Small businesses often think that they're selling products. In fact they're selling emotions. Here's a great example.
Regular readers know that I sometimes rewrite my readers' marketing messages (for free), if the subject matter leads toward something that would end up as an interesting column. I don't do it for everybody who writes me, but I have rewritten probably about 50 over the past few years.
For example, I recently received an email from Jeff Goodheart, the VP of Sales and Marketing at Verdegy, an Ohio-based company that helps other firms manage energy costs.
Goodheart had just reworked their sales message and wanted to know if I could help make it better. Here’s what he came up with:
At Verdegy, we utilize smart technologies for wind, solar, lighting and energy storage to design and develop commercial energy systems that make good economic and environmental sense.
That’s a typical product/service oriented message. It’s accurate, no doubt, but it’s also as bland as Cheese Food and as unemotional as a Roomba.
I was thinking about how to make it better when I came across a photo of a Verdegy billboard that sported the phrase “This board is off the grid. Why aren’t you?”
Now, that’s clever–and it helped me realize that what Verdegy is really selling isn’t “smart technologies.” Rather, they’re selling freedom.
So I suggested that the company create a viral video consisting of clips from famous movies where the actors say the word “freedom” (ending with Braveheart). In the final scene, as the inspiration music decrescendos, the video displays the phrases:
… from big oil.
… from electric bills.
… from power failures.
(fade to black)
Have you got it?
(bring up the logo)
innovative, green energy
A video like this could be produced and posted in about a day by any reasonably talented editor. More importantly, it begins to approach a far more exciting way to talk about Verdegy and its products.
In other words, find the emotional response that your customers to have to your offering. Then build your sales message around the emotion, not the product.
Update: In a comment below, I show how I'd rewrite Jeff's marketing message. I should have put the rewrite directly into the column, but I got so excited about the video idea that I forgot. Then I added the comment. My bad. (I'm still getting the hang of the Inc.com environment.)
Readers: If you're interested in getting your marketing message critiqued or maybe rewritten, sign up for my "insider" newsletter. That's the best way to get on my radar.
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