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If you’ve ever tried to get a child who is engrossed in their favorite video to do another task you know you must first get their attention. Often the best way to do this is to use their name so they realize you are speaking directly to them. The process of effective lead generation requires that we communicate with many prospective clients at one time. Before we can communicate with them we must first get their ATTENTION. And our prospective clients must each feel we are talking DIRECTLY to them.
DROWNING OUT THE NOISE
Getting a prospective client’s attention is not an easy task, especially given the hundreds of thousands of other products and services that are also COMPETING for their attention. Like the mother who has learned to “tune-out” her kids bickering in the back-seat while she is trying to drive, our prospects have learned to tune out all the promotional CLUTTER that bombards them daily. Here is a four step process to gain your prospects’ attention and help generate the leads you need to make your business a success.
DEFINE YOUR TARGET MARKET
To gain prospective clients’ attention you must understand their biggest problems and greatest desires. This requires really KNOWING your target market. And in order to know your target market you must first define that market. What is the profile of your ideal client? Many people resist defining an ideal client. However unless you know specifically WHO you want to talk to, your promotional efforts will fall on deaf ears. Not having a defined target for your marketing communications is like yelling into a room full of kids watching TV, “Will someone please take out the trash?” They will all assume you are talking to someone else. The odds of actually having the trash taken out increase significantly when you say, “Bobby, will you please take the trash out now?”
IDENTIFY PROBLEMS AND DESIRES
In conversations with current clients or prospective clients that fit the profile of your ideal client, what are the THEMES that continue to surface and which of these themes can you help with –- a desire for a more fulfilling career; the ability to recapture romance in their relationships; a need to get spending under control and eliminate debt; a summer home on Nantucket; tools to better communicate with their teenage kids? The list is endless. The key is identifying the INTERSECTION of your target market’s most pressing problems or desires and your greatest strengths. If you don’t know and really understand the most pressing problems and deepest desires of your target market it’s time to do some research. Get out and talk with people who meet the profile of your ideal client. Be really curious about them, ask questions. Find out what occupies their mind, what keeps them awake at night, what they dream of having, being or doing. You’re not trying to sell at this stage you are only trying to get to know your target market better.
START WHERE YOUR PROSPECTS CURRENTLY ARE
It is often tempting to paint a picture of a fabulous outcome without first clearly identifying the problem or desire. I used to do marketing for a psychiatric hospital that ran television advertising. The most effective ads were not those that showed happy, well adjusted kids playing on the playground –- the OUTCOME of treatment. The parents of kids with emotional issues did not relate to the images of these kids. We first had to show the child sitting all alone in the swing crying because no one wanted to play with him or her. This is what caught the attention of the parents of kids who needed treatment. Only after we captured their attention with an image they could RELATE to right then were we able to talk with them about the solution to the problem. Another very effective ad showed a woman sitting alone in the woods contemplating taking a handful of pills. Women thinking about taking their own lives related to that ad, they picked up the phone and called for help. Your first goal is to get a prospect to say, “Hey, that’s me, that’s my exact situation, that’s the problem I’m facing right now. If they have helped others in that same situation maybe they can help me.”
TALK DIRECTLY TO YOUR IDEAL PROSPECTS
In a PERSONALIZED letter or a one-on-one conversation you can address your prospect by name. However with promotional pieces such as brochures, flyers, direct mail or advertising this is not possible. In these instances direct response copywriter Alexi Neocleous suggests starting your ad, post card or letter with, “Attention (target market description)”. For example, “Attention Renters”; “Attention Business Owners”; or “Attention Parents of Teenage Drivers”. Another way of talking directly to your prospect is to ask a QUESTION regarding a problem or desire of your target market. For example, “Are you approaching retirement and concerned about what you’ll do with all the free time on your hands?”; “Are you considering a career change?”; or “Are you so busy taking care of everyone else that you don’t have time to take care of yourself?”
PUTTING IT ALL TOGETHER
The key to effectively capturing a prospective client’s attention is to really understand the problems that keep them awake at night or the desires they dream of having met. People buy for two reasons:
Julie Chance is president of Strategies-by-DESIGN, a firm that helps small businesses and service professionals "Map A Path to Success" by bridging the chasm from lead to loyal customer. Visit her website at www.strategies-by-design.com or contact her at 972-701-9311.
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