First published February 25, 2009
With all of the dismal economic news these days, it's easy to lose sight of the fact that most people are still employed, still focused on delivering the best goods and services, and telling their stories in ways that connect with customers and prospects.
Yes, resources are scarce and people are cautious, but much of the educational publishing market is still focused on creating high-value content and finding the best ways to serve it up to today's customers. Even though employee rosters have been trimmed of any excess, and in some cases are now understaffed, it is those who who tell their company stories most effectively that will continue to thrive. With retail sales at an all time low, it is most likely that we are meeting our customers and prospects in writing through direct mail, or on our websites, or through articles, reviews and news releases. So, which are the three most important tactics to make sure we are communicating in an articulate and persuasive way?
1. Be clear. Say what you mean. Do not leave it open to interpretation. You don't want your customer to hesitate about what they are being asked to do. This is not a time to be cute or clumsy. It is your responsibility as the writer to direct the action of the reader. Do you want them to click here? Call this number? Read this paper? Whatever action you are trying to initiate, tell an engaging story about your offering and then be specific about what comes next.
2. Be real. Everyone is looking for connection. Educators in particular, but consumers in general, want to know that there are real people on the other side of the conversation. They want assurance that they are making the right choice and will be happy with their purchase. Most people are emotional buyers trying to fill a need. Tell them they are making good decisions and reassure them they will be happy. If they are not happy, guarantee that you will make it right for them. When we sell educational resources, we are selling confidence that our products will make them more effective teachers.
3. Be a resource. It bears repeating that educators buy from people they trust – they don't really buy from companies. This is the secret sauce in building consultative relationships with customers and prospects. Be that go-to person. Do your homework and have an arsenal of helpful information that reassures your customer they are making the right decision and have the appropriate context for it.
There are hundreds of internet resources to help you learn how to tell a compelling story in a way that connects. Here are a few people that I look to for inspiration in building relationships through the written word. These will get you started. But explore. And find your own voice, because that is the most important thing of all.