There’s one mistake I see businesses make over and over again in their marketing, and it’s costing them money.
It looks like this:
Most businesses build websites, run ads, network on LinkedIn, go to (virtual) conferences, and generally put lots of effort into getting their message out there.
But rather than convincing new clients, most messages I see are either….
A. Vague and impersonal (“Systems Integration for Businesses Globally)
B. Full of jargon (“We deliver VMS Systems and RFID solutions to companies in Seattle”)
Here’s what’s going on:
Companies are talking about their solutions without ever calling out what the specific problem is.
It’s hard if you sell complex services.
Many of your clients may be unfamiliar with the nuts and bolts of what you do. When they hire you, what they know is this: “we have a problem, and we need you to make it go away.”
The trouble is, they don’t often experience the problem like you do, either. This leads to marketing efforts that confuse rather than sell.
In this article, I’ll outline the how you can talk to prospects in a way that makes them care.
How to communicate so your clients listen
Think about what it’s like when you go to the doctor.
If you’re like most people, you go because you are experiencing a particular symptom. Maybe it’s a stiff knee that hurts when you rotate or extend it fully.
When you get to the doctor’s office, they ask you some questions, run some tests, and pinpoint the specific problem — a torn meniscus.
Before the diagnosis, all you knew was that your knee was hurting.
Now, let’s say this doctor specializes in helping patients with a torn meniscus, and wants to bring in more patients with that issue.
Which would be the more effective message?
A: “If you have a torn meniscus, we can help you repair it and recover”
B: “Does your knee hurt to rotate or fully extend? We can help you get it back to normal”
The answer is B, of course.
Most people can’t self-diagnose a knee injury.
So to attract those kinds of patients, we can’t assume they already know the specific injury.
Instead, this doctor should explicitly call out the symptoms associated with the injury they treat — symptoms their patients are actively experiencing.
Be the Doctor
The same principle applies to your business. That’s why I encourage our clients to “Be the doctor.”
Being the doctor means talking to your clients in terms of the “symptoms” they are experiencing. It also means talking about your solution in a way they understand.
If your doctor started talking about the “arthroscopic partial meniscectomy” that you’ll need to fix your knee, you would probably respond with a blank stare.
But if instead she said, “we’re going to do a very safe, 40-minute procedure where we cut a tiny hole and take out a piece of your torn ligament so your knee can work like normal” — you would probably breathe a sigh of relief AND be able to explain it to your family.
YOU are the expert, so it’s up to you to communicate a complex solution in a clear way.
How to apply this principle to your business
To do this well, you need to be really clear on exactly who you’re talking to — who your ideal clients are (the ones you want to attract more of).
*Hint: The first, easiest thing to do when defining your ideal client is look for commonalities among your best past clients.
With perspective on what your best clients have in common, you have a template to go off of when looking for new business.
That makes everything else in your marketing easier, because you have a clear picture of WHO you’re talking to and what they care about. Then, when it comes time to talk about your business, you know exactly what to say.
With your strategy in hand, and your ideal client in mind, let’s take two quick examples:
Say you’re looking specifically for…
1. Midsized companies needing better access control for their buildings
Companies who have this need don’t necessarily know the technical reason they need better access. They just know their guard costs are too high, or access is clunky and doesn’t work intuitively.
❌ Don’t tell prospects that you provide modern access control (the solution).
❌ And don’t tell them that you fix vulnerable card readers (the problem from your perspective).
✅ Instead, ask them if their network has outages more than twice a month, or if their building requires a human to grant access, or if anyone without credentials has gotten access to the building.
These are the symptoms that your clients are acutely aware of.
2. 100+ employee companies who need all-hands spaces and multiple conference rooms
If your prospects are wasting 10 minutes at the start of every meeting with videoconferencing, that’s a painful problem they are well aware of.
If you want to capture their attention…
❌ DON’T start by telling them you provide commercial audio video solutions for businesses globally.
And remember that they probably don’t realize why they are having issues — so…
❌ Don’t harp on the technical problems, either.
✅ Start by calling out the symptoms you know they are experiencing:
“Your all-hands meeting shouldn’t take 10 minutes and an emergency IT ticket to get going. We help companies run painless remote meetings that feel like they’re in-person.”
When you understand the symptoms from their perspective, you become a relatable, trustworthy expert — just like a doctor who demystifies a complex procedure.
Identify symptoms that your clients notice daily, because that’s what they’re most aware of. Your service is the remedy you prescribe.
A compelling message is key to your marketing strategy
When you communicate this way, people listen.
It makes them care, and it makes for easier sales and happier clients.
To find opportunities with the companies you want to be working with, you can apply this approach proactively to LinkedIn.
With a clear strategy around who to reach and a clear message to communicate, you can proactively network with potential clients on LinkedIn as a “doctor” — looking out for the symptoms you know your clients are experiencing.