On the snowy, northeastern Christmas of my 11th year, our parents gathered all five kids around the kitchen table to deliver the news.
We were moving to San Antonio, Texas.
I was devastated. Texas? I imagined what our new home would look like.
We’d be miles from any neighbors — who all walked straight off the “Hee Haw” set — with a dusty, rock-filled front yard punctuated by the occasional tumbleweed rolling by.
If only I had access to the Internet back in those days, I wouldn’t have been terrified at all by the silly stereotypes I believed to be true.
Our customers are terrified, too. They’re operating based on stereotypes, fears, and misconceptions.
But every day, the Internet makes it easier to inform, educate, and connect with them.
Their false assumptions don’t stand a chance when you use these three techniques to get your message out and engage with your prospects.
1. Showcase your product
Web video is ideal for showing exactly how your product works, and why it’s the best on the market.
One company that does this well is OtterBox, whose YouTube channel features lighthearted product demos and user-submitted stories that show customers putting OtterBox technology cases to the test.
Your web video doesn’t have to be fancy. It’s more important to:
- Take the time to develop a compelling story
- Write a script: don’t wing it
- Edit carefully so your video comes in under three minutes: bonus points if it’s under two
If you sell a service, you can still use web video to make your offerings come to life. Interview customers who’ve gotten good results. Show all the benefits of your service by filming before and after videos. And build interest by aiming your camera at the end result, and showing prospects what they can expect.
2. Share your reality
People enjoy doing business with actual people, not faceless corporations.
Keep it light, tie it in with a topic you know your audience is interested in, and turn it around and talk about them the first chance you get.
If your business is large, you can make your company more approachable by allowing employees to share personal details on your website or company blog.
Let them post photos, share their hobbies, or post short videos that show them outside of work.
Any time you share some of your own reality, your two-dimensional Internet presence becomes more three dimensional, and that makes your company — and its offerings — more appealing to prospects.
3. Shatter your stereotypes
You may be in a business that people tend to stereotype:
- All graphic designers are flaky, artsy types who can’t make their deadlines
- All engineers are nerdy and use pocket protectors
- All web developers spend long days in windowless rooms, and don’t know how to hold a conversation
- All writers are broke and have no business sense
- All accountants think about is numbers
Of course, none of these clichés are true.
If your business is typecast a certain way, accept it and set the record straight online.
- If you’re a graphic designer, post an infographic of how often you met or exceeded your clients’ deadlines
- If you own an engineering firm, post photos of the cool hobbies your employees spend time on outside of work
- If you’re a web developer, host a pool party and invite your best clients, then post a video on your website
- If you’re a writer, blog about how you made money with just your keyboard and your good business sense
- If you’re an accountant, post your music playlist on your Google+ profile
Showing your prospects how those tired clichés won’t work for you and your company is an excellent way to make your business memorable.
Get more customers
It turns out I loved living in Texas — especially after my ears got used to the dialect — and I made many friends I’m still in contact with.
The experience made me who I am today, and I’m grateful for it.
When we ask our prospects to go beyond their ingrained stereotypes, we encourage them to grow and stretch as human beings.
It turns out that’s good for them, and it’s good for your business, too.
About the Author: Pamela Wilson helps small businesses grow with great design and marketing at Big Brand System. Learn the basics with her free Marketing Toolkit E-course. Connect with her on Twitter.