Friday, September 09, 2005

The power of three

There’s an NLP pre-supposition that defines effective communication as not what you say, but what the other person hears (or reads).

It’s something that I often need to remind myself about and has been brought home to me very recently by two astute people I work with, Bente and Jill. I’d like to share this brief story with you as you may find it helpful too – or not! – and then I’ll sum up the lessons I learnt at the end:

Bente and I were talking about my web site recently and she cleverly used the praise sandwich on me – “You know Tony, I really like your web site, and I think if you make it a bit more direct, you can still use those fabulous photographs.”

This led us to talk about the fact that there’s a lot of description and features (eg bullet points) on the site about what I can do for clients, all illustrated in a creative manner using fabulous photos of bumble bees drinking honey as well as enchanting woodland pix, but not much of the text is translated into the benefits for each individual client. We also talked about the importance of allowing a client the opportunity to ‘buy’ rather than being ‘sold to’, all of which kept bringing us back to the need to focus on benefits rather than just features. In other words, to ensure that a sales message is direct but most of all allows the prospective client the time and opportunity ‘they need’ to decide whether or not they want to buy from you.

Jill and I were also talking the other day about web sites and in particular the establishment of a new one which goes live early in 2005. We were talking about this new web site and I, as usual, started going off on flights of fancy when Jill reminded me that the best web sites are the ones that make it easy for the user to navigate their way round as well as ensuring that any links are clear and unambiguous. In other words, keep it simple and visitors will use your site.

So, what lessons did I take from my associates? I’d sum it up as the power of three –

Step one: When considering what you’re going to say, concentrate on the benefits and not the statements or features (what’s in it for the other person? Try out your proposition by putting yourself in their shoes and/or look at what you’re saying through their eyes); sell the sizzle and not the sausage (great photographs may grab the attention, but does it set out what they are looking for?); above all, make what you’re saying relevant to the other person (after all, if they’re going to buy rather than be sold to, isn’t it about them rather than you?).

Step two: Think about the communication method as much as the content and so for example remember the old acronym, AIDA – get the other person’s Attention, grab their Interest, create Desire, and finally make it clear how they can take Action. Especially important when thinking about web sites - I shall remember Jill’s point about ease of use being just as important as content.

Step three: If you’re working on your own, it’s all too easy to forget that you may not get it right all the time! By having the benefit of at least two other people (and it could be two different people depending on the topic) then you will always benefit from the power of three! It worked for me and so I’ll be spending some of my Christmas break working on my web sites! Thanks, Bente! Thanks, Jill!


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