Why prospective customers are laughing at you

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(MoneyWatch) Here's a dirty little secret: Prospects are laughing at you behind your back. And, I must confess, so am I.

They were laughing at me, too, until I finally discovered exactly what clients said after the handshakes were over and we were by ourselves in the car congratulating each other on a great meeting.

"You all sound the same, and you all say the same thing," one focus group participant confided. "You say, 'We are just the right size for you -- small enough for personal attention, big enough to get the job done.' Firms with five people say that, and firms with 500 people say that."

Another participant added: "Oh, and you are so proud of how many years you have been in business. Like that matters. I have been golfing longer than Tiger Woods, but that doesn't make me a better golfer."

All of that to say, before you can begin seriously attracting prospects, you must create a marketing genetic code that is attractive. All of your selling messages, from networking discussions to speeches, will contain the elements of this marketing DNA. Here are 10 steps that will help you create these all-important marketing genes:

1. Name it. Create a business, product, or website name that gives potential clients a hint at the results you can produce for them. The worst possible name or website name is your name. Sorry to say, clients don't want us, they want results.

2. Choose words wisely. Write a headline for your website and marketing materials that describes your audience and the results you produce for them. Do this in no more than 10 words.

3. Name your prospect's pain. What are your client's worries, frustrations, and concerns that you help solve? This is also called the FUD factor: fear, uncertainty, and doubt.

4. Pick a process. Describe your solution or methodology for solving these pains. What process do you follow to produce results? Offering a proprietary problem-solving process that you name and trademark is best. This answers the all-important question in their minds: "Why should I do business with you instead of one of your competitors?"

5. Mention the myths. State the common misperception or myth that holds many back from getting results. Why doesn't everybody do what you named in step 4?

6. Do this, don't do that. Get specific with prospects. Tell your prospects what they need to do in general to solve their problem. Pretend they weren't hiring you and you had to describe the steps they should take for success.

7. Include other good things. List any other benefits they get from following your methods. What other good things do people get when they do what you advise?

8. Name the numbers. Elaborate on your track record of providing measurable results for clients. This is not about years in business -- it's about quantifiable success. Be as specific as possible. Use numbers, percentages, and time factors.

9. Be helpful online. Create a website with free articles on how to solve these pains. Each article should be about 300 to 600 words. What's a good format? Consider the numbered tips approach you are reading right now (easy to write, easy to read).

10. Make them an offer they can't refuse. No, not an offer that might remind anyone of Don Corleone in "The Godfather." Offer prospects a free special report on your website. You are offering to trade a valuable piece of information for their email address. Tell them they will also receive a tips eNewsletter from you. Assure them you will maintain their privacy and that they can easily opt out of your list anytime they want.

Don't sound like everyone else and you won't be treated like everyone else. Follow this advice and you will get the last laugh.

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