Good marketing communications have a wedge shape to how they are put together – they lead with the core essentials, and then broaden out to unpack secondary and tertiary messages. However, it’s not uncommon to find businesses that struggle with wanting to put everything right up front so that prospects don’t miss a thing. The effect is that any sense of real importance is diluted, and the essential and the trivial compete. It’s like setting everything in bold type, and now nothing is emphasized, since emphasis is always relative.
When you meet someone at a networking event, it’s expected that you share a brief encapsulations of your businesses with them so that they can easily get an idea of where you fit in the business universe, and how you are unique. This is largely how your lead-in positioning message works. It’s not supposed to give people the 20-page download via Vulcan mind-meld, but rather to let them know where they’ve landed, and how to frame their understanding of your business.
Once people understand where you fit in and what you bring to the table, you can trot out the next level of messaging that expands on those core ideas. It’s a lot like knowing how to tell a good story. A jumbled set of particulars may relate everything that makes up the story, but it fails to fit them together in a way that provides an understandable and compelling narrative. Likewise, you may have some very interesting aspects to what you do, but until you have created context for those details, they will feel like a grab-bag of odds & ends.
It’s all about structure. You’re constructing a model for understanding your business inside of someone else’s head, using words, images, and presentation. Essentially, you’re teaching. You’re teaching a student who is motivated, but often distracted. The way you need to approach it is to back up and look at it all from the outside and determine what constitutes the bones of the thing, then the musculature, then down to the details. Otherwise, the model is all mixed up and they aren’t seeing your business for what it really is. Good marketing communications focus this “teaching” process so that your audience quickly arrives at the “aha!” moment of understanding and then proceeds to dive into the rest of your messaging to fill in the details, easily understanding how they all fit together.
I’m sure you have a lot of important things to tell your prospects. You want them to understand how good your business is at what it does, to inform them of common pitfalls that they should avoid, to give examples of your experience. This is great, but wait until they are ready for it. Draw them in first with the essentials. Let them know they’re in the right place, and then let some of the aromas from what’s cooking in the kitchen waft past them. Do it properly, and they’ll feel the click of a good fit early on. After all, if they don’t, they are likely to go elsewhere until they find someone who can create that sense.
As a handy metaphor, a well-presented retail space puts indicative items in the window that serve to position and attract: “Oh, these guys sell casual clothing – and they are focusing on Fall attire right now.” Once they come into the store, they can see the full sweater collection and jean styles. Likewise, when you lead off in your communications, think about that shop window. Show people they are in the right place before you delve into the full catalog.