Imagine you are in front of an audience of several hundred powerful people and you are being recognized for your company's success. You have an opportunity to share in just a few words, why your company is so successful. Would you miss the opportunity to get across your value? Would you leave a lasting impression that could lead to new business?
If you are like most of the executives I recently observed at just such a dinner, there is a good chance that this would be a big challenge. When these company leaders had a moment in the spotlight, most fell into the trap of spewing out platitudes, or simply listing out services they provide. In almost every case, they failed to communicate value.
A few examples: "We put culture first." "We have great employees and great clients." "Under promise, over deliver and every business should live it up to that." There isn't anything inherently wrong with these statements, but they could apply to almost any company and they don't tell us much.
Most enterprises approach communication from a "Prism of Me," as opposed to a "Prism of Value." Think of it this way. A prism takes white light and refracts it to create Technicolor rays. In our communication, we too often lead with white light, that is, all the things we think they should know about us, or what we think is important. That's operating through the Prism of Me. And when we offer our audiences mere rosters of services or products, we have failed again by reverting to "List-speak." But if we refract our messages through a Prism of Value and consider what our target audiences need and treasure from us, we connect authentically. We deliver memorable and meaningful content or messages. We defy List-speak. And we achieve the bold hues of "Value-speak."
To speak effectively through a Prism of Value involves filtering all your communications through the answers to these two questions:
• In what way are we making something better for you?
• In what way are we reducing or eliminating something bad?"
It sounds simple, but even seasoned marketers have trouble doing this. So how do you communicate in Value-speak?
1. Understand your audience. Why do they buy your product? What need do you answer? What problem do you solve? How do you help them be or do something that they can't do right now? What is different or better for them because they have engaged with you?
2. Speak not to the activity, but to the impact of what you do. If, for instance, you "create IT solutions and provide security services," that's your activity. It's also List-speak. But "protecting firms and individuals by securing computers against hackers and data breaches" focuses on impact to achieve Value-speak. "Making artificial hips and other medical devices" is list-speak. "Giving a marathoner the ability to continue running" is Value-speak. "Creating PR campaigns" falls to the Prism of Me. "Generating buzz that causes customers to flock to your business" has successfully cleared the Prism of Value.
3. Use simple language that allows your audience to see and hear clearly your message. Instead of "strategies," talk about "tools." Strategy is abstract. Tools are tangible. Instead of "we help your business grow," talk about how "we have helped clients build revenue and market share." Growth, while positive, is general. The ability to build revenue and market share is tangible.
Refracting your communication through the Prism of Value will put you on a more direct path to effectively engaging the employees, customers, and donors, and generating a lasting impression that fosters loyalty--and success.