Not long ago, I met a man who shared with me his story of what had happened to him many years ago when he was very young. His parents invited their elderly preacher for Sunday dinner. While they were in the kitchen preparing the meal, the minister asked him what they were having. “Goat,” he replied. “Goat?” replied the startled preacher, “Are you sure about that?” “Yep, I heard Dad say to Mom, ‘Today is just as good as any to have the old goat for dinner’.”
His story reminds us that the words we say are powerful. Words have the power to evoke any form of emotion. Words have the power to inspire, and unfortunately to destroy too. This mastery of selecting the correct words to clearly communicate is especially critical in the world of business as we grow Tama County. Today we have a fast paced, mile-a-minute world; you often have only a few seconds to get your message across. Twitter-based limited space world along with TV and radio commercials lasting no more than 30 seconds force us to get to the point quickly. While most of us are not writing Super Bowl ads we do need our own mini-messages for investor/banker meetings, networking meetings, trade shows, interviews, sales calls or any situation where we need to quickly promote our business (remember we are all business promoters here in Tama County).
How do you develop these messages effectively? Think in terms of “sound bites”. Prepare your brief message just like a speech, with an opener, the content and the closing. Let’s examine each of these in more detail.
The Opening – The purpose of your opening is to grab attention. You must assume that your audience is generally as busy and preoccupied as you are. So you need to first get their attention with a ZING. Sometimes it is a question, using “grabber” words, humor or an interesting visual.
Using a question as an opener causes the listener to stop and think. “Do you want to change the world?” “How many new prospects do you want today?” “When do you want to feel good again?” Once you have their attention, your message can help them answer the question.
Grabber words are designed to startle, shock, or at least cause your listener to want to listen to what’s coming next. The first sentence of this article is an example.
A funny comment or an eye-catching visual are always effective ways to get the attention of your listeners in a hurry. Obviously, any of these openings must be relevant to your message, or they will confuse your listeners.
The Content – Once you have their attention, relate your main message. Since you usually have only three or four sentences, you need to craft this message carefully. The most effective message is the one that states what your business can do for the listener. In other words, talk about the benefits to be received by using your product or service. Don’t say “I’m a dentist”. Say “I improve the health and well-being of my clients. Healthy teeth help you look good and feel good”.
The bottom line is that your listeners don’t care what you do. They care about what you can do for them. Talk in terms of results, feelings, benefits, outcomes, ideas. Imagine your listener with a sign on his forehead that reads “So what? What’s in it for me?” Remember, you only have 30 seconds. There will be time later to explain how you do these great things.
The Closing – Here is where you ask for action. As a result of your 30 second commercial, you want your listener to do something or think something. Ask: “When can we meet?” “Give me your business card”. “Call today”. “When you think of shoes, think of The Shoemaster”.
Also appropriate is your catchy tag line. The closing may be the only part of your message that your listener will remember. What do you want them to remember?
So, there it is, your own mini-message that takes only 30 seconds. And it has a beginning, middle and an ending. What can you do to make all this come out sounding and looking smooth, confident and compelling? Prepare and practice. Call our office 641-484-3108 and get an appointment to discuss refining your businesses’ mini-messages.
So select your words wisely and don’t be a ”goat”.