The Most Important Word in Sales and Marketing

By Don Cooper

Do you know the most important word in sales and marketing? It’s a common word that you use every day – probably without giving it much thought. But when you’re marketing or selling, it’s the most powerful word you can use.

No, it’s not “free” (although that runs a close second). It isn’t “results” or “save.” It’s not “quality,” “benefits,” or “guaranteed” – valuable words all.

No, the single most important sales and marketing word in the English language is “you” (and the variant “your”).

Think about it. Aren’t you your favorite subject? Aren’t you the most important person to you? Don’t you care most about your business, your friends, your family? And don’t you buy things you want and need for your reasons, when and how you choose to buy them? 

Well, your prospects and customers think exactly the same way. Which means that if you want to boost your sales, you need to start using the word “you” more. Here’s how to use this most valuable word to enrich your business communication.

Marketing

You’re proud of your dealership and the brands you carry. And that’s reflected in your marketing, where you extoll your selection, your service, your history, and your commitment to excellence.

Except your prospects don’t really care about any of that. What homeowners truly care about is their yard’s appearance, their home’s value, and their limited weekend time. What landscaping business owners care about is the productivity of their workers, the speed and quality of the work they produce for their clients, and, ultimately, their profitability. 

So when you create marketing materials (brochures, flyers, direct mail letters, e-mails, websites, etc.) focus on the needs, goals and priorities of your prospects. Don’t make your marketing all about your dealership – make it about your buyers. Describe their wants and needs with prefaces such as:

  • “You want…”
  • “You need…”
  • “Are you…?”
  • “Do you…?”
  • “Would you…?”
  • “If you…”

If you’re marketing to homeowners, use phrases such as: 

  • “Your home”
  • “Your yard”
  • “Your family”
  • “Your time”
  • “Your neighbors”

If, instead, you’re targeting business owners, employ phrases such as:

  • “Your employees”
  • “Your customers”
  • “Your costs”
  • “Your profits”

To be effective, your marketing materials need to identify your prospects’ goals and problems and show how you can help achieve or solve them. Talk to your market, not at them. The more often the words “you” and “your” appear in your marketing messages, the stronger your response will be.

Social media

Too many retailers treat their social media accounts as digital brochures. Every post is about the products they carry, why people should buy from them, and their latest promotions. Who wants to read that?

Instead, use your social media platforms to deliver value to your followers. Use your dealership blog and your social media channels to share your expertise with your prospects and customers. Create customer-focused articles and videos with titles such as:

  • Four ways you can save time on your yard work.
  • Wish you had a greener lawn? Here’s how.
  • Why it’s easier than you think to start your own vegetable garden.
  • Five tips for keeping your outdoor power equipment in top shape.
  • How to boost your landscaping company’s profitability.
  • Three ways to enhance your employees’ efficiency.
  • How to improve your customer loyalty.
  • Secrets to creating your best yard ever.
  • How to keep your family safe when the power goes out.
  • Seven tips for keeping your trees healthy.
  • The best landscaping features for boosting your home’s value.
  • Why yard work is good for your body, your mind, and your spirit.

That is content people will read, and watch (and share).

Naturally, you can slip in references to your products and services in your posts: 

  • One of the power outage safeguards is to have a generator on hand.
  • Mention tillers in a vegetable garden article.
  • Highlight how the latest equipment can save them time or produce better results.
  • One maintenance tip is to bring equipment into the dealership at regular service intervals. 

By focusing your posts on subjects your prospects care about, you secure their attention, which you can then direct to your dealership’s offerings.

And keep in mind that social media is supposed to be just that – social. Interact with existing and potential customers by asking questions such as:

  • “What element of your yard are you most proud of?”
  • “When were you really grateful you had a generator?”
  • “What’s your best gardening tip?”
  •  “What are your best ‘before and after’ photos?”
  • “What aspect of yard work gives you the hardest time?”

Engaging your followers with questions like these creates rapport and fosters goodwill. It makes people not only want to follow your posts, but also do business with you.

Networking

The goal of networking is simply to meet people and get to know them. So, when speaking with someone in a networking situation, keep the conversation focused on the other person. 

Ask questions like:

  • “What do you do?”
  • “How do you do that?”
  • “What’s your biggest accomplishment so far?”
  • “What do you enjoy most about what you do?”
  • “What’s your biggest challenge?”
  • “What brings you here?”
  •  “What do you read to keep up?”
  • “How did you get started?”

When you ask questions like these, not only do you get valuable information, it makes the other person feel important, appreciated, and understood, which builds rapport and trust. 

Selling

Salespeople are typically taught to sell features and benefits. Unfortunately, salespeople are often not taught the actual difference between those two things, which results in them reciting lists of features to prospects.

The trouble is, people don’t buy based on features. (If they did, there’d be no need for salespeople – a brochure would suffice.) They buy based on benefits. What’s the difference? A benefit is what a feature means to a buyer. Which means benefits nearly always contain the word “you” or “your.” Examples of benefits include:

  • Saves you time
  • Saves you money
  • Saves you hassle
  • Makes you more productive
  • Easier on your back
  • Gives you better results
  • Increases your profits
  • Reduces your workers comp liability

Which benefits matter most to your buyers? You need to find out, because benefits are personal: two different people can buy the exact some product because of two different benefits. 

Ask about your prospect’s wants, needs, concerns, fears, hopes, past experiences, priorities, budget, timeframe, preferences, alternatives, and more. That way, rather than droning on and on about your product or service, you can explain how it addresses your buyer’s specific goals, problems, criteria, and desired results – using “you” and “your” frequently. When you make your sales conversation prospect-focused instead of product-focused, your message will resonate better with your buyer and you’ll close more sales.

How well are you using “You”?

Take a few minutes to review your marketing materials and your last several social media posts. How often does the word “you” or “your” appear? How often does a first-person reference – your dealership name, I, me my, we, us, or our – occur? Odds are, the number of self-references dwarfs the number of “you’s.”

Reverse it. Aim for a 2-1 or even a 3-1 ratio of “you” and “your” to “I,” “we,” or “our.” And shoot for the same ratio in your networking conversations and sales presentations. When you do, your marketing and social media will deliver more prospects, your networking contacts will remember and like you better, and – most important of all – your sales will jump. And aren’t those the most important things to you?

Don Cooper – The Sales Heretic – is an internationally acclaimed sales expert who helps salespeople and business owners charge more and discount less. He delivers custom seminars and keynote speeches for corporations, associations, and other business organizations. You can reach him at 303-832-4248 or Don@DonCooper.com. Find loads of sales tips on The Sales Heretic blog at DonCooper.com and on Twitter at @DonCooper.

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