The number one communication problem that every entrepreneur has, whether corporate, social or political, is how to create an effective sales message. Why its such a problem is that it is impossible to get a group of intelligent, highly opinionated, individuals to agree on a message.
Management teams will go around in circles and never converge on a good sales message. The result is a time-consuming and very frustrating experience. To solve this problem, John invented a process he calls Main Message. Otherwise, his company would have gone out of business. He has since used it to help numerous entrepreneurs, organizations and politicians create better sales messages, including a former President of the United States. The process is sophisticatedly simple. It features an overall message positioning the product as “first” or “only,” followed by the six key interests or concerns of a potential buyer and how an organization, a product, or a candidate matches them. Why six? Very simply, he found that five were two few, and seven were too many. It has to do with attention span. After six, prospects start to lose interest. The following are three actual examples of corporate, social and political messaging.
This sales message was created to position his company’s IDMS database management system at a critical moment in the company’s history as follows:
“Introducing IDMS 5.0 – The first “dictionary” driven database management system designed to address the six key data problems facing IT management, and they are:
- Ease of update
The company positioned its main competition, namely IBM, on the defensive with this new sales message because it was the “first” to introduce this new technology. Then, it identified why it was so important to IT executives in terms that were meaningful to them. At the same time, it moved the whole sales focus from the database management system to the importance of an integrated data dictionary. In the process, it created a new playing field. This put IBM, and the other database vendors on the defensive. This sales message would be incredibly important because IBM thought that they had out-positioned the company with a new computer announcement six months after the company went public. If IBM had succeeded, it would have resulted in a “down” quarter which would have been a disaster. However, getting the company’s management team on board with this sales message would have been impossible without the Main Message process. The reason they were on board with it is because they helped create it using a process that forced them to answer certain questions, such as “Was this product the first or only?” Also, “What were the six key problems that IT executives had that the product solved?” If this process takes longer than 90 minutes, then the team doesn’t understand its marketplace, a bad sign. The less time it takes, the better they do .
Most social organizations also need a good sales message because they always have to raise money to survive. However, their donor presentations always focus on all the good things their respective organizations do versus what a potential donor might be really interested in. Changing this focus is key for any social entrepreneur. Using the Main Message process makes it possible. The following is an example of a science museum’s sales message:
“Introducing Museum X – The only museum that addresses the key concerns of those who believe that science and engineering are critical to the future of America, and they are:
- It is national in scope
- It is intimately involved in creating high school curriculums
- It has an active teacher education program
- It has effective exhibits for children and outreach programs for minorities
- It uses the latest green technology in its facilities
- It is well run
It wasn’t until we got into the process that it became obvious that 85% of what the museum actually did was education, not traditional museum activities. Most prospective donors are interested in the education of young people. Upon listening to this new presentation, they would understand what the museum really did. For the first time, the donor would be on the receiving end of a brief presentation that focused on his, or her, real interests. Also, donors like to think that their money will be used wisely and that the organization is well organized.
Political messages are by far the easiest to create. Yet, ironically, politicians, the ultimate entrepreneurs, have the most difficulty creating them despite all the money and consultants in the world. They are easiest because most politicians know exactly what the concerns are of most of the voters in their districts. All they need is a name for their plan to address these concerns. Yet, getting agreement from the candidate, staff, and consultants as to what the message should be is the impossible part. For example, one message is as follows:
Introducing John Doe’s “Vision for the 11th District” — The only candidate with a plan to address the key concerns of all the voters, and they are:
One would think this would be very easy to create, but it isn’t. However, with this message the candidate will be the only candidate to address the key concerns of all the voters of the district. This puts the competition on the defensive. It is really that simple. Yet, many politicians lose winnable elections because they don’t have a message. This has happened over and over again in my experience. That’s because it’s impossible to get agreement on the message without the Main Message process. It’s interesting to note that our current President, who was a political novice but highly experienced in sales, followed this format very closely and won the presidency. As such, he was the only one of thirteen candidates, Republican or Democrat, that had a message/plan.