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Grow Your Business by Making Your Message Stand Out

by Terri Langhans

It's only natural. You're looking for people to join your network or buy your products or services, so you put your marketing hat on and go for it. You're passionate, excited and believe in your business and what it can do for others. You go to meetings, send emails, post, tweet and start talking, perhaps even following a handy dandy sales script. You describe your products or services, spotlight the benefits and share a personal story or two. You ask open ended questions and still, way too often, your prospect looks at you as if your entire message boiled down to three words: blah, blah, blah.

You're not alone. Virtually all marketing, whether it's network marketing, whether you're a big business, small business or independent professional, you run the risk of making three critical mistakes that can make your marketing less effective or downright repelling. Before you put your marketing hat back on, take a look at these mistakes and, more importantly, the fix or tool you can use to correct them.

Mistake #1: We think that marketing is something we "do."

"We need to do some marketing." It's the first thing you think when you need to boost business. Problem is, when you think of marketing as something you "do," you're usually thinking about publicity, direct mail, flyers, email, ads and promotion. Marketing is much more than merely promotion, and it's rarely a quick fix.

The real fix is to expand your definition of marketing. Instead of thinking of it as something you "do," think of marketing as anything that helps or hinders the sale or use of your product or service. Anything. Your location, the attitudes of the person who answers the phone, your name, voice mail, proposals, personality and more.

Before you write a promotional word, do a "help or hinder" once-over. Make a list of what's helping you attract business and what's getting in the way. What obstacles can you quickly fix or remove? What "helps" can you enhance or spotlight? Until the help-or-hinder homework is done, working on promotion is premature.

Mistake #2: We breathe too much of our own exhaust.

We are such big believers in our businesses that we can't wait to show it off. We admire our attributes and inhale our excellence. Then we exhale it all into our marketing communications. The problem is, when you do that, your marketing is all about you. And people don't care about you. They care about themselves.

If your marketing is going to get any response at all, the first thing it must do is connect to something prospects care about. Connect before you convince. Try this four-step exercise:

  1. Describe your products and services. Get the exhaust fumes out.

  2. Identify one or two attributes or "attraction factors."

  3. What is the benefit, the need or the want, that is satisfied by those attributes?

  4. Why is that benefit important, personally, to the target audience?

If you keep asking the fourth question over and over, "And why is that important, personally, to the target audience," and why is that, and so on, you will have list of wants and needs that become key words in your conversations and marketing efforts. Words that are about them, not you! Connect to what people want. Not to what you do.

Mistake #3: We all look and sound alike.

Phone service is phone service. Cleaning products all get the job done. Vitamins, supplements, greeting cards, you name it—I can get them anywhere. Why should I choose yours? What makes you different?

Here's the good news: the more two businesses or products are alike, the more important each difference becomes, and the more impact even the tiniest difference will have on setting you apart. Why?

Consider identical twins. What's the first thing you do when you meet a pair? You try to find a little something to tell them apart. The same is true for your business. Your prospects are looking for a point of difference—just about anything—they can use to set you apart from your competition.

To find your points of difference, start with your points of contact, or "touch points" in your company. Make a list. Business card, fax cover sheet, invoice, phone greeting, front door, home page, etc. Then look at what the competition does and ask yourself how you can do it differently. Just a little bit will make a big difference, because your prospects are looking for them.

In her upcoming Webinar, Terri will drill down and go deeper into these tools, plus give you more ways to make your marketing less ordinary and more effective.

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