I know the title of this post might seem like an exaggeration at first—but let me assure you, it is not. The success of your website, your blog, and even your entire small business hinges on how well you are able to communicate your concepts to your audience.
Let’s pretend that you have an incredible product (not that much of a stretch, eh?). Something that will provide your market with huge benefits. It could be a blog, a book, a seminar, anything really. Let’s also say that your small business has all of the product design finished and the fulfillment systems ready to go. Now, what is the only thing in your path to selling millions?
You have to convey those benefits to your target market. You can’t tell them in your words why the product is great. You have to tell them in their words. They have to know that your product is great.
If you make them understand why you’re product is great, they’ll buy dozens. But, if you can’t relate that to them in their language, then your idea or product is likely to be misunderstood, forgotten, and generally lost in the shuffle. Keep reading for more.
The first step in relating to your customer, is to know exactly who your customer is. Once you know who your customer is, it’s time to learn how to relate to them. Here are several tips that will help you speak in their language, evoke their emotions, and move them to buy your product.
Be simple and to the pointYour customers are very busy, so don’t waste their time. Stay focused on what’s important so that your customers will stay interested in what you have to say. If you don’t cut out needless information, chances are they’ll be distracted and walk away.
Break complicated information into chunks“Chunking” information is a scientifically proven method of helping people digest more information with less effort. It also helps people absorb ideas more quickly, which is crucial in today’s world of information overload. Why do you think lists are so popular?
Avoid industry lingoYour customers are coming to you because you know more about some topic than they do. You need to be very careful not to use industry terminology—they probably aren’t a colleague, and they probably don’t know as much about the topic. If you talk over their heads, you’ll end up with a confused and uninterested audience. (read this article for more on the topic).
Focus on them, not youPeople generally care about themselves more than other people. You have to keep this in mind when you’re speaking to your target market. Talk about them, and they will listen (it’s interesting, after all). Talk about yourself, and they’ll probably walk away. This may seem a bit grim, but it holds true 95% of the time.
Appeal to their situationUse stories and concepts that are common to the group you are targeting. By referring to a common joke, idea, or frustration you can become a part of their group. They will understand you more. Laugh with you more. They’ll get excited to talk to you. If you utilize this concept well, your audience will quickly turn into loyal patrons of your blog, store, or company. My favorite example of this is a theme they have at Engadget (a technology blog). They have a running joke about ‘robots taking over the world’ (see here). To you this might seem silly, but to tech nerds it is a great joke that helps build a community.
Use stories, imagery, metaphors, and clichés to reinforce your messageUsing many different types of media can help get your point across more effectively. Stories and metaphors are great ways to explain difficult concepts in a way most people will understand. Clichés are, by definition, rooted in cultural knowledge. You can use them to your advantage in explaining more advanced concepts. The more you consistently reinforce your core message, the more people will remember. If your message is inconsistent, or only delivered through a single channel, it’s not likely to be remembered.
Use “other people’s words”Your readers and customers are inherently skeptical. You can get around this distrust by using words and quotes from other people, people your target market might trust. An easy way to do this is by quoting a book or famous expert. You can also have testimonials from other customers, etc… This technique is far to powerful and extensive to cover in one bullet point, so stay tuned for more tips specifically about this. (subscribe to be sure you won’t miss it)
Some free tools to help you
I know that a lot of these points can be difficult to accomplish, so I’ve compiled a short list of tools and ideas to help. Anyone who is trying to speak in their customer’s language should find these useful.
- Search keyword tools, like Overture and Google keywords, can help you see what your customers are searching for. They can give you a unique glimpse into the words and phrases your target market uses.
- The thesaurus (I like Thesaurus.com and Visual Thesaurus) is incredibly useful. If you’re looking for a more simple or more powerful word to use, but can’t quite think of one, a thesaurus can help drastically.
- Bulleted lists can be wonderful to help you break down and simplify a concept. They are specifically helpful if you aren’t quite sure what you want to say yourself. (for the record, I love bulleted lists and outlines)
- Your imagination is one of the best free tools I can tell you about. Spend an hour imagining yourself in your audiences’ shoes and you will forever be more effective at relating to them.
- Rereading, proofreading, and practice, will help you clean out needless wording and will improve your message delivery leaps and bounds. I can promise that.
Learning to speak in the language of your audience is one of the most fruitful endeavors I can think of. When you become really good at relating with your target market, you’ll find that people turn into customers much more easily. People will remember you and your small business. You’ll also see that when you really relate to your audience they will become much more passionate about you and your topic. All of your marketing will become more effective.
Small businesses (and blogs, websites, or anyone else for that matter) that don’t relate with their customers will find that marketing looses its effect. Their new idea will be misunderstood and forgotten.
I don’t know how to be more blunt than this—you need to learn how to relate with your market. Your success depends on it.