Communicate Effectively and Quickly

“If you can’t state your position in eight words or less, you don’t have a position.”

– Seth Godin

It is difficult to be brief. Try it! State your opinion in a few words as possible. How do you explain your business or service to a total stranger in just a few words – words that the stranger can easily understand? It is a tough task, isn’t it? And yet, increasingly that is what we have to do to retain current customers and to attract new ones. To be noticed – to stand out from the crowd – to move people to take action we must master the art of brevity.

One of the best business summaries I know came from Charles Revson, the founder of Revlon Cosmetics. He said:

“In the factory we make cosmetics, in the store we sell hope.”

Brilliant! All in twelve words. And they are the “right words” because they work. The listener can clearly understand the process and visualize the outcome. The outcome for each customer will be unique because each will define “hope” in their own way.

Will that “hope” renew, revitalize, rejuvenate, restore, rekindle or reinvent? Each customer will choose one or more of these answers – and probably one or more of Revlon’s cosmetics. Being brief, concise and “on-target” has a real payoff.

A few days ago, I wrote an article titled, “The Long and the Short of It.” I commented on the enjoyment and benefit I got from a new book by Dr. Frank Luntz“Words that Work: It’s Not What You Say, It’s What People Hear.” Buy this book! Put it’s principles into practice. Reap the rewards! “Renew, revitalize, rejuvenate, rekindle, reinvent” is one of Luntz’s “Twenty-one words and phrases for the Twenty-first Century.” They work.

How am I planning to put this principle into practice? Follow this scenario:

1) My consulting practice has been open for less than a year. I am looking for new clients. More precisely, I am looking at companies whose employees have known me for most of the thirty years I have worked in the music products industry. But how are they looking at me?

2) Problem: They do not really know how my services can help them. Solution: I have to able to get their attention and motivate them to “take the next step” to learning how my services can benefit their business. And … I have to do this in thirty seconds or less!

3) Fortunately, I have help! I am trying to master the principles that Milo O. Frank expressed in his 1986 business book classic, “How to Get Your Point Across in Thirty Seconds or Less.”

4) I just registered to attend a conference later this month where I will have a chance to network with many of my potential clients. Now the real work starts. And it starts by getting a list of the registered attendees and planning my approach to each one. I can’t choose a “one-size-fits all” approach – that will not work. Why not? Because Milo O. Frank showed my why it will not work in his book – and many other marketing and communications experts confirm that this approach is ineffective.

5) I must study each potential client – as an individual business with their unique challenges. I must discover what those challenges are; why they exist and what I might suggest as the remedy. I must write out an “elevator pitch” for each potential client. I must become totally familiar with the individuals who will attend this conference. Before the conference starts, I need to get my company’s name into the consciences. I must be “visible and valuable.” I’ll send each one an email or a postcard telling them that I am looking forward to seeing them at the conference.

6) The rest is up to me – how well I execute my plan. How well I can state my case in thirty seconds or less. How close I can come to stating my position in eight words or less. How effective I can be at getting and maintaining their interest. My goal, when delivering my “elevator pitch,” is not to get a contract; not to close the sale. No, no, no. It is simply to get their attention and get them to take the next step – agree to let me contact them with more details, set up a time to meet, etc.

WOW! That’s a lot of work. Hours of preparation will go into making a thirty second presentation. But it will be worth it. I have confidence that my plan will pay off – that I will convince a number of potential clients to take the next step. That I will be one-step close to gaining new clients.

I’ve tried to make this post personal.. All communications need to be personal. I think that you can visualize your own situation here. Try to adapt and follow my action plan – whether you are asking your boss for a raise or a promotion; planning an advertising campaign; giving a speech.. The basic principles are the same:

Set your goal; determine what you can do for or offer your client; understand the best way to communicate to each individual client; organize your “pitch” so that your client can easily understand you; develop a “hook” to grab their attention; make a connection; take the next step.

Easy to say – difficult to do. But if were easy, then … (you fill in the answer!)

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