You step into an elevator on the 82nd floor, and push the button for the lobby. Another person enters with you, so you decide to begin a dialogue. You introduce yourself, and then you naturally segue into the brief (and naturally-sounding) summary speech about what you do, laden with benefits for the prospect. You nail your delivery. You have good eye contact. You elicit a smile, a nod. The elevator reaches its destination. You initiate a handshake and get ready to hand your business card to the new prospect.
Sounds textbook correct, huh?
It’s actually TOTALLY WRONG.
If the elevator door opens, and the prospect exits and enters the great world beyond… what have you learned about THEM? You talked. They didn’t. You have nothing to follow-up! You don’t even know if they’re a real prospect!
Truth is… the natural presenter – the extrovert in me – did this exact scenario – wrong – for almost 20 years. And then I went to a Networking seminar which taught me the REAL purpose of the “Elevator Speech” was to develop your listening skills, and ask more than you talk. The true art is to naturally flow into a series of questions which makes your prospects feel at ease and start them earning trust with you – enough trust for them to open up and tell you enough about themselves to qualify them.
So, developing great opening questions became more important for me. “Tell me about what you do… or why you’re here” became a few of my ice breakers. I wasn’t focused on ME anymore. I was focused on THEM.
My other mistake all those years was… my opener was intent on SELLING them, not HELPING them. What I learned after working two decades with some salesperson greats (and tons of not-so-greats) is that the best sales pros HELP prospects, not SELL them. They listen. They process. They then offer solutions, not push products or services. And it all starts with that single opening exchange.
Then, and only then -- after the prospect tells you what they do, and what their challenges are -- do you explain how what you do aligns with them. Why talk industry jargon – spouting off YOUR benefits – when you have no idea if they need what you provide? In understanding what they do, you can tailor what you do to help their role – if they’re a true prospect.
For example, “Well, I help companies like yours get better results in doing ______ through creative branding…” It’s always all about them, not you.
Here’s to more productive elevator rides for all of us!
In my next blog… how to end your elevator-esque conversations -- whether they’re a prospect or not -- to set yourself up for winning trust and new business. Stay tuned, networkers!
Nobody likes a pusher. Especially in marketing. (AKA Mary Ellen's Top 5 "What Likers Really Want from your Social Media")
When I say the word, "Pusher," what image does it conjure in your mind? A drug dealer? An annoying salesperson who swoops on you the minute you walk into the store? A bully? One of those perfume squirters in a department store? Your kids when they've had too much sugar, too little sleep, and they're in the grocery checkout line nudging you for candy?
OK, you get the picture. It's usually not so nice. We want to avoid those people. At all cost.
Then why - with our social media - are we pushing people, and not ENGAGING them?
Why are we promoting "buy... buy... BUY!"? Why are we hawking product? Why are we shoving specials down their throats? If you look at some social media sites, the majority of their posts are PUSHING. Promoting. Selling. And very few ideas on how to use the products.
So why do people go to social media? To learn. Connect. Engage. NOT to be sold. Shouted at. Arm twisted. Wheeled and dealed. Yet most companies don't understand what good content really is... what their readers want from them. So here's what I have found that works best:
Mary Ellen's Social Media Top 5 What Likers Want
1. To feel special. They want to know you value your relationship with them... so much so that they receive special advantages from you. Advantages like advance notice of news, sales, exclusive sample offers, added savings, extra perks.... an edge for their allegiance in connecting to you... to know you value them but in a fun, friendly way. (Remember it's called "social" media for a reason.)
2. Tips, hints, trends, hacks and tricks. Basically, provide them with knowledge that you have - or your product or service can provide to them - without selling - that can improve their life, their productivity. The more you help sharing your expertise, the more they want to keep reading your posts. It doesn't have to be original content. It can be a great article you read, or a tip someone else shared... as long as it connects to your brand or product benefit.
3. Things they can share easily. People love helping others. And that means being able to share good postings. If you give them great content, they are more likely to share it on their social pages. Just word it so they can share it without making any edits. The easier you make it, the more shares you're likely to get.
4. To see the real YOU, behind the scenes. Who has the messiest desk at your office. Which charities you are passionate about. Your company anniversary. Funny things that happened with your product. People's birthdays. (With their permission, of course.) People buy from people they like. Show them the human side of who they're buying from, and you'll be surprised - sometimes these posts receive the most interaction... even more than important news!
5. To be engaged. To be listened to. To participate. To give their opinion. To share themselves. To be creative with you. To be funny back. So go ahead... start a poll. Ask for their opinions. Vote on their favorite. Fill in the blank. Give you a funny caption. Share their pics, their stories. You'll gain more loyal followers when you do. But don't forget to respond quickly - honestly - transparently - when you need to. It gains even more loyalty.
Bottom line... Push less and you'll pull more.
Call me if you need help with content. <WINK>
Last summer, I attended a really cool digital marketing conference with all kinds of topics from social media content to digital layout to media to future technologies. One of the best sessions was about website front page design. I thought I knew a lot before walking in. Boy, was I glad I went!
To summarize my big take-away... the seminar leader asked us to look at a photograph he was going to flash on the screen for 1/16 of a second. He asked us to see how much we could remember about that blink of a photo in that short of a moment. It was amazing what most of us recalled. It was a VW bus. Old. Dented. In an ancient garage. It was white and blue. Dirty. Facing to the right. All that in 1/16 of a second.
So let's take a look at your website. Specifically, your front page ABOVE the screen line. That front page IS your new calling card. What comes up on that screen is how people find you today. It's their decision point. Not your brick and mortar store front. Not your paper card in an old Rolodex. Not your Yellow Pages ad. Not your print catalog. Your FRONT PAGE leads them into your world... or it doesn't. (And people rarely scroll beyond the top images, unless they're really interested. So what's on top, front and center is CRUCIAL!)
So what is the snapshot of your business? What shows on either that tiny screen in your hand... or the laptop screen or a monitor or even a tablet... (which, by the way, are considered "accessory viewing screens"... not the primary ones anymore. SmartPhones are what's used to view websites 2/3 of the time nowadays!)... is what drives them to go ON or turn OFF.
If you have all the important stuff that drives them to action or a next step on the front page, you're IN. If you don't - and have to dig and hunt to find it - you might lose the prospect. They only have time for those businesses who make it EASY for them.
SO, what shows on that front page is VITAL. Here are 3 guidelines:
1. Are there more photos than copy? Too much copy is not read. Just like the VW bus in that 1/16th of a second, your website has to SHOW what you do, not TELL what you do. We are in VISUAL world. Reading takes too much time. (It is important when we are trying to make a purchasing decision, like find your phone number, or see product specs, or the price, or an address... but overall - remember this ... "PICTURES ATTRACT. Copy sells." Your front page should SCREAM what you sell pictorially.
2. Easy peazy. Is it easy to navigate? Is there a short menu of website sections? YES! That's what we're trained to look for. Are there buttons that make sense... to get them to one area of the website to the other? Can they find your phone number, your address right on the front page? Or is it buried?
3. Words are for the birds. Are there lots of words on your front page? Paragraphs of copy? Get rid of 'em! If you must, they go on your inside pages, when people have arrived at the section they want. NOT on your front page. What works? Short captions get people to feature pages.
OK, now go look at your web page. What would you change, now that you've read this blog?
We’re all looking for that sweet nectar, right? Exposure, good press, qualified sales leads. Ultimately, steady repeat customers.
Bees are, too. For them, it’s honey. So they flit from flower to flower to find it. To gather enough, they make multiple stops, and something amazing happens. The flowers they touch along the way are activated. They respond. They benefit from the interaction. In fact, so much so that plants that are touched more often develop better fruit., like the photo shown here of a not-so-often pollinated pear and a happily pollinated one.
It is the same with marketing your business. In order to grow, others need to know about what you offer, what you stand for -- continuously -- or you’re the lone weed, easily trampled.
And I don’t mean spending a lot of money or time doing that, especially if you’re a small business. I believe in planning it, maximizing it, and yes – doing it as an active part of your sales job -- not a “when I have time” line item on your to-do-list. It should be as high priority as returning phone calls or keeping your pipeline full… not an afterthought.
A client of mine recently had the wonderful opportunity to appear on a radio show on a major market radio station talking about the success of her business, and the future of healthy business in the area. She immediately asked me to feature it in her social media feed.
But that’s just one flower. And one social medium is only seen by a very limited number of her followers and very few prospects. (Let’s face it…. FREE only goes so far!) In order to maximize the exposure of this publicity event, I suggested a press release to local publications, trade media, other social media, including an update on her LinkedIn page and the pages of all staffers, and of course including it on the company home page of her website, or their email signatures, etc., etc.
Basically, to cross-pollinate the event. To let her target audience know she is an authority – THE authority - in her marketplace.
Sound like a lot? It can be. But consider this… there are a lot of flowers – your prospects - out there. They can only be touched by so many bees (their choice of media.) We can no longer just “have an event” or “promote a product or service” and hope our audience hears about it from a one-shot notice. It takes a village of communications to get the desired branding effect today.
Don’t have that marketing resource on your team or the time yourself to do that? No sweat. There are plenty of queen bee marketers who know how to do that routinely, efficiently, skillfully, and economically FOR YOU. (Wink, wink.)
Mary Ellen Sokalski
Diva of Direct Marketing.