Business has a fierce, insidious enemy that, if not identified and combated, will contort our company into an unrecognizable mess. The enemy I’m talking about is noise.
Noise has killed more ideas, products, and services than taxes, recessions, lawsuits, climbing interest rates, and even inferior product design. I’m not talking about the noise inside our business; I’m talking about the noise we create as a business. What we often call marketing is really just clutter and confusion sprayed all over our websites, e-mails, and commercials. And it’s costing us millions.
Years ago, a StoryBrand client who attended one of our workshops pushed back. “I don’t think this will work for me,” he said. “My business is too diverse to reduce down to a simple message.” I asked him to explain.
“I have an industrial painting company with three different revenue streams. In one division we powder-coat auto parts. In another we apply sealant to concrete, and in another we have a sterilized painting process used specifically in hospitals.”
His business is diverse, but nothing so complex that it couldn’t be simplified so more people would hire him. I asked if I could put his website on the giant television screen so the entire workshop could see it. His website was thoughtful, but it didn’t make a great deal of sense from an outside perspective (which is how every customer views your business).
The man had fired a fine-arts painter to create a painting of his building (was he selling a building?), and at first glance it looked like the website for an Italian restaurant. The first question I had when I went to the website was, “Do you serve free breadsticks?” There were a thousand links ranging from contact information to FAQs to a timeline of the company’s history. There were even links to the nonprofits the business supported. It was as though he was answering a hundred questions his customers had never asked.
I asked the class to raise their hands if they thought his business would grow if we wiped the website clean and simply featured an image of a guy in a white lab coat painting something next to text that read, “We Paint All Kinds of S#*%,” accompanied by a button in the middle of the page that said, “Get a Quote.”
The entire class raised their hands.
Of course his business would grow. Why? Because he’d finally stopped forcing clients to burn calories thinking about his life and business and offered the one thing that would solve his customers’ problem: a painter.
What we think we are saying to our customer and what our customers actually hear are two different things. And customers make buying decisions not based on what we say but on what they hear.
from “Building a StoryBrand: Clarify Your Message So Customers Will Listen” by Donald Miller