When I started my first company I had a grand total of zero clients. Over the first year I gained several clients but struggled to increase my client billings – until a client taught me a valuable lesson about communication. My client asked for a proposal to build a website. They read through the proposal I prepared and asked me to write another proposal in English. While my proposal was written using the English language, it was not written in language the client could understand. The language that I used about technology and marketing might as well have been from another planet. While I believed my offer was valuable, the client simply could not understand what I was talking about as they did not share the same background knowledge on my area of expertise. This lesson taught me that just because I think something is valuable, it is only important and valuable if the listener can understand.
I believe this is becoming more relevant today because there are so many new products and services now being launched into the market. Many new products are very technical and use concepts that are still new to many businesses.
Here are a few examples of how language changes perceived value of the same product:
Commonly said: Cheeseburger $9.99
What customers need to hear: Free Range Beef Patty with Organic Cheddar $9.99
Commonly said: Big Data Analytic Solutions
What customers need to hear: See customer patterns. Produce business insights.
Commonly said: Automated Marketing Platform
What customers need to hear: Make your customer database work for you.
Did the language change the perceived value for you?
Many times businesses treat communications like cheeseburgers. They survey the market, look at what competitors are doing and simply copy. They are too busy trying to use buzzwords and follow trends in order to win new business. Trends, acronyms and buzzwords many times mean nothing to potential clients.
People care about the impact your service or product will make on their business. Take the time to understand your customers concerns and give them the background they need to understand why your offer is valuable. While a Free Range Beef Patty with Organic Cheddar is still a “cheeseburger”, the description allows the reader to produce different value assessments based on the description. However, if the reader doesn’t place value on Free Range or Organic, then it is useless.
Take the time know what’s important to the people you’re selling to and share it with them in ways they can easily explain back to you. Here is a simple test to know if your potential clients understand what you’re saying:
Ask an existing customer what your company does and why it is valuable to them.
You might be surprised.