Most businesses think they are crystal clear about their target audience, service, and offer. The problem is that they are blind to how their messaging is actually being heard. Too often, we require our prospects to be mind-readers before they recognize that we have the solution to their problems. The story below is a case-in-point.
At a Traffic & Conversion Conference before the Covid-19 quarantine, I met a vendor who “uses holistic energy techniques to unblock people to produce bigger results in their business.” After reading it again, I was still confused about what they did, so I started a conversation.
“What does that even mean?” I asked them. “What is it that you actually do?”
“We unblock people so they can see bigger results,” they replied.
That simple interaction highlights the first major gap with effective communication. Business owners think that because they know what they do, their words convey meaning to their audience. Businesses forget how much they have internalized their skills and knowledge. This creates a gap when they speak with prospects who do not yet have that common background.
So I continued with the vendor, trying to remain as open and curious as I could muster.
“Who do you serve?” I asked.
“Business owners,” was their reply.
“All business owners? Or those in a particular niche?”
“We work with everybody.”
By that logic, I would be their target market. However, while they believed that they were casting a wide net for prospects, the holes were so big that their net caught nobody.
I continued, “Can you tell me what promises you make? What results do you produce?”
“Big results. Lots of businesses have seen results.”
So we’re a couple of minutes into a conversation, and I knew nothing more than when I started. My questions were an invitation for the vendor to provide authority, empathy, or maybe a plan to solve some challenges. At best, their response indicated naivete about the clarity of their message. At worst, it demonstrated ignorance for their prospect’s concerns.
As an attendee at a trade show, I try to speak with vendors in the hopes that we might help each other. With this vendor, I found myself working hard, burning too many mental calories, and unable to understand what a meaningful engagement looked like.
Still seeking clarity, I asked, “OK, but what are those results?”
The vendor replied, “They were unblocked… their energy started flowing better.”
Apparently, despite my best effort, I was a baboon for not understanding this basic explanation! With more patience and persistence than any prospect would offer a vendor, I tried one last approach to understanding.
“Let me try asking another way. What would I have to believe to engage with your product?”
“You’d have to believe that our product works.”
Of course, but I can’t make that evaluation if I still don’t understand the offer! Mind you, this was a vendor who paid big money for a booth at a major trade show, speaking to a genuinely curious prospect.
“Thanks for your time, but I still don’t understand what you do, what your offer is, or who you serve.” By unblocking people, their product could be anything from constipation relief to life-coaching. Regrettably, I lacked the mind-reading skills to understand.
She gave me her card and said “Here’s our website. We explain it all there.”
Then she pivoted to ask what I do.
I said “Your prospects don’t understand what you do. I help businesses talk about their service in a way that makes prospects curious enough to engage in a buying conversation.”
So I asked her “how is your business doing?”
“Oh, we’re doing really well. We’re speaking all over the place. Lots of people unblocked.”
At that point, it was clear that this vendor fell into a common trap.
Businesses are wasting a tremendous amount of money on marketing that would be more effective with a clear message.
So unless you require that your prospects be mind-readers, let’s have a conversation about how to make your message so clear, that your prospects shift from confusion to certainty and choose to do business with you.