If you're in business, chances are you're trying to get someone – a customer or prospective client – to do something, whether it's call you, visit your website, or try your product. But in a crowded marketplace, how do you distinguish yourself from the competition?
Enter Tom Haley, Group Creative Director at Chicago-based Jellyvision Lab, an interactive conversation company specializing in providing personalized multimedia content on behalf of its clients. We spoke with him about how businesses can better educate and communicate with their customers. Here are his five tips:
1. Cut out what's not important.
It's important to make every sentence as clear and efficient as possible, Haley says. "If you can omit a word, a sentence or a paragraph that's not key to helping someone understand something, do it," Haley says. For example, if you sell lawnmowers and you're trying to explain why your lawnmower is better than the other lawnmowers on the market, the customer probably doesn't want to hear about the company's history.
"Don't presume the audience has any interest in what your message is," Haley says. Business owners are consumed with their business, but forget that for customers, their interaction with you is just a small part of their day. They want help, not necessarily the history of the product, Haley says.
2. Explain things before you name things.
If you work in a field with special terminology or jargon, be sure to explain the term and concept before using it over and over because people may not know what they mean. For example, if you own an insurance company, customers have heard of copays and deductibles, but may not know the difference between the two or what they mean. By explaining that a deductible is money that a customer pays before the insurance policy kicks in, you ensure everyone's on the same page.
3. When possible, use metaphors.
Haley says using metaphors can help explain complicated concepts to consumers. For example, if you're selling a complicated suite of business software tools, you could compare the solution to a busy restaurant, where the head chef efficiently directs her staff while keeping diners happy.
4. Be funny.
"Humor is at the core of what we do," Haley says. Jellyvision has found that people learn more and have a better experience if you can make them laugh. "It's not about jokes or gags," Haley says. "It's more about being human, approachable and personable." No matter what you're doing, always remember you're just talking to a single human being, Haley says.
5. Tell the story in chronological order.
In storytelling, it's easy to get the order of events wrong, Haley says. Therefore, it's important to use real-life context when you're trying to explain something to consumers. For example, Jellyvision created an interactive conversation experience for a utility company to educate its customers about how to read their energy bills. Instead of reading line item charges and trying to guess what they mean, you can start by saying something like, "Energy is generated in power plants, which is delivered to your home, but that process costs money, which appears on your bill as an energy charge."
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