Who is your brochure written for, the client or you?
Have you ever looked at who most company brochures are written for?
Every sales person or manager I have posed this question to looks at me sheepishly. Their gaze is averted and they appear embarrassed. They know exactly what I am talking about.
What they are embarrassed to admit is that most of the brochures or advertising material that we come across is written for the company — glorifying the company and its products, its commitment to customers, its founders or CEOs and so on, rather than speaking directly to the customer about the customers’ issues, concerns or aspirations and how the company is best suited to help them solve their problems or realise their goals.
Or at worst, it can get really out of hand where the company puts itself on such a pedestal about how holy and pious it is and how the customer will be welcomed with open arms and bathed in something esoteric and will be changed forever. What will change — well that wasn’t stated and we have no idea what will really happen to us if we talk to them — in short, lacking in fact and substance but very long on effect.
The book The Cluetrain Manifesto (a resulting force that rose out of the discontentment people are having with businesses and how they fail to communicate with people) really nails it when it says:
“Most corporations, on the other hand, only know how to talk in the soothing, humorless monotone of the mission statement, marketing brochure, and your-call-is-important-to-us busy signal. Same old tone, same old lies.
“No wonder networked markets have no respect for companies unable or unwilling to speak as they do. But learning to speak in a human voice is not some trick, nor will corporations convince us they are human with lip service about ‘listening to customers’.
“They will only sound human when they empower real human beings to speak on their behalf. While many such people already work for companies today, most companies ignore their ability to deliver genuine knowledge, opting instead to crank out sterile happytalk that insults the intelligence of markets literally too smart to buy it.”
Get the message? All I want is someone to communicate in language that is natural, open, honest, direct, funny and even shocking if need be.
All I want is for someone to do what they say they will do in the time frame required for a price that is fair and I can trust them to deliver something of substance that I can benefit from.
All I reckon you need to do is write a brochure or ad campaign or marketing communications piece that says just that.
That’s all that most sales people want as well. We are sick of apologising for our businesses not being able to live up to false expecations and promises too frequently splashed about with gay abandon in the marketing materials, annual report, PR hype et al that we are required to use.
In a sea of spin, it is quite refreshing to have an honest, open and uncluttered approach that speaks in plain language I can understand — as the customer and as a sales person.
Sue Barrett, the founder and managing director of the sales consultancy firm Barrett Consulting Group, is not trying to start a gender war but she insists there is a body of overseas research showing that women often outperform men in acheiving sustainable sales results.