Animation created by the brilliant Every Interaction with a little copy help from Inkspiller.
“Yes, your vision & purpose is key to the success of your brand, but it is not a substitute for clear statements of value. Sharing your vision for your customers and the purpose of your work is directional. It helps to catch them up in the flow of your work. But it doesn’t trigger their desire to buy.” - Tara Gentile
In a recent article I looked at how Simon Sinek’s incredible TED talk and book “Start With Why” has become so misunderstood and misused, not to mention abused by brands “why-washing” their products.
The truth is that while leading with your WHY is incredibly important, it’s just one string to your marketing message bow.
As Tara Gentile points out in this insightful post, an iron-clad purpose is still no substitute for communicating the value and results your product or service provides;
“You don’t get off the hook for being clear about what your product does, how it is used and what the expected outcomes of use are because your purpose is so grand.”
She notes that this is a particular weakness of the “transformational service sector” which includes “coaches of almost every kind and consultants of every ilk.”
I see this all the time, too. But I completely understand why most coaches and consultants fall into this trap.
Partly this is because we’re all too close to what we do. We passionately believe in the value of our transformational work so we assume other people can see it too.
They most likely can’t.
Especially when we communicate it in a way that makes our services seem nice-to-have rather than an irresistible must have.
A fundamental problem is that what you sell is intangible.
You probably don’t have a product with clear features. You can’t actually guarantee results. Even when you do offer something more tangible, such as digital media campaigns or beautiful websites, it’s still hard to tie its value to a tangible outcome.
This is why it’s vital to share proof of your results across your content (you are sharing results, right?) but it’s also why you might also need to position your offerings in a new way too.
Start With Where
When your business is based upon selling a service, whether that’s consultancy, design or marketing, what you’re most likely selling is either a destination, a smoother journey to that destination or simply the next step in the journey.
Your clients are at Point A and they want to get to Point B.
Most often, this is a destination that your customer can actually get to by themselves in the long run. But you act like a smart SatNav, helping them to get there faster, taking the short cuts, avoiding the traffic, the potholes and the dead ends.
At other times, the destination is somewhere they simply cannot reach alone. They might be lost in the middle of nowhere, broken down in a ditch or have a flat tyre. Your job might be just to get them on the road again.
Or, as Tara advocates, your role is simply to help them with whatever they need for the next leg.
As she points out in her article…
“Any one product or service is one step in the right direction. Not a teleporter … transformational services - from the technical to the metaphysical - simply take time, growth, and natural progression.”
If you think about your own journey, you can see how true that is.
When you only sell your big WHY or communicate too grand a vision, whether that’s well-being for all mankind or making money in your sleep, it’s not going to feel believable.
However, when you understand where the customer wants to get to and you show precisely how you help them take the next step, then the more they are going to want what you offer.
In short, your WHY is the hook, your WHERE makes the sale.
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