Marketing is an art.
Ok, and a science, but it is mostly an art.
While the science of marketing is all about research and data, what you do with that information is what I consider art. If I just repeat data such as features, benefits, proofs that we are the best solution to a client’s problem, I believe it, but does the audience? “The very fact that you presented the proof makes it suspect,” according to marketing guru Seth Godin. Godin goes on to explain, “If a consumer figures something out or discovers it on her own, she’s a thousand times more likely to believe it than if it’s just something you claim.”
So the big question is, how do you craft marketing messages to spark discovery rather than making braggadocios claims?
I will answer through illustration. The best movies, best books, best experiences are those that tease. A tease is giving you bits of information without telling you everything. Think about your favorite teachers, favorite preachers, favorite authors. They all give you pieces, stories, colors, textures just enough to excite your interest and keep you engaged.
Great marketing is the art of using just enough data, story, and experience to create interest without delivering the climactic punch line. Who wants to hear a joke when the punch line is delivered too early without any setup?
Here is a marketing message from a civil engineering website home page.
“Our depth of resources includes a varied and well-cultivated network of professionals known for strong community relationships, an urgent approach to your needs, and the technical capacity to effectively navigate the increasingly complex set of development and planning issues across the country.”
BOOM! A massive claim with lots of data that makes the audience go, “huh?”
Here is the marketing message re-written with an artful tease.
“Every development project is tricky! Development is a journey. Who will you choose as your guide?
Allow your audience, the prospective client, to discover for themselves their best solution. Discovery is about giving them hints at the facts, stories instead of lectures, teases rather than full-frontal nudity! Think about this when you talk about your services, expertise, and what your firm has to offer. Tell stories that pique interest. Give hints at your successes. Give them just enough so they can discover it for themselves.
You may not know this, but I am a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC). This is similar to some of your Professional Engineering (PE) licenses. Mine is also regulated by the State and requires regular continuing education. I still practice counseling every Friday afternoon via a virtual platform and still have an occasional face-to-face session with a client.
The most important skill of a good counselor is “listening.” Good listening requires much more energy and focus than most people realize. Listening is completely different than hearing. I can hear you speaking, but may not have a clue what you are saying because I am not listening. Listening is essential for counseling, but it is also a skill good leaders and consultants practice as well.
I want to introduce you to “active listening.” This is a specific type of listening that requires you to pay such close attention in your listening that you can effectively summarize the speaker’s message. Active listening captures not only the content of another person’s message but understands the emotions and motivations driving their message. Here are the basics of “active listening.”
These tips help your brain to listen more effectively. The best time to practice active listening is when the conversation is conflicted and laced with negative emotions. Conflict makes active listening very difficult because you may be frustrated, angry, disappointed, or any other number of negative emotions. This makes you defensive and combative. However, practicing active listening in the most difficult conversations will prove to lower the tensions, keep you on track toward a solution and keep you connected to the other person when it is most critical!
Gabe Lett, FSMPS, CPSM, LPC