An NPR program this morning featured efforts by Paul Simon to update recordings and lyrics of some of his more popular tunes.
During the show, listeners were treated to the original song and then the updated version. When the host asked Paul which he preferred, he deflected and asked the host which HE preferred. He went on to explain to the host that ultimately it was the listener who would and should make the decision about which version was best for them.
Subsequently Simon shared stories of listening to fans sing his songs and use the wrong lyrics. He said this was much the same as their having a preference for different tracks. If listeners heard different lyrics, and those lyrics seemed “right” to them, then perhaps those were better and the right lyrics. (This, of course, is a relief to those of us who sing along but are chastised for getting the words wrong.)
The relevant take away for me was the underlying point Paul Simon was making about his chosen words not necessarily resonating with his listeners. This is the same issue that business owners struggle with when asked to describe their products and services. Their words are often too internal and not demonstrative of the value experienced by customers. Essentially the words they pick, and advertise, are not the words their customers and best prospects use – to search and buy from them.
As an example, just this morning I received a solicitation from a vendor who asked me to describe our services. Marketing and PR is what we do but if you ask my clients why they buy, what they receive or why they would refer, the answer runs the gamut from copywriting and design, to social media and websites, to marketing strategy, project accountability and overall business confidant. The lesson of course is that they may be completely different from my business category or SIC code and completely unique to each client and prospective client you ask.
How can you make money on this? Ask your customers to describe the value in what you provide. Ask them to articulate what they think they are getting. You may find that you are providing value you didn’t recognize, and it may open doors to more business that you aren’t already getting, attracting or asking for.
This post is courtesy of MMC principal Jennifer Koon.