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TJ Tedesco

View from Mount Olympus

By TJ Tedesco

About TJ

T.J. is team leader of Grow Sales, Inc., a marketing and social media services company operating at the intersection of compelling content, clear vision and quality communication practices. In this blog, fire is a metaphor for print. Hang on, this ride will be weird...

Prometheus crept into Mt. Olympus, stole fire, returned to the lowlands, ran from house to house distributing it, got caught, was chained to a rock, lost his liver to a huge ugly bird and was rescued by Hercules. Leveraging his fame, Prometheus started Fire Enterprises Inc.  (FEI). Since fire was the hottest technology of the time, company success came fast and furious. Two generations later, fire isn't such an easy sale. Now led by Prometheus' grandson Org, FEI's growth is non-existent, competitors are pounding and prices are in the toilet.
 

Embrace the Power of the ‘Why’ of It

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Last week, Fire Enterprises, Inc. (FEI) marketing whiz Marka showed savvy salesperson Zoot how to develop intelligent survey questions. This week, Marka tells Zoot how leading with “why” in company messaging can improve sales. Remember, fire = print.

One Saturday night, Marka and Zoot went bowling together at Nike Lanes in downtown Olympus. Marka was not a bad bowler, but—as intrepid in bowling as she is in business—she often pursued low-probability spares. Zoot was just bad. He usually avoided playing sports because whenever he participate, his hair would get mussed.

Zoot slumped back to the scoring table after tossing another gutter ball.

“Got a question for you, Zoot,” Marka said. “Say you’re stuck in an elevator with Dionysus of Dionysus’s Winemakers who is one of our top prospects. What’s your 30-second speech to convince him to use FEI?”

“I say ‘We’re FEI. We sell torches, matches and kilns to businesses and consumers. We provide a wide range of time-saving, money-saving and unbelievably durable fire products; responsive, reliable and friendly customer service; and crazy-fast delivery,’” Zoot replied.

“That was getting good near the end,” Marka said, “but you’ve got it upside-down. Like many salespeople, you focused on what we do, how we do it, and why we do it—if you get to the why at all. Let’s try it other way around.”

“What do you mean?” Zoot asked.

Marka pulled a pad of paper from her purse and scribbled on it:
  • Lead with the Why.—Everything FEI does is to help make you and your customers happy.
  • Explain the How.—We accomplish this by offering a wide range of time-saving, money-saving, and unbelievably durable fire products; providing responsive, reliable and friendly customer service; and being committed to crazy-fast delivery.
  • Close with the What.—We sell torches, matches, kilns to businesses and consumers.

“Our customers don’t buy what we do,” Marka explained. “They buy why we do it. They buy a good night’s sleep, a solution to their problems, and lots of other valuable, intangible stuff. These things have little to do with our ‘what,’ but they’re closely tied to our ‘why.’ Why-focused statements instill trust, confidence, warmth and other attributes that can overcome price, distance, or other so-called buying objections.”

“Here are a few more compelling reasons to lead with ‘why,’” Marka said as she returned to the whiteboard.

“Why” promotes messaging consistency and simplicity.—It’s easier to explain FEI’s business in terms of “why.” “Why” is also easier for customers to understand.

“Why” puts the focus on benefits.—When describing FEI’s fire solutions, like our new Kiln 360, we should connect potential buyers to our “why” statement whenever possible. Since the 360 cuts cooking time in half, we can plausibly connect it to our “why” statement of “creating customer happiness.”

“Why” creates new market opportunities.
—No fire business wants to be pigeonholed as the provider of just one product or service. “Why” is malleable, and keeps the door open for future product, service or market expansions. Consider FEI’s mission statement: “Everything FEI does is to help make you and your customers happy.” That can be applied to virtually any product or service.

“I’m convinced,” Zoot said. ‘”Now since you’re the marketing whiz, show me how to make ‘why’ real in our marketing materials.”

“With pleasure,” Marka replied, “and why don’t you show me a strike?”

“Easier said than done!” Zoot conceded.

Today’s FIRE! Point
When trying to win over prospects, lead with “why” your company is in business, move on to “how” you serve customers and, finally, get to “what” you offer. Your customers don’t buy what you do. They buy why you do it. Describing your business this way will help you overcome buying objections and sell more printing.

FIRE! Iin Action: Zappos Uses ‘Why’ Messaging to Create Excellent Customer Experience and Grow Sales
Besides shoes, Zappos.com sells a “customer-first” mentality. Every page of its website sends the message that the company emphasizes timely, diligent service from shopping to delivery. Despite minimal advertising, Zappos’ revenues continued to grow every year of its first decade in business, culminating in the company being sold to Amazon for $1.2 billion in 2009. 

Next week: Marka shows Zoot how fire businesses can communicate their “Why” message in sales and marketing materials.
 

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