Swimming with the dolphins. Amazing how that fit. I think what fueled this article for me is seeing amazing Biznik businesses who have all of the passion and value you are talking about but they didn't see it from the customer's point of view. Just as you described, most Bizniks are a godsend to their clients. When you think, I have to sell people you create the 10 foot wall. I think Sue that so explained that so nicely. I wish everyone could meet you Merry and see how you do it. Merry knows her value to the right client and just like you, she doesn't need everyone to be her client. She has actually fired several clients because they didn't meet her criteria. She is so clear about the value she brings and when she speaks you can feel her passion to help the right kind of client and how much she enjoys what she does. She seems to have no worry or insecurity. Just confidence. She brings high value. So as you become more convinced of your value, there seems to be a lot of subconscious communication with a client and they recognize your value and are eager to do business with you and refer you. I saw Merry on two different occasions last week. She had just gotten off the phone and explained it was her third referral that morning. The next time I saw her the same thing. So the Merry Formula seems to be, clearly understand your value from the customers point of view, realize you only need a certain kind of customer, have your sticky message ready to go, (I love your sticky message Merry - it really grabs attention - it's like a hypnotic command, Build Wealth. Go Play!) love telling people what you do, and the rest starts to take care of itself.
I enjoyed reading your profile and your website. I agree, everyone needs a green architect (The right kind of everyone of course). I enjoyed seeing your sustainable green projects. Very nice!
It was nice of you to comment. One of the biggest compliments I appreciate is that something I do is worth the time. But to be worth the time at midnight, that's pretty good.
Your articles have great comment exchanges. There is something more to your message than what the article tells us.
How do you get this kind of response?
Thanks, Kirk for your kind words.
And in response to David's question to you, "How do you get this kind of response?" is most easily answered with the passion you have for what you are sharing: You know the tools you are teaching are keys to the kingdoms of sucessful businesses and you're excited to share those keys.
Those keys are part of the Hot 100 program you teach-- the top 100 best practices found again and again with highly successful businesses.
Why are those Hot 100 companies so sustainably successful (versus just a spike of success)? Their passion to get their value out to the market-- whatever they are offering is presented with such value that the 10 foot wall and the 10 foot pole go down/ never come up.
I know when I've worked with you, Kirk, I walk away floating with excitement about the "ah-ha's" you just taught me. That shows up in your writing too. You are so valuable that people see your articles and know they will find benefit from reading and they know you will follow up with related questions and answers. You are value.
I am also a fan of your articles and I like your common sense and genuine approach to business.
I don't know how I get this kind of response. However, I did learn some things from Merry's response to your question.
From one article writer to another I thought I would share my thought process behind the article. By the way - your new article on the 4 second rule fits right into our theme. Nice job!
Before I knew what I wanted to write, I began to mentally rehearse the response I wanted to see from the article. I also mentally rehearsed how many views I hoped to have. So far so good. My objective is to be relevant to the readers. Then as I wrote the article I designed the readers experience. This is what I want my clients to do with their marketing. That's why I enjoyed your article on the 4 second rule because you talk about how to get people to relate better to your marketing without shutting down. So I continued to look at the article from the readers point of view and asked myself what I wanted their reaction to be. It was really a fun process. As I wrote and rewrote ideas became more clear and more focused. I also had the luxury of trying out some of the ideas on my clients and received a favorable response.
I am very fortunate to work with many great clients and I get to see things through their eyes.
My big point is designing the reader's experience.
So much good here, Kirk. Maybe I'm biased, but I believe that telling stories is one of the best ways to connect with customers. In fact, my tagline is "Tell your story. Get the sale."
Two other big ones, I think, are empathy (part of your #1 in the Sticky Message Formula) and emotion. Until we reach people at the gut level, in an emotional way, it is easy for them to turn aside our offers.
This article is packed with useful information.
Thanks again Merry,
I appreciate your response to David's question. I thought I would briefly explain the Hot 100 so everyone would know what you are referring to.
Green River Community College is offering a unique Hot 100 program for businesses. The big idea behind the Hot 100 is that as a business gets better it grows faster. Studies on fast growth companies by Inc Magazine and Entrepreneur Magazine show that fast growth companies are 2 times more likely to be profitable than average growth companies and they also create wealth for their owners in just 3 short years. According to a study by the NFIB 6 out of 10 average growth companies just break even or lose money every year. In this recession, that number is probably worse. The Hot 100 program is a renewable 12-month program that takes the owner and/or management team through a three phase program of designing, building, and then accelerating the growth of the company.
The Hot 100 is based on 12 years of research and client testing to create a systematic approach that will work with almost any business in almost any industry. The purpose of the research was to discover the best practices of high performing businesses. We now have over 300 best practices in 7 areas of a business. Successful companies ultimately discover and implement these same best practices. Our goal is to make it easier and faster than they can do it on their own. We use a proprietary online action plan that helps our clients track and implement the 300 best practices. What everyone likes about the online action plan is that it automatically emails you every two weeks until you implement the best practice. So you don't have to remember or deal with the 300 all at once. The online action plan walks you through it based on the best practice that will have the biggest impact on your business based on your priorities.
Several of our clients are on the Inc 500 and other fast growth company lists. We are focusing the Hot 100 to help recession proof businesses. We have documented the results of our clients on our website and on our free design seminar.
A new client came to me recently that was burned out from doing everything himself for the last 10 years and only breaking even. 6 months later he is mostly out of the day-to-day operations and doing well in spite of the recession. He thanks me for helping him get to the next level of his business faster.
Thanks Merry for being a raving fan.
Thanks for taking the time Judy, I know you have been extra busy.
Creating a sticky message is challenging. I'm still having trouble with mine. That's why I mention in the article to ask for help. Good sticky messages do just what you say. You wrote a good article on creating sticky email newsletters which I think is even harder than creating a single sticky message.
Congratulations on your new website. It's a great example of all of the things you and Bob teach us. See it at http://catseyemarketing.com/
good writing and good article..wish I could apply here in California, but as you know we have our own unique crisis with 10 % unemployment and doubling state fee's and and need I say more about our state income tax situation....wish I had your economy here...oh well...I'm a native Californian, hate to think so, but it appears allot of us are moving your way..don't worry..I'm staying here...
Thanks for this great format. I have a very emotional and inspiring message (I'm a 9/11 survivor who now serves as a human wakeup call for others) and sometimes I have a hard time turning it into new clients. I will certainly go back to the well and revisit my targeting, messaging and script. Thanks! BTW - my 9/11 story is posted on my website so you can see what I mean.
Kirk's astute advice is equally apt for audiences when one is a speaker.
Thanks for the sage, practical advice. As a personal coach, I sometimes get so stuck in being transparent about myself and my processes - out of a desire to stay in integrity - that I forget to craft and deliver the "sticky message," focusing on the benefits I know my clients get.
Appreciate your time in giving us all the big picture.
Thank you for this. It is full of great reminders. It's easy to get caught up in the "what do I need" mentality and forget to appeal to the client and what THEY need, especially in this economy. My mantra this week is "what does the universe need that I can provide." If I think that with every person I come across, the results are so much more positive and productive than "how can I sell you on my product or service?" Thanks for outlining this point in such an organized way!
There is no doubt the economy is bad. I met with a client just the other day whose sales had been $120,000 per month for the last 15 years and in January of this year sales dropped to $30,000 per month. She was convinced that she was going to have to go out of business. I helped her with a 12 month cash flow projection and a very talented Biznik, Zeke Camusio, created a great online marketing plan for her. (Plug for Zeke - he is good!) At the end of her meeting she was reassured that she could make it. It's not easy, but the strong and the willing will survive and achieve a higher level of success. Ask for help and remember, as small business owners, we are the solution to the economy. Keep networking and thanks for commenting.
You have a great message and amazing passion as I watched your YouTube video. I find with my coaching clients that you have to make the value very apparent and very about the customer. You seem to have an unfair advantage because your story demonstrates what you teach. It gives you a lot of credibility. When clients see you as a solution they are shopping for it doesn't feel like they are being sold, it feels like a natural connection and paying for your services is just a formality.
I believe you will do really well. Thanks for being part of our conversation.
Kare, I like and agree with your message of "moving from me to we." In a quick review of your website I found it captivating. I do quite a bit of speaking and since I have written this article I am really working on relateability (the My Big Fat Greek Wedding secret to success). I recently spoke for a small group and we all gave our elevator or one-breath introduction. Then I asked each person to share a recent success story. The level of relateability increased dramatically.
I appreciate you speaking up for all the public speakers.
I enjoyed reading your profile and your website. Your comment reminds me of some of the musicians I work with. They are fantastic and unique. If you hear them at club or restaurant, just like when people meet you or me in person, they become a fan for life. However, unless you are in the mainstream (being played on the radio all of the time and therefore credible and top of the mind) how do you build an audience faster? That's where the sticky message and the relateability come in. So just like you, I'm still trying to work on it as well. Thanks for being authentic and telling it like is.
Thank you for a great article and for all the comments and follow up. I have learned a lot here that I will definitely be able to apply to my business.
Whatever you are serving in your profile picture, I'm sold. Your website is an amazing experience!
www.dining-details.com (Hey everybody, you've got to see it to believe it.) It is very nicely done.
I like your mantra. Thanks for mentioning the organization of the article. This was a harder article to write and organize than some of the others. That was a very nice compliment.
Welcome to Biznik.
You offer a very impressive list of services on your website. I liked how clear and to the point they are.
It encourages me think up new articles when when you say you've learned something. One of the reasons I prefer to publish with Biznik is the comments section. There is a lot expertise out there and in the comments we seem to get valuable insights that are difficult to come by in any other way.
Thanks for the the thanks.
Thanks for the great article Kirk! Very helpful and solid tips that I can use.