Are you triggering positive emotions in your customers?

When I was studying marketing many years ago, our lecturer told us that brand loyalty is dying. He was right.

At the time, I thought it was because customers are becoming more savvy. But the truth goes much deeper. The reason brand loyalty is dying, is because we’re failing to connect with our customers at a deep, emotional level.

I’ll talk more about this in a moment, but first I want to share something with you.

“You are my leftover lasagna”

A few days ago, a friend of mine opened up to me about the troubles she’s been having with her boyfriend’s parents.

“They’re openly opposed to the relationship,” she said. “And what’s more, they’re putting a lot of pressure on him to break off the relationship, which is making him miserable, because we are very much in love and don’t want to break it off. I really don’t know how to cheer him up.”

“What’s his favorite dish?” I asked.

She replied that is was lasagna.

So I suggested she prepare him a surprise dish of lasagna, then take a photo of him happily chomping away at it, and stick that photo to the refrigerator door. Next morning, she should remind him that he’s taking leftover lasagna with him to work, which should help him start his day in a good mood.

And finally, I suggested that once in a while, instead of saying, “I love you,” she should tell him, “You’re my leftover lasagna.”

Don’t get me wrong, the photo of him eating lasagna, and the endearing phrase I suggested will not be enough to solve the problem. But they’re an important step in building a strong bond between the couple, by eliciting positive emotions whenever the two think of each other.

Are you your customer’s “leftover lasagna”?

You might be wondering why a story about relationship troubles should be relevant to your situation as a business owner. I’ll tell you why.

Business IS about personal relationships.

People want relationships with other people, not with faceless companies. And you build those relationships by contributing to them not just on a business level, but also on an emotional level.

Whenever you communicate with your customers, and whenever your customers hear your name, you want two things to happen to them:

  1. you want them to feel a positive emotion and associate it with you
  2. you want them to remember a negative emotion they had, and feel gratitude towards you for saving them from that emotion

At every step of the way, you want to remind your customers of the benefits that your relationship brings, and how those benefits make them feel better about themselves. At the same time, remind them of the problems they had before they met you, and how miserable those problems made them feel.

Don’t shy away from the details either. Give them color and definition. Paint a strong, vivid picture and (metaphorically) stick it to their refrigerator door. Make sure they see it at every waking moment of every day if possible.

Jay Abraham says, “Make your clients revere your work.”

I’ll be presumptuous and take it a step further.

I say, you should make your customer revere your relationship.

Once you’ve done that, you’ll have customers who will never want to leave. And those who eventually can no longer afford your services (and this will happen as you inevitable raise your rates), will come to you and say, “It was so much better with you.”

 

 

A lesson in how to NOT treat customers

Have you ever walked into a store to buy something, and found a clerk who doesn’t even deign to look up from their cell phone when asked for help?

How does that make you feel?

It pisses you off, doesn’t it?

Damn right it does. And so it should.

I want to tell you a brief story. Then I will segue into some of the most common mistakes MOST businesses make —often without even realizing— and sharing some advice to help you avoid them.

Maybe you already make some of these mistake. Maybe you don’t. But because you only have the utmost respect for your clients, I urge you to read on.

But first, my story.

A lesson in how to alienate a perfectly good prospect, and throw money down the drain

A few weeks ago, my wife and I were at a social event with a few friends. One of them is currently on track to quitting his job and going completely freelance. He’s making a steady side income on top of his full time job, and in a few months time he’ll be ready to make his move. So he has decided to start looking for an office.

As we chatted about this over drinks, a common friend turned to another guy whom we had just befriended.

“Hey, you’re an estate agent right? Can you help this guy out?”

The estate agent said:

“Yeah, offices right? There’s a couple of them on [street] in [location]. Go check them out. There’s the number on the door. Call it and we’ll sort something out.”

Then, without another word, he turned his back to the group and struck up a conversation with someone else.

I could see the look on my friend’s face. And though he didn’t say anything, I could tell what he was thinking.

“Wow, I’ve got money in my hand and this guy is literally brushing me off like an insignificant fly.”

Now, I understand if the estate agent didn’t particularly feel like talking business during a social event. But there were many ways in which he could have handled the situation better. In fact, at the very end of the article I’ll give an example of how he could have turned the situation around, and made a powerful and lasting impression on my friend in just 30 seconds.

The ways we unintentionally make our clients feel insignificant

To me, and I think you’ll agree, there’s no worse feeling than being made to feel insignificant — that we don’t matter. And yet, sometimes we unwittingly do it to other people, and to our clients.

When that happens, we lose a valuable relationship, and we lose business. We cannot afford that. The scary thing is that we fall victim to this in a myriad small ways. Here are a few of the ways we unwittingly make our clients feel insignificant:

We don’t keep them updated about the job/task/transaction

You might think this happens mostly with businesses that are just starting out, but you’d be wrong. We all fall for this one.

This usually happens because we make assumptions about what the client knows. Since we are so close to the project, we tend to forget that there are details that the client might be unaware of. As a result, we fail to give updates, which in turn leaves the client blind, makes them feel like we don’t care, and leaves them frustrated.

The solution to this one might sound simple, but it’s not always so.

If you work with clients one on one, you’ll find that different people prefer to be updated in different ways and at different frequencies. Some will want a weekly update with main points. Others will want you to chime in daily. It’s your job to find out each client’s preference and make sure you stick to it. And the only way to do is by asking at the outset.

Before you even start on the project, ask these questions:

  • “How often would you like me to update you on the progress of the project”
  • “What details should the report contain? Should it just be a generic progress report, or do you want me to go into detail about what I’ve done and how I’ve implemented it?”

Make sure you get the answers to these questions in writing, and then include these details in your service agreement.

IMPORTANT: Just because a client wants frequent updates, doesn’t mean they’re going to try to micro-manage you. It simply means that it takes them a little longer to start trusting someone, and of course, that’s perfectly legitimate.

We don’t listen/pay attention to what they’re saying

To me, there are few things more frustrating than having to repeat myself. I go to great lengths to avoid it to. When I assign a task, I give a checklist of deliverables including deadlines and milestones, and I demand that the person follow it to the letter.

But most clients are not that savvy. All they know is that they have a task they want done, and they’re paying you to do it.

It is our job to listen attentively to what the client is asking us to do, take notes, and then feed them back to the client for approval.

The process doesn’t need to be complicated. After the briefing, simply write a quick email with the main points discussed, and send it to the client with a brief note:

“Hi. Here are the main points we discussed in our last meeting. Can you please give them a quick read and let me know whether I’ve missed anything? Thanks!”

This approach does multiple things.

  1. It avoids misunderstandings by giving you a checklist that has been approved by the client
  2. It saves clients the hassle of having to repeat themselves
  3. It saves you the embarrassment of having to ask again if you forget something
  4. It tells the client that you’re attentive and are really taking an interest in their business
  5. It saves your ass in cases where clients insist they told you to do something but they actually didn’t

We make assumptions about their business

Being good at your job is table stakes. It’s the price of entry. As you read this, I assume you are competent and can deliver results.

Clients pay us for our expertise. They pay us because we know more about our field than they do. But be careful. Just because you’re great in your field of expertise, doesn’t mean you know more about the client’s business than they do.

Remember, even if your client has been doing a crappy job at running their business, they’ve already been in it for a while, which means they can offer valuable insights that might help you do your part better.

So, when taking on a new client, make sure you ask the following questions:

  • “When it comes to [your field of expertise] what have you tried up until now?”
  • “Which of those things worked? Would you have any insights as to why they worked?”
  • “Can you tell me why you think the others might have failed?”

That information will save you the hassle of trying things that are already proven to not have worked in that particular industry, as well as get you started with a set of approaches that are already proven to work. This will make your job a lot easier, helping you to produce results faster.

We make them feel like idiots

This partly ties into the previous point.

The client is paying us because we know a lot more about our field than they do. That can be a very intimidating thing for a client. They’re trusting you to do something they’re not capable of doing themselves, and you’re doing it on a business that they’ve built from the ground up, investing lots of time, money and energy.

Most clients will respect the fact that you’re an expert in your field. That doesn’t mean you have to rub it in.

Sometimes a client will resist a piece of advice that you know is for the best. This might happen for any number of reasons. When that happens, don’t be dismissive. Don’t say, “I know best, so you’d better do as I say.”

Instead, here’s what I like to go about it:

“Listen, I know some of the stuff I’m proposing might sound a little alien to you, and I understand that. I want to reassure you that these concepts I’m proposing are based on my experience working with other businesses similar to yours, as well as data collected from case studies in my field of expertise. These concepts have been proven to work. Now, you’re paying me because you trust my expertise in this field, and because you wanted someone who knew more about it than you do. So, it is my duty to make these proposals. But of course, if you don’t feel comfortable doing this, I understand.”

How is this different from just telling them, “Shut up, I know better”?

  1. You’re acknowledging their concern
  2. You’re reassuring them that you’re not using them as guinea pigs
  3. You’re reminding them that they were the ones who wanted you on board because they acknowledged your superior knowledge and expertise in the field
  4. You’re re-framing your assertiveness as something that is coming from a sense of duty towards them and their business, rather than just pigheadedness

We demand that they take our word for things without ever offering any insight as to why we’re doing what we’re doing

This builds on top of the previous point.

You have to realize that our expertise gives us a view of things that our clients can never fully grasp. And sometimes, they will be skeptical about things we propose.

It is our job to explain to clients —in clear and simple terms— why we’re suggesting a particular course of action. We need to tell them why our approach is better than others, and how it is going to benefit their business.

Remember, they don’t need to have a thorough understanding of what we’re doing. They just need to understand it enough to appreciate that the suggestion is sound, and that it won’t drive their business into the wall.

We make them feel like we’re just in it for the money and don’t really care about their business

This is probably the toughest one to project, and it boils down to a collection of the above points, plus a few other things.

One of the things I love to do, is talk about the client’s business in terms of “we” when talking with the client. In other words, I allude to the fact that I am part of the company, not just a contract worker.

I’ll say things like, “I feel this would really benefit our clients” or “this should help us connect better with our audience” or “let’s kick ass”.

I’ve worked with many business owners in many industries, and I keep hearing the same complaint:

“It’s so hard to find contract workers who care”

If you can demonstrate that quality, it will set you well ahead of your competitors, and your clients will love you for it.

Back to the estate agent — 30 seconds to get the prospect’s loyalty

At the beginning of this article, I told you how an estate agent shrugged off a friend of mine who is looking to rent an office for his freelance business.

His response was:

“Yeah, offices right? There’s a couple of them on [street] in [location]. Go check them out. There’s the number on the door. Call it and we’ll sort something out.”

This completely alienated my friend, ensuring that he will never want to be anywhere near that estate agent ever again.

Granted, it was a social gathering and maybe the agent didn’t want to talk about work. But here’s what he could’ve said instead.

“Wow, so you’re thinking of starting out on your own? That’s great. Yeah, having a good office is really important, especially since this is your own business, so you want it to be something that feels right. I already have a couple of places that I think you would love. But it’s really noisy here, so it’s not the best place to talk. Tell you what. Give me your number, and I’ll call you tomorrow so we can talk a bit more in depth. What’s the best time to call you?”

Your thoughts?

There are many other ways to handle the common pitfalls that I’ve mentioned in this article. And there are also a few other pitfalls that I haven’t mentioned.

I’d love to hear your thoughts about them. What do you do to make your clients feel special? How do you make sure you don’t make the mistakes I’ve mentioned? Do you know of any other common mistakes?

Tell me all about it in the comments section below.

Why you should NEVER write your own copy

The Judgement of Solomon - Nicolas Poussin [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Before I tell you why you should NEVER write your own copy, I want to share something with you.

The very best copywriters in the world WILL NOT write copy for themselves

That’s right. And while I’m sure a bunch of copywriters out there will get their panties in a bunch over that statement, I’ll stand by it. I’ll also tell you WHY that is true.

The very best copywriters will write YOU amazing copy. They’ll get YOU a ton of sales. But they will NOT write sales copy to promote themselves. Instead, they’ll get someone else to write it for them, or at the very least give them an outsider’s perspective.

If that doesn’t make sense, I’ll explain it using a simple analogy:

YOU CANNOT CUT YOUR OWN HAIR.

Why? Because your perspective of yourself is limited. And that is an inescapable truth.

Solomon’s Paradox — Why our self-judgement sucks (scientifically-backed statement)

Don’t take my word for it. There are studies that prove it. In fact, there’s even a name for the phenomenon. It’s called “Solomon’s Paradox”.

The name comes from the legendary King Solomon who, as the story goes, was infinitely wise when it came to the matters of his subjects. He was also notoriously bad at dealing with his own personal matters. In fact, due to his antics, you could say he was single-handedly responsible for the ruin of his kingdom.

So, what’s Solomon’s Paradox all about?

If like me you’re fond or research papers, there’s a cool study (Grossmann, Kross, 2014) where researchers ran a series of experiments to prove that we are wiser about situations when we’re detached from them. The full study is right here.

But in essence, here’s what it’s all about.

Remember that friend of yours with the cheating partner? Yeah, that same one who wouldn’t listen to reason and kept dating the lying creep instead of breaking it off?

That’s Solomon’s Paradox at work. You were wiser about your friend’s situation because you were detached from it. And your friend was on the opposite end, drowning in crap and coming up with all sorts of “valid” reasons for wanting to stay in it.

So what does all this have to do with copywriters and not writing your own copy?

Well, nobody is immune from Solomon’s Paradox. Copywriters are no exception.

Sure, we are the undisputed masters of selling. Our career is completely focused on studying and understanding the key principles that make people click the BUY button.

A huge chunk of what I earn goes right back into market research, scientific studies in consumer psychology, courses, 1:1 mentoring, and mastermind groups. And I’ve successfully used that knowledge to help companies make quite a bit of money.

But I’ll be honest with you; when it comes to writing copy to promote myself, I get a trusted, competent colleague to give me an outside perspective. Invariably, we find I’ve missed a number of key elements that end up making my copy 10X more effective.

Is it because I’m stupid? Ok ok… let’s not go there.

The truth is, writing copy for yourself is many many times harder than writing it for others. When you’re “selling yourself”, your perspective is limited and your judgement is badly skewed.

There ARE a few exceptions to this rule, but trust me, you and I fit nicely and squarely into it.

So let’s not be presumptuous. You’ve got a business and you’ve invested a ton of time, money and energy in it; do the right thing, get help with your copy — do it NOW.

Yes, you can write a first draft of your copy if you’ve taken the time to really study the principles in depth. But trust me, you’ll be missing crucial points that could be making your copy many time more effective.

I’m not asking you to hire me specifically (actually yes, I am, so just get in touch and let’s talk). Just stop trying to do it all yourself. Remember:

YOU CAN’T CUT YOUR OWN HAIR!

 


 

HEY LISTEN UP!!!

I’d really love to hear your take on this. Does this make sense to you? Do you think it’s idiotic? Talk to me!

Leave a comment in the comments section below. I’m open to it all.

 


Bibliography

Grossmann, I., & Kross, E. (2014). Exploring Solomon’s Paradox: Self-Distancing Eliminates the Self-Other Asymmetry in Wise Reasoning About Close Relationships in Younger and Older Adults. Psychological Science, 25(8), 1571–1580. http://doi.org/10.1177/0956797614535400

Good copywriters charge premium fees (and they’re worth every penny)

Good copy is an investment

I know it’s a cliché, and that it can be misleading, but very often, price is a good indicator of skill and value offered.

Yes, you can get a project done on the cheap. Put your project up for grabs on a content mill, slap a few of $100 bills on it, and you’ll have a bunch of “copywriters” falling over each other, yelling and screaming, “Me! Me! Pick Me!”

Tempting, I know. But when you think about it, what does this attitude tell you about these “copywriters”?

Cheap “copywriters” who are willing to write sales pages at $2000 a pop, aren’t making enough money to make a decent living, which means they need to churn out as many projects as possible per year. And guess what — they won’t have any trouble skimping on quality.

So where does that leave you?

You guessed it. Your business is not only down a couple of thousands, but you’re now stuck with a poorly-written sales page that might even perform WORSE than what you had. And we both know that is going to cost you even more money in lost sales.

On the flipside, you can expect a GOOD copywriter to charge you upwards of $10,000 for a sales page. If that sounds a tad steep, bear with me while I put it into perspective.

We’ve already agreed that the cheap, sloppy copywriter is going to cost you anywhere between 2 – 5 thousand dollars in fees and lost sales. That’s money down the drain that you’re never going to recoup.

On the other hand, the $10k you pay for GOOD copy is an investment destined to pay for itself over and over again. You see, copywriting is meant to do one thing and one thing alone — bring in more sales i.e. more sales than what you’re currently making.

For instance, by charging premium prices, I drive away A LOT of potential business. But that’s intentional.

A competent copywriter will typically work on very few projects per year. That guarantees he/she can invest all the time and energy needed to make the project a stellar success.

There’s no way you can do that when working on a dozen different projects per month.

REMEMBER: Good copy is an investment, bad copy is an expense, and doing nothing is just as bad.

The key take-aways here are:

  • Investing in good copy is like buying seeds and water with the intent of growing food. At the end of the day, you can’t eat soil and rocks.
  • Bad copy scares people away, and I guarantee you will NEVER see them again.

On a final note, you might think doing nothing saves you money. In reality, if your copy is not converting, you’re bleeding money. Doing nothing is like having a gashing wound and not covering it up with a bandage.

If you do not invest in GOOD copy, your business will bleed to death.

Are you sending out a tramp
to sell for you?

Let me paint a picture for you. Run with me on this one, ok? Just play along.

I want you to imagine that you’re in the market to hire a new salesperson. You post a vacancy and two people turn up:

The Candidates

GORDON

  • Wears t-shirt and jeans to the interview.
  • Slouches.
  • Has a pot belly.
  • Reeks of cigarettes.
  • Yellow teeth.
  • Hasn’t used a comb since his hair started falling out.
  • Isn’t exactly the most eloquent of types.
  • Salary expectation: €7.00 per hour flat.

ALEX

  • Wears designer suit and tie, matching belt and shoes, classy cufflinks and an array of accessories displaying good taste and finesse.
  • Walks and moves with grace and authority.
  • Lean and evidently athletic.
  • Firm handshake, confident smile and friendly sparkle in his eye.
  • Fresh breath.
  • Pearly white teeth.
  • Very well-groomed from head to toe.
  • Faint hint of cologne, not overpowering.
  • Speaks with confidence and authority on every subject you discuss.
  • Salary expectation: €40.00 per hour plus commission.

The Test

Well, I’ll agree that the difference in salary is remarkable. But consider the chances of success of one versus the other. Let’s give them a trial run by sending them to a client each.

GORDON’S ATTEMPT

Gordon turns up at the client’s office unannounced.

It turns out the client is out on business, so Gordon’s trip is wasted. He speaks with the client’s secretary and sets an appointment for the next day.

The next day, he turns up for the appointment, five minutes late. The client isn’t very pleased but plays the polite host.

Gordon’s opening statement is, “Yeah, so we’re selling this and I though you might be interested…”.

As the meeting drags on, it becomes more and more evident that Gordon is sorely unprepared. He knows very little about the product he’s trying to sell and sadly, even less about the client’s business, his needs, and how the product would help fulfill them.

The client grows impatient with Gordon and dismisses him with a casual, “I’ll get back to you”.

Of course, he never will.

Gordon has left a very lasting impression on the client. Regrettably, it is a very negative one, which will most likely be very hard to reverse.

Not only has he not brought in any money, he has actually left you in the red.

ALEX’S ATTEMPT

Alex calls the client and sets a meeting for three days from the date.

He spends those three days researching the client’s business and industry in minute detail. He draws up a detailed report of the client’s major needs, including a specific action plan of how the product will address those needs and dramatically improve the client’s business.

On the day of the meeting, he turns up at the client’s office ten minutes early and elegant as always. He greets the client with a firm handshake and a warm, sincere, “Pleased to meet you”.

As the meeting starts, Alex temporarily sets aside the product and focuses completely on the client’s business. He demonstrates remarkable insight into the industry and proves himself familiar and sensitive to the client’s challenges and needs.

Furthermore, he doesn’t fail to compliment the client about his strengths and successes.

Once he has built rapport with the client and demonstrated know-how and authority, he makes his first mention of the product.

He presents his customized report to the client and walks him through it, backing up his claims at every step with relevant research and data.

Through this solid build-up of tiny steps, Alex has completely won the client over, and he secures the sale as naturally as night follows day.

The end result doesn’t require further elaboration.

A pretty parable…

but what’s the point?

I guess the outcome was pretty predictable.

Don’t get me wrong. I have no doubt Gordon would eventually still manage to pull in a sale or two, IF he happened to meet someone who desperately needed what he was selling, ANDcouldn’t find it anywhere else. But you can rest assured his skills and presentation would have nothing to do with the sale.

On the other hand, Alex elevates the status and image of your company.

He charms his way into clients’ pockets and more than makes up for his sizable paycheck. He leaves nothing to chance, approaching every prospect with meticulous preparation and focused energy.

Sure, Alex costs six times as much as Gordon, plus a hefty commission.

But when you consider the significant returns, I think you’ll agree that he’s an investment seriously worth considering.

A twist of the tale

Now let me toss you a thought.

What if your salesperson isn’t a physical, human being? What happens when your salesperson takes the shape of words on a website, leaflet, billboard, or even a radio or television advert?

Here’s what gets me.

Most people wouldn’t think twice about picking smart, suave, eloquent Alex over half-baked, slouchy Gordon. And yet, when it comes to using words as their salesperson, they’ll call in Richard the IT guy and have him write down a couple of paragraphs, “cause you know, he’s from the UK, so his English is gonna be good”.

Of course, Richard is great at the tech stuff. But when it comes to sales, he’s as clueless as a camel roaming the Arctic Circle!

Having Richard the IT guy write your text, is like sending Gordon in for a sale. Of course, Richard doesn’t reek of cigarettes, but the results of his writing will be equally dismal and will have the same negative impact on your business.

If you want your text to be an effective salesperson, it must have the same characteristics as our star salesman Alex:

  • Well-dressed and well-groomed i.e. free from spelling and grammatical mistakes.
  • Firm handshake, confident smile and friendly sparkle in his eye i.e. written in a style that is appealing.
  • Speaks with confidence and authority i.e. equipped with arguments that are well-researched and designed to sell.

So at this point… here’s my shameless pitch

It’s time you stopped calling on Richard the IT guy for your text. Leave him be, he’s busy enough as it is.

Get in touch with me instead.

Here’s why:

  • You’re getting a focused, dedicated expert. I am a writer by profession… you know… as opposed to being an IT guy (nothing against them, really… just saying).
  • Your text will take on the persona of the Star Salesperson your business needs. I have invested a ridiculous amount of time and money (and still do) into researching what makes words sell, and I spare no effort in using my knowledge to full effect.
  • Your investment will keep on giving. I guarantee that once I put my expertise at your service, my work will pay for itself many times over.

If you understand exactly what I am talking about, if you can relate to it, and would like to discuss how we can work together, click here and use the form to leave me a private message.

I will be in touch shortly for a chat – no commitments, no strings attached.