I was sitting in my office looking intently at the cobblestones, those in the poster of my hometown piazza hanging on the wall.
I had been asked to work on a piece of content that would need to build awareness and get leads, work for customers, and attract prospects. All at the same time. In the same piece. In other words, as my colleague put it - a boy and a girl.
Have you ever faced a situation like this one?
Wanting to be all things to all people is a sure recipe for confusion. In the desire to please, it may turn off the very people who are the most desirable - and profitable - for the business. That should have stopped me from accepting the assignment.
Experience, and lost cycles, both teach you to recognize the signs of a superior or a customer not fully understanding the implications of a request. How trying to save a dollar on production or in one place would results in headaches and lost opportunity in a more important area.
Sometimes you want to go along and get along. You are tempted to be the one to "make the logo bigger" and be done with it. Especially when you know your job includes counseling your client or boss well. And that means saying no in a way that helps them get a better answer from you.
Because going along is a cop out. You know that it's not just about that one request. The request is a symptom of a larger problem.
A warning sign that a misunderstanding on the onset, if not dealt with right away, will snowball and potentially hijack the project. That will produce poor work all around, and make everyone miserable in the process.
When this happens stop yourself from going crazy (and try to explain lack of results) down the road. You made me do it is not a good answer - not to your boss, nor to your client.
Nobody really makes you do anything you don't want to do.
(this applies beyond copy, of course)
See the problem
The first place where your copy fails you is underestimating the question:
Who is your audience?
You know who your audience is in the scenario I outlined above? Your boss or your client. And they are not the ones who will do the buying. The best way to get buy in and help the business trade is to learn to identify this disconnect early on.
You're not going to win every time. Seeing the problem will get you well on your way. If there is one area you want to become really good at it is this. Bring the right evidence and proposed course of action to the discussion.
Definition of evidence
When I talked about evidence on G+ the other day, someone asked me what I intended by evidence.
I like those kinds of questions because they show me something I take for granted, and shouldn't. Many of my readers are business owners, general managers, and heads of business units in organizations who are lookig to improve the way they present their value in the marketplace.
Marketing that makes business sense starts with knowing which asset you trade on, your promise. Evidence is information and data. You collect it for a number of reasons, for example:
- they are an asset in their own right
- without feedback, you don't know whether you need to do something or not
Then there is the issue of how you collect good data. Some strong attractors are communication, dynamic communication (conversation) with a wide audience (advocates), etc. However you get the data, evidence is the result of analysis, which depends on the query set.
This is why conversations are markets.
The query set determines what to look for, what to add, how this is connected with the analytics of listening and observing, which are linked to feedback on what you should start doing and what you should stop (this is also very important).
Learn to know both your audiences really well: By listening to the warning signs with your client and boss, and by talking with your customers and prospects regularly.
[image by Martin Fisch]