Your marketing includes way too much you

Handsome man humor funny gesture in a mirrorOne of the most common mistakes marketers make is that they think their customers and prospects care about them, what they sell and how it works. The human truth is consumers really do think, feel and ask “what’s in it for me?”

They have something they want to accomplish – from getting a cereal that their kids will eat to finding the right de-greaser for their airplane engines. They know the result they’re after and their buying decision is going to be based on satisfying that need.

When it comes to buying decisions, those decisions are always:

  • Based on emotion (positive or negative ones)
  • Based on meeting our needs and wants (even implicit)

And the truth of it is, consumers usually don’t care about understanding the nitty gritty of how those needs and wants are met.

I’m not suggesting someone would turn a blind eye to dangers, laws or morals. But think of your own buying behaviors. Typically, we don’t care how something works, we just care that it does. Or we care about some very specific aspect of how it works that is tied to us getting the result that we want.

It might be speed, expense, reliability, safety etc. that is tied back to that emotional tug. It’s all about the end result, though. Contrast that “cut to the chase” hunger for a solution with the marketing or sales’ teams attempts to sell.

We often build elaborate cases for how and why our product/service is the absolutely right solution. We list benefits (with bullet points and visuals) that dig into the nuances of every aspect of how we get something accomplished. See the disconnect?

Worried that your marketing might be putting the spotlight on the wrong part of the equation? Here are some common trouble spots.

Headlines: Most headlines are feature headlines. They are about us, not the consumer. “From 0-60 in 5 seconds” is talking about an attribute of our product. “You’ll never be late for another soccer game” is about the buyer’s desires.

Try this instead: Make sure your headline is making a promise or pointing out the consequence of them not using your product. Use the buyer’s emotions to connect them to how your wares can solve their problem.

Tradeshow booths: Because space is at a premium in trades show signage, booth graphics and materials – we tend to use bullet points galore. We want to pack in the facts. Which means we’re telling our story, not the one the buyer wants to hear.

Try this instead: Think about what your prospects ask most. Use your booth to answer those frequently asked questions about end results, rather than talk features.

Sales presentations: If you pull out some old sales presentations, take this simple test. Grade each PowerPoint slide – about us or about them. In most cases, your slides are going to be 75% about you and about 25% about what the customer wants.

Try this instead: Use this recipe for putting together your next presentation. The first 2/3 of the slides should be about the client, client’s business, their challenge and what you can do it fix it. Then, take that final 1/3 of your slides and divide them into 2. The first half – you can give them some information about your company, working with you, etc. The final ½ should be re-focused on the prospect and solving their problem.

If you start looking at all of your marketing materials with this new perspective, you’ll quickly be able to spot which ones need to have their focus re-adjusted to be more about the customer and less about you.

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15 comments on “Your marketing includes way too much you

  1. Robert Corio says:

    Great article! This is something that we forget and that needs to be done.

  2. Rich L., UK says:

    True. No one will care about how things come together and work more than they will care that what you offer works for them. Such things are better put on fine print, or left for customer support to answer questions with.

  3. Maven says:

    Businesses should always bear in mind that it shouldn’t be all about them, instead focus on the needs of the customers. Target that need and watch your sales go up.

    1. I totally agree with you! We always have to ask ourselves “What is in it for them?”
      This is critical, however I really like to keep a personal tone when writing but always respecting the audience the adding value.
      Great post!

  4. Thomas J. Hill says:

    I agree that customers want to know “what’s in it for me.” However, I disagree that consumers don’t care about the why’s and how’s. I much prefer to deal with a marketer or salesperson who appears to be trustworthy, and who is willing to put forth the positives and the negatives of his product. I could skip the personal stories, but the ability to put “salesman” aside and be person-to-person is a valuable sales skill. How can marketers and sales people put this image forth on the Web, though?

  5. John Spencer says:

    Very useful information to keep in mind.

  6. Maciej Fita says:

    I think positioning the brand elements behind the business are an important part of creating a story. People want the emotional connection to a brand they enjoy being a part of.

  7. Always use a headline as the attention grabber. What advantage would I have owning your product? Then tell me what else it can do for me and finally how I can get it.

  8. Jennifer says:

    I agree. Very useful info. Thanks for sharing.

  9. Matt Abraxas says:

    So true. I see so many video marketing campaigns that work off the premise of their host. I understand the importance of making a personal connection, but I quickly click away when I start hearing about personal problems. I have Facebook for that. Heck, I have my own life for that.

  10. V. Sandberg says:

    One of my first lessons was to think in terms of what the customer is looking for, if you can get inside of their head you are ahead of the game. In other words exactly what you said, The human truth is consumers really do think, feel and ask “what’s in it for me?”

  11. Gregg Zban says:

    Drew, very interesting comments about the slide presentation. It is so true that most would have the first half about them rather than about there potential clients. Your formula really comes in handy. Thanks!

  12. Julie Harris says:

    Sometimes you have to think like a customer does and they only care about the product and how this will able to meet their needs or wants. Good points Drew. 🙂

  13. Todd Purdum says:

    Marketing and presenting are two different parts of the selling process…let’s not forget that.
    Presenting assumes you know enough about the client to offer that “thing” of value that meets their needs and buying personallity. Only then can you offer and create a powerpoint that is 2/3’s about them and only 1/3 about you.
    Marketing on the other hand is your “elevator pitch” and is always just about you and what you sell, offer, or do.
    It is very hard to personalize marketing to the masses, gaining enough pre-prospect knowledge to customize every marketing interaction or tough point that you send out.
    Good points in the article but I think it is meshing together two seperate things.
    Marketing (me), when done effectively, will increase your luck of being in the right place at the right time. Presenting (them) is all about showing the client you understand.

    1. Todd,

      I respectfully disagree. Marketing to the masses is over. Today, you need to know who your exact target audience is (build personas) and speak to them and only them. If others overhear and want to buy — dandy but they are not your core audience. Which means you can talk to them about what matters to them. In fact, you have to demonstrate right off the bat that they get their need or they’ll turn to someone else.

      Your elevator pitch cannot be about you and what you do. It has to be about you and what you do FOR THEM.

      I do agree you can drill down deeper once you’ve had that first interaction. Now you can give specific examples (that they told you about) and the conversation becomes much richer and detailed. But if that’s the first time you’ve turned the conversation to them, you’re dead in the water.


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