Behind the scenes of your business, you make products or deliver services. But on the front lines, where interactions with customers occur, you have to deliver more than that in order to have a dynamically growing company. You must deliver a promise and hope.
The promise revolves around the benefits your actual products and services deliver. The hope is what can set your business apart from all the other companies that promise to deliver the same things you do.
People want to believe in your company and what you can deliver, but many have become jaded due to the culture of over-promising and under-delivering that is all too common in the marketplace. To get past this wall of skepticism, you have to deliver more.
Companies like Coca-Cola, Apple, Starbucks, and Disney World took off when they figured out they were selling much more than a soft drink, computer, coffee, and theme park rides. These businesses understood that in order to stand apart from their competitors, they had to tell their brand stories in a way that resonates with customers.
Coca-Cola sells refreshment, happiness, and harmony. Apple sells a delightful user experience to consumers in a hip, cool way. Starbucks sells the "third place experience" — a place to get away outside our home and business. Disney World sells memories that last a lifetime.
The common theme among the great brands of the world is that they have found a way to transcend beyond their products by asking this simple, yet powerful five-word question:
What are we really selling?
People aren’t really interested in what you sell, but they may be very interested in the benefits you can deliver. These benefits in turn must be told in a way that attracts and connects with your target audience.
How You Can Apply This in Your Business?
You’re probably thinking to yourself that this may do wonders for big brands, but how does it apply to my small business?
- Take a step back from the day-to-day operations of the business, and think about what you’re really selling. Railroad companies thought they were in the rail business, when they were really in the transportation business. Think about the larger implications around the results you deliver to your customers.
- Next think about this question: What do my customers really want from our products and services? Ask your best customers why they really do business with you. Look for common themes in the answers.
- The final step is to take the concepts you’ve arrived at and focus on what would move your best prospects to buy what you sell. Put yourself in their shoes. Ask some friends and associates if your idea would move them to act. Then test your ideas by presenting them in your ad copy in print, on the web, and in all your other marketing channels. Test until you find the winners. The sales result will show which one is the winner.
Take these five words: "What are we really selling?" Print them out and put them in a prominent place you can see every day. Your answer to the question will form the core around which your business and your marketing should revolve. Answer this five-word question in a way that exceeds the experiences your target market is seeking, and you’ll see your business grow like magic.