Marketing Speak vs Human Speak

You’re at a party. An attractive, well dressed woman (or man) walks up to you from across the room.

The first words out of her (his) mouth are, “I am the best looking person here. In fact, I am second to none. Why? Because of my commitment to excellence and proprietary approach to personal grooming. My past boyfriends (girlfriends) agree, I really am best in class. Let me tell you about what sets me apart from the other women (men) here.”

Why would this approach be so absurd in real life, and yet remains the status quo for professional services marketing?

Forget the marketing cliches and platitudes, and instead keep in mind that your home page, sales letters and proposals are going to be read by humans.

Make It About Them

“What do you do?”

“I create lead generation offers to help make it easier to identify, reach and influence new clients.”

Crickets. That phrase might mean a lot to me, but it means almost nothing to almost everyone else. It’s too vague, there’s no context, and they were probably only asking to be polite anyway.

Take 2

“What do you do?”

“Well, you know how in your industry companies will host seminars about _____________ to attract new business? I create similar campaigns for my clients, but instead of live seminars, we use on-demand webinars to reach more people.”


“You know how prospecting by phone and trying to get an appointment is really hard? I help make it easier for my clients to connect with prospects and open a conversation.”

Neither one is the only right answer. The point is to put “what you do” in context, as much as possible, of what they already know and understand. If what you say strikes a chord, they’ll ask more questions and give you the chance to go into more detail about what you do and who you do it for.

At the very least you’ll get fewer blank stares.


On Real Human Connection

Are you feeling a little Analog in a Digital world?

Join the club.

Reading about all the newest and greatest Facebook plug ins and Twitter tricks, one can feel that connecting with other people through anything other than a mobile app will soon be obsolete.

But that’s just it…all of these wonderful new tools exist for one reason; to connect us to others. We need it. After all, we’re social animals.

And when all is said and done, face-to-face connection is still the deepest connection we can have with each other.

So if you’ve never Tweeted in your life, or “liked” anything on Facebook, but can truly connect with others in real life, then breath a sigh of relief. You’re going right to the source.

A Valentine for Prospecting

Has prospecting for new clients broken your heart one too many times? Here’s a cure to mend your relationship with this most fickle of creatures…

  1. Learn how to create an instant connection and grab people’s attention (Hint: It’s about them, not you)
  2. Focus on solving people’s problems, not pitching your services
  3. Use a prospecting approach you’re comfortable with, and do more of it
  4. Focus on long term, multiple contacts, not all-or-nothing one shot attempts
  5. Focus on the person you’re contacting and learn about who they are
  6. Accept that there are abundant prospects and clients out there…you will never run out of people to connect with
  7. Fully prepare for your calls
  8. Let go of the outcome of any one call. You can’t control it anyway. Instead, focus on the things you can control (research, preparation, etc)

Fall in love with reaching out to the people who have the problems you solve, and you’ll never have to worry about attracting clients.

Happy Valentines Day


The problems you solve are important. They cost organizations money, time and maybe even jobs. Fixing them means putting all of your resources and experience to work. The results, if done correctly, will matter to a lot of people.


Serious doesn’t mean boring. Before you can solve the problem, you have to find those who suffer from it.

And in order to find them you have to figure out how to engage them.

And before you can engage them, you had better be able to put some humanity into your approach. Without that, you’re left with meaningless corporate mission statements and platitudes. Few people will care. Fewer people will take the time to watch your webinar, or browse past your homepage, or bother to pick up the phone and start a conversation.

The problems you solve are human problems. Connect with people, engage their senses and emotions, and make it about them…not just you.

Moo? has figured out a way to take a normally boring product (business cards) in an otherwise dull industry (printing) and carve out a unique, specific and endearing niche for themselves. That engaging approach is brilliantly demonstrated on their website.

If a business card printing shop can build a customer-centric website with an actual personality, then anyone can.

Who Cares?

Want a fun little project? Look at your company website. List every single picture, graphic, logo, idea, sentence and thought on it. Go do it right now…I’ll be here when you get back.

Okay, got your list? Now, after every listed item, describe exactly why a customer will care about it. Be brutally honest with yourself.

Done? Great. Now type up a list of everything on your site that doesn’t communicate something specific and relevant to your customers, send it to whoever handles your website, and ask them to delete everything on that list.

What’s left is what matters. Everything else is noise.

I Talk Too Much (Sometimes)

Ask me about a topic that I’m passionate about, or even keenly interested in, and I tend to boil over with enthusiasm. Simple responses can get drawn out into long monologues, at which point the other person in the “conversation” starts to fade away, eyes glazing as his or her bandwidth starts filling up.

So why am I admitting this personality flaw?

Because most of us are guilty of the same trait. Think about what gets your blood hot, whether politics or environmentalism or poorly written corporate home pages. We all have something that pushes a button in us and activates the manic part of our personality.

The trick is to keep the passion, yet redirect it to something more productive. Instead of telling, ask a probing question to better understand someone else’s point of view. Then listen, don’t interrupt, don’t wait for your turn to speak. Just listen.

Something magical happens when I listen to someone else’s ideas about a topic instead of beating them into submission with my own opinion.

1) I learn more about that person, what makes them tick, what they care about, and how the issue affects them

2) They tend to get much more enjoyment out of the conversation

3) I’m not exhausted at the end

Channel that passion into sincere interest as much as possible, and you may be surprised at how much you learn from other people.

The BS Test

The only words you should use in your marketing, home page, or mission statement are ones that clearly and honestly communicate the value you bring to the table.

Platitudes (premier, best, world-class, leading, value-added, best in class, results-oriented) fail the BS test and divert attention away from that which really matters to your clients…how you solve their problems.

If you’re even slightly unsure about the validity of your claims, why would anyone else believe them?