Thursday, February 15, 2007

Breaking Down Resistance to Innovation

As I stated in a previous post, I don't believe there is any shortage of innovative social and humanitarian ideas. There is instead a shortage of people who recognise and embrace innovation of any kind, and a shortage of social entrepreneurs who know how to put their good ideas across. Most innovative ideas (good and bad) are destined to go unnoticed - that's a fact.

There isn't a lot that we can do to change human nature. Resistance to change is here to stay, but that doesn't mean it's insurmountable. We can - we must - learn to present our innovative ideas in ways that overcome the natural inertia resident in all of us. In short, we need to learn to sell our ideas.

Fortunately, the utilisation of effective sales methods does not require one to engage in shallow, manipulative or other ethically questionable behaviour. One need not wallow in the muck to put one's ideas across effectively. This was underscored in an e-mail essay I received on Tuesday(along with 49,000 others) from Robert Middleton.

Robert writes:

I admit it. I watched the Grammy Awards last night. The whole thing. Let me give you a very quick rundown:

There were wall-to-wall musical performances. Some awards were given out. Heartfelt thank-yous were offered. Everyone looked beautiful. But the show is already fading from memory.

The Grammys, like most award shows, value style over substance. Lots of flash and glitz and "look at how passionately wonderful I am." It all gets a little overwhelming after awhile as one thinks, "But I don't even listen to this kind of music, anyway!"

However, I took away a valuable marketing lesson that I'd like to share with you: Most marketing messages are much like the Grammys: the substance is missing.

Everyone's trying to get the perfect marketing message, the perfect look, the perfect mind-blowing information that will compel prospects to respond in droves.

But it usually falls flat. Why?

Because it's often missing the most important thing of all: What the client actually gets from working with you. Don't think this is all that important?

Let me tell you a story...

One of the people in my current Marketing Action Group had been struggling with her marketing message. Nothing was really working. But finally she applied some of my ideas on creating a marketing message and told someone the story of a recent client success.

And the immediate response was: "Wow, I need your services. Will you work with me?"

And the great thing is that it wasn't a fluke. Now almost every time she uses the message, people want to work with her. Hey, her message was so great that I even decided to work with her!

Her message was so powerful, in fact, that I'm hosting a TeleClass program with her next month. I won't give away her message right now. That's not my point today. The point is that the substance of the message is the key.

How do you create a message with substance? Here's a 5-step process that will work for you.

1. Identify your ideal client
Your message will not work for everyone. You need to be clear exactly who your message is for. Who can you help the most? Who do you understand the best? Where do you have the most
experience? Think all of this through and develop your message specifically for this ideal client.

2. Identify a client challenge
What does your ideal client want to do but doesn't know how? What's missing for them? What are they struggling with? What is confusing or frustrating for them? Clearly articulate this: "I work with these kind of clients who have this kind of challenge."

3. Identify a service and outcome
What specific service could you offer to address the client problem and provide a desirable outcome? Keep it simple: "I offer this kind of service and when clients use this service they will get this result." A service without a promised outcome is a wast of time.

4. Prove you can deliver the outcome
If you a haven't offered this service before, then find an ideal client and perform it for them. If you need to cut your price or even offer it free to validate the outcome, so be it. But you need
to be confident you can produce that outcome consistently.

5. Use your story as your message
The most powerful marketing messages are simple stories that demonstrate that you delivered a desirable outcome. "This was a client who came to me. They had this frustrating challenge. I
implemented my service. These were the results."

This is the process my Marketing Action Group participant went through. She now has a reliable marketing message that's all substance, no style. She doesn't have to worry about perfect words or the "magic phrase." She just needs to tell her outcome story and get a positive response. Every time.

The actual response you get will depend on who your clients are, the depth of their challenge, their interest in getting an outcome, the actual service you develop and the kind of results you can deliver consistently.

But I promise you that if you follow these five steps to the letter, you'll emerge with a marketing message that's a quantum leap beyond what you're using now.

The More Clients Bottom Line: Avoid the "Grammy Factor" where your marketing message emphasizes style over substance. Deliver a desirable outcome for your clients and simply tell a story of the actual results you got. It really doesn't get any more powerful than that.

[Robert requires the following attribution statement.]

By Robert Middleton of Action Plan Marketing. Please visit
Robert's web site at www.actionplan.com for additional
marketing articles and resources on marketing for professional
service businesses.


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