Last week I lost my voice. I was silent for two days and barely more than a squeak for about three more. It was comical, frustrating and completely disruptive all at the same time. This has never happened to me before but I think I was long overdue being silenced!
Here are the things I learned about not having a voice that apply in life, business, and especially marketing.
Stop Talking About Yourself!
I help businesses to find their voice. We work together to define their brand all the way from their core values to reaching their target audience, having real conversations, closing deals, and building advocacy.
Each business is different so it makes sense that each brand is different and that their voice will subsequently be unique.
When a business finds its voice it’s tempting to keep yelling “Look at us! Look at what we’re doing over here! We have a great solution!” It’s like a baby discovering their vocal cords but when beautiful bouncing babies draw attention to themselves its magnetic. When businesses do it, it’s annoying.
So what’s the answer? How do you get your target audience to notice you without being needy?
First of all, make sure that what you have to say matters to your audience. When that gorgeous baby chirps and gurgles, it matters to everyone in the room! They stop what they’re doing to applaud and encourage. No noise is insignificant, everything is worthy of praise.
As a business, it’s challenging to cast that kind of spell but it’s not impossible. You have to understand what’s important to your target audience. You have to be able to connect the dots from what’s important to them to how your solution helps them. You have to give them a good reason to care.
Once you understand what they care about and why they care, talk about that. When your conversation talks about them, their challenges and how to overcome them, you are interesting and helpful to them. As you continue to talk about what matters to them, you build a relationship that naturally results in sales.
When I lost my voice I had to choose quickly and carefully what to talk about. I had to focus my energy on using my vocal cords for my audience and what mattered most to them.
Pick your words carefully!
When we’re younger, we build our vocabulary so that we can express ourselves. Quantity comes first and with the right guidance, quality makes an appearance later. Once we’re more mature, it’s expected that we focus on quality over quantity.
In business, quality is a fundamental building block of letting people know exactly the problem your business solves. If your marketing message doesn’t immediately inform your audience what problem you’re solving and for whom, they’ve moved on.
So you have to be economical and find the best words and put them together in the shortest way possible while still adequately explaining what you do. Most people don’t want to know how it works or why it works, they simply need to know that it works for their issue.
That’s not easy! When I had little to no voice, I found myself thinking about how to express myself in the most accurate words possible so that I could speak relevantly and then be quiet. Talking was painful for me and even more painful for those trying to listen to me!
When you give a lot of thought to the words you’re using they become infinitely more meaningful. I found myself eliminating buzzwords and I stopped talking if it was only to prove that I knew what I was talking about. I think I was more efficient, clearer, and honestly less boring.
Listen More Than You Speak!
We’ve all heard this before but it bears repeating. I think it goes something like this. We have two ears and one mouth; use them proportionately. When you force yourself to listen and seek to understand it is logical to think that what you say next will be positively influenced by what you just learned.
Listening is not simply about being polite or to make sure your audience feels acknowledged. It helps you do a better job for your customer. You learn new things. You become more in tune with your target audience. You sell more.
You might learn that they use your product in a way that wasn’t intended but might also be helpful to others. That could open up a new target market for you.
You’ll probably learn the ways it falls short so that your business can decide what they want to do about that. You’ll also be able to tap into features that would make a large number of customers happier and more likely to continue to be repeat customers and potential customers more inclined to buy.
You might learn what kind of support your audience needs so that you can align your content and become the resident expert. You’ll be able to be useful throughout the customer lifecycle so that your customers have no need to go anywhere else.
You’ll also know how you can be more helpful to your target audience so that you put your resources into developing the support your customers want, not the support you think they want.
All in all, my few days of enforced silence reminded me to be more economical, less egotistical, and gave me a renewed sense of who has and should have the power in the relationship between businesses and their target audiences.