If you had two minutes for your perfect customer what would you say?

As the world gets busier and time gets shorter you need to have a strategy for the customer to start seeking you out.

A few months ago I had the opportunity to speak at a large consumer trade show. Before my talk I was walking around the show floor trying to understand their business more (and hoping to spend some money too!). As I looked at all the booths I noticed one in particular. At this booth they sold “painted” plates and I remember thinking to myself that they were really nice plates that were likely brought in from overseas like everyone else does. Not that a plate from another country is bad it was just my assumption that this booth was likely just like everyone else. As luck would have it I ended up speaking with the business owner and he told me that each plate I had been admiring was actually hand painted in Canada by a single artist in Alberta. In fact, as we spoke he constantly came back to this same compelling point of difference. In the space of ten minutes he likely mentioned it 5-6 times. I finally looked at him and said, “If I was your perfect customer and I agreed to give you two minutes of my busy day what would you say to me?” He looked at me and said, “All of our plates are exclusively hand painted by one artist in Alberta.” I said, “Great!! Show me how you communicate this powerful message in your booth.” He walked across the booth and pulled out a flyer and handed it to me. I said, “WOW you are making a few big assumptions aren’t you? One, you are assuming that I will enter your booth. On top of that you assume that I would be interested enough to stop and have this conversation with you. If I don’t, I completely miss your compelling point of difference, don’t I? The look on his face said it all. He knew I was right. If his selling value was all focused around a single artist designing every plate he needed to communicate that message in everything he did. He needed to communicate it in the name of the store, in the advertising and in the way the products were displayed. He needed to ensure that message jumped out at people. We spent the next 30 minutes redesigning simple things that would allow him to clearly communicate his message… “one Canadian artist, hand drawn, every plate is exclusively unique.” We designed a place for the artist’s photograph. We changed his slogan and we even turned some of the plates over so people could easily see the single signature on each and every plate.

I share this with you because my chance encounter that day really got me thinking about the question, “If you had two minutes with your perfect customer what would you say to them?” If you know the answer, great! If not, you better set aside some time to think about it. However, once you know the answer start asking/challenging yourself on how you communicate this important message in everything you do.

At Microsoft we called this our eight second elevator pitch. The idea was, what could we say to someone in the span of eight seconds that would get them to say, “Stop… I want to know more.”

So how would you answer this question? Would you even know what you wanted to say if the perfect customer came along? Is your message compelling enough for people to want to notice? Does your business communicate your perfect message in everything you do? More importantly, ask yourself does your message resonate from a distance. You see, most of us can do a reasonable job selling our value if we get close enough to the customer.

The challenge is getting the opportunity to get that close. As the world gets busier and time gets shorter you need to have a strategy for the customer to start seeking you out. Your message of value has to jump right out and stop them in their tracks.

If I go back to my story, I was very busy that day. This show was huge and my time was extremely limited. I wanted to spend money but I really needed someone to reel me in because every booth was becoming a blur. In your industry chances are there are lots of people who sell what you do. But no one does it quite as uniquely as you. At least you hope! This month take the time to capture the essence of what you stand for and then figure out how to communicate it loudly and clearly in everything you do.

Curt Skene