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“We’re nice. Our customers love us. We do follow up surveys and people tell us all the time what a great experience they had. Our service sets us apart.”

Blah blah blah.

I’m at a marketing seminar today listening to business owners tell their stories. They were each issued the challenge: “Do you offer a significant advantage to your customer? Are you leading with your most compelling message?” They were also warned, “It’s hard to read the label when you’re inside the bottle.”

Some of the business owners seemed to think they’re better than they actually are. Their unique claim to fame, the ubiquitous “customer service” story, is being made by competitors on every corner. Their prices are low. So are their competitors. Their selection is wide. So is their competitors.

Others couldn’t see their own greatness. 19 questions later, they’d shrug and say something brilliant like,
“Well, we use the proceeds from every sale to take five kids off the streets.” Or, “We give lifetime oil changes for $18.95 with every car purchase.” Rustling and murmuring from the audience meant we were really on to something.

How do you get outside the bottle to see yourself real? Ask Ms. Jones what she loves and what she hates about shopping for your product. Then make sure your message addresses her frustrations and answers her questions before she even has a chance to ask.

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