“Branding” is a big buzzword. More and more companies are spending time on their corporate image, messaging, and reputation. When meeting with clients and prospects on ways to improve their business, the conversation often moves to their brand.
This isn’t a bad thing. Companies and organizations must present a simple and compelling image and messaging to their customers and prospects. This is all good.
Where the disconnect happens for companies and organizations of all sizes is the focus of the messaging and branding. The vast majority of companies focus their branding, image, and marketing with an internal focus. By doing this, they are missing the point.
Here’s a secret for you. Customers don’t care what companies do. They don’t care about pretty PowerPoint presentations and slick brochures. What customers care about is what companies can do for THEM. People who have been on teams with me have heard use the acronym “WIIFM” over and over. WIIFM stands for “What’s In It For Me”. Whether you’re designing websites, creating marketing materials, branding for companies, or selling, this is one thing you can do to differentiate yourself from the competition. It may seem like a subtle change, but changing your focus from internal to external is a game changer.
Let me give you an example. While in the role of senior sales leader for a global company, I led what we referred to as the ‘capture team’ when there were opportunities with some of the most strategic customers and prospects. Having been on the job for only a month or so, I participated in the first capture team meeting. The opportunity was significant, with a globally known company in the food industry.
One of the members of the capture team had the best relationship with the company, so this person put together a preliminary PowerPoint presentation, which was sent to us in advance of the first capture team meeting to plan strategy. When the PPT arrived in my Outlook email, it took quite a bit of time to down load the file. I thought this was odd.
When I opened, it I realized why. The doggone PowerPoint was 63 slides! I’ve always thought presentations like this should only have a few slides, so I always tried to keep it around 10 to 12, tops.
Reviewing the slide deck, I also noticed the first 20 slides were about our company, with virtually no information about what our prospect was trying to accomplish. The more I looked at it, the madder I got. By the time the meeting came around, I had calmed down, but I was prepared to lay it out. I told the group we were way off course here. They looked at me like I had three heads, but listened to me. By putting all this information at the front of the slide deck about our company and no mention of the prospect, it gave the message that we thought the most important thing was us, not their needs.
The light bulb went off and they asked what to do next. I told them to cut the 20 slides about us to 2 and move it to the back of the deck. Next, cut out the other 40 slides and make it a total of 10 slides, with the focus not on us, but the customer; more specifically, what the customer was trying to accomplish. In short, view it from the customer’s point of view, or What’s In It For Me? WIIFM.
To make a long story short, the slide deck ended up being 12 slides. But it was 100% focused on what the customer was trying to accomplish, not how great we were. As we were leaving the meeting, one of our very respected competitors were in the lobby about to go in for their turn. I jokingly asked one of their guys how many slides in their PowerPoint. His reply “50 ish”. As we walked out the door, I told the other members of the team, “they’re dead and they don’t even know it”, because I can assure you they were focused on how great they were, not what they could do for the prospect.
There was a lot at stake with this prospect meeting, because it was a significant change to the way an organization had done things for a very long time. The good news is the presentation went extremely well and we won the business, a large six figure contract.
The great philosopher and country music artist, Toby Keith, summed it up well in his popular song “I Wanna Talk About Me!”. It doesn’t matter whether it’s sales calls, branding, volunteering at church, or being a parent or spouse. We become better at it when the focus isn’t on ourselves, but on the needs of others.