How to win clients and influence people - Part 2

3 May 2010 | 4 min read | PR
Clearly Team

A few years ago, we were appointed by tech company looking to increase brand awareness and drive interest in its platform across the HR and recruitment marketplaces, two sectors that are notoriously hard to gain any kind of foothold due to them simply being hugely oversaturated when it comes to the array of platforms being marketed to them. But this client has something a little bit different, though.

Their platform really was a true game changer that was capable of addressing the two biggest challenges that all hiring managers and recruitment consultants who use external contract workers experience – processing timesheets quickly and calculating pay. It’s a headache, and a costly one at that. But this platform could do both these things. It was capable of streamlining the entire payroll process. It slashed the number of hours needed to perform these tasks every week, which in turn significantly reduced client costs, thereby boosting profit.

It was a first in its space. There was nothing even remotely similar to it in either market. Yet the client struggled to gain any kind of traction for the platform since it launched the year previously. They were baffled, and so were we at first. With such obvious financial and time-saving benefits, why wasn’t the message sticking with their target audiences?

But the answer became all too clear once they shared all the marketing and advertising collateral that they’d done over the preceding year. Whilst impressive in the design and the detail, the message was all wrong. The founders of the company were true techies. They were chomping at the bit to share – some might say boast – about how sophisticated the technology, the software that they developed actually was.

So they decided this should be the focus of their messaging, but it was a mistake that Steve Jobs often spoke about himself. He said that people don’t buy the technology. They buy what the technology can do for them. When have you ever seen an Apple advert or any product page on their website talk about the technology behind the tech that you’re about to buy.

They don’t because they know that you don’t give a jobs about it. What you’re more likely to see are stunning images about how cool the product looks, the way in which it can be used, such as on a night out with friends or recording your wee one when they blow out the candles of their birthday cake, or taking it easy on the commute home by listening to a podcast, music or watching a film.

Conversations about the inner workings of your product or service need to remain within the four walls of your organisation, venturing outside only when stakeholder reporting is needed or your business falls foul and is under scrutiny for all the wrong reasons. Focus must always be centered on your end user, your intended customer. Lifestyle and luxury brands aside, few, if any, customers actually come to you through any sense of overwhelming desire because they love your brand and what you stand for.

Your job is to identify what do they want? What do they need? What are the challenges and issues that they’re facing? And how can what you do help them to either partially or fully better deal with them? This is what we did when pitching and winning one particular client. Back in 2017, we were one of four PR agencies invited to tender for a London-based consultancy firm account, and we were the last of the four agencies to do our pitch.

During the Q&A at the end of the pitch meeting, I turned to the prospective client and I asked: “If we achieve the objectives you have for your PR, digital and creative content campaign over the next 12 months, what would this mean to you as a business, but also to you on a personal level as well?” Notice the number of times I used the word ‘you’ or ‘your’ in that particular sentence.

The key to moving a potential client to a buying one is the way in which you can demonstrate you understand the prospect – their needs, their wants, the business and personal motivations, and equally how you ensure that your message about what you do is easily understood, and ultimately, actionable. Your message needs to address what the product or service does. As for the how it does it, well, that can be saved for another time.