Want to be Memorable? Use Word Pictures!

I was reading one of the typical articles about crafting your elevator speech – you know the one-minute summary of who you are, what you do, the features and benefits, etc.

I get the idea, but that’s about 50 seconds and 35 floors too long. People don’t have the headspace to absorb, process, and remember all that. And if they can’t remember it simply, how can they pass a referral along?

The answer: word pictures.

I remember talking to Shannon Whitley last year about the various creative programming projects he’s worked on, including all kinds of interfaces to other platforms. I blurted out, “Oh – so you’re the API Guy!”

That’s a very short compass of words, which can be uttered before the elevator door even closes. If you need help with anything to do with APIs, Shannon is THE go-to expert. Period. Memorable. Refer-able.

Let’s take a glance over at my tweetstream. There’s…C.C. Chapman. Now C.C. is a challenge, because he does so many different things well – all having to do with the use of media (all forms) in marketing. To my mind, he’s like a one-man marketing prism, a stained-glass window of media. But that doesn’t quite capture the consulting and expertise factor. The pushing-the-envelope stuff that’s always been part of his approach. Maybe he’s more of a Media Navigator. Have to think about that one more…

Then there’s my friend Sarah Morgan, who works in the pharma sphere (we were among the first pharma social media troublemakers), but that’s not what her blogging is about. Her Twitter bio states, “Bascially, I write.” – but that’s not really descriptive enough of Sarah. She writes heart-words.

Dan Rockwell (@LeadershipFreak) and I just exchanged messages. I could see him getting into an elevator with someone, and respond to the inevitable “What do you do?” question with three words: “I speak leader.”

These short, memorable expressions create images in the minds of others. They are meant to convey, not just information, but word pictures. You can spend thousands on advertising, but there is nothing as powerful as a well-chosen word picture.

That’s what will make you stick, when everyone else is forgotten.

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How’s your message? Hire Steve Woodruff for Clarity Therapy!

Recent posts on Connection Agent:

>> Make Your Life a Story, not a List

>> Are You Standing Out in the Field?

Sweet Customer Service by Vosges

Count me very happily surprised.

I was ordering a gift card for someone, and figured – what could be more universally-loved that some luscious Vosges chocolate? (if you’ve tried it, you know – if not, well, what are you waiting for??)

So I go on their site, and the ordering process is easy, with one interesting chocolate-centered twist – when you plug in the zip code of the recipient, the site does a quick calculation about the destination and the time of year, and if it’s going to be a hot trip, Vosges automatically adds some cooling materials for 10 bucks. After all, you don’t want to receive a gooey mess in July, do you?

Except plastic gift cards don’t melt like chocolate. Oops.

A bit frustrated, I filled in the on-line form for Questions and explained the dilemma. I wanted to order, but…and I went off to walk the dog, grumbling under my breath that:

  1. I would probably not hear from anyone in a timely fashion;
  2. Any response would likely be some canned apology with no resolution;
  3. I was going to have to abandon the shopping cart and go buy something else.

Wrong, wrong, WRONG, you overly cynical consumer from New Jersey!

While still out strolling with my black lab Mystic, I received an e-mail from a “Chocolate Concierge” named Anna. In that message, she apologized for the problem (and promised to alert the web team so that it can be fixed), and provided two avenues whereby we could complete the process, including a direct phone call. Speed and a pathway forward – problem solved. Customer happy.

I’ve talked up and given away Vosges chocolate bars in the past, but now they’ve really won my heart. How’s your responsiveness? Is it personal, and fast, and blog-worthy like Vosges’ is?

Well-played, Anna and Vosges. That’s some pretty sweet customer service!

___________

How’s your message? Hire Steve Woodruff for Clarity Therapy!

Recent posts on Connection Agent:

>> Transcendent Communications

>> Are You Standing Out in the Field?

Make Your Life a Story, Not A List

I was on LinkedIn again yesterday, in preparation for a call with someone who had been downsized, and found myself sighing, for the umpteenth time, over the format of an on-line resume.

Another list.

This job title. That company. This short list of tasks. Even some undefined insider acronyms. Just swap out the particulars and you could be any one of a billion commodity people.

Don’t undersell yourself. You’re not a list!

When people hire me to help re-write their LinkedIn profiles, I employ some of my Clarity Therapy process to extract three things from them:

  • What they’re really good at and want to do more of;
  • The story of how they got to where they are;
  • The key point of brilliance they want to “sell” to their next employer.

Then, we go back through the profile and turn it into a story. The main themes leading to the new desired role are woven into the past job responsibilities, highlighting the individual’s greatest strength and accomplishments, and showing how they lead in the direction being pursued.

Bullet points and biz-speak words don’t paint a clear picture. They leave you undifferentiated. A resume should not merely be a summary of facts; it needs to tell a story. Your story. And it needs to strongly suggest what your next chapter should be.

Your next employer doesn’t have the time to help you figure out who you are and where you’re going. That’s YOUR next job, before you seek your next job!

___________

How’s your message? Hire Steve Woodruff for Clarity Therapy!

Recent posts on Connection Agent:

>> Transcendent Communications

>> Are You Standing Out in the Field?

Re-Thinking Re-Branding?

Today over at my Clarity Therapy blog, I’m asking some questions about how the speed of the marketplace affects our approach to (re-)branding.

Re-Branding: Get Used To It?

Please come on over and join the discussion!

Transcendent Communications

This is a ramble based on a thought in the shower this morning - you know how that goes, right? I’m not even sure what station this train of thought is going to end up in. Here goes…

Why has digital social media so riveted our attention? It’s an evolutionary advance on a pre-existing massive trend – the desire to communicate without the barriers of time, geography, filtering, culture, and language.

Books enabled the communicating of ideas way outside of the physical sphere, and even time frame, of the writer’s direct influence. What once would have been spoken around a campfire or in a small gathering can now echo down through generations.

Radio transcended geography. Recorded audio broke the limits of geography and time.

Television added the visual element, and some of what was communicated through the eye-gate leapt over cultural and linguistic barriers.

Social media broke down the filters between one-to-one communication. Digital audio, video, and writing enable all barriers to come down, though linguistic and cultural elements are still problematic to a degree. Communication can be both real-time and archived.

Interestingly enough, when it comes to computing, we see a parallel trend toward natural and frictionless interface – we’ll slowly but surely abandon the very artificial keyboard and mouse for the more natural elements of voice and gesture. Siri and Kinect are glimpses. In 10 years, we will laugh hysterically at our current digital/human interfaces.

So what? Well, here’s a couple so-what’s to think about:

  1. Digital social media as we have experienced it for the past few years is not some isolated or uniquely amazing thing. It’s part of an inevitable current of communication evolution. And it cannot be static because the current has been rapidly flowing for centuries in one direction (toward communication without the barriers of time, geography, filtering, culture, and language).
  2. We can opt out of participation in specific elements of digitally-fueled communications, but we can’t avoid the direction of the current.
  3. Any business approach based on the above inexorable trends stands a far better chance of long-term success than tweaking some existing business model that tries to maintain the status quo or go upstream against the current.

A lot of loose ends here, but I’ll just hit publish and ask what you think (feel free to wax eloquent in the comments with your thoughts).

Image: FreeDigitalPhotos.net

___________

How’s your message? Hire Steve Woodruff for Clarity Therapy!

Recent posts on Connection Agent:

>> Crowd-Sourcing Some Clarity

>> Are You Standing Out in the Field?

Are You Standing Out in the Field?

Like it or not, you are one of many, many companies or service providers competing for a limited slice of attention in a marketplace overflowing with noise and information.

For consultants and small businesses – actually, for any size business – the cacophony of billboards, radio spots, TV advertisements, and the flood tide of digital noise from the social web makes it increasingly challenging to be noticed, let alone remembered. Your main competition isn’t your competitors. It’s distraction.

Which means that if you simply blend into the background noise, you’ve lost your advantage.

Let’s assume that you actually have some magic. You do have something unique to offer. How do you stand out in the field?

Some will say it takes a hugely expensive campaign; others will gladly take your limited funds to try generate something “viral.” These are not particularly effective or sustainable strategies. One fundamental trait, however, can make any business stand out: Clarity.

By clarity, I mean you’re clear on your offering, clear on your differentiation, clear on your message, and clear on your vision. It is the opposite of throwing 10 bullet points of possible work you might do up against the virtual wall and seeing which one sticks. That’s the quickest route to becoming a faceless commodity.

A Clear Offering

What does clarity look like? Actually, you don’t have to look any further than the Duct Tape Marketing blog. Look at these two summary sentences on the site:

Simple, Effective, and Affordable Small Business Marketing

John Jantsch has been called the world’s most practical small business expert for delivering real-world, proven small-business marketing ideas and strategies.

The reader immediately knows whether they are the target audience, and exactly what the Duct Tape promise is. By being that specific, John stands out – while gladly giving up a bunch of other potential business where he couldn’t be outstanding.

A Clear Differentiator

I am fanatically loyal to Amica Insurance. I don’t price shop, and I don’t consider other dance partners. Why? All the geckos and good hands and Flo’s that parade across the TV screen promoting other companies are noisy commodities to me, because Amica has provided stellar and attentive customer service for decades. They completely stand out. And, ever since obtaining the first-generation iPhone, I’ve never considered going back to a non-Apple platform. The user experience is simply too good to give up. These become my home brands.

A Clear Message

We try to say too much, not realizing that our potential customers (and referral partners) can only process and retain one or two main things. Few companies have mastered the art of distillation, which is truly central to effective marketing.

Picture yourself bumping into a prospective customer at a trade show, just minutes before the next session starts. After introductions, she says, “I recall seeing your name before, but what is it that you do?” Can you, in one sentence, give her the distilled essence, in such a way that she’ll still remember it after the session – and, be able to tell her friend over lunch about you in 10 words or less? In this regard, clarity is also your key to ongoing referrals.

A Clear Vision

Once you have 20/20 vision about your purpose and direction, suddenly a whole host of decisions that have always plagued you becomes much more simple. Clients you spun your wheels chasing now don’t fit into the clearer vision. Non-core work that you were doing is no longer in the long-term plan. When you can look a client in the eye and confidently say, “THIS is what I do – not that, and that, and that” – everyone is far better off. But for many, even those who have been in business for a while, the most difficult step is saying it to the mirror.

I have terrible uncorrected vision. Glasses are mandatory! The fact is, clear vision is not an option. Whatever other investment I may forego, I will always spend the necessary funds to see clearly – because that is foundational to everything I must do! Amazingly, however, few of your competitors will do so. That’s why clarity can become your strategic advantage. Making you the one standing out in the field.

(this post originally published at Duct Tape Marketing blog)

Image: FreeDigitalPhotos.net

___________

How’s your message? Hire Steve Woodruff for Clarity Therapy!

Recent posts on Connection Agent:

>> Crowd-Sourcing Some Clarity

>> The Ultimate Competitive Advantage

Crowd-Sourcing Some Clarity

I’m on a mission – a crowd-sourced mission.

I want to find the companies with the most exquisitely clear positioning and messaging out there. Companies that really nail it with simple, vivid words and imagery (and stories).

I’m not looking for companies that stand out because of great customer service over the long haul, or amazingly efficient supply-chain strategies, etc. Nor am I seeking to highlight mega-organizations that have blanketed the airwaves with their brand.

These elements can be vital to success, of course; but I’m looking for clear and compelling messaging that truly reflects what the company is about. Small or mid-sized companies. Micro-businesses or consultants. People who can’t spend a bazillion dollars on a marketing campaign, and so have to employ the art of focus and clarity.

What do I mean? Here’s an example (PrimeGenesis). Note how precisely they’ve defined their niche, how simple their core messages are, and how practically and clearly it is all reinforced. THAT’s what I’m talking about! There are 9,999,999 things these folks don’t do. There’s one thing they do. It’s their space, their specialty, their message.

Who impresses you? Please “nominate” them in the comments. I’m sure they’ll appreciate the mention; and if I see a company that I think is outstandingly clear, I’ll gladly highlight them in a blog post. We need to congratulate the people that do this well, and learn from their examples!

___________

How’s your message? Hire Steve Woodruff for Clarity Therapy!

Recent posts on Connection Agent:

>> The Top 5 Ways to Define Yourself – NOT!

>> The Ultimate Competitive Advantage

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