Have you ever been on a date (if your answer is already 'no,' and you're over 18 years old, put this article down and make some phone calls. We have a human race to perpetuate here) with someone who talked at length about themselves but never seemed to ask anything about you? Or, on the other hand, have you ever talked with someone who asked you so many questions about yourself and your story that you left feeling like you've just been robbed? These things, and more, happen all the time in business as well. In the effort to get a business going and products selling, there's so much that goes into it that effective communication tends to get lost in the shuffle. Entrepreneurs who excel at product development, operations, finance, or other non-marketing functions may wake up one day realizing they have an audience and it's time to figure out how to talk to them. Here's a brief guide on the fundies of developing an effective messaging strategy.
I've found that the best way to think about this is to remember that you're human (in case you forgot) and your audience is human (if they're not, please let me know in the comments what species they are or what planet they're from). With this in mind, you can simply imagine yourself on a date with them. This presumes that you have some basic understanding of how to connect with another person one-on-one. I'm a MAN so I'll write from the perspective of a man on a date. If you're like me, or the entrepreneur aforementioned, you might have no idea why this girl agreed to go out with you. That's ok. The beauty of dating is that you'll have at least an hour, or more if it goes well, to find out. Let's break this into a few points, because I know my audience, and reading endless blocks of meandering text aren't their thing.
Did you ask her out because you're looking for a wife? Are you just lonely and need some validation so you can fleetingly feel good about yourself? Did you just think she's pretty and do no additional thinking? Whatever your reasons, it's good to be clear on what they are. This will largely determine your behavior and communication strategy throughout the date night. You'll probably talk much differently to a girl you're trying to create romance with than you'll talk to a girl you're dating as a favor to her worried and desperate mom. Figure out your goal. Write it down. Are you in business to get rich? To solve a problem? To be revered? To stress out your wife?
It's natural to want to talk about yourself. You may just be a narcissist, but even if you're not, you probably feel like you need to sell yourself to her a bit so she knows you're definitely not a loser. But beware. She might be a narcissist, or she might be a person who came into this world cursed with good looks and isn't sure anyone really cares who she is. She might want to know that you're human and actually care how she feels or what she likes. Maybe she gets asked out 16 times a day and all the pitches have started to look alike. Take the time to get to know your audience. You probably feel like you need to sell constantly, but customers are absolutely immersed in a deluge of ads every day (because we're total babes) and get sick of being pumped for cash. We're real people with cares, worries and desires. If you just take a minute to find out what those are, things will go much better for everyone (or you'll find out this girl isn't what you thought and it's time to change audiences). Don't waste your time and money taking a girl on 7 dates who secretly hasn't been interested since date 1, and never will be.
The beauty of asking questions is that you don't have to think of something clever to say. You can let her do the talking. But at some point, you're going to need to give a little. Here's your chance to demonstrate why you're a stud. Is it time to brag? Well, no. That's no good. You just want to tell some good, genuine stories that make her laugh or touch her heart. Your studdiness will be embedded somewhere in those fantastic tales, but the story is the point, not your features. Companies do this all the time. *Robot voice* "I have identified data quantifying the features and benefits that make customers buy. Here is the list. Now buy." It's better than nothing, but better than better would be to communicate who you are through stories, implicitly communicating those features and benefits while delighting your date. Let your customers know who you are and why you do what you do. Instead of "My vacuum really really sucks." You might say, "We got into this darn business because we love to entertain in our home and our guests feel welcome when it's clean. Our vacuums bring people together." Or you could tell it in a funny way with an anecdote about spilled tapioca pudding and a dog and a mariachi band. Who knows. You're allowed to have a personality. As long as it's not an awful one.
Don't forget to figure out who you are and what you bring to the table. You may not be planning to bombard people with this (except inside of riveting stories of pure delight), but you should know clearly who you are, why you're doing what you're doing, and what value you're bringing to the table. Write it down. Make a long version, then make a 30 second version, and practice saying it out loud. People are more likely to follow your brand if they know what the heck it is and what you do.
You don't want to be one of those perpetual daters. It's not good for the soul, and in business, it's not good for the bank account. In marketing, we call this a "call to action." But basically it's just asking for what you want, and having a little tact at the same time. "MARRY ME NOW" could work. Honestly, I never tried that one. "BUY NOW" is effective many times, but you might also consider other options depending on where you're saying it. If you walked around shouting, "BUY NOW!" in a crowded theater, everyone would run away and it could cause a real hazard. On a small button on your shopping page, it's probably fine. But in an email? Maybe not. In a talk at a trade show? Maybe not. Consider what you've learned about your audience, what makes them buy, and who you are, and choose a call to action that is consistent with all of these things. It could be something like, "Start feeling better," or "Try it today." Be creative. Be genuine. Or as they say in the dating world, "Be yourself." Which, of course, is all you can do since you have no choice. Everyone is themself. -ves.
There's always this one other option. Have you seen any of those movies where the guy on the date wears an ear-piece and there's a friend outside in a kidnap-van sending advice on what to say? You can always do that. I mean, if you're totally hopeless when it comes to communication, or if you're just so swamped by all the things you have to keep track of in your business, try that. The good news is, in the movies, the guy always gets caught and they always end up together anyway. In real life, in business, nobody cares if you hire someone to write on your behalf. So there's really no downside. If you need a someone in your ear helping you get the girl, I've got my microphone ready.