6 Steps to Crystal-Clear Client Communication

05/19/2015 05:41 pm ET | Updated May 19, 2016

Ever been really excited about a business idea, only to have that idea fall flat when you try to explain it to investors, partners, team members or customers? It happens to many of us -- the audience doesn't grasp why we think our great idea is so darn cool.

For our entrepreneurial ideas to have an impact and generate lots of money, they need to be explained in a way that makes them impossible to be misunderstood. They also need to fire people up.

That's exactly what Erik Kerr does at his marketing company, The Draw Shop, for clients like Twitter, Dropbox and Uber. He recently shared with me six questions you must answer to create crystal-clear marketing messages that inspire prospective customers and stakeholders to take action.


1. Are you prepared to answer prospective clients' two biggest questions? Consumers are always asking two main questions -- "so what?" and "who cares?" -- when any product or service is put in front of them. Those are the questions you must answer quickly and clearly.

Unfortunately, many of us get caught up in talking about all the great features of our product or service -- the bells and whistles. So remember: The only thing prospects really cares about is the result you can provide that will give them what they most want. If you don't start by recognizing that you must help potential customers see why they should care about your idea, you'll lose them to the next competitor who can.

2. What is the profile of your ideal client? If you try to be all things to all people, you will find yourself pursuing too many "opportunities" without gaining traction in any one of them. You also risk diluting your message's clarity by appealing too broadly. Instead, you want to talk directly to your ideal client -- the person you most want to sell to or work with.

To identify your ideal client, create a detailed demographic profile that includes age, profession, level of wealth, personal traits, likes and dislikes and so on. Don't stop once you list the most obvious characteristics. For example, I work with financial advisors, and some of them will define their target market based entirely on data such as a person's investible assets. But the most successful advisors go much deeper by also defining their best clients in terms of their interests, their values and even their "money personality."

This approach allows you to know exactly who you want to communicate with so you can create communication that truly "speaks" to that market compellingly.

3. What are your ideal prospects' top five concerns? You need to understand your ideal clients' biggest pain points -- the five key issues that keep them up at night. Armed with that information, says Kerr, you can design a communication strategy that spells out "what's in it for them" by working with you (as well as a service model that delivers the value you promise). For example, I've learned that affluent investors tend to share five main desires: to make smart decisions about their money, to mitigate taxes, to take care of heirs, to protect their wealth, and to donate wealth to causes they care about.

How do you glean this information about your particular target market? Ask! If you currently work with clients who match your ideal client profile, interview them about their biggest concerns. If you don't, reach out to centers of influence -- the key influencers and tastemakers in the market you want to pursue -- for their insights about the members of the niche.

4. How will you solve those concerns better than anyone else? Explain what you -- and you alone -- bring to the table that will help your ideal clients address their biggest issues and challenges.

Kerr emphasizes that instead of worrying too much about what your competitors are doing, try focusing your communication on how well you are going to take care of your customers. That means articulating your process so that your clients understand exactly what it will be like to work with you -- with no unpleasant surprises. "You want to say 'this is how we're going to take care of you very specifically from the beginning to the end', and communicate that proactively early in the relationship," says Kerr.

Of course, your actions will also convey much of this messaging -- your follow through and your ability to keep commitments and meet deadlines. By consistently showing that you "walk your talk" over time, you'll build clarity and trust.

5. How will your prospects' lives be worse off if they don't choose you? Don't just highlight the amazing benefits you offer. Also paint a picture of the negative results people may experience if they don't work with you. "A lot of times we just talk about the 'heaven if you do' with clients, but you also want to pick the scab a bit and explain the 'hell if you don't' angle," says Kerr. "It might be that some bad result will occur, or that the troubles they currently have will continue and intensify. Whatever it is, spell it out clearly to motivate them to take action faster."

This approach works especially well if you sell to other successful businesses. Often business owners are doing pretty well, so they might not feel they desperately need the benefits you offer to remain successful. But if you show how inaction and complacency on their part will lead to bad outcomes down the road, you'll get their attention.

6. What is the action goal of the next call, meeting or video presentation? One of the biggest communication mistakes entrepreneurs make is not including a call to action into their messaging. Even if they get the other steps right, they forget to tell prospects exactly what to do next -- such as scheduling a consultation, signing up for a seminar or buying a product. Prospects actually need that nudge in order to act, so don't overlook it or feel you are "hard selling" by encouraging them to take the desired action right away.

Kerr says to think of this aspect of communication like reverse engineering. Your website, webinars, meetings, presentations and so on should all have a specific goal and call to action for the audience. "Any communication should have some sort of action or purpose behind it that's going to drive toward deepening a relationship or creating some sort of value or next step, especially in a sales process," says Kerr.

Bottom line: Figure out exactly what you want your well-defined audience to do with the information you're giving them, and make it a key part of your communication.

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