Aren’t You Listening? Well, No, Not Really.

[Image courtesy of stockimages at]

[Image courtesy of stockimages at]

I have a lovely friend who’s smart and together. I found a great new place to run my dogs and invited her to come along. “There’s a bit of a hill at the beginning,” I said. “You need to bring water for your dogs,” I said. “Right,” she said. “Got it.” The next morning she was puffing up the hill, claiming I hadn’t warned her about “The Climb” and wondering when we’d get to the river so the dogs could drink. Wasn’t she listening? I told her only two things — both important — and she didn’t “hear” either one. This is a woman whom I know and who knows me. Think what it takes for your clients to hear you.

We are surrounded by a barrage of information, deals, and importuning. TV, mail, email, flyers on our doors, kids in front of grocery stores. Many of us get to a point where our brains filter out what we don’t need Right Now; it’s just too much. It’s like the reason why whales can’t hear each other across the ocean anymore: too much noise from ship engines. As you consider your clients’ daily-deluge-of-information situation, you come up against two equal-but-opposite points:

  1. There is NO WAY I’m ever going to be heard by the people who need me … and I can’t add to this mess.
  2. My work can make the noise go away for a while. There are people out there who really need me.

Which brings you to: I got into this business to help people. How can I be heard … without being annoying? Here are three things to keep in mind as you communicate with and market to your clients.

3 Proven, Basic Ways to Increase Your Marketing Effectiveness

Tell clients what they need to know, what they need to hear. To be heard, you need to get them to pause and reflect. “20% off!!!” is nice but how can you help me in the long-term? People want to know how your work will help them. Give specifics.    How do you do this? We have many entries talking about Ideal Clients and how they can save you time and money. When you know who your Ideal Clients are, you will know what they need to hear from you.

Reach out in different ways. It’s a proven standard that you need to contact most clients at least three different ways before your message kicks in. If I had wanted to be sure my dog-walking friend really got my message, I should have called her, sent a follow up email, and then left her a voice mail. … Not all at once, though; that would be annoying. Say you’re trying to boost your summertime booking. Your message to your Ideal Clients is that you are a [quick get-away, easy to plan, and you can have one every week for three months and it will still cost less than one weekend away with the family]. You’ll send out postcards with a brief version of this message; a newsletter or an email with message + an article on summertime self-care; and you’ll make it the main theme of your home page.

Be consistent. Pick a topic and pursue it for a while. Keep coming back to the same words/phrases in all messages. Changing how a message is delivered creates curiosity (“Hm. What’s this?”). Being consistent in your message creates comfort and recognition (“Ohh … right. I remember this. I’ve been meaning to call her.”). If your practice focuses on busy moms, you may determine what they need this summer is time to themselves. You need to appeal to both to their emotions and to their logic. You may decide that the word “get-away” is provocative and appealing. Busy moms are also interested in the bottom line ($$$). So, fine. All communications you send out will have the word “get-away” and give them some fact proving they can afford you. When school starts up again, you change your message.

Are we missing anything?