For people who offer information and services to their customers, it’s the worst thing you can hear.
Tangible products are a little easier to describe and show value. Think pizza, beauty supplies, lawn furniture, and water purification systems. You can easily build a passionate community around these things because their inherent value is obvious. Pizza nourishes you and tastes good; beauty products make you look and feel pretty, lawn furniture makes a style statement and helps you relax outdoors with friends and family, purifiers fend off disease and clean a vital resource.
It’s the intangible, the stuff you can’t hold in your hands, that’s so difficult to describe. And that’s where information gets tricky to “sell.” You must use words and paint pictures to reveal your value to the people most likely to gravitate to you.
Entrepreneurs and teachers in the online information industries know and accept three facts:
- You must be active and social on the internet.
- You are the face of your business.
- You’re not for everyone.
The clearer the promise, the easier the sale.
Two information marketers I like to watch — and why.
I receive a daily email from an email marketer who uses negative customer feedback to his advantage. Ben Settle (I’ve mentioned him before) has a funny and somewhat inflammatory style that’s apparently hard to stomach for people who take things a bit too seriously. The punchline’s on them, though. They send hate mail, then he shares the mean things people say and points out why they are wrong, effectively selling more of his product to people who DO like him. An interesting and profitable tactic.
Most marketers don’t go out of their way to groom a disdainful following. Unless of course they are making money doing that. If your income flourishes amidst nasty feedback, then the more you provoke people the bigger your paychecks. Getting attention with antics people love to hate is part of the show for some entertainers, talking heads and savvy marketers. As many people in the media claim, no press is bad press. At least people are talking.
Another marketer I follow seems to have a new system or product every month. Tried, tested and packaged. I watch for Ryan Deiss’ emails because
1. I don’t want to miss something “important” (how’s that for stickiness?).
2. His marketing tactics are cutting edge.
3. When I put into practice one or two of his suggestions I usually see results. Ka-ching.
Even though he offers more than the average solo-preneur can implement on her own, he specializes in a few online niches that interest me. A tenacious sales and marketing machine, he doesn’t reveal many clues about his personal interests, but it’s clear he “gets” online consumer behavior. So I’m a fan.
Of these two information marketers, one is sassy to the core; the other is all business. Both deliver in their own style. Both clearly show what they do. And that’s why I follow and/or purchase from them.
“I get it.”
Do people get what you offer?
I believe (and feel free to disagree) that one of the main reasons people lose customers is because they are trying to please too many people. Trying to be all things to all people naturally leads to confusion. Maybe you don’t want to ruffle any feathers, so you tamp your personality. Or you offer a cacophonous mix of products and services. Vanilla may be the most popular flavor, but if you’re naturally tart, you’re never going to be able to fake it.
Confusing people is far worse than provoking anger or disgust. Because when people are confused online, they do the one thing you absolutely don’t want them to do…they leave.
When they don’t get it, they leave. And good luck winning their attention again. In most cases, you’ve lost them for good.
Clicking away due to confusion is far worse than clicking away due to irrelevance or repulsion. Confusion alienates because it wastes people’s time.
Confusing people ensures that they won’t return.
Confusion is the number one de-motivator. People want clarity. They are looking for quick answers, a swift connection, the solution to a riddle.
You’ll know your message is not crystal clear if you’re not getting any results. If that’s the case, then just try again: Send another email, post another ad, rewrite subject lines and headlines, insert a different picture, rethink your strategy to engage your ideal customers. You can test, tweak and try again every day. (That’s why the Internet’s so much fun.)
But if you do manage to get a second chance with a confused prospect, then it will probably be your last chance to provide clarity. Think back to a time you abandoned a shopping cart or hesitated to click on a call to action because you weren’t sure what was going to happen. Did you go back and try again? If you did, your motivation outweighed your confusion. And that’s rare.
Confusion is even worse than indecision, which you can overcome with the right tactics. If a potential customer is confused about what you do, it’s not his fault.
You’re just not clear enough.
The irony of “Clarity”
Being clear — and clearly stating what you offer — doesn’t mean you have to be one-dimensional. In fact, feel free to show your colors… it will only serve your business and connect you with the right people to serve.
Where colorful becomes confusing is when you veer away from what you do best, or fail to streamline your offer.
Who you are and what you do are two distinctly different things. They can live happily side by side. Some quick tips:
- Know what you do best.
- Practice what you do best.
- Identify and repeat your value.
- Test it.
- Describe to your customer why it’s valuable. Reverse-engineer this process so you can tell the story to your customer.
- Be consistent.
- Drill down… go as deep as you like.
- Simplify… get rid of the fluff.
- Share, share, share. (This last one takes some hustle, but it’s worth it.)
Say, while we’re on that subject, why not share this post with someone who could use a little clarity today?