At the Speed of Light

How many times has someone you've called said, "Why don't you send me some information on your company"?

Ask yourself, before you send anything: How will this be dealt with once it arrives at that person's desk. Aren't they already suffering from information overload? On the one hand, people say they they need more information in order to make the decision just to meet with you, let alone to agree to buy or hire. On the other, they have more information about everything than they know what to do with.

The problem is, your prospects are not usually looking for information. They are usually, politely, asking you to go away. Most salespeople at this point shovel a whole lot of information at their prospect, hoping something will stick.

A more effective way to respond to your prospect's request for more information is to send something that reaches them at a gut level. It doesn't have to be overwhelming, a subtle message can be as effective as a bold one, as long as it connects. How to achieve that connection on paper or a website is, of course, the big challenge.

Upon receiving your marketing material your prospect will ask themselves, "Is it worth my time to look at this? and "Do I have the time to look at it now?" This happens in the first glance. If your material doesn't elicit a yes to one or both of these questions, you have failed.

When done right, the connection is made with no effort on your prospect's part. Suddenly they recognize that someone is saying all the right things. Information alone does not have the power to move a prospect further along the sales path. Making a connection does. And it can happen to your prospect in the blink of an eye.

A well known, well received, Saturn commercial showed how in seconds we can come to a profound understanding and connection with an advertiser. A young woman calls the Saturn guys and asks a favour for when the new car is delivered to the showroom. We see her and her nice, average-Joe kind of fellow looking over the new car. He's paying lots of attention to the macho dashboard details and such and she seems a little nervous. As he turns to examine the rest of the interior, we see in a flash, (in one version, we see only a few square inches) what he sees--a baby seat. We have all the information we need. We know precisely, now, what this story is all about.

We cannot help but be caught up in the drama because it is up to us to make the story up for ourselves, as it unfolds in the remaining few seconds: in his eyes, surprise and (very obvious) love for the lady. On her face, the question: how will he take the news? Then the happily-ever-after answer. The connection with the audience has been made.

The thought of a mother-to-be doesn't make me go all mushy, and I've never even been in a car with a baby seat. But this reached me at a profound, personal level. I'm ready to look at a Saturn when my latest Honda is ready to be traded in.

You may not be selling cars, but the principle is the same. You must connect strongly and quickly, and the best way to do that is at the gut level. That gut level connection is often all your prospect needs to know before they will meet with you.

The average person has a unfathomable reserve of information that is accessed, processed, understood and felt in something approaching the speed of light. That kind of information--gut level understanding--is more powerful than anything else a marketer can thrust on a prospect. Does it really work that way? Does watching a boy call his grandfather from the beaches of Dieppe on his cell phone to say thanks work? Ask Bell. Not only does an image or a concept do the work of a thousand words, it does it in 1/1000th of the time, and with a thousand times the punch.

This is not to say you must include pictures with your marketing material. A good writer can paint vivid pictures with text in people's minds, using the power of a metaphor or a story.

The lesson: Don't turn your marketing materials into something like a manual, catalogue, lecture, or diatribe. Use the powerful informational forces already resident in your target market. Work to understand who they are and why they might want you instead of someone else. Speak in their language, and keep the focus on them.

Keith Thirgood, Creative Director

Capstone Communications Group

Helping businesses get more business through innovative marketing

Markham, Ontario, Canada 905-472-2330

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