Are Your Lenders “Completely Typical and Unmemorable” – Part Three
In this final blog in my three-part blog series on effective customer messaging strategies, I’m going to focus in on five steps you can do to tailor your message so that it resonates with each prospect and customer. Our goal is to create as much affinity as possible with each and every prospect with which we meet. As you may recall from Part Two of this blog series, affinity is a natural attraction that is formed between two parties due to their similarities. Also discussed in Part Two was narrow-casting which is the art of tailoring your message to your audience. By narrow-casting the messages we deliver to our prospects, we create affinity.
Differentiating ourselves from our competitors is one of the toughest things to do today, especially for banks as most offer nearly identical products and services. Narrow-casting is a powerful strategy that helps guard against sounding and selling like every other banker by developing a unique ability to communicate with customers in ways that resonate with each one.
Here are five steps you can take to make sure your communication strategy is honed for every sales call you go on be it with a prospect or an existing customer.
#1. Thoroughly read your prospect’s website – As you likely know, a company’s website is a carefully crafted expression of that company’s philosophy, values and service offerings. It’s like their company “fingerprint” in that it is extremely personal to them. A quality sales call deserves careful pre-call preparation which includes reading your prospect’s website. Don’t skim your prospect’s website! Read it! Ideally, you want to demonstrate deep industry and company knowledge in your sales call as a means of differentiating yourself from your competitors. The foundation of being able to do that is truly reading the prospect’s website.
#2. Learn your prospect’s positioning strategy – The development of a company website is usually quite a lengthy process. The layout of the pages, the images selected and the copy are all carefully crafted to make the right impression to their prospective customer. If you skim your prospect’s website, you will miss a lot of important information that will help you craft a communication strategy that will position you and your bank as the ideal choice. Notice the images used throughout the website. Do these images show an organization that is stable and traditional? Maybe the images show an organization that is innovative and progressive. Remember the old adage “a picture is worth a 1,000 words?” The images used on your prospect’s website starts the process of honing your communication strategy.
#3. Their positioning strategy becomes your positioning strategy – The copy used throughout your prospect’s website may have been written by a professional copywriter or possibly an internal marketing person. Regardless of who wrote the website copy, rest assured that a lot of people read, edited and honed that copy before it went live on their website. Notice the words and phrases used throughout the website. Likely you’ll see certain words and phrases used consistently throughout the website. When you find those words and phrases, you’ve hit pay dirt because those words and phrases give you the clues you need to really dial in how you position your bank and its products and services.
#4. Their words become your words – When a company makes references about the history of the company, the values and philosophies that they adhere to or commit to while delivering quality products and services with the utmost of integrity…THOSE are the exact words you want to use when describing your bank.
Real World Example:
The following words and phrases are taken verbatim from the “About” section of a very successful company’s website:
“Service has been the cornerstone of our historic growth and successful operation for the past fifty years.”
We pride ourselves on:
- Partnership reputation
- Understanding our customer’s culture
- 24/7/365 availability
- Ability to adapt and grow with our customer’s business trends
We have grown steadily during this time by following our motto… “exceeding expectations…together!” This philosophy represents not only our internal teams working together, but our associates working with customers to find creative and unique business solutions that will provide a more efficient and cost effective business model.”
These words were carefully developed to tell a story that differentiates their company to their customers. Again, they are like corporate “fingerprints.” The words on your prospect’s website provide you with a clear customer messaging strategy. They tell you what’s important to them! Let your competitors describe their bank in generic terms over and over again. You now have a highly effective strategy to describe your bank in unique terms that will create affinity and that resonate with every prospect!
There is a very simple communication format for weaving those phrases called positioning statements into your conversations. Again, the goal of this strategy is to position your bank to be very similar in many ways to your prospect’s business.
How To Do It: Your positioning statement gets linked to a statement about your bank, product, service, culture, values and philosophies.
Your positioning statement: “Today, service really needs to be the driver of company growth and successful operation.
Statement about your bank: “Since the beginning, the founders have worked hard to instill a partnership mindset and culture in the bank. We strive to be available to our customers on a 24/7/365 basis which allows us to grow and adapt with our customers business trends.”
Expressed this way, this statement would create affinity and resonance with the owner of a company that espouses these virtues. It would also differentiate you powerfully from any other bankers the owner may be considering doing business with. You would be positioned as the ideal choice! That’s how powerful this strategy is.
#5. Integrity above all
The final point is the most important strategy of the bunch. With very little creativity and a high degree of integrity, it’s pretty easy to utilize a large percentage of positioning statements found on the website of your prospects when describing your bank and its products and services. However, the representations we make about our banks must be accurate.
If you work for an extremely conservative bank and you’re calling on a company that prides itself on being innovative and progressive, then it would be completely out of integrity to represent your bank as innovative and progressive.
In conclusion – In any highly commoditized industry, it is imperative sales people are able to utilize advanced customer messaging strategies to create affinity with prospects and successfully differentiate your bank from the six others that are competing for the business. Effective customer messaging takes time to develop. But if you’re calling on high quality prospects, why wouldn’t you take the time to give yourself a competitive advantage.