Confused people don’t purchase! This one, universal truth should be at the foundation of any business messaging/writing.
A mistake that a lot of professionals make, though, is thinking that by creating some kind of messaging document or overall unique selling proposition/vehicle (called USP or USV), they will be extremely limited and cornered into a tiny segment of their selling market.
Let me go back and explain all those jargony marketing words for a second, because I never ever want you to be confused.
A USP or USV is just one or two sentences that tell other people what you do and who you help, quickly. In my world, we call it your one big sentence because that sounds way less intimidating. More on this concept in a minute.
What is a segment of a selling market? A segment is a small chunk of your potential audience. For example, the kitchen gadget market is a big one, but if you want to sell banana slicers, your segment would be people who like to entertain in the kitchen but love to have a great conversation starter. Someone who wants an item for the kitchen that blends things isn’t going to be interested in purchasing your banana slicer.
The selling market is anyone who wants to purchase something kitchen-related. Within that are a segment of buyers who want a banana slicer.
If you ever want an example of why you need to know your segment, just watch an episode of Shark Tank. When people come in with a new toothbrush and say, “There are billions of people out there brushing their teeth, and if we only sell to a tiny portion of them, we’ll have a multimillion dollar business” what do the sharks do? They all sigh or roll their eyes. Stating there is room for your business in a segment of the selling market isn’t proof that there is demand for your product or services. Proof of demand in specific segments is a whole blog post in itself, but segments are an important concept for you to understand when we’re talking about messaging.
It is important for you to know that when you talk to someone who has a problem and needs your solution, you have to be consistent. If you say “Oh, this is the real problem” in one conversation, and then switch your position in a different conversation, that person’s brain will go on high alert because when you don’t stay consistent, you can’t build trust. And conversations these days can mean a lot more than sitting down and having a chat with someone. Every piece of content, every sales page, each email you send, all count as conversations.
That’s why I help businesses by creating messaging breakdowns for them. We talk about their main approaches to the problems they solve, the kinds of language their business voice is comfortable using, the things they would never say, and build a strategy out of words that will help them knock down the objections their potential clients have, all based on proven sales psychology.
But what if you have more than one branch of your business? Will your messaging document constrain you and limit you to only one segment of the audience? Can a document like this keep you from reaching your full potential and cause your sales to dwindle? No, actually the opposite is true. Without a document like this, you won’t be able to maintain consistency, even if you are the only one working inside your business.
One of the things that companies actually hire me to do is come in, look at their overall business along with their different offers for various segments, and tie everything together. It’s not a simple task for anyone, but part of my job is to find the common thread, write big sentences for each segment, and make sure they’re all tied together by that one, powerful thread. It’s a difficult puzzle and I absolutely love solving it.
A lot of business owners do have one important question they want me to answer about messaging though, even after we work together. They want to know what to do if they come up with a new service or want to adjust the conversations they’re having. Often, they think that if they want to make an adjustment, they can’t because the messaging breakdown forbids them from doing so. And while that isn’t true, when looking at future conversations and offers, you do need to take your messaging breakdown into consideration when you’re choosing what to say about these exciting new things.
I have a joint venture with a business partner where we help people connect with other amazing professionals. He gets extremely irritated when people show up to our events late because we always start on time, and the first piece of our meeting is a presentation by an amazing business expert. I can understand, and it irritates me too. So, he recently texted me and said, “We need to change the start time in our event emails.”
I told him that would be confusing because of all the event media we already have out there with different times. That would be confusing for our audience. Instead, we came up with a way to emphasize how important being on time is without sending a confusing message. We went back to our messaging breakdown and thought of a creative way to have a new conversation that wasn’t confusing compared to our old conversations.
We weren’t limited by what we could do, we just needed to be more creative when finding a way to say it so that we could stay within the parameters of what our audience already expects from us.
And in that same vein, I want to give you an example I recently experienced when my husband, daughter, and I went to get matching tattoos. If you want to know what the tattoo is of, you’ll have to message or email me. So, I went to get my new tattoo, and the wonderful expert who gave me my tattoo kept taking out these little packets of cream to place on our tattoos after each session. Only, it smelled really familiar.
“What is that you’re using?”
“Oh, it’s A&D Ointment,” she said. “It’s a popular ointment with vitamins A and D in it. It’s really popular for—oh, I can’t think of the words.”
“Diaper rash?” I said.
“I recognized the smell,” I said. But the packaging looks different.
“Yeah, they put this out specifically for tattoo shops,” she said.
In this case, A&D noticed that someone in a different selling market segment was using their product. So, what did they do? Did they create entirely new messaging and a sub-brand to market to this new audience? No! The messaging is the same. Their ointment soothes irritated skin and promotes healing. All they did was put their product in individual packets with a slightly edgier design and sell more of it. And that’s the same approach your business can take. If you have a new product or service you want to sell because you see demand, go for it. You don’t need to change your messaging. Because if you did, you would risk losing both segments.
Always remember that confused people don’t purchase.
Now that you understand what messaging does and why it’s not the tightrope most people think it is, let’s get back to our big question for this article.
Why didn’t they hire me?
It could be as simple as you stating two conflicting things in your different conversations with them. Because without consistent messaging, no one is going to feel comfortable purchasing from you. Their brains just won’t let them. And can you really blame their brains?
I want you to know that I think you’re amazing, I believe in you, and your business story matters.
Are you ready to learn more about how Literary Symmetry can help you communicate clearly with confidence to grow and scale your business? Awesome! Head here for two amazing, complimentary resources.