Conversational Presenting Drives Marketing’s Bottom Line
There’s no doubt that today’s marketing landscape is more competitive than ever. Prospects are inundated with more information and content than ever before, and attention spans are becoming more and more difficult to capture. If sales and marketing departments hope to cut through the noise and succeed in this loud and crowded world of selling, it’s not just about talking to the right people at the right time. It’s about talking to them in the right way.
Here are three basic rules keep our communications clear and our prospects engaged.
Tell a Story
Stories are one of the first ways that we learn to interact with the world, and continue to make up two thirds of our daily conversations. Using such a natural way of communication — especially marketing messages — should be a no-brainer for professionals. Stories bring complex ideas to life, heighten our empathy, and help us understand the perspective of the storyteller more clearly. In other words, they’re perfect for convincing an audience to take action.
When trying to figure out what exactly your company story is, the good news is you’re probably already halfway there. Stories are so natural to us that often we tell them without realizing it: the founding story, the story of your employees, the stories of your customers, etc. These are good places to start. Some of these stories will need re-telling, and others, upon closer examination, will help you to develop entirely new narratives.
Spend time interviewing lots of people inside the company and get them to tell the stories of why they are passionate about what they do. Then, spend time interviewing your users and get them to tell you all of the different ways your product or service improves their professional lives. If you want to create a compelling marketing message, marrying these two narratives is what’s going to get you there. Don’t lead with the data or the product specs; instead, focus on telling stories that bring to life the ways that your product solves real pain points for your customers.
Put Your Customer at the Center
Once the story about your offer is determined, it’s important to make your prospective customer the hero. When you’re pitching or dreaming up new campaigns, be cognizant of the way you’re addressing the audience. It could be as simple as using “you” instead of “they.” For example, “You probably struggle with information retention,” instead of, “Many of our customers once struggled with information retention.”
Focusing on the prospect rather than your offering is key because, chances are, they’ve already done their research and know everything about you that they need to know. They don’t need to simply hear the story of you; they need to hear the story of themselves in the context of your offering. This helps prospects to truly imagine what life with your product or service could be like.
When building a pitch, be sure to make it flexible enough to include real examples from your prospects’ websites, social media accounts, blogs, etc. The more personal you make the content, the more likely your audience is to pay attention to what you have to say.
Finally, this is probably going to sound a bit backward, but your prospects don’t need to hear everything you think they do. People tend to have different ways of arriving at the same conclusion, so a pitch that can be adapted based on audience cues is essential.
Consider the way you consume information when you visit the website of a tool you’re thinking of signing up for. You don’t read every bit of copy on every single page and subpage before making a decision. Instead, you pick and choose the different pieces you find relevant, and then you leave. This is exactly how conversational presenting works.
Conversational presenting is a non-linear approach to storytelling, and it requires sharing content in a two-way fashion. Instead of reciting a rehearsed speech or a memorized narrative, marketers simply need to ask prospects what they’re most interested in (or some variation of this question). This helps determine the starting point, and the dialogue can take off from there. Conversations like this do a good job of sticking with us, because when we exchange words with someone, our brain activity literally begins to mirror theirs. Science calls this process neural coupling, but in business you can think of it as being on the same page. Twice as many consumers have also reported that interactive content is twice as memorable as static, so being engaging in this way is crucial.
In today’s marketing and sales environment, we can’t leave out the basics: Stories communicate messages, personalization awakens the imagination and conversations help us remember what we’ve learned.
And as Harvard University study recently proved, the medium significantly affects the message. By following these three tips and moving beyond the static, slide-based model, you’ll be able to engage audiences and leads to a more successful outcome.
Related story: Telling a Creative Story