Following The 5 C's: Your Content (Part 1)
From Career Tips, 2022 Volume 7, July 2022
Here are my 5 C's of an Effective Marketing Message:
Now that we've covered Context through Conversational, let's circle back to the first C: Content.
There's a reason I did it in this order:
HOW you deliver you message has much more impact than WHAT you say.
The sweet spot is where you both have a great message AND deliver it well.
But don't forget, the content of your message will also serve as material for your business card, website, brochure, resume, emails and other situations where you don't get the benefit of your delivery. In those situations, the content must engage the reader on its own.
Now there's a lot we could talk about here, so today I'm going to focus on one piece - the 'marketing headlines' that should be the building blocks of your message. Next time I'll show how to build that out into a more complete presentation.
Here's the basic concept to keep in mind in all of your content:
The purpose of your marketing message is to get people wanting to know more.
You don't do this by delivering information, rather by focusing on building curiosity and engagement. You would like the reader or listener to take action – to reach out and engage with you. You do this best by creating an emotional connection, and firmly focusing on WIIFM ("What’s in it for me?"), where the "Me" is the person receiving your message.
Start by thinking about what you say if someone asks, "What do you do?"
Here's the challenge I posed recently to a networking group I run:
Come up with a one-line answer that describes a benefit you offer
to your prospect, customer or company, without including either your title or any of your duties.
For example, I could say, "I help professionals land the job and pay they deserve." In fact, I have a shortened version of that on my business card.
Notice that it doesn't say "I'm a career coach who…" There's a good reason for that.
As soon as I include the title, it reduces the emphasis on the benefit I provide, categorizes me, and attaches to me whatever baggage the listener (or reader) might have in their head about career coaches. Instead, I just go straight to the benefit I can provide to a client ("land the job and pay you deserve"). The rest of the information about what I do and how I do it can come later in the conversation, once someone has expressed interest in knowing more.
Take a local banker as an example. When you are at a networking event and hear "I'm a small business banker with XYZ…", don't you tend to tune out the rest of what they say? I know I do.
I already know what bankers do, and already have a checking and savings account, so unless I happen to be very dissatisfied with my current banking situation, I don't listen very carefully. And even if I am dissatisfied, I know I will encounter multiple bankers at any event, so there still isn't that much reason to pay attention to this particular one.
What if that banker instead said this?
"I help small business owners
struggling to secure the financing they need to grow their business."
That strikes more of a chord, because it's entirely about how they can help someone. I might then ask them how they do that, engaging them in a conversation. Even if I already have a banking relationship I'm happy with, I might say to myself, "I'm not sure my bank really focuses on that, it's worth having a deeper conversation with this person."
A common mistake people make with their marketing headlines is to try too hard to convey the breadth of what they do. This tends to make the message either too generic or too messy to be memorable. Remember, you are just trying to engage people, and when they are engaged you can get into more detail.
For example, that banker might try to say:
"I provide all of the banking services a small business owner needs to succeed."
That focuses on a benefit, but it's so general that it doesn't give me much (as listener) to sink my teeth into. I also might be a bit skeptical that they can live up to such a grandiose claim ("all the banking services I need"), and therefore decide not to bother to engage.
It's much more effective to pick a specific service and focus on just the benefit of that one, and then let others come out in the course of further conversation as the other person expresses a need or interest.
So here's my challenge to you:
- Make a list of your ideal customers or target companies. (If you are happily employed, just use your current company.)
- Brainstorm the problems you can solve or solutions you can provide.
- Come up with a simple one-line 'marketing headline' for each of those.
Send me what you come up with, and I'll respond with ideas to make them more effective and engaging.
This will equip you with many possible variations on your answer to "What do you do?", as well as with ammunition for many directions in which the conversation might later go. As you practice using them, some will feel more comfortable, and over time you will start to focus in on just a handful that work for you.
Next time we'll look at building these headlines into a more complete message or elevator pitch.
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