Recently my very successful speaker friend Bill Cates was invited to do a TED talk.
Bill reached out to me to find out how I had enjoyed my TED experience and what specific recommendations I might have for him. After answering his questions, I directed him to my website so he could watch my talk:
Bill’s (edited) response:
“I watched your video. I can see why this is a great video for you. I gave it a like while I was there. 😊
The breakdown of Obama’s 3-word slogan is great.
I love your concept: ‘Your brand is based on 3 words, All about them.’ (Sounds like the title of a great book. Oh wait… it IS the title of a great book. 😊)
The most powerful part of the talk (for me) is this statement: ‘The most powerful brands, the most compelling brands, the brands that help you win your argument, sell your product, sell your service, do not make the consumer feel good about you. They make your customer feel good themselves!’
You could build a business on that!”
Here’s the funny thing:
I HAVE built a business on that.
And you can too.
Many of us have been trained to build businesses on what we do. It’s such a strong part of business culture that it wasn’t too many years ago that people actually named themselves based on their occupations.
Ms. Goldsmith was a goldsmith.
Mr. Baker baked.
Ms. Fletcher made arrows.
Mr. Bowman shot those arrows.
Carter transported goods. Smitty was a blacksmith.
But today, too many forces conspire against us being successful just by being good at what we do.
This is due to the ascendance of democratized information, the ubiquity of overnight delivery of goods, the consistency of computerized production, and the 24/7/365 nature of social media. Thanks to these factors, your clients and customers have unlimited access to people and companies who do what you do and sell what you sell.
Are you better than the competition? Of course, you are. Just Lake Wobegon, “where all the women are strong, all the men are good looking, and all the children are above average,” the members of my blog community are also the best at what they do.
But today that’s just not enough.
First, most of your customers and clients aren’t qualified to determine if you’ve done a good job for them or not. After all, if they were as good at doing what you do they would do it themselves. You spent years studying your profession. Then you spent more years honing your craft. Or, as the old saying goes, “you’ve forgotten more than they’ll ever know.”
Second, unless you sell an instant gratification product or service, your clients won’t know how well you did your job until days, weeks, or even years have gone by. (By the way, the same thing will happen if they choose to work with your competition.)
You might not discover the true outcome of your doctor’s knowledge and effectiveness until the end of your life. You probably won’t know the true extent of your investment professional’s techniques and talents until enough years have passed for your investment strategy to pay off (or not). And you certainly won’t know if your insurance broker recommended the right products for you until you actually experience the event they’ve helped you protect against.
So why do we spend so much time, effort, and money trying to prove that we’re better at something that our customers aren’t capable of properly evaluating in the first place?
Instead, the way to win your argument, sell your product or sell your service, is to make your customer feel good themselves. And you do this by creating an All About Them brand that speaks not just to your potential customers’ needs but to their prevailing aspirations.
Showing your customers not just how you can help them achieve what they want but how they can be who they want to be puts you in a singular position way above your competition. And making your customers feel good not about just what you can do for them but about themselves will secure your place in their roster of critical contributors to their own success.
To reiterate my friend Bill’s good words: “You could build a business on that!”