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Business Unplugged™
This blog features Carol Roth's tough love on business and entrepreneurship, as well as insights from Carol's community of contributors.

Be a Distiller and a Thief

Written By: Steve Woodruff | 4 Comments

Distilling Once we realize that the minds of our potential and actual clients are filled with static, distraction, clutter, and everything-but-you, it becomes clear that we have a one primary task above all others.

Break through the noise. Lift the fog.

It is not up to our customers to figure us out. Throwing a bunch of words against a wall and hoping something sticks isn’t a strategy; it’s just lazy. It’s up to us to give a clear, relevant, and memorable message. How?

Distill. And steal!

I’m fascinated by the process of fermentation and distillation. I’ll watch documentaries on the process, and find myself longing to spend an entire year traveling the world just to see more closely how wine, beer, whiskey, and other spirits are made.

Also, when it comes to ideas and words, distillation fascinates me. How do we boil down a plethora of concepts and messages into a distilled, compact, light-giving phrase? Can we take our business and boil it down to a clear summary?

You may not be able to offer your customers moonshine, but you can serve them a 100-proof message.

Here’s how: Aim for 10 words. Craft a summary message that can be given out in 10 words or less. Aim for clarity and simplicity, not comprehensiveness.

How did FedEx do thisThe World on Time. Allstate’s striking and unforgettable message? You’re in good hands. How about blogger Dan Rockwell (Helping leaders reach higher in 300 words or less)? Can you grab one word and build your message around it, like Mark Schaefer (Grow)?

Brief. Punchy. Memorable. Non-technical.

Your 10 word (or fewer!) message may be a quick tagline, or it may be a brief sentence, but either way, it’s compressed, like a verbal business card.

The next part sounds shady – you need to steal. Yes, I said steal! What you want to hijack is a pre-existing idea, image, or thing in the mind of the person, and make it yours.

Consider these two approaches:

“Our state-of-the-art coffee grinding, brewing, and dispensing solution combines leading technology with consumer-friendly aesthetics in order to provide an optimal beverage experience.”

– vs. –

“We’re the BMW of coffeemakers.”

What have you done? You’ve “stolen” (OK, borrowed if you like) the BMW reputation for high-end quality, sleekness, and luxury pricing, and bridged it to your product/company in the customer’s mind. Your offering, by association, moves from unknown and commodity status to an aspirational identity.

You’ve lifted the fog by giving the customer an easy shortcut to understanding. You are now placed on an existing memory hook. And, you’ve also potentially gained some reverb marketing – that is, every time this person sees a BMW on the road, guess what just might reverberate in their mind?

You – and your offering. You clever thief.

The most direct and memorable way into the mind of your (potential) customer is to latch onto something already there. After a Clarity Therapy session, my clients never look at M&Ms the same again. Why? It’s one of my props, and it has tremendous reverb value. I didn’t need to create something new: just “steal” something that was already there.

We all need to break through the mists in the minds of our customers with a beam of distilled enlightenment. Even if we need to “steal” our way into their minds. That’s lifting the fog.

So what do you think? Are you taking a second look at your message? How will you distill it down? Please let us know in the comments below.

Article written by
Steve Woodruff is the world’s only Clarity Therapist and helps individuals and businesses discover their fit. Visit his website/blog at www.SteveWoodruff.com.