by Robert Middleton – Action Plan Marketing
Everyone knows what marketing hype is.
It's when you stretch the truth for the purpose of persuading someone to buy a product or service. And for most people, marketing just doesn't include hype. It IS hype.
But when you're a professional service business owner, hype will backfire on you. You see, we may forgive a company selling soap on TV that includes a certain degree of hype in their commercials. But we are slower to give a professional a pass when they do the same kind of thing in their marketing.
"This workshop will astound you with the amazing secret information it contains on leading your employees to success."
Look, there are very few things that astound anyone these days. Another one you see a lot:
"Learn the 10 Shocking Management Mistakes that will crush your business if your competition doesn't first."
Well, it certainly makes me feel anxious. But do I believe it for a moment? Nope!
I learned something from the famous marketing consultant, Jay Abraham, early in my career. He said, "Superlatives actually weaken your message, simply because they are not believable."
And the other thing: The kind of people you'll attract with hype-filled messages are usually not the kind of people you want to work with anyway. They will buy your programs, but you have set the expectations so high that you can't possibly deliver. Then because the program is harder than they expected, they drop out in droves or ask for a refund.
The Boring Truth
You'd think telling the truth would be the obvious way to go. The big problem is that for many businesses, the unvarnished truth would be boring.
"Use our services to get average results every time."
Well, my experience is that professional services and the results they produce are not boring. It's that the professionals simply don't know how to make the truth interesting and even compelling.
So how do you do that?
Here's a quick guide on the ways that you can generate attention, interest and response for your services while still telling the truth.
1. Outcomes and Results. Get to the heart of the actual outcomes and results you really produce for your clients. What difference do your services make? What specific uptick have you helped produce? Such as more sales, productivity, profits, retention, etc. Create marketing messages that highlight those results. To do this...
2. Be Specific. Truth is specific, hype is general. If you have helped 72% of your therapy clients avoid divorce and the remaining 28% split amicably, that's a true and impressive result you should communicate.
It sure is better than: "Most of our clients transform their relationships dramatically." Or if you do say that, at least back it up with some measurable results.
3. Measure. It's hard to be specific if you don't measure. The first thing to ask is, "What's important to the client? What are their key metrics? For me, the most important metrics are an increase in the number, project size, and duration of their average clients.
So if before working with me they got 2 clients a month at $500 and the client stays an average of 4 months, I know we have real results if any of those numbers increase. If I can help them all increase, even better.
4. Use Stories. Specific measurements are the starting point, but attaching a story (a true story) to those results has an emotional impact and are therefore more memorable and persuasive.
If I was sharing the kind of results my clients got, I could share something like this: "My average client, after working with me gets 50% more new clients per month, a 35% increase in their rates and at 25% increase in the length of their contracts. But cold statistics don't persuade.
Better to say, "Janice was frustrated by her income and wanted to increase it. I told her that it was more than increasing her prices but getting better clients and having a marketing system that brought in new clients consistently. After 6 months of working with me, she was able to attract twice as many new clients per month, and raised their rates as well as the duration of their contracts. She's increased her monthly income by $5,600 and is working with her ideal clients, those who really appreciate her work."
Which would persuade you more?
So the formula goes something like this: Measurement + Actual results + Story = Persuasion.
If you can communicate about your business like this, you don't need hype. But if you find you keep resorting to hype, it just might mean that you don't have the measurement, results and stories to back up your marketing. Time to get to work on those!
How are you using measurement, results and stories to market your business without hype? Please share on the Action Blog by click on the Comments link below.