Drop your guard and connect with your prospect

I’ve been having an email ding-dong with somebody. Not an argument exactly, but a back-and-forth exchange (as all are, I hear you say) that’s been frustrating for both of us. So eventually, I picked up the phone. And you know what? The tension evaporated, the misunderstanding disappeared and peace broke out. Not that we were ever at war. It’s just that we were both a little tense and our emails probably projected that. The language wasn’t intemperate, nor were any lines crossed. But there was a certain something that created confusion, frustration and an atmosphere. But don’t you write as you talk, Kevin? you’re probably wondering. Well yes, I do, but remember that written communication is a two-way thing: there are the signals you send out, and the ones that are received. And often, they’re two very different things.

Drawing a conclusion

An artist friend of mine said sometime back that her art is a combination of creation and interpretation. She brings a certain amount to the canvas, and the rest is up to the viewer. They bring their experience, attitudes, thoughts, memories, visual acuity and personality to the party. And what they see – or imagine they see – is often vastly different from what my friend intended. Not that she minds. Her art, as far as she’s concerned, is a collaborative venture. She does her bit, and the viewers do theirs. Writing is much the same. You know what you mean, but that meaning is often seen through the filter of the reader. If they don’t know you, or your company, or your products, or your service, or your excellent reputation, you’ve got some work to do to meet them halfway. And often, doing that is easiest by a slightly roundabout route.

Balancing act

Just last week, I was looking for a YouTube video on juggling (don’t ask). And I stumbled across a chap called Charlie, who taught himself to juggle pretty respectably within a week – using other YouTube videos, naturally. But it wasn’t his juggling skills that most interested me. It was his intelligence, sense of humour, and self-effacing nature that won me over. One video led to the next, and the next, and I found myself liking Charlie more and more. I’d give him a job (but he doesn’t need one). I’d buy him a drink (but he looks barely old enough). I’d lend him a tenner (but I think he earns more than I do). Like many YouTubers, he’s an introvert who’s found a vast global audience without venturing into the danger zone of crowds. Key to his success  is his vulnerability. He lets his guard down, shares his secrets and isn’t afraid to laugh at himself. If only companies did the same. Some do, and they’re very successful. One of my clients is a consultancy firm that handles Insurance Premium Tax (don’t worry – I’d never heard of it either until I started working for them). Not exactly the most exciting topic, you might think. Maybe, and maybe not. It’s all a question of approach. And theirs is an odd name, a striking logo, and a colourful, simple website that makes a complex subject easy. It’s a funky approach that works well for them – and for their readers. So what could you do to connect with readers?
  • Lighten up when you write. It’s not a legal contract, but an attempt to connect with somebody just like you.
  • Tap into the fears, concerns and problems of your audience. Show them that you know where they’re coming from.
  • Let them see there are real people behind the company. On the Home page, on the About page, on the Contact page. Real people looking happy, smiling and friendly (not stock images of models).
  • Use humour, but remember it’s a bit like alcohol, and should be consumed with moderation.
  • Tell people a secret, personal or corporate.
  • Grab them with a headline that talks about them, not you.
  • Imagine you’re talking to them. Talk to them if that helps (but make sure you’re not in too public or embarrassing a place).
  • And lastly, at the risk of sounding (almost literally) preachy, treat them as you’d like to be treated yourself.
Connecting really isn’t that difficult. It’s just a case of letting go. Of picking up the phone. Of losing the stiff, impersonal language of corporate communication. Of putting a smile on somebody’s face. And deep down, we all know how to do that. Find out more:
  • Ball games. Can’t juggle? Charlie will soon have you on your way. 
  • Taxing subject. Impendulo lifts the veil on Insurance Premium Tax, making light work of a heavy subject.