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How we "sound" is important PDF Print E-mail
Written by Donald Cooper   
ImageHow does your business "sound" to your customers? Your signage, product names, advertising, personal interactions and your website all involve you in a "conversation" with your target customers. How you "sound" is important.

It tells people who you are, what you value, how you're different from your competitors, how you feel about what you sell and how you feel about your customers.

Hear are a few examples to get you thinking about how you can improve the way you sound:

1. Most grocery products have a "best before" date stamped on them. But the bottle of all natural orange juice that I bought in New York recently had "Enjoy before March 18/09" on the label...and it made me smile.

2. Another thing that made me smile was a sign in a dry cleaner's window that read "Bring us your wedding dress. We'll have it cleaned, boxed...and all ready for next time." The world needs more joy, more "silly" - we all need to lighten up. Anything that makes your customers smile is a good idea. Little things matter.

3. In an attempt to position themselves as a time-saver and to differentiate themselves from the big box stores, True Value Hardware stores in Australia came up with the positioning statement: "The 10 Minute Hardware Store". But shouldn't it have been "Your 10 Minute Hardware Store"? Doesn't the word "your" just work better there than "the"? Never miss an opportunity to put "you-ability" into your customer communication.

4. How do you "sound" when you're talking about your products and services in person, in your advertising, on your website or on your labels and packaging? Do you describe what you do in a way that helps people understand your value, your difference and your commitment to being extraordinary?

Recently, on a visit to London, England, I found myself in the "Food Hall" of a Marks & Spencer's department store where I bought an unusual and expensive cheese because of how it "sounded" on the label. As a high- volume, self-serve operation, everything is pre-packaged at Marks & Spencer's so the label has to tell the story. Here are the exact words that "grabbed" me to spend way too much money for a piece of cheese:

"Blacksticks Blue from Butler's family dairy... This award-winning cheese is handmade on the Butler's family farm near Beacon Fell in Lancashire. Made in small batches using local milk and three generations of experience, this cheese is carefully matured for about six weeks and has a delicate creamy flavour with underlying tanginess."

I found 12 "selling" words or phrases in that short product description. How tuned in are you to what will "grab" your target customers? What's "the story" about what makes you special...and how good are you at telling it?

5. Finally, how do you sound when you're looking for staff? A show store in New York had a sign in the window: "Now hiring shoe lovers". This is very neat. The message is clear. "If you don't love shoes...don't apply." And, it tells prospective shoppers that if they go into this shop, they're going to be served by staff people who really love what they do.

So, what will you do to check out how you "sound" in every aspect of your communications ...and to be more compelling, more engaging and more effective?

Donald Cooper has been both a world-class manufacturer and an award-winning retailer.  Now, as a business speaker and coach he helps business owners and managers throughout the world to rethink, refocus and re-energize their business to create compelling customer value, clarity of purpose and long-term profitability. For more information, or to subscribe to Donald's thought-provoking free business E-Newsletter, go to

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