Maybe it’s because you’ve been running your business for years.
You’re great at shaking hands and rambling off a tried-and-true elevator pitch the same way you shift into second gear – without conscious thought but with flawless (if not slightly lifeless) execution.
Maybe it’s because you’ve forgotten the special sauce you offer, or never knew what it was to begin with.
Regardless, you can see that your marketing and messaging efforts are not convincing your ideal clients. Things are stagnating, and you know you’re not giving your greater vision, the quality of your work, and your integral values the stage time they deserve.
This is all very fixable with a shift in perspective, which is why I’m here!
So… what do people want anymore, dammit – how can you engage and convince them? How can you transform them into enthusiastic clients?
The truth is, you probably sell something both desirable and needed but it is unclear exactly why people should choose you.
A guy named Simon Sinek (have you heard of him?) once gave a TED Talk. He drew circles on a whiteboard, added what resembled words, and underlined them. He made lots of squiggles, dots and arrows. If you enter the video 12 minutes and 32 seconds in without context, it looks like madness.
He repeated the same phrase with increasing passion, verging on slight desperation: “People don’t buy what you do; they buy why you do it!”
And the people loved it. Everyone who owned a business, worked in marketing, or was part of any C Suite – we were all on the edge of our seats, our minds blown to little itty bits. It’s been a few years now, and his famous, oft-repeated quote lives on, mainly in business-y slideshows for audiences who nod with distant recognition and thin patience. The meaning, in other words, has been somewhat lost in the ether.
I don’t think we really understand how to apply why. Not for ourselves and our audience.
I’m going to bring Sinek’s work back, in the focused context of your business messaging. Without further ado, here is the best way to transform the messaging you’ve already developed into something more engaging and convincing.
Pretend you are a client you want to work with.
Changing hats can be difficult, even if you were once your ideal client.
You probably have a list of promised outcomes, program benefits, or receivables, depending on what kind of work you do. This copy is perfect for this exercise. If you have something like this for your business, pull it up for reference.
Let’s consider a tutoring company that appeals to parents with kids in middle and high school. These parents want their kids to improve their test scores and be more successful. For the sake of this exercise, we’ll assume this business has a defined niche (good job, them!) – they work primarily with kids who are neurodivergent and struggle to focus in standard school conditions.
On their website is the following.
Your child will receive:
- One-on-one attention
- Access to past exams
- A tutor with guaranteed 10+ years of tutoring experience
- A weekly hour-long session
- Mid-week text check-ins
This copy is direct, simple, correct, and clear. So why is it a glaring example of copy that fails to convince?
When we do our work for so long, the underlying benefits we offer can seem self-explanatory. This is a moment to consider that the underlying benefits and nuances of what you do are not self-explanatory to your audience.
Your ideal client wants and needs what you offer. They might have even done their research and have some technical knowledge that helps them discern between you and your competition. But for your messaging to be more convincing, it means changing your ideal client’s response from, “That sounds fine”, to “Oh thank Pete, I’ve found the perfect thing.” In other words, you need to spell out the why for them. Good old Sinek strikes again!
Let’s break down that first bullet point. The tutoring company’s ideal clients are responsible, intelligent, and concerned parents. They understand on some level why one-on-one attention is good. After all, class sizes are huge and their kid needs some extra support – that’s why they’re looking for a tutor.
But perhaps they don’t see why that’s worth the greater cost compared to tutoring companies that prefer to batch kids together in small groups of students in the same grade. While they have a neurodivergent kid, they are figuring it out as they go and don’t have as much knowledge as this tutoring company. Without any added information, the ideal parent may think: One-on-one sounds nice, but kind of expensive.
This marks a make-or-break opportunity. With insightful messaging updates, the tutoring company can show parents that one-on-one attention is not a nice-to-have for a neurodivergent child, but crucial for their success. They can explain how this is why their tutoring structure is uniquely designed the way it is.
Without any updates, this messaging leaves too much up to interpretation. It risks the ideal client making a choice based on price instead of quality of service. This isn’t the ideal client’s fault, because there was no way to understand from “one-on-one attention” why it’s so important. Owners who routinely experience their ideal clients choosing a cheaper option can grow bitter and claim things like, “No one wants to invest in quality anymore, even for their kids!” This is tragic, because the truth is not that parents don’t care, it’s simply a lack of communication by the company. An owner who starts believing these internal stories will find it harder and harder to succeed in communicating value.
The same applies for the other bullet points.
Why are access to past exams important? Most tutoring services don’t have those available to practice with – this company has a unique relationship with the governing body. This means that students in this tutoring program have much better test scores.
Why are highly experienced tutors good? Not for the obvious reason (more experience is always good!) Go deeper. For this niche of neurodivergent students, highly-trained and experienced tutors know how to support, inspire, motivate, and teach in a way that the student will never receive in school.
Why are mid-week check-ins a value-add? Mid-week check-ins are nice, sure, but again, for this population of neurodivergent students, it means getting support during the time they feel the most overwhelmed and unfocused. This company wants these students to learn how to navigate places like school healthily, not just provide a band-aide in the form of extra tutoring on the side. Their main goal is for their students to have more tools in their toolbelt so they can see progress and feel more confident inside a standard school environment.
None of this, we can see, is apparent with the original copy.
To get to “why”, it takes some digging and wordsmithing. It often means going back to the foundations of the business and rediscovering what makes your business stand out.
Read the list of bullet points you pulled up for your company, or read your website material, and investigate the following questions:
- Is the copy written distinctly from your perspective, or does it also draw insights from your clients’ perspective that would make it more compelling?
- Are you making assumptions about your clients’ existing knowledge? For example, have you listed what you know are strong benefits but in a way they may not understand?
- Do you show a level of empathy and deeper understanding for their plight, as well as their greater desires and goals?
- Do you write for a clearly defined niche, or is your messaging for everyone? (For example, “all parents” or “all homeowners” or “all small-businesses”?)
If you can see you have work to do, consider investing in brand creation, copywriting, and strategy support! Fusebox Marketing Group can help with that.
Brittany Veenhuysen is a core copywriter at Fusebox and co-founder of BrandPsyche. She uses strategic storytelling to engage and connect small & medium businesses with clients they love to serve.