Enough about me, let’s talk about you. What do you think of me?
It’s an old joke, but one that is not so funny when it comes to your marketing message.
Chances are, your marketing message has too much “me talk.” In other words, your message is more about the “me” of your product or service, and less about the “you” of your customers or clients and how you help them.
To engage a prospect or customer more successfully, though, the tenor of your message should first address the “you:” empathizing with their experiences and then demonstrating how your products and services will benefit them by solving their problems.
A casual review of marketing messages on a vast majority of consumer and business-to-business websites, brochures, social media and ads illustrates how frequently this fundamental concept is overlooked. These messages are mostly lists, features and descriptions of products or services. In other words, ideas that convey “I do this” and “I sell this,” without crafting the message so that it tells the prospect or customer how “this” can help them.
By speaking in “me talk,” it is as if you the marketer is challenging the prospect to guess how your product or service can help them. This is a big assumption, and one that usually performs poorly because busy people won’t bother to think through to another step. They simply pass over your message.
Everyone believes they know what certain products and professions do … or they think they know. We call this generic certainty. If your company is an accounting firm or a financial consultant, a supermarket or a sneaker manufacturer, everyone believes he or she knows exactly what you do.
A “me talk” message does not dislodge this generic certainty because it doesn’t tell them anything distinctive or disruptive. In most cases, customers and prospects will merely move along to the next message because they feel they know everything about the generic you, and they assume that their needs are filled.
If “me talk” isn’t as effective as “you talk,” we wonder why so many businesses continue to craft their messages this way. Here are three reasons:
• First: People naturally are ego driven and think in terms of me.
• Second: It takes special effort, outlook and training (self or otherwise) to be a good salesman, first of all, and then to be a salesperson who sells not by coercing someone or by just showing stuff.
• Third: Most companies also tend toward me marketing because they don’t really know their customers and resort to hoping something sticks when they throw enough products and pitches “against the wall.” It’s a lot more difficult to craft a story where your product is the star.
But working to change this perspective can be well worth it.
A “you talk” message can break through their generic certainty. Start by creating empathy. It gets prospects’ or customers’ attention and connects with them by addressing a problem they face on their own terms. Using “you talk” demonstrates that you understand exactly what the customer is experiencing, building trust that your product or service can solve a problem or meet a need. Successful “you talk” looks at the marketing message through their eyes, not through yours.
An example of you talk is one public relations and social media campaign my firm is working on with our client: Obamacare guru, author and successful health care benefits businessman, Jonathan Warner. Instead of using a feature-driven marketing message—e.g., we have life insurance and health insurance, set up your HSAs, process claims faster and cheaper than anyone else—his message communicates tips about what the business person needs to know about the law and what employers do worry about—e.g., governance and a government audit of the company’s health plan. His message is that his company is not just going to leave your company on its own to comply with the government.
To develop your own “you talk” topics, tap into your professional experience or talk to prospects and customers about the challenges they face relative to your business. Then prioritize a list of common customer pain points. Craft your messages to address only one or two of these issues and then bring in the unique and valuable solution you offer.
Make your product or service the center for improving their world, and it will become the solution they will buy.