Those Crazy Prospects Are Trying To Tell You Something

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A few years ago, I was talking to a member of the board of my condominium. She was extremely frustrated with the owners.

“All they do is complain,” she said. “Just last week, someone complained because we spent $39 on postage to mail a notice to the owners. “

I could see her point. But I could see the complainer’s perspective also.

In fact, I’d been wanting to complain about another small issue. Every month the property manager would print out 100 copies of announcements and leave them on a shelf near the mailboxes. And every month, almost all were still on the shelf.

What’s the cost of the extra flyers? At most $5.00.

But the real issue was, someone wasn’t paying attention. Every single month someone had to throw out a big stack of paper. When you do something over and over again, it’s a good idea to ask what’s going on.

If nobody’s paying attention to something this obvious — something you can’t miss every time you walked through the lobby — what else are they missing?

I suspect the owner who complained about stamps shared my views. It’s not the $39 — it’s the lack of attention to detail.

It’s not about the cost — it’s about the perspective.

I remembered this example as I read a book on negotiation, Never Split the Difference by Chris Voss.

When you’re negotiating, says Voss, you have to understand that your opponent’s worldview may be completely different from yours. What you consider important may be completely frivolous to the other party, and vice versa.

Marketers also need to be aware of conflicting worldviews.

Paul was buying a house in a suburb of New York. His agent kept pointing out “cute” kitchen arrangements. She was annoyed because he seemed to be ignoring her. Wasn’t he paying attention? Was he even a serious buyer?

Paul didn’t care. He wanted a big yard for his dog and a den that could be a home office.

As a copywriter, I review sales letters with offers that involve “scaling up” a business and building a small empire. Some of my clients know they’re targeting a very specific segment of entrepreneurs.

But some express surprise when I ask if that’s the primary goal of their target audience. “Isn’t that what everybody wants?” they ask in puzzlement.

Not necessarily. After all, some people don’t want a big business: they’d rather just pay the bills and enjoy more free time.

A lot of marketing is tone-deaf.

I know I’m dealing with a marketer who’s turned inward when I get an email that begins, “Frankly, Cathy, I don’t understand. I’ve explained exactly how much this program can do for you…”

I’m tempted to reply, “Frankly, X, I’m the one who doesn’t understand. If you knew anything about me and my business, you’d know exactly what your program can do for me. In a word, nothing.”

My newly retired friend Pat was looking for a health coach. She was turned off by one coach whose website promised, “We can help you live to be 100.”

“I don’t care about living to be 100,” she said. “I want to live as long as I can be healthy. And most people I know feel the same way.”

How do you get into your client’s worldview?

The best way to do this is to find your ideal client’s backstory.

One backstory for business owners begins, “I’m looking for ways to make more money while spending less time on the business.” A marketing consultant who can’t imagine anyone not wanting a 7-figure empire will have difficulty entering into a conversation with that backstory.

Your client’s backstory doesn’t stop there. You’d also find out what obstacles they face, what they’ve tried, and what they’d like to achieve.

Sometimes you realize you can’t get inside a client’s world view. It might seem too foreign and too strange. You can make a strong effort to reach them where they live…or, as I sometimes advise clients, find a new audience and a new offer.

Learn more about entering the conversation in your client’s mind with this free report: “The Surprising Way To Discover What REALLY Motivates Your Target Market.” Click here for your instant download.

Originally published at

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