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In one of the many great scenes in the movie Goodfellas, Henry Hill (played brilliantly by Ray Liotta) explains the approach that ‘wise guys’ (love that description of people who are basically psychopathic thugs!) take when they’ve loaned money to someone. (I’ll abbreviate the profanity so as not to offend our more sensitive souls).

Henry Hill: But now he has to pay Paulie every week no matter what. “Business bad? F.U. Pay Me. Oh, had a fire? F.U. Pay Me. The place got hit by lightning? F.U. Pay Me!

His point was that ‘wise guys’ had absolutely no interest in you and your business per se beyond the value it gave to them.

Your customers and clients are the same. (by that, I mean they are also only interested in value… not that they’re also a bunch of unappreciative thugs, though it may feel like that at times!)

You’ve probably heard the maxim “Customers don’t care about your business, they only care about themselves”, and that when communicating with your customers you should focus on the ‘W.I.I.F.Y’ (what’s in it for you).

Yet many people struggle to work out how to identify that value so they can then zero in on this in their marketing. (about that, have you been to my Elevator Pitch School?)

The answer is to imagine your customer is in front of you, asking just one question:

So what?

“So what?” is a devastatingly simple two word question, and yet a huge number of businesses that fail, do so primarily because they cannot answer this one simple question for their target customers.

Be honest and ask yourself: At what stage would you actually be able to answer that question in a way that gets your customer or client to care?

You: We make the best XXX in the world.

Your customer: So what?

You: They are made from the finest materials sourced from the deepest mines in South America.

Your customer: Yeah. So what?

You: Our products are certified by the Institute of Perfection, and we’ve won 3 awards for excellence from the Organisation of Accredited Excellence.

Your customer: Wonderful. So what? 

You: It does X, Y, and Z, and it’s better than every other product of its kind on the market.

Your customer: That’s all very interesting. So what?

You: It will save you 4 hours every day, and reduce your daily costs for X by 23%.

Your customer: Wow! Really? OK. Tell me more.

Whatever product or service you offer, until you really get your customers and clients to perceive and believe in the value that your business will bring to their lives, you will only ever scratch the surface of the potential success you could have.

Worse than that, there is every chance that your business will simply fizzle out and fail – not because what you do isn’t great (I’m willing to believe you when you say it is), but because, since customers only truly care about themselves, they will always buy a terrible product from a terrorless business if they are convinced it will enhance their own lives, rather than buy your wonderful product with all the fantastic service you offer if   you haven’t first convinced them that it will be worth their while.

Take a look at your website. Think back to your last presentation. Analyse your traditional Elevator Pitch.

How much time have you spent talking about what you do compared to what value you bring to your customers’ lives? How compelling is your explanation of the way in which your business will enhance your client’s world? Is it all focused on you or is it focused on your market’s needs?

Have you answered the ‘So what?’ question properly? Doing so will transform your business.

Until you do, you won’t be one of the wiseguys!

Kolarele Sonaike

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