Any one can say that

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I was thinking this morning, as I looked at another PowerPoint presentation about some new services being offered by some company in the IT services world and thought “anyone can say that” – because in general, anyone can.

Presentations are easy to put together. Claims, proof points, statements about your service or product are easy. Creating pretty pictures and graphs — along with that great animation effects – are common place. My kids learned that in school – and what they do at the Junior High and High School level (an mostly on their own and published to their social media sites) amaze me.

If that’s the case, then how do you differentiate your company, your service or your product? With so much white noise out there, from competitors and alternative solutions, how do you break through to that one person who really is ready and able to buy?

Short answer is that — you can’t. It’s impossible. It’s looking for a needle in a pile of needles. As we progress down this road of increase social media, it’s going to be the companies and people willing to break off from the crowd, do things a little differently, and possibly scrape the high tech for a dose of low tech, face-to-face, very personal communications.

I believe there will be a resurgence of “old school” methods finding customers and keeping customers. Sure, we will still use some of the older push methods (advertising being one of them) and we will still explore new ways to push the boundaries with pull methods (how about being able to drive that car you want for a month before you buy) – but it will be those individuals and companies that are willing to look back into our recent past, and put a new twist on some old sales/marketing methods, that will stand out from the crowd.

Here are a couple examples – just thoughts off the top of my head …

1) Get out of email and send a personal letter … I was reading Liz Ryan’s articles about creating a new style of “human” resume and she suggested printing out a cover letter and resume and physically mailing it to the hiring manager. Today, text and email is the norm, personal letters are a thing of the past – but as we all know, doing things differently is how you get someone’s attention. But I’m not talking about creating a “mass mailing” – take those wonderful tools we have, find the perfect company and perfect person within that company and actually write them a letter, send them something that might actually create a solution for them, solve their problem in a very personal way. If only 10% of your effort is spent really thinking through how to solve someone’s business problem, on a very personal level – I believe it could pay significant dividends.

2) Get out of the office and get face-to-face … at a recent trade show (which I still have problems figuring out if they are worth the investment of time and money) we put together an experience type display. Although we didn’t go quite as far as we wanted (putting real people in the booth, doing their day job), we did give the essence of our service. It provided the ability to create a “walk through” without actually spending time and money to travel to one of our locations. It was one of the more popular booths at the trade show and it provided us with several leads – that a mere animated PowerPoint would provide. There are ways to do that for your products or services – ways to merge a “test drive” and “try it before you buy it” type scenarios. The key is get face to face with your customer and allow them to put themselves into the experience of using your product or service. Be creative in ways to get in front of them.

There are two, and I’ve got a few others that I’ve thought of while writing. The key is to create an environment where you are “touching” people in personal ways, rather than just pushing a message to them, or grouping them into niches. Because, at the end of the day, people buy products and services, so becoming more personal will make you each of us stand out from the crowd.

 


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