Is Too Much Information Killing Your Business

‘TMI’ or ‘too much information’ is not just a FaceBook phenomenon.  It is clearly a corporate communication issue.  Even with words, less is more! Too much communication is the root of ‘The Cocktail Party Syndrome’.

Consider this scenario.  You go to Macy’s because you need to buy a nice business suit for next week’s presentation.  You ask the saleslady to show you a navy blue skirt suit (because you know what you want).

If she’s smart (or if she’s listening to you) she will show you one navy blue suit, perhaps from the Larry Levine collection.  Chances are, if it fits and you like it, you will buy it.  If she’s not so smart, she’ll show a variety of suits, different colors, some with skirt and some with pants!  Chances are you’ll leave without buying any!

What happened?  You wanted one thing, and she gave you too many options!  Now you have too much to think about and too little time.  You might also be confused, wondering if you’d look better in a pant suit rather than a skirt suit!  ”Oh forget about it,” you say, “I’ll just wear the grey suit I have at home!”

Too much information communicates nothing, and is often counter productive.  Make it easy for your clients to get what they want from you.  Don’t complicate their lives with endless choices so that they walk away thinking, ‘Decisions, decisions!’

How to write a stunning sales letter

Have you ever crafted such a stunning sales letter, that your prospects’ response was overwhelming?  If you have, well done!  Because most sales letters end up in the filing cabinet!

Every businessperson will be required to write a compelling sales letter at some point in their career.  You will need to know:

  • How to win over your prospect with the words that you use
  • How to appeal to their decision-making motivations
  • How to keep them interested enough to pick up the phone and call you.

The way to do this is to apply the basics:

  • Grab their attention with a fascinating opening!  Use action verbs and strong adjectives that paint word pictures and tell an intriguing story.  However, be sure to stay relevant and focused.
  • Build up their interest by providing information that your prospects will relate to.  This might be achieved by explaining a product feature that is interesting to them.
  • Stimulate their desire for the product by appealing to your prospects’ need for prestige, comfort, status, money etc.  It’s not enough to explain the features of a product.  Your prospect might ask “So what?” or “Why do I care?”  You want to pre-empt that question by translating the feature into a benefit.  For example,  a lawn-mower feature could be the bagging system; but the benefit of that feature is that it permanently eliminates the need to rake and bag grass clippings after mowing!  That appeals to the comfort need of your prospect.
  • Give your prospect a simple, urgent call to action.  This might be as easy as, “Call today for your 15-day free trial,” or “Visit our website at www.stunning-com.com for more information.”

These four guidelines are absolutely essential to the success of your sales letter.  Beyond that, feel free to alter the style of your writing to suit your corporate culture.  A quick word of caution.  Avoid the use of humor in crafting this kind of document.  A sales letter requires serious consideration and decisiveness to transform a prospect into a client.

Write your way to the top!

One of the difficulties in writing business correspondence is acquiring a business writing style that is both professional and natural.  A lot of times, we try to sound business-like by using big, lofty words that are covertly geared towards impressing others.

The problem with that, is that we waste so much time trying to appear sophisticated, that we don’t devote enough time crafting a compelling message.  The purpose of any piece of writing is to communicate.  To be understood.

So the first piece of advice I would give someone writing any type of business document, is to relax.  Think about what you want to say.  Think about how you would like to hear it.  What kind of words would make that message easy for you to understand?  Then write what you mean to say in a clear, concise, and complete fashion.

When you’re finished, stop!  This is important.  There is no need to reiterate what you already said.  I like what French philosopher Blaise Pascal once said about the economy of words:

“The letter I have written today is longer than usual because I lacked the time to make it shorter.”

Your audience is just like you.  They are busy.  They don’t have time to decode words.  If they need a thesaurus to understand your writing,  chances are they will not sign that thousand dollar contract!

Resist the urge to sound business-like, and you will find that you are more business-minded!

Is Social Media Marketing a Hoax?

In one of my earlier posts, I talked about social media networking for businesses, and why it’s important to ‘hang out’ where everyone else is hanging out. But is there a point in all the ‘tweets’ and the ‘following fans’? How do these time-consuming activities affect your bottom line?

Take a listen to my virtual mentor, Seth Godin as he talks about the misconception of Social Media Networking:

We hear this over and over again in marketing, but it doesn’t always register.  What you want to take away from this, is that the emphasis is on relationship-building, not on the score-card.

A couple of weeks ago I was at an SBA networking event and there was a gentleman there who just walked up to people shoving business cards in their hands! I’ll bet he’s wondering why no-one has called him!

So the next time you’re on Twitter, take genuine interest in your followers and ‘get into their world’.  You never know when you might need a sleep-over in New-Zealand!

Warning: How to kill an online prospect with a single shot!

What comes to your mind when the door-bell rings during dinner?

It’s one thing when the phone rings – you can just ignore it! But when the door-bell rings, you know there’s someone standing out there, and he knows you’re in. He saw the car parked in the driveway and decided to show up, unannounced and uninvited, at dinner-time. I’m guessing, you won’t be inviting him in for a bite.

And so I find myself wondering if there is a case for intrusive online advertising? I don’t know why anyone would think that an unsolicited pop-up or fly-by ad would appeal to the browsing prospect. As a matter of fact, that is exactly the type of marketing that would turn me away from the site that I was looking at in the first place!

Now someone clearly put some thought into this annoying marketing technique – not much thought, but some. So I will give them the benefit of the doubt.

Is there a case for intrusive advertising except to totally annihilate a prospect?

What Are You Really Selling?

When Harry Beckwith asked this question well over ten years ago (Selling the Invisible; A Field Guide to Modern Marketing, 1997), people scratched their heads and scrambled to find out!

I think his perspective is worth resonating. If you’re in the insurance business, you probably think you’re selling insurance. If you’re in the auto industry, you probably think you’re selling cars. Not! People are not buying insurance and they’re certainly not buying cars! They’re buying an experience!

One of my favorite ads on TV is Verizon FIOS kicking Comcast’s butt! I truly believe that FIOS rules the cable kingdom! They understand what the customer is looking for and they are continually providing them with that experience.

Successful marketers understand that consumers make right-brain purchasing decisions, based on perception rather than reality. Consumers are for the most part visual and intuitive.

It is so important to find out what the consumer wants and then sell that to them.

Sure I’m selling copy writing services and anyone coming in contact with my business understands that. But more importantly, I am selling a relationship! I’m getting to know my clients, understanding what they need (even if it’s just someone to listen to their troubled writing experiences), and then subtly nudging them to the solution that copy writing provides.

So as Harry Beckwith wisely said a decade ago: “Maybe you think prospects in your industry are looking for hamburgers. Chances are that they want something else. The first company to figure out what that is wins.”

What Everybody Ought to know about Social Media Marketing! (A must read for All Marketers!)

At last! Yesterday April 19th, 2010 Mike Stelzner of Social Media Examiner released The April 2010 Social Media Marketing Industry Report!

Why is this important? Because if you are in marketing, whether as a small mom-and-pop shop, or a large corporate organization with hundreds of employees, you want to reach a wider audience and promote your products/services to a growing market.

In the last two years, we have watched social media marketing climb up the food-chain to claim the title, ‘Guru of Marketing Strategies’. As the report quotes:

“The number-one benefit of social media marketing is the all-important eyeball. A significant 85% of all marketers indicated that their social media efforts have generated exposure for their business. Improving traffic was the second major benefit, followed by building new partnerships.”

Trust me, this is hot! This is what everyone in marketing is talking about! Read on, and find out the most fascinating secrets of social media marketing revealed. Click on the link below to read the report in it’s entirety:

View Social Media Marketing Report 2010 (PDF)

Happy Social Media Marketing!

Be remarkable

I came across this old video on Youtube.  Seth Godin tells businesses to ‘stand out, to be remarkable’.  Check it out:

I know for a lot of us who offer products or services that don’t have a unique factor, it is a challenge to figure out how to ‘stand out’.

I for example have a copy writing service, and so do many others – nothing remarkable about that!  But  I have done a little homework and found that there aren’t many copy writers in my community that write White Paper!  That is something that might cause me to stand out from the multitude of copy writers in Howard County, MD for example.

What can you offer your customers, that your competitors are not offering?  A couple of weeks ago, my car was in the garage for a really long time and I was forced to rent a car for the duration.  It cost quite a chunk of change in addition to the astronomical price of having my car fixed.

I found myself thinking that it would be really cool if the garage offered me a free loaner.  You know if they did that, I would never go anywhere else. That would make them different, because no-one does that in my town!

But no, they’re just like everyone else – and that’s why I can’t say for a fact that I will use them again in the future.  There’s just nothing different about them.

So, find out what you can do to differentiate your business from the competition and go for it! Stand out and be remarkable!!

Build a business you can be proud of!

I came across an old, but interesting article on sitepoint.com.  Written by Chris Yeh the article examines the concept of ‘Freelance Partnerships’ .  It is about freelancers with different skill- sets partnering together to offer clients a wider scope of services. Nothing new here.

Back in 2003 (when this article was written), it was probably a novel idea.  Not to say that freelancer’s hadn’t been thinking about it.  In today’s business world, partnerships are at the top of the food chain.  What, with BPO opportunities crawling the Internet, your company or freelance business can offer a greater variety of services than ever before!  For example, a copywriter like myself, would do well to partner with a graphic designer to produce marketing collateral material that would otherwise be impossible to achieve as a lone wolf.

And there might yet be another type of partnership.  I’m thinking about copywriters partnering with other copywriters.  Perhaps one copywriter has a niche in marketing documents like brochures, ad copy and newsletters.  And another copywriter has a niche in technical writing or white paper.  I mean everyone is outsourcing, and copywriters are no exception.  Call it a marriage of convenience, but if it works, why not?

Does this partnership affect the freelance-corporate relationship?

I don’t think so.  The corporate clientis concerned with one thing, and one thing alone. Results!  The client doesn’t care about the logistical workings of the freelance partnership.  The general contractor and sub-contractor must handle their business in a professional manner to ensure a happy working relationship.  The corporate client is impressed by proper planning, time-management, clear communication, firm price quotes and meeting the final  project deliverables.

When push comes to shove, the economy has presented some critical challenges which in my opinion have turned into fascinating opportunities.  Lean budgets and downsizing have resulted in big time outsourcing, and I think every business entity has outsourced some of their processes or, are considering to do so.  It’s cheap, fast, and reliable.  Best of all, it’s easy!!

If you’ve got a copy writing project too delicate to screw up, contact me today.  I’ll quote you on a perfect professional job – no screw-ups, guaranteed.