I bought Morrie a new toy. He demolished it in less time than it took me to select it. Sigh. That’s Morrie. Of course, it’s not the first time this rascal of a mutt has taught me something about smart small business marketing.
Ripping it to pieces was his idea of fun. He immediately tore off the arms and part of the head while he gleefully squeezed rapid shrill squeaks from the manufactured critter. Then he pulled out all the stuffing to find the greatest treasure; the tennis-ball-size plastic noise-making insert. That’s now marred with dozens of teeth marks and chunks missing.
You see, Morrie doesn’t view toys the same way I do, or most creatures on this planet, for that matter. His joy comes from redesigning items into fractured and unrecognizable forms. He’s delighted in this practice with everything from batteries and TV remotes to eye glasses, window sills, and power tools. Fortunately for me, he doesn’t swallow his artwork.
As I watched Morrie’s enthusiasm with this latest toy – I don’t buy him many these days – I realized his behavior isn’t that different from prospects or clients. People tend to put their own, sometimes unintended and unexpected, value on what you offer to them.
It’s OK to let others appreciate what you offer in their own special way. That’s what smart small business marketing is all about.
Small business selling isn’t about the best marketing strategy
When I started in the marketing industry at what I’d now consider kid-age, I had a partner who was a brilliant creative. Steve had twelve years of advertising agency experience and an uncanny ability to come up with remarkably clever spontaneous solutions.
He was a wonderful mentor. I’ll always appreciate his kindness in taking me under his wing. Most of what I gleaned from his experience, knowledge, and guidance offered great ideals to model.
Sometimes the examples others provide also harbor cautionary lessons. Steve was convinced clients sought his marketing mandates. Why shouldn’t they? He was artful at turning client prospects into buyers. He was also wrong. Clients weren’t hiring Steve to tell them what to do. They were hiring him to help them feel like they were doing the right thing.
Ironically, as talented as he was at marketing strategies, Steve’s one-on-one communication skills weren’t awesome. He would get riled if clients didn’t agree with his suggestions. He helped business owners make a lot of money. In the end, though, many weren’t happy. He was more focused on getting clients to accept the best solutions (his), than he was on listening.
Small business success really isn’t about you
Small business owners tend to think in terms they understand and appreciate. Rarely does this translate well to prospect or client communications. It might be important to you that you have 55 years combined experience, are affiliated with the best insurance carrier, or have the biggest book of business in town.
Clients don’t care. They want to feel understood. They want to know how you’re going hear and respond to their needs. Every client thinks their situation is unique. Every client seeks to feel important. Making a prospecting meeting or promotional piece about your ideals, values, or accomplishments doesn’t address those concerns.
The next time you feel compelled to tout the benefits of your firm, product, or service, consider instead, getting into your prospect’s head. Delivering what’s exciting to them will be a lot more effective than demonstrating your prowess.
That means asking questions. It means doing a lot more listening than talking. When’s the last time you did that when trying to sell your wares? Give it try. You’ll find it’s a lot easier it is to convince someone you’re the right solution for them.
Here’s the funny thing with Morrie’s joy. I first saw toys ruined in ten minutes, figuring that was all there was of my proud purchase. Not so for this impish mutt. While the fun he has tearing things apart is immense, he also enjoys carrying around the carcasses of his conquests for months. What I see as ruined, he sees as remodeled and now perfect for a game of tug of war.
Smart small business marketing isn’t so much about delivering what meets your expectations. It’s more about understanding where others see the value. Want more insight from Morrie? Here’s the lessons he offers on networking.