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Selling your story: Getting it just right

Selling anything is difficult. There’s heaps of noise out there: other brands with bigger wallets shouting for audience attention, influencers with deep followings being paid to share their experiences ‘authentically’.

Let’s imagine you get past all the noise in the market (and there’s a lot of noise)… now you have to work out how much information will sway the prospective buyer based on their knowledge of your category, or their own experience – and even more so, their level of interest (or care) to further understand why they should buy from you.

In marketing terms this is called involvement (yes, we have a term for almost everything – and if we don’t, we love coining new ones, so….)

A high involvement product, like a car, tends to be more complex and the buyer usually has a set of complex criteria that needs to be met before they will part with their hard earned dollars. But increasingly even less highly involved purchases are being researched (typically online) – whether to better understand features, compare prices or just to get inspiration.

And so, we see brands trying to tell buyers EVERYTHING in the hope that it will convince them to buy. Websites with so much detail. Print ads soaked in words. Social media posts turned into diatribes. Feature length newsletters. Five minute long brand videos. We have missions and ideologies, principles around sustainability and origin stories of Moby Dick proportions.

Sometimes, we need this. Especially when we’re buying a high involvement product. But does everyone want to know EVERYTHING all the time? No. Nope. Noppity nope.

For the most part, we want to know just enough that we feel like we’ve got a good grasp on the thing but not so much that we get lost in the how’s, whys and where’s. And because the internet – and the world – is so full of information, if we want more details – if we’re one of those information seekers – we know we can find it.

So the trick for a brand is to find the right balance of what to say, when to say it and through what channel. Think of it as the Goldilocks of details – not too much, not too little… just the right amount.

OUR OWN GOLDILOCKS MOMENT

A humbling moment is a marketing consultancy admitting they got caught up in the shouting and the excitement. Yep, we did. When we first wrote our own story, we went into orbit and back.

We sell services. In fact, we sell something even more esoteric than services – we sell solutions. Broad, bespoke and highly personal solutions that are steeped in the resonance of our own brand. Our response to each brief is highly tailored.

Behind those solutions is an ideology and a mission steeped in goodness: we want all small businesses to have access to great marketing thinking and planning so they can stop guessing what to do and start knowing.

And behind that ideology and mission is the knowledge that most people view marketing as just promotions, advertisements, websites and logos.

And behind that knowledge is the realisation that most people don’t know or care about the rest of marketing (pricing, placement, processes and all the other P’s).

And behind that realisation is an assumption that the reason they don’t care is because no one has ever told them why they should. So we told them. We  relaid this entire monologue. Our mission, goals, massive transformational purpose.

Then we realised something – when we started talking to most people about the nerdier elements of marketing, we recognised the response: it was the same one we give our accountant when they talk tax calculations. We know we should care how they got to that number, and one day when we’re bigger, we’ll do round table board meetings with our CFO and pour over the details, but right now, we just want to know what the number is.

And so it is with our services. We needed to recognise through which channels and in which moments we discuss exact deliverables versus when it’s appropriate to apply integrated marketing metrics and analytics across the business.

Just like our accountant who understands that we actually do need to know a bit more than just the final figures, we had to recognise that to properly engage people in what we do, we first have to give them a win. To give them something tangible that they can wrap their head around and say, yep, we marketed.

This is the essence of Goldilocks details – just enough to feel good about the decision but not so much that it bogs you down in a confused state of “what next?” We’ve taken time to get our own sales story just right – and even now, it’s likely we’ll continue to hone it again and again until we find the perfect balance.

MARKETING LESSON

This principle of just-the-right-amount-of-details applies whether it’s an accountant selling compliance or a marketer selling solutions; a coffee guy selling beans or an IT specialist selling software. Your brand and product messaging need to match your buyers expectations and experience with your category – and what they want to buy… at that time.

Once they’ve purchased or had some experience with you, go ahead and start ramping it up. Add some depth to the brand story, sell a more complex product, add in a next-best service.  Step by step, embed your ideology, mission or massive transformational purpose in an easily digestible way. Too much too soon and you risk isolating those who most need you but think you are one step ahead of their current needs.

Just like Goldilocks, it might take some tests – you might have to try a few bowls of cold porridge before you get it just right.

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