Recently I spoke with a marketing colleague of mine who expressed frustration that a long-time client had been talking to other agencies to develop a new website and e-mail marketing. Having been their agency of record for all of their print marketing and advertising, my colleague expressed to the client his confusion.
“Oh, you can do websites?” was the client’s response.
It seems that in their business interactions, the client had come to think of my colleague as a go-to person for print and advertising. Comfortable in that role, my colleague had neglected to mention his full capabilities, of which websites and email marketing were also strengths.
It’s human nature to categorize the things around us. Gestalt psychologists demonstrated this phenomenon well through visual tests that show how we perceptually organize the world around us. Their results described an overarching principle of pragnänz, which is that the simplest and most stable interpretations of the world around us are favored. Neuroscientists have documented these brain short-cuts even at the cellular level, showing that the branches on brain cells are trimmed away over time to strengthen some brain pathways over others.
The lesson here? If you want your clients to change their perception of your company’s capabilities, you’re going to have to retrain their brains. Here are three simple strategies:
- Talk to your client about your capabilities. Ok, this one seems like a no-brainer. But think about it, when is the last time you integrated a little advertisement for your other services into a conversation with your client? One strategy: use an example of how you created a solution in similar situation with another client. Expand on the different services you provided.
- Try an email footer. Communications guru Colleen Wainwright suggested changing up your email footer frequently as a tool for self promotion. Try something like: “Did you know we can create _______ for you? Call us for more information.”
- Share examples. Shapco Printing in Minneapolis does a great job of communicating their capabilities by sending examples every few months or so of a piece that was printed using their equipment, accompanied by a letter highlighting their capabilities. You can try this too, by sending examples of your work—printed or electronically—to your clients, with a personal note that includes a detail about the project.
Since we’re working against brain chemistry here, it’s a good idea to make communication about your capabilities an ongoing activity. Just think: someday there may be a brain pathway out there dedicated to your business!