• Warren Leppik

The biggest threat to growth

I honestly think that when someone contacts me saying they need a video they could just as well be asking me for toilet paper. Someone on the leadership team read somewhere that video is the leading marketing tactic so they delegate the task of “getting one” to their executive assistant or team. This “ask” then generates the call to me from someone who knows even less about what is needed than whoever delegated the task to them. Someone intent on getting a price for something without the slightest understanding of WHY they actually need it or what will make it successful when the final product is delivered.

Well, at the risk of sounding like a broken record, you actually don’t need a video, you need great stories on video. But before that, you need to be able to describe your unique value proposition in a way that is clear, concise and concrete. And, believe it or not, most people can’t. How do I know this? Because everyday, I hear and read elevator pitches that sound like the example from a book I highly recommend “Value-Added Selling, Fourth Edition: How to Sell More Profitably, Confidently, and Professionally by Competing on Value - Not Price” by Tom Reilly and Paul Reilly:

Ace Technology is a global partner in the content analysis industry offering analytics in a cohesive and integrated methodology to maximize innovative design parameters that produce valuable outcomes for our client partners that seek to understand the click stream activity of online buyers in multiple applied technologies. We know that in theory, theory and practice are the same, but in practice they are not. So we pursue pragmatic adaptations of complex datasets and simplify them into simple and coherent solutions.

Hard not to laugh, isn’t it? According to the authors “People experience 56 interruptions per day, spend 20% of their day dealing with these interruptions, switch activities every 3 minutes and face a minimum of 600 marketing exposures every day.” And yet the majority of companies are using messaging like the above example, wondering why it doesn’t produce results. Creating video based on unclear messaging is throwing good money after bad.

Can you differentiate your status as a value-added supplier? According to Tom and Paul Reilly “The biggest threat to growth is the inability to differentiate through your definable and defendable differences”. I would add, that too many companies are trying to differentiate quantitatively when they should be trying to appeal to our qualitative side. Quantitative value is tied to features and benefits, like warranty, toll free number and 24-hour technical support. But these are nothing more than table stakes in a competitive environment. Qualitative value is the ONLY plane of differentiation because it appeals to our emotional side. In the words of the authors, qualitative value “is more subjective and intangible. Not easily measured. It offers more style than substance. Perceived and felt but not quite as objective. It makes your buyer feel good about your product, your company and you. Its more about who you are than what you do. It provides a warm and fuzzy feeling with buyers. They view it as a security blanket or cushion”. It is scientifically proven that we decide emotionally and then try to justify those decisions rationally.

Within a variety of qualitative attributes, what we help you get a laser focus on is“the good will you’ve created with customers”. The things a company's staff does that are unique to the company because they’re tied to the company culture, no two of which are alike. Our process immerses us in our client’s world and their customer’s worlds, helping them stress test the answers to questions like these:

  • What makes you meaningfully different from your competition?

  • What is it about what you do for your clients that would make a prospect say “I want to have an experience like that!”?

  • What is the impact of your WHY?

Seems simple enough. But based on the responses I’ve gotten back over the years, people don’t seem to be aware that what they’re saying isn’t actually saying anything. Its only when you start to probe, uncovering what they truly intended to say, or want the prospect to know, that you can rephrase what’s being said into something meaningful to the target audience. Just know that the shorter something is, the more work is needed to produce it; verbal diarrhea is easy, but its also ineffective.

Once you think you’ve finalized an elevator pitch, it's important you run it by a few people before putting it into widespread use. Does it make sense to the target audience who doesn’t know what you know? Are those who had the same pain your current customers once did, before meeting you, enticed to want the same resolution?

While you will leverage the essence of the final elevator pitch in brochures, on the web site and on social media, the most effective way to entice prospects is to help them visualize themselves in the solution the elevator pitch describes. The best way to accomplish this is to capture client experience stories that will paint a picture in your prospect’s mind, enabling them to see themselves in the solution and crave the same positive experience. Scientific studies show that thoughtful and enthusiastic stories light up the same areas of the brain in the listener as they do in the teller. An authentic story enables a listener to share the experience of the teller as if they had actually experienced it themselves creating the desire to experience it in real life. Boom! Engagement and growth.

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