On a very rainy night in Austin, and at the last minute, I was invited to attend a parenting event, hosted by an education consultant I knew. The topic was helping parents devise healthy ways to communicate with their teenagers.
In spite of the weather and the inconvenience, of course I went. Lord knows I have plenty to learn. Why the room wasn’t standing room only is beyond me. The ingenious tactic for making logical conversation with teenaged children was worth the dangerous drive over hill and dale.
[Hint: It’s in the book Parenting Teens with Love and Logic, by Jim Fay and Foster Cline. It’s changing my life.]
Although it was a small group of six parents, we each had our own reasons for being there. Without inviting each complicated story into her presentation, our group facilitator summed up a common problem in a way we could all agree on.
- Everyone struggles.
- There are three categories all struggles fall into.
- It’s good to allow others to struggle appropriately.
- There are ways we can help.
Now, the first and the third statements are easy enough to intuit.
“Everyone struggles.” Got it? Even people who make it look easy, have some skeletons rattling in the closet.
(Or, where I come from, “No pain, no gain.”)
Natural consequences usually do the trick unless the other person is in real danger, and/or is so clueless, they don’t even know it. Not that your teenager would ever be that brainless.
The second and fourth statements required a trained psychologist to guide the way. I was clueless on the three ways people struggle, and I certainly was not sure I could help. Half the time, my teenagers don’t even want me to speak!
The three reasons for human struggle seem so simply divided, that you might think it’s silly to find a way to mush them all into a blog post about marketing. I mean, this conversation was about parent-child dialogue, and making connections with teenagers, who are a little insane, let’s be frank.
What do teenage struggles have to do with marketing to your customers?
Connect the dots with me and you’ll see how valuable this parenting lesson could be in your business. Back to those three reasons people struggle…
People struggle because of:
- Their own choices.
- Others’ choices.
- The hazards of life and nature (natural disasters, death, illness, war).
So there’s really only one way we can ease our own struggles and help others with theirs.
Help them see that door #1 is the key to happiness. Your choices cause struggle… and you get to choose how you respond to your struggles!
Even if numbers 2 and 3 are making you miserable, if you frame the struggle within choices you control, then you will always enjoy freedom.
Did you learn this growing up? I guess I knew it intuitively on my wiser days, but I never heard it stated this clearly. This simple truth was obvious in hindsight, though.
As you remember any difficult situation, you’ll see that how you chose to view an unsolvable problem, or another’s unforgettable words… or that storm that ruined your wedding, or the election you lost, or the promotion that went to the guy who stole your work, or the beloved who left too soon…
You make a decision to project an emotion — or not — onto everything that “happens to you.” Your attitude about the event made all the difference to your happiness, or lack thereof.
You get the choice to behave, perceive, resist, or participate. All you, baby. Free choice.
As a marketer, your job is to respect the choices of your customers.
And by respect, I’m not talking about leaving them alone to fend for themselves. It’s helping people make better, easier choices.
As a marketer, too, your job is to point out the choices available to your customer. Remind her that she has a choice and show her what each option looks like.
- Sometimes the choice will be between two products you offer, or a degree of services or access, for example.
- Sometimes the choice will be between you and one of your competitors. The best salespeople I’ve ever known are intimately familiar with their competition’s similar products. The really amazing sales people I’ve known even send their prospects down the street if they can’t provide a good solution — even though amazing salespeople usually come up with a great solution!
- Sometimes the choice is No.
- The worst, and most common choice in certain fields, is no choice at all. This is horrible choice, as you may know. Go for No.
You have a duty to help them make the right choice. You can’t do that if you have the wrong product, or if you dislike your solution, or if you don’t understand (or even value) the genuine struggle your customer is dealing with.
You can help anyone make a choice they’ll love, just by recognizing that they have an authentic choice to make and that your marketing influences that choice. Put that way, it’s pretty cool marketing your own business, don’t you think?
Working with a lot of self-employed business people who do what they do really well, I sympathize that so many don’t have the knack for marketing their own stuff. It’s simple, but not easy, when you get into a funk in your head about whether your stuff is good, or “worth the money,” or unique, whether you’re tooting your own horn, or any of the other reasons you talk yourself out of really serving customers in the here and now with what you’ve got…
Cuz that’s all you’ve got. May as well make the best of it, right? The truth of the matter — it’s probably pretty good!
So marketing is simple, just not easy all the time… Recognize that people have a choice. And you want them to know in their bones that choice is YOU!
Help them make that choice. Really help them.
Here’s the magic pill: It comes down to relieving a struggle of some sort.
If you can’t name the struggle, then go back to the drawing board. Empower and celebrate your customer to make a clear choice, and (sale or no sale) you’ll have an advocate for life. Yes, your customer struggles, and as savvy consumers, their eyes and ears are wide open, in search of relief.
Back to the teenager discussion. That fourth part, the resolution to the problem, is too involved to cover here. (Maybe it’s another blog post.) But the moral of the story is similar.
When you empower another person to make a decision based on good information, genuine care, and respect for their health and happiness; your marketing will do its job well.
Helping your customer make easier decisions begins with good copywriting. On the web, in person, and in video, the words you use provide clarity and spur action. Spend just one minute for each of 21 days, and learn the fundamentals of copywriting. Sign up for the FREE course by clicking here.