In business, many companies spend thousands of dollars on a website, brochures, and marketing videos that fall flat. You could have William Shakespeare write your copy and Leonardo Da Vinci illustrate it, but if the message doesn’t connect with your customers’ needs, people will click away or delete your beautiful newsletter and find something that does. 

It’s not what you do, it’s how you serve that brings value to your relationships. If you go to a networking event and meet someone new, chances are at some point they’ll ask, “What do you do?” Your answer might be, “I’m a teacher” (or an accountant, or whatever your profession is). Their response might be, “Oh, that’s nice,” and then the person moves on to someone they think is more interesting. You’ve talked about your job title, but not about what impact you have on people. What if, instead of naming your profession, you said, “I open up the world to sixth graders,” or “I show people how to keep more of their hard-earned money.” These messages invite people into your world and ignite their curiosity as to how you might benefit them.

Finding the right messages about ourselves and our companies can be extremely challenging because the process forces us to slow down and try to understand how we actually benefit others. It’s an investment, and it’s a commitment and challenge that may require a shift in perspective. And it requires us to see the world through a Prism of Value vs a Prism of Me.

  1. Take a moment to thoroughly define who, exactly, you’re trying to reach and engage..
  2. Who are they?
  3. What specifically do they want?
  4.  What do they need?
  5. What problem do you have the solution to?
  6. What do they fear?

Be as specific as possible. When we ask clients who their audience is, they most often will say “the public.” That’s too broad. Think hard about who needs or wants what you have to offer. It doesn’t mean that others won’t be interested, but you have to hone in as much as possible on particular segments.

  • Think of yourself as their guide, the one who has the answers, the wisdom or the skills that can help them move forward to achieve what they are seeking, or avoid the thing they’re dreading.  Make your client or audience the hero.  It isn’t about what you want.
  • Consider what the rewards are for your audience. What will they achieve or  get that they want so much. 

You can express your value in three quick sentences. I call this the “You-I-You” model of messaging. Here’s what it looks like:

You have a yearning, a challenge, aspiration: “You know how [most or many] [people, companies, etc,] struggle with/desire/seek, ________ and don’t know how to _______?”

I (or we if you are talking about your company) have a solution: “I have figured out how to _________ . I have a process that ___________.”

So that you: “Can be, do, have, experience, achieve, increase….”

Let’s look at some examples.

My friend Mindy is a health insurance broker. She could tell you that she sells health insurance to companies.

The problem that causes clients to come to Mindy is protecting employees with affordable health insurance.

What HR execs who are her clients struggle with is that they are messengers often bearing the bad news about steep rate hikes for reduced coverage. They don’t want to look like bad guys and want to be viewed as a valuable member contributing to the business.

Finally, a good benefits package is part of the larger issue: recruiting and retaining the best employees.

What Mindy does is make the HR exec the hero by giving them solutions, information and credibility with the C-suite. Mindy adds knowledge, comfort and solutions, and reduces uncertainty, confusion and cost. Using the “You-I-You ” model, Mindy might say to someone:

“Many companies, like yours are struggling to keep pace with the changes in the health insurance market. It falls to corporate buyers to make hard choices that can be unpopular with both the C-suite and the employees. I help HR executives and senior leadership tame the health insurance beast. This way they can find the best options to keep costs in check, while providing decent coverage for their employees who then feel that the company is looking out for them.”

Isn’t that a lot more interesting than, “I’m an insurance broker?”

If you aren’t sure how you add value, stop talking and start listening. Let’s say you’re on a Zoom call and you are meeting someone for the first time. Ask questions about the other person and you will soon learn about their interests, family or work. Understanding what others are about will help you frame your messages in ways that will resonate, making your first “you” statement go straight to their self-interest.

How will you apply the You-I-You model?  Let me know how it works for you.