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How to Get Great Response to Your Marketing Efforts? Have a Great Call-to-Action!

Jun 14, 2008
The current election race in the USA has given rise to a lot of comparisons between the public-speaking styles of the various candidates in either party - not that deep analysis of potential presidential candidates is anything new! Perhaps one of the most powerful sound bites of any election race was a self-effacing comparison made by Adlai Stevenson between himself and John F Kennedy during the election campaign in 1960. Stevenson invoked the memories of two great orators of the Greek and Roman eras when he said: "When Cicero had finished speaking, the people said, 'How well he spoke', but when Demosthenes had finished speaking, they said, 'Let us march'."

Of course, JFK was an outstanding orator, but then so was Stevenson (by reputation, at least - I have never heard a recording of him). So what made the difference between the two in terms of their ability to inspire action? One commentator, in discussing Stevenson, put it this way: "His speeches were isolated works of art rather than stations on a line along which he wished to travel." So, in my own words I'd say that when Stevenson spoke he enjoyed the moment, but when JFK spoke he never forgot that he was trying to get people to vote for him!

What on earth does all of this have to do with marketing? It's quite simple really: We must never forget while marketing that we are trying to get people to do business with us! If we do, we might leave a room full of people thinking: 'How well he spoke' and then turning to other things. Has that ever happened to you? It certainly has to me! I'm going to take this opportunity to share a story with you that was related by a friend and colleague, and I choose his experience rather than my own for two reasons: Firstly, he is a consummate professional whom I would never have imagined capable of such a blunder (where my own are depressingly regular) and secondly, because the circumstances make it all the more painful and therefore memorable. So, to the story!

My colleague is a Life-Coach who specialises in working with actors and the like, and is good enough to have been invited to address a group of three hundred recent and past graduates at Giulliard (the premier school of acting in the world, in case you haven't heard of it). By his own accounting, my colleague gave a 'kick-ass' presentation extolling the virtues of working with a coach and the resultant benefits for the career and life of the coachee. When he had finished, he wrapped up by saying something like: 'There are a pile of my business cards on the table by the door. If you're interested, take one and call me.' Guess how many calls he got? Yup - zero ! Now I've seen this person speak - and he has a rare gift - so it wasn't because he didn't speak well. It was because for a crucial moment he lost sight of the fact that he was trying to get people to do business with him.

So what should he have done? What should you and I be doing each and every time we talk to a prospect, either one-on-one or as a group? Simply this: Take them by the hand and lead them to the next station on the line which leads to a sale.

Let's illustrate: You've met a potential client at a networking event and in a few minutes of conversation you've determined that there is a potential fit for your services. You may try giving the prospect your card and suggesting they call you, but what is your likelihood of receiving that call? As an alternative, why not ask for their card and call them? That's better because you're in control of the next action, but there is still room for improvement.

Why not try this next time you're in that situation? 'Sally, I sense that there is some opportunity for synergy in what we've discussed, don't you agree?' If they do, then you say: 'May I have your business card? I'm going to send you an article that I wrote on that very subject. It will be in your Inbox by midday tomorrow.' You now have a clear path for this prospect to the next step in your marketing process. (You DO have a marketing process, Right?!)

Of course, if this is a prospect you're already familiar with and who you believe already has a level of trust in your credibility, you may feel that sending an article is insufficient progress. So you could carry on with: 'Do you have your diary handy? I'd like to buy you a coffee and explore this area of opportunity further. How does 10 o'clock Thursday work for you?' Wow! An appointment for a sales call! That was too easy!

You may be saying: 'I couldn't do that! It would be an imposition!' Would it really? Why do you think that prospect came to that event? Why did they share their situation with you and then give you their card, if it wasn't because they were looking for help addressing their issue? Another colleague put it this way (he's Australian and doesn't mince words!): 'Most people are walking around with their umbilical cord in their hand, looking for a place to plug it in.' A graphic image - but ultimately an accurate one. So you would be doing both yourself and your prospect a disservice if you didn't make sure they got plugged-in to your value-adding services as soon as possible!

But it won't happen unless you take them by the hand and say: 'Let us march!'

ęDavid Deakin and Zee2A Limited 2008.

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About the Author
David Deakin, CEO of Zee2A, works with Professional Services Executives yearning to take their business to the next level. Through one-on-one mentoring he helps them create sustainable marketing strategies that attract more clients at profitable rates. To learn more, sign up for his e-zine, or enquire please visit www.zee2A.com.
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