Everyone has to sell something, most often themselves. Most pitches fall flat or offend. Here are six ways to make your offering compelling.
Selling something? Teaching something? Applying for a job? Trying to motivate people? If you are attempting any of these tasks, you better be compelling or you are simply wasting other people's time and your own energy. What's worse is you might be blowing great opportunities that may never come around again.
Time and attention is precious in today's information overloaded environment, so it's important to make the most of anytime you might get someone to consider your offering. I didn't want to waste this opportunity with your attention so I teamed up with positioning and branding expert, Mark Levy, who puts the "compel" in compelling.
Levy makes his living behind the scenes helping companies and experts like Marshall Goldmith, David Meerman Scott, and Simon Sinek position their concepts for maximum attraction. Together Levy and I created this 6-tip insider's guide that will help you compel people to action.
1. Find Your Contribution
Levy accurately points out that wanting to be compelling for the sake of being compelling is megalomania. Being compelling needs to be in service of a greater good. How is what you're doing a legitimate contribution to people's lives? When you're clear about why people indisputably need what you offer, the compelling part often takes care of itself. Oh and just because you think people need your offering, doesn't mean they really do need it, or believe they do. Your job is to communicate the need in a way they'll understand and ultimately respond.
2. Tell the Truth
Too many people try to cover up lack of substance with abstract language or sexy props like infographics. Just saying you're different, doesn't actually make you different, and lipstick on a pig still presents as a pig. Levy queries his clients on their current promotional material to get at the compelling core of their offering. "What would I see that's truly different?" He asks. "What have clients said that proves it?" Levy and I agree that being truthful is critical to long term success. As Levy says: "Your offering must be based, not on head-spun concepts or wishful thinking, but on real facts and the five senses." People can sense exaggeration and will become cynical and defensive. Besides, as Levy suggests, genuine benefit is always more compelling than fancy packaging.
3. Surprise and Entertain
Few offerings are short and simple these days. There is real value in offering complex solutions. But long explanations can quickly grow tiresome and boring. The surest way to get people's attention is with surprise. Provide an Aha! moment, an insight that makes your audience see something familiar, but with fresh eyes. A story they haven't yet heard. A fact they hadn't expected but changes their perspective and adds to your argument. Once you have their attention, make it fun, different, and intriguing. Levy starts by asking: "What do you know that most people don't?" The answer needn't be huge and life changing, just something they don't normally hear or read. People love to learn and will follow those who teach them something valuable. Levy's book Accidental Genius is a great tool for getting those amazing lessons out of your head and into theirs.
4. Be Intentional
Compelling communication is naturally strategic. Levy suggests you should decide the purpose of each statement, asking yourself; what do you want your audience to think, feel and do at each line of your pitch? His free e-book on making lists helps you organize your thoughts so you can determine what's important to communicate and how. Once you figure out what to say and how, you must edit, edit, edit. There should be nothing in your pitch that leads the audience away from the desired goal. This will be difficult for those of you who believe that every fact is important and moving. Be brutal and deliberate in your cuts.
5. Communicate Appropriately
Thanks to social media, tons of data is now available to learn about your audience. That means the responsibility to speak to them in an appropriate way is now on you. As Levy points out: "Context is key." The expectations of the audience need to be surpassed perhaps even with shock value, but not in a way that offends them, tarnishes your image, and kills your credibility. Study your audience and listen to your own pitch with their perspective in mind.
Being compelling doesn't just have to do with what you say. It's also in how you say it. Once Levy helps clients position their pitch, he makes them rehearse it aloud dozens of times. If they're confident about what they do and how people benefit from it, that confidence should come through in their voice, and the image they project, as well as in their written materials.
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