Not long ago I was having a conversation with Jan and Steve, a married couple who were starting a subscription-based consulting service. This service (and for the sake of confidentiality I am not going to elaborate) was addressing a highly compelling need in the marketplace. Their professional backgrounds compliment each other and together they have the potential for unlimited success.
As we were initially speaking over the phone, I still remember Steve telling me about their plans. Then he uttered these words: “We have a website and everything.”
I happened to have my computer up in front of me, so during our discussion, I went to check it out. I found the website.
Not so much for the “everything.”
You may be able to imagine: they got someone to build a WordPress driven site (I’m not knocking WordPress—I love it) using a free template (unbeknownst to them) that was simply modified with their new logo. Apparently there had been quite a bit of thought and energy put into the look and feel of it—but not much else.
Outside of a generic tagline that could apply to any business, there was no message whatsoever. Of all the site’s six pages, there was virtually no content. But the contact us information was there, as well as subscription rates (with a dysfunctional sign up form).
It was a dressed up package, but absolutely nothing inside.
When it comes to marketing and branding, it is amazing how much thought, time and effort business people will put into addressing HOW they want to say something, with very little energy directed towards WHAT they want to say. In reality, it should be the opposite…don’t you think?
Ultimately, when it comes to engaging and serving prospects and converting them into happy loyal customers, it is the message—not the media—that must first get its due.
Don’t get me wrong: the means of communication is vitally important, especially in this age in which the variety of media has exploded. People not only want and need information and content that offers value up front, they want to be able to access it on their terms. If you can’t do that, you won’t reach them (no matter what you are saying).
But my very simple point here is this: if you are looking at marketing and even re-branding your business, don’t allow fascination with various media channels (the how) distract you from what you are going to say. If you aren’t sure where to start, consider your 30-second commercial, which inherently contains your value proposition.
Remember: in this context the value proposition is NOT a reason for a prospect to buy…but rather it is simply why they should WANT to have a 20-minute conversation with you. That’s it.
As you build your message and content strategy, it begs the question: with our central value proposition down, what supporting information can we further deliver that drives that message home? This may include but not be limited to:
- Numbered list-style articles/reports educating prospects (“Five Ways to Tell if You’re Paying Too Much for _______”)
- Seeking questions from the public that relate to your company’s expertise, and answering them in blogs or on video (social media is a great channel to solicit such questions)
- Stories that focus on RESULTS you created for previous clients (and what others can learn from those stories)
- Testimonials in which loyal customers not just sing your praises, but share what they learned along the way and the measurable benefits they now enjoy (the return on their investment)
- Curated content from other sources (and giving credit where credit is due)
All these possibilities (and there are countless more) lend themselves to filling a content and editorial calendar that enables you to begin reaching out and serving your prospects on a regular basis. Let the prospect know that they are on the top of your mind, and in the process you will remain on the top of theirs.
So, in an effort to keep my reminder here simple: Moving forward, as you consider all the media at your disposal, don’t lose site of the message. It reminds me of a brilliant quote that George Lucas made a long time ago (but not very far away on a cosmic scale):
“A special effect without a story is a pretty boring thing.”