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I’m no Gary Bencivenga

(171/365) Giraffe in a strawberry
Creative Commons License photo credit: Sarah G…

Please, don’t ever do this:

“*business name* is a boutique digital strategy group focused on immersive branded entertainment encounters and custom cross-media content that extends the brand experience through multiple, lifestyle-centric touchpoints.”

This was the welcome paragraph on a website I stumbled across.

Maybe these people are wildly successful, have a great deal of fun, absolutely love their clients and the work they do for them, live in a lovely paid-off remote, mountainside chalet overlooking the beach and spend their spare time flying the Gulfstream to their second home in Tahiti where the second coming of Greta Garbo peels grapes for the men while the second coming of Clark Gable and Cary Grant serve the martinis for the ladies before rubbing them down with freshly-made coconut oil, but…


I mean, I’m no Gary Bencivenga but (again) wow.

Sorry. Just amazed. Three guesses why.

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Bad conversation: Like peeing on the seat

Remember driving across the country in your car as a kid on those family vacations?

Picture this: Your dad, brother, uncle or whoever gets out of the car, goes into the restroom, comes back a few moments later and without a word, they’re ready for the next leg of the trip.

Next, your mom, sister, aunt or grandmother heads for the restroom, comes back almost immediately and is beside themselves about how gross that bathroom is.

The car doors slam and you’re moving a mile or five down the road to find a bathroom that might have been cleaned in the last year or two.

When mom, sis or whoever returns from the clean bathroom, they can’t help but comment about the gross one a few miles back and they might even be incredulous about the fact that you (dad, brother, whoever) didn’t think anything of it – much less that you didn’t say a word.

Maybe it’s about expectations, but that’s not where I’m heading today.

Standing up

Newsflash from the Business is Personal Department of Obviousness: Guys go standing up. Ladies do not.

As a result, the conversation about restrooms is different even though the facility is exactly the same for both.

Peeing on the seat is (effectively) meaningless to one group and like kryptonite to another. The perception of two audiences is totally different, despite everything in the room being identical.

Likewise, you can sell the side of the road in a bad neighborhood as “acceptable” to a guy who has to go, while you better not even think about stopping there for most ladies. Yeah, I know there are exceptions. Move along.

Are your conversations one size fits all?

The question is, do the conversations you start with your clients and prospects look like those bathrooms? Are they one size fits all?

If they’re acceptable to those who stand up, is your message lost on those who are sitting down?

All too often, I see websites, ads, pitches and other materials treated like those bathrooms – one message for everyone. It doesn’t work.

Talking to everyone is talking to no one.

One size may (more or less) fit all when it comes to doorways, water in the tank, toilet seats and the hardware – but that’s where it ends. How you talk (verbally, on paper or on the web) with different folks is much the same as those bathrooms.

The *conversation* you would have in person with a single mom is different than the one you’ll have with the 12 year old boy or the 47 year old menopausal woman.  So why is your marketing and other content aimed at some random spot in the middle of those three?

You already know that the perception and expectations of each group that enters the bathroom (ie: reads your ad, reads/hears your pitch, listens to your talk, reads your blog) is totally different – so why not do something about it.

Talk to the 72-75 year old widows differently than you would 65 year old ladies whose husbands are alive.

Talk to the 22 year old skateboarder and the 32 year old mom of three in a way and about the things that matter to them – not as if they are just a gaggle of identical humanoids (or the Borg).

Otherwise, you may as well not bother having the conversation.

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Role reversal: Use it when crafting a product, service, story or ad

As with yesterday’s “I rescued a human” story, today I have another good example of role reversal to get into the conversation going on in your prospect’s head.

If you watch “traditional man television”, you may already have seen this commercial. You won’t likely find it playing during the soaps, or Oprah. It’s targeted at men and shown during shows and on networks that men are known to frequent.

Immerse yourself in your client or prospect’s situation. Once you’ve done that, the ad, letter, product or service will come to you far more easily.

Have a great Thanksgiving, and thank YOU for reading my blog.

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I rescued a human today

Creative Commons License photo credit: Sugar Pond

Several times – including in the recent direct mail posts – we’ve talked about having the right conversation with your client or prospect.

About Robert Collier’s comment “Enter the conversation already taking place in the prospect’s mind”.

About looking at your business from the other side of the counter, thinking of the issues that your prospects and customers are concerned with.

I found a great example of doing that very thing today. Amazingly, it was in one of those forwarded sometimes funny, sometimes sappy, sometimes heartwarming emails that all of us get from our friends and colleagues.

I’m not sure if the author realizes the power of her writing, but I urge you to take this in and think about the role reversal and the thought process that was necessary to write something this well done.

Her eyes met mine as she walked down the corridor peering apprehensively into the kennels. I felt her need instantly and knew I had to help her.

I wagged my tail, not too exuberantly, so she wouldnâ??t be afraid. As she stopped at my kennel I blocked her view from a little accident I had in the back of my cage. I didnâ??t want her to know that I hadnâ??t been walked today. Sometimes the overworked shelter keepers get too busy and I didnâ??t want her to think poorly of them.

As she read my kennel card I hoped that she wouldnâ??t feel sad about my past. I only have the future to look forward to and want to make a difference in someoneâ??s life.

She got down on her knees and made little kissy sounds at me. I shoved my shoulder and side of my head up against the bars to comfort her. Gentle fingertips caressed my neck; she was desperate for companionship. A tear fell down her cheek and I raised my paw to assure her that all would be well.

Soon my kennel door opened and her smile was so bright that I instantly jumped into her arms.

I would promise to keep her safe.
I would promise to always be by her side.
I would promise to do everything I could to see that radiant smile and sparkle in her eyes.

I was so fortunate that she came down my corridor. So many more are out there who havenâ??t walked the corridors. So many more to be saved. At least I could save one.

I rescued a human today.

Can you create the same level of empathy with your clients and prospects?

I have another example of this for tomorrow;s post: Thanksgiving in the U.S. Enjoy the turkey, but watch out for those crooked pies.


“I rescued a human today” Used with permission.

Written by Janine Allen CPDT, Rescue Me Dog’s professional dog trainer. Janine’s passion is working with people and their dogs. She provides demonstrations for those who have adopted shelter dogs, lends email support to adopted dog owners that need information beyond our Training Support Pages, and aids shelter staff and volunteers in understanding dog behavior to increase their adoptability.
Copyright 2008 Rescue Me Dog;