In 1999, I left Ireland for the dry-docks of Bremerhaven in Germany to join the crew of the m/s Caronia, part of the venerable Cunard Line. As a boy growing up in the port of Cobh, I had seen these magnificent ships sail in and out as they transported passengers around Europe and across the Atlantic. I would go on to spend four years working my way up the ranks of Cunard, taking me round the world twice and giving me the best education of my life.
Cunard ships were the epitome of luxury. What started as a transatlantic mail packet service in the 1800s went on to become the most well-known luxury passenger lines in the world, a position they still hold today. During the 1950s, in an effort to appeal to the newly upwardly-mobile tourist class, they coined the slogan “Getting there is half the fun.” After all there was nothing you would want for when sailing aboard these cities at sea. But while this slogan may have worked for Cunard, it’s not a slogan that holds any water (forgive the pun) for those of us selling professional services to clients.
Take my business as an example. I’ve yet to meet a client that wants a brand strategy. I’ve met plenty who’ve wanted a well-articulated position, a happy workforce, and a market opportunity. Outside of business, I’ve never met anyone who wanted LASIK surgery or to wear contact lenses, but I’ve met plenty of people who want clear vision.
While Cunard could sell the journey, as businesses, we must sell the destination. Many of our clients run complicated businesses with numerous business units, even more products and services and infinite ways to confuse the client. We are too often over-enamored with what we sell and less interested in the outcome we’re trying to achieve.
Consider the following steps to increase understanding and sales of your services:
- Paint a picture for your client of the ideal end-state; where will they be as a company once you complete your engagement with them. What does the outcome look like?
- Show the value of this outcome. Does it mean an increase in sales? Reduced workload? Streamlined processes and systems? Happier workforce? What is the difference between where they are today and where they hope to be?
- Share examples of companies you have worked with who have achieved these outcomes. Share examples of well-known companies and the successes they enjoy because of these outcomes, whether you were responsible for the work or not. Well-known examples demonstrate the validity of your services.
- Notice that you still haven’t mentioned the journey, but instead sold the destination. Once your client is sold on the destination, demonstrate that you have a clear path and process to help them get from where they are today to where they want to be. Once you’ve sold the destination, the price is less important than the outcome, meaning you may be able to yield higher prices than you expected by focusing on the value you bring.
How much easier would it make your marketing if you focused on solving hunger rather than selling the sausage making? If you’ve ever seen a sausage being made, it’s not that pretty.
This article may be reprinted when the copyright, link to article and author bio are included. ©2015 Storyforge, LLC. Please contact us for inquiries.
Barry Chandler is the co-founder of Storyforge, a brand strategy company focused on helping companies discover their purpose to allow them achieve their vision, build preference and drive margin. Barry has been building award-winning businesses since launching his first company in Ireland in 2003. His last company, a digital marketing agency, was acquired in 2012 by a California-based publicly traded entertainment company which then hired him as Chief Marketing Officer. It is his belief that the greatest brands seek to change the world, improving the lives of their associates, partners and customers.