How To Write For Regular Readers

Yes, it’s a guest post! My friend and all-around wise dude Charlie Gilkey graciously offered me this guest post as a way to rouse Remarkable Communication gently from its slumber.

image of shakespeare and a punkThis is the second part of the How To Blog Like Shakespeare series from Charlie Gilkey. Check out How To Write For New Readers if you missed Part 1.

Regular readers are familiar with you and your content, so they’re already keyed into how you write and what you’re about. They’re also likely to be your friends, fans, champions, and customers.

The fact that they’re familiar with what you’re up to, though, can also make it more difficult to write for them. They might have already learned some of the stuff you’ve written for your new readers, so the way you write for your new readers won’t provide a lot of value to them. While they may have some favored themes and topics, to keep their attention, you’ll have to provide them something new.

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What’s Your Tribe’s Secret Language?

burningtribe

I picked up a couple of Nancy Mitford novels while I was on vacation in Taos a few weeks ago. Mitford wrote acidly funny, impeccably observed novels about her own background, which was as a child of the minor aristocracy growing up in Great Britain between the world wars.

It’s probably a bad idea for me to read any of the Mitfords (there were six sisters, all brilliant, some nasty, each with her own brand of insanity), because I find myself wanting to refer to things as heaven, or begin sentences with Any Danube peasant knows better than to . . .

Nancy Mitford became notorious in 1954 for a semi-satirical essay she wrote about “U” and “Non-U” pronunciation, the “U” standing for upper class.

(She didn’t coin the term “U,” but she did make it ubiquitous. U vs. Non-U was still a rowdy discussion when I first went to London in the 1980s.)

She outlined the situation neatly in her earlier bestselling novel The Pursuit of Love, in which the family patriarch is outraged because a young girl who’s a friend of the family is learning to say note-paper at boarding school, instead of writing-paper, and mirror instead of looking-glass.

Like her female characters, Nancy Mitford didn’t attend school at all, and thus couldn’t go to university as she had very much wanted to do. But by damn, she would have endured torture before she said note-paper.

It’s not about money

Mitford’s observations caused a lot of hand-wringing about snobbery and social class, which I suspect she found hilarious. She was born and bred to be a comic novelist, a brilliant observer but unable and unwilling to take anything very seriously.

What I find fascinating about it all is how fiercely tribal Mitford was, and how good she was at describing her tribe’s customs.

It wasn’t just about money. At various points in their lives, the real Mitford sisters lived on much more modest means than Nancy’s fictional characters did. (Money was a significant factor in the girls not going to school, for example.)

In fact, The Pursuit of Love details precisely the conflict between the rich middle class and the poorer (but in Mitford’s eyes, much more attractive) aristocrats and landed gentry.

Every tribe has a language

Whether it’s rabid fans of a sports team, residents of a neighborhood, members of a social class, or just people who share an interesting obsession, every tribe has a language.

When you’re writing to persuade a particular tribe, you’ve got to find the language that they use every day. Every time you say note-paper when they expect writing-paper, you send a signal that you’re not one of them.

Develop the novelist’s habit of writing down scraps of conversation that you hear. Keep file folders of customer comments, and go through it looking for interesting turns of phrase. Don’t “clean up” client testimonials too much—leave the linguistic quirks and oddities.

Listen more than you talk, and read more than you write.

If you’re building a tribe

You don’t just have to stick with the tribes that exist already. Creating your own is one of the most effective (and fun) ways to build a business or project.

When you build a tribe, remember that every tribe needs its own language. (The six Mitford sisters had one just among themselves, in fact.)

Over on Copyblogger, we’ve started to use the expression Third Tribe to mean “smart, ethical business based on great content and solid direct response copywriting.”

When I write about audience there, I talk about each of us building a village of customers.

We define ourselves as content net creators, as opposed to the “harpooners.” (Defining “the other” is also a big part of creating a tribe. I try to do this with respect and without vilifying anyone.)

When we overcome objections and build trust with customers, it’s called killing trolls.

You don’t have to force this “secret language.” (In fact, trying to force it is probably a terrible idea.) But you keep your ears open for the ideas and metaphors your villagers respond to.

When you come up with a good turn of phrase, keep using it. Repetition is your friend.

How about you? What’s the secret language of your tribe?

Flickr Creative Commons image by aturkus

Objection Blaster #4: Why You?

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You know what makes selling really annoying? When people don’t buy.

Man, is that irritating.

Those pesky customers have reasons they’re not buying from you today, and salespeople call these reasons “objections.”

This is post four in a series talking about what, as copywriters, we’re going to do to blast those objections into zillions of harmless smithereens.

The Hard Question

Once we’ve captured a potential customer’s attention and brought up a problem that they’d like to have solved, we have to answer an important question.

Why should they work with us, instead of all the other things they might choose to do about this problem? (Never forget that doing nothing is one of their options.)

Why not the big, name-brand retail store? Why not some free resource they find on the internet? Why not your closest competitor?

What have you got to offer that solves their problem in a different way? And what makes that way better?

The Dread USP

I’ve been writing a lot about USPs lately. It’s all Havi’s fault, she and I got into an interesting conversation about them at South by Southwest last March.

(If you don’t know what a USP is, it’s a Unique Selling Proposition. If that makes you barf, think of it as a unique promise. That’s the great Gary Bencivenga’s term, and I think it’s a great way to frame the question.)

Havi is a big fan of the Sing with Your Own Voice USP, and so am I. It’s the one thing no one can steal—your personality, voice, and style.

But when you’re thinking about making a unique promise, it’s helpful if you add a little more. “I promise to be myself” is kind of cool in a New Age Self Help way, but that potential customer would also like to know what they’re going to get out of this.

Making a Compelling Promise

I like Bencivenga’s “promise” approach because it covers two sides. The “unique” part you can cover by being a unique human being. But you’re not done yet.

That word “promise” gets us thinking about our friend the customer. What are we going to do for her? How are we going to help? How will her life become better when she does business with us?

Let’s say you run an adorable little independent bookstore. You’ve got the unique thing down. You’re singing with your own voice. You’ve got your mom making her killer chocolate chip cookies for the café, you’ve got tables recommending all your very favorite books, and you’ve got your ancient friendly cat sleeping in the shop window.

No one’s going to mistake your place for a boring chain. It’s got your personality all over it.

Half down, half to go.

What Can You Promise that the Other Guy Can’t?

Let’s face it, the thing that will make or break your bookstore is how well you compete with Amazon.

So what can you promise customers that Amazon can’t?

  • Our shop is a great place to curl up in a comfy chair and hang out.
  • Enjoy my mom’s fresh chocolate-chip cookies, fresh from the oven.
  • Instant gratification! Get your book right now instead of waiting a few days.
  • Not in the shop but you want it today, not tomorrow? Easy peasy. Call us or send us an email and we’ll send your book over by bicycle.
  • Meet local authors in an intimate, fun setting at one of our local author parties.
  • Instead of a weird computer-generated recommendation that doesn’t seem to have anything to do with you, have a conversation with a real live book-lover who can help you find exactly what you’re in the mood for.

After you’ve answered that question, you also need to figure out what you uniquely promise that the other bricks-and-mortar bookstores in your town don’t. So you go through the same exercise.

Repeat until you run out of significant competitors.

The Great Intersection

You can see how the unique promise comes at a wonderful intersection.

Between you—who you are, what you’re passionate about, and what you can uniquely offer, and your customers—who they are, what they’re passionate about, and what they uniquely desire.

If you don’t make an interesting promise that triggers your customers’ “ooh, nifty” response, there’s not much hope for the success of your business.

What Makes for a Good Promise?

1. You have to promise something that people in fact want. Not what you think they should want, but what they actually want.

You can figure this out by talking with customers, spending time in forums in your topic, running surveys, or hanging out on Twitter and in your comments and listening for what’s frustrating people.

This one kills a lot of businesses, so be really stern with yourself about it.

2. As a copywriter, you also want to make that promise vivid. Let the person see, feel, hear and taste what it’s going to be like when you deliver the promise. Use your full toolbox of great creative writing tricks to make the promise come alive in your readers’ mind.

3. A good promise feels intimate, one-to-one. All great copywriting speaks to one person.

Who believes mass advertising, or political promises? Nobody. They’re delivered to the millions, they’re cold and impersonal. But a promise whispered in our ear alone (or a promise that feels that way) gets our attention.

4. And of course, it’s only a good promise if we believe it. That’s why proof is such an important part of good sales copy (or good face-to-face selling, for that matter). So proof comes next in our series.

The Objection Blaster Series (so far)

The Top 10 Writing Blogs for 2008/2009

I am tickled pink (and purple and orange and sparkly blue) to be in Michael Stelzner’s list of the Top 10 Writing Blogs for 2008/2009. I want to especially thank the folks who saw my post on this blog and went over to nominate me, as well as to those who posted your support in the nomination thread.

Here are Michael’s descriptions of the 10 winning blogs. I’m absolutely honored to be in such terrific company. Now I’ve just got to find the right spot for my nifty new “Top 10 Blogs” badge.

  1. Copyblogger: As the undefeated champ, this blog has held the number-one spot for three straight years!  The baby of Brian Clark, this blog keeps winning because of its excellent and educational articles.
  2. Men With Pens: James Chartrand and Harry McLeod are the dynamic duo who continue to deliver rich content and community discussion.
  3. Freelance Writing Jobs: Founded by Deb Ng, this site is the first stop for freelance writers seeking new work and great articles (and it remains a top winner since this contest began).
  4. Write to Done: This blog delivers a steady stream of excellent articles for all writers and is the product of top blogger Leo Babauta.
  5. Confident Writing: Looking for encouragement? Joanna Young will help you take your writing to the next level.
  6. The Renegade Writer: Linda Formichelli and Diana Burell, authors of a book by the same name, help freelance journalists find inspiration.
  7. Remarkable Communication: One part writing, one part marketing and one part selling, this excellent blog by Sonia Simone will help any writer succeed.
  8. Writing Journey: Looking for a great stop on your writing journey? Bob Younce’s blog will refresh and energize you.
  9. Freelance Parent: Two moms, Lorna Doone Brewer and Tamara Berry, provide excellent perspective on writing while balancing time with little ones.
  10. Urban Muse: Susan Johnson covers a wide range of excellent topics that all writers will enjoy.

Objection Blaster Series #2: The Zen of Selling

candles

This is the second in a six- or seven-part series (maybe more if I come up with a bunch of great ideas) on overcoming sales objections. But before I start in on today’s post, I want to be sure you know what objections are.

Basically, every sale has two major components. The first part lets prospects know what you have to offer, and on what terms. The second part addresses the reasons your prospects don’t want to take you up on it.

If you’re selling face to face, you can deal with these as they come up. But when you’re marketing online or with direct mail, you have to blast through objections another way.

This series will walk you through the overarching objections that just about every client has, as well as giving you some techniques for dealing with objections that might be specific to your product or service.

What’s Keeping Your Customers from Buying?

It’s very helpful, before you try to answer this question, if you have an extremely solid idea of who your ideal customer is. Don’t bother trying to sell to not-ideal customers, they’ll waste your time and keep you from optimizing your business for the folks who really matter.

With an ideal customer in mind, brainstorm as many things as you can think of that might keep that person from pulling the trigger. This is a great time to wallow in a little creative paranoia. Is your stuff too expensive? Is it hard to understand? Will it take a lot of time to install? Is it going to break in two weeks?

Think about every hesitation your prospect might conceivably have about buying your stuff, no matter how weird or far-fetched. Don’t assume that your brilliant marketing has already laid this hesitation to rest. Just list everything.

How to Create an FAQ

The FAQ is a misnamed creature. It really should be FRO–frequently raised objections.

Every objection you can think of should be on your FAQ, answered in a calm and logical way that puts those fears to rest. The underlying fear to nearly all objections is what if I feel like an idiot for buying from you?  So keep that in mind when you put your answers together.

Don’t overpromise. Don’t hype. If there’s not-perfect stuff, either solve it or admit to it. (Admitting to minor not-perfect stuff is an excellent way to build a real relationship.) Just answer the questions in a way that shows you give a damn.

A Fantastic Example

I tend to assume that everyone who reads Remarkable Communication also reads Ittybiz, so you may have seen this already. But if you haven’t checked out Havi’s terrific FAQ for the Non Icky Self Promotion class (I’m taking the class and it seriously rocks, I don’t know if you can still sign up, but you should if you can), go do that.

Havi, in her adorable hippie marketer brilliance, goes through six significant objections in a respectful, thoughtful way. She doesn’t promise that her stuff fixes every problem. She doesn’t say that anyone’s objections are wrong or stupid. She just gives you an alternate way to look at them.

She’s not going to sell to everyone who reads the post. She doesn’t need or want to. The post is targeted directly at the people she can most help, and who are going to go back to Havi and Naomi and buy everything they ever put out. They’re creating their 1,000 True Fans with this kind of respectful, benefit-based marketing. It’s a great model, and one you can adapt today for your own gig.

Zen Selling

The Zen master Suzuki Roshi might have said, “Selling, not selling. No difference.” (He never did say that, but in the spirit of the thing, that doesn’t matter.)

I know a fair number of kazillion-dollar salespeople. They all have one thing in common–they don’t seem like salespeople at all. They don’t use weird closing techniques. They don’t have handshakes that could crush rocks into gravel. They’re just nice (often soft-spoken), friendly people who have a knack for creating trusting relationships.

They can close half-million dollar deals (and do, several times a week) and leave their customers thinking, “She’s such a nice person, she didn’t sell me at all.”

If you know someone who fits that description, even if they’re not a professional salesperson, sit down & have a conversation with them around your stuff–what you have to offer, and what kinds of objections come up. Ask them how they’d talk about your FROs. Scribble down or record what they say, capturing as much of that low-key, friendly flavor as you can.

Learn the art of directly but gently addressing prospect objections, and you’ll start converting more sales. Not only that, you’ll build repeat and referral business from those customers, which puts you on track to exponential growth. It works, and you won’t need a shower afterwards.

The next post in this series will help you blast through another giant general objection: “Who cares.”

The Objection Blaster Series (So Far)

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A Favor to Ask of You

Michael Stelzner, the white paper guru, is running his annual contest for the year’s Top 10 Blogs for Writers. Now’s the time to submit your nominations–you have until this coming Friday, September 12. Write a comment on his post to nominate or vote for a blog.

Now if Remarkable Communication happens to be your favorite writing blog, I would dearly love your vote. Getting on a Top 10 list like this would be a wonderful way to re-launch this blog and expand the wonderful community that’s grown here.

But it would be churlish of me not to point to some other great contenders! I truly want you to vote for whichever writing blog you find the most valuable. Whether it’s mine or someone else’s, the important thing is to get your vote counted.

Here’s a very incomplete list of some terrific writing blogs.

The awful thing about putting together a little list of amazing blogs like this is that I know I’ve left some major ones off. Mend my ways in the comments! Let me know your very favorite writing blog, and be sure you nominate and/or vote for it on Stelzner’s site. Here’s that link again, just add a comment to the post. And remember, you need to vote by September 12.

Additions:

Jean Gogolin has a new-ish and very good blog called WordTales. Well-written, sharp, and incisive. She’s a speechwriter, but the focus is broader than that–there’s lots of good stuff here for anyone who communicates in words. I invite you all to check it out!

Objection Blaster Series #1: Capturing Attention

It would be nice if we could just tell people how great we are and they’d then buy our stuff, wouldn’t it? Annoyingly, it hardly ever works that way. Prospects have an irritating collection of reasons they don’t want to buy, don’t have time to talk to us now, and don’t take their credit cards out of their wallets.

Fortunately for us, human nature tends to be comfortingly consistent. There are actually five recurring objections that virtually every prospect needs to be brought through before they’ll become customers.

This series will walk you through how to get past each one of them in turn. The truth is, you don’t have to be a “born salesman” to sell, you just have to learn the techniques that work.

The first barrier to blast through is the toughest one for most people . . . managing to get a prospective customer to spend two minutes looking at our stuff. It’s the equivalent of getting your bright shiny rocket off the ground–you’ll spend most of your energy just overcoming gravity.

How often have you heard the following sentence? (How often have you spoken it?)

I Don’t Have Time to Talk to Salespeople

Is there anyone, anywhere, who does have time to talk with salespeople?

One of the 50 things your customers wish you knew is that we absolutely hate to be sold to (even though we love to buy). Is there anything more annoying than that person you met at a networking event who calls and calls after the event, even though you have no interest in her product? Even worse, you might have actually been interested, but the incessant nagging makes her product about as appealing as taking out the trash.

When you nag prospects, you associate yourself with the feeling of being nagged. Bad idea.

Pestering or trying to guilt-trip customers into paying attention is a poor use of your time. The mean ones who yell at you or rudely hang up are actually doing you a favor–they’re unambiguously letting you know that they’re not going to buy. It’s the “nice” prospect who lets himself get nagged into talking to you who’s the problem, because he’s not going to buy either.

Attracting Attention in a Sea of Clutter

Every advertiser knows that ads are becoming a mass of white noise. Customers will tune in if you’ve got something they want, but breaking through the clutter gets harder every year.

My copywriting hero Gary Bencivenga gives the best advice I’ve found on this: your advertising must be valuable in and of itself.

Is a blog advertising? It is if you’re using it to build your business. And in fact, a blog fits Bencivenga’s advice to a tee. Build lots of great, valuable content and you’ll attract attention, build loyalty, and establish yourself as an authority. You put yourself into the category of “good, useful guy” instead of “bloodsucking ratbag salesman.”

(I’m not saying it’s fair. I’m just saying that’s how it is.)

Remarkable Communication is based on the idea of using useful, friendly communication as the “something valuable” in your advertising. Newsletters, whether they’re paper or electronic, fill the bill. So do blogs and email autoresponders, or a terrific series of articles hosted on your Web site. Direct mail pieces like “magalogs” or other freebies with good content are a great example, although they take more resources to put together.

If you’re facing a lot of “Sorry, I don’t have time to talk now” from prospects, see what kind of valuable free chips and salsa you can put together. And if you’re not quite sure where to begin, sign up for my free email and content marketing class to get started. (Will I hit you up with dozens of high-pressure offers or rent your email to Romanian pharmaceutical spammers? I will not.)

The Objection Blaster Series (So Far)

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How Tasty Are Your Chips and Salsa?

chips and salsa

One of the great things about going out for Mexican food is getting that free chips and salsa. Of course, it isn’t really free. The cost gets folded into the price you pay for your carnitas tacos or the killer chicken enchiladas. But it feels like a great free gift, which is part of what makes it so enjoyable.

Good content marketing uses free content in the same way. Really great free content whets the appetite and it shows off your talent at creating something tasty. Whatever your regular “main course” product is, a nice appetizer of chips and salsa can strengthen your relationships and boost your business.

Chips and Salsa Get You Ready for the Meal

Have you ever been ravenously hungry, but you didn’t quite realize it until you put the first bite into your mouth?

When you start out with some chips and salsa, you get your tastebuds in the mood for a great dinner. You get started down a path and realize you want to keep going. A few bites of something really yummy leave you primed to enjoy the full meal that’s to come.

In the same way, free content like email newsletters, blogs and autoresponder content are tasty appetizers that make your prospects hungry for something more substantial. They create an enjoyable early experience of consuming your stuff, and set up the right conditions for a great, enduring relationship.

Great Salsa Shows a Great Cook

Salsa isn’t actually very hard to make. You chop up some decent ingredients, put them together in the right ratios, and there you have it, delicious salsa.

But customers don’t know that. The assumption is that if the free salsa is out of this world, the paid main course will be even better. Free salsa is a relatively inexpensive, low-work way to make a great impression on the customer and sell her on the exceptional quality of the main course.

A great email autoresponder works the same way. When you deliver knockout content for free, your reader can’t help but ask herself, “If this is the free stuff, how amazing is the paid product going to be?”

To make free content work, be smart about it. Use the salsa model: create a PDF, an autoresponder, or another vehicle that doesn’t cost too much money or work to send out. Save free consultations, physical samples and other more expensive or labor-intensive freebies for later-stage prospects.

Salsa-and-chips content should, like their namesake, be zesty and not too filling. You want to tease the appetite, not satiate it. Which leads us to . . .

Don’t Wait Too Long to Serve the Meal

If you fill up on chips and salsa while you wait 40 minutes for the meal, what happens? Your needs have already been met. You aren’t hungry any more. You don’t devour your delicious dinner, your experience isn’t completely satisfying, and you’re not as likely to come back.

If you have something to sell, try to make an offer quickly after you put the chips and salsa on the table. You can literally offer a paid product right on the page that thanks your reader for confirming her email subscription. Or you may want to put an offer in your first message, along with that valuable chips-and-salsa content that’s got your reader’s appetite going.

If you deliver nothing but free chips and salsa for months on end, you run the risk of training your customers to expect that everything you offer will be free. Those customers can still build your business—a cheapskate who raves about you all over town is well worth cultivating—but obviously it’s better business to get as many customers as possible paying their way.

Hungry For More?

I have not one but two free and tasty e-classes, delivered fresh and delicious straight to your email box. Sign up today!

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Relationship Marketing Series #6, Connect With One Person

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Even though (with any luck) you’re marketing to lots and lots of people, no one wants to be a faceless speck in a crowd.

Maybe it’s a result of the industrial age. Yes, we like to be in tribes, but tribes are small, intimate things. A tribe might be 8 people or 80, but it’s not 80,000. The greater the scale we have to deal with in our jobs, our commutes, our grocery stores, or even our churches, the more we look for one-to-one relationships.

We’re born alone. (Even twins can’t manage that one side-by-side.) And we all secretly think we have problems that no one else has. We want someone who really gets us. Someone who speaks to us, and just to us. Someone who listens to our problems and fears, and then makes those go away.

Know Who You’re Talking To

Marketing 101 tells you to know your market. Too many marketers confuse that with demographics. “My customers are married women 26-40 with one or two children, who subscribe to Redbook and Parenting, and carry a MasterCard.”

Demographics are collections of traits. They come in real handy if you’re buying a mailing list or deciding where to advertise, but demographics aren’t people. They’re just a collection of patterns.

If you have something to sell to that demographic, you need to be thinking about Cynthia (who hates to be called Cindy), who’s 33 and a little bored at work, has a four-year-old named Ben and a six-year-old named Ruby, reads Parenting even though it makes her feel guilty and her mom got her a subscription to Redbook but all she reads are the dessert recipes and articles about dieting, and yes she knows that makes no sense but she does it anyway, and yeah she has a MasterCard, because she got mad at the bank that issued her Visa so she cut it up.

Talk to One Person

Whether you’re writing a blog or an email newsletter or a set of postcards or a yellow pages ad, you need to be thinking about Cynthia.

What can you help her out with? Why is your stuff the perfect match for her problems? Does your gym offer really great childcare, so she doesn’t feel like a rat for parking her kids there for an hour? Does your product respect the fact that she’s pulled in 20 directions as a working mother, and help clarify her choices so she can focus on what she needs to do? Does your carpet-cleaning service use nontoxic solvents, so she can quit worrying about poisoning her kids and the dog just so her mother-in-law will quit making that face when she comes over?

What’s not working for Cynthia right now? How can you make that work better?

To get started on that conversation, I found a nice resource on a copywriters’ forum [note: now moved to Michel Fortin's blog, the link's been updated] called the 60-minute naked truth sales letter. Even if you never intend to use any kind of sales letter, the things you’ll discover with this exercise will help you find the right messages for Cynthia. You’ll get a good, high-level grasp on what you really need to let her know about.

How Do You Find Cynthia?

You’ll be able to find Cynthia by paying attention.

First, make sure Cynthia loves your stuff. She’s your perfect customer. She’ll buy anything and everything you have, because your solutions line up exactly with her problems.

If you realized you’ve imagined a Cynthia who’s just not that into you, start from scratch. Your Cynthia needs to be the person who loves what you do and how you do it, can afford your products and services, and is someone you can figure out how to reach. (In other words, you could buy a mailing list of Cynthias, or you can find a joint venture partner who’s got an email list of Cynthias.)

Talk to the customers you have, especially the ones who love you. (You also want to pay close attention to the ones who hate you, but that’s another exercise.) What’s going on with them? What’s freaking them out right now? How do they feel about the economic situation? What’s going on in their personal relationships? Is this election a big deal for them? Do they think it’s going to change things, and if so, is that good or bad, from their point of view?

If you’ve got a bricks and mortar operation, spend a lot of time on the floor hanging out with customers. Watch them. Listen to them talk to one another. Ask them questions.

If you’re online, go to forums where your customers hang out, and listen to what they gripe about. Set up Google alerts about the kinds of problems you solve. Send out surveys, to both existing customers and potential customers.

Make it very easy to give you feedback, and pay close attention. Look for patterns. Try to figure out the underlying problems and worries that are beneath people’s words.

Speak Her Language

One great thing about all this paying attention is that it lets you discover the language of your customers. Maybe they talk like Katharine Hepburn, and maybe they talk like Roseanne Barr. You’ve got to listen before you can find that out.

Use the phrases, metaphors and examples that your customers use. Describe their problems the way they do. When they give you testimonials, don’t clean up little grammar errors or odd turns of phrase. Keep as much of the original language as you can. A little imperfection shows that it’s real.

Obviously, to make this work, you have to get to a point where that language is natural to you. Parody makes for lousy advertising. If you’re Roseanne and your customer is Katharine, find someone who’s more like your customer to read through your stuff and help with the tone. You can’t make a real connection in a language that’s utterly foreign to you.

One giant advantage you have over Coca-Cola or Johnson & Johnson is that you can create a true sense of personal connection with your customers. Not every customer wants that, but you can find the ones who do.

The worst mistake small-business marketers make is thinking their market is anyone with a pulse. Find your Cynthia, and just write for her. (Even the non-Cynthias will respond to this, because your tone will be personal and genuinely friendly.) Have a cup of coffee with Cynthia when you sit down to write a blog post or an email newsletter article. Let her know what you can help her with today.

When you spend your time thinking about what else you could be doing to make Cynthia’s life better, you’ll start to see some very exciting things happen in your marketing.

So who’s your Cynthia? Let us know in the comments . . .

The Relationship Marketing Series

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