What Not to Say

by Dale

I’ve been speaking lately on what to say – or how to craft a message that is powerful and memorable. After seeing blog posts of several of the people who attended my talks as well as hearing their introductions, I’m beginning to think I should be speaking on What Not to Say! A marketing take off on What Not to Wear.

I thought it might be helpful to give some rules for the road. I am beginning to realize they are not obvious to many people. But, then again, a lot of the principles underlying good marketing aren’t necessarily obvious.

1. Please stop telling me how wonderful, talented, smart, well-traveled,  and in-demand you are. It makes me want to do one of two things (sometimes both): either bolt or throw up. People who really understand good marketing get that it needs to be all about the client and solving their challenges in creative ways.

2. Please don’t tell me all the ways you can hire me. I feel pushed and push never wins a sale. Almost everyone (I know I’m making a gross generality here) hate pushy people. So why would you think that I’m not smart enough to hire you by having a conversation that takes me to a place that quietly shows your expertise?

3.  Please don’t tell me that this week because of your brilliant advice, you picked up 6 new clients. I get an email from a coach who I knew years ago and he includes this in almost every post he sends. In a moment of boredom, I counted how many new clients he got in one month. I hope he is working with them in innovative ways because by my calculations he has no time to sleep. Make sure your numbers add up if you keep doing this.

4. Examine your assumptions. You know what they say about those old assumptions making an ass out of you. It’s all true. I’ve tried it.  I had a conversation this morning with a friend who just sold her first software company and went to a networking event. She happens to be extremely attractive so she was a magnet to certain people in the group. One man came up to her and introduced himself and immediately assumed she was an administrative assistant.

Now of course, there is absolutely nothing wrong with admins. They save us from ourselves. I’m the original poster child for that campaign. But this gal has walked in the shoes of the successful entrepreneur. She has her MBA. She has paid her dues.  She never bothered to correct him. She just tossed his card in the trash as she walked out.

5. Try hard not to use acronyms. You are so immersed in a methodology that has a long name and it needs shortening for the people who know you. I get that. But for all of the rest of us don’t bother with the name – just tell us the story of how powerful it is and for whom it has worked.

Now for some positive thoughts.

Concentrate on your prospective client. Talk to them about their challenges, ask them questions, write about things that have worked, help them understand something, and name the pain.  You will get their listening, they will want more, they may engage in a conversation with you – you’ll see, it’s transformative – and a whole lot more fun.

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Kelly Dunning March 31, 2011 at 5:21 pm

I laughed as I read this blog post. You hit it dead on! I have been doing a lot of networking lately and so much of what you said rings true. Last week someone thought I sold office furniture and was shocked to learn that I could increase their revenue by following up with clients they let slip through the cracks. Amazing what peoples perceptions are and the fact that most people should think before they speak. Thank you for making me laugh and validating that someone else out there “gets it”.


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