I had a conversation with an almost-client today. He needed to get some guidance on how to best speak to a group of decision-makers at a university about the necessary steps to take for sanitizing the classrooms and other public areas while the school was closed.
He had a document written with all the necessary steps, backed by CDC recommendations, and supported by his own expert credentials. It was dry as a bone. It had all the creative tension of an MSDS. If you don’t know what that is, Google it and read one – you’ll see what I mean. Actually, now they’re called just SDS, but I like the rhythm of the four letters: M.S.D.S.
Anyway, I had several questions for him:
- Who is your audience?
- What do you want them to do?
- Why do they care about you?
- What makes you better than alternatives?
- How will you make their lives better?
None of these questions have anything to do with viruses, universities, sanitation, or the CDC. They have everything to do with creating a compelling story for the intended audience by explaining how this particular solution was the best for them. It doesn’t have to be the best for everyone – just for them, just for now.
Unfortunately, I never got to ask my questions. I never got to explain anything about what I do, or how I do it. He had looked at my website (it has retail in the name), and decided I didn’t know anything about what he did. He told me in no uncertain terms that he wasn’t a store, and I couldn’t help him.
I will be the first to admit that having retail in my company name might be limiting. But I have two reasons for it.
- I know retail, inside out and upside down. It’s my passion, and has been my life.
- It gives me a chance to talk with prospective clients about what I do, and why the retail experience is relevant to all of it.
I have been on both sides of retail marketing. It’s challenging, fraught, and ever-changing. And it’s universal. Retail marketing skills transfer to anything, because if you have something to sell – anything – retail marketing is relevant.
Even if it’s disinfecting a university classroom.