Craft excellent messages that engage
by Mike Sperduti
May 7, 2018

The most asked sales and marketing questions revolve around the following: How do you develop marketing ideas? How do you write? How do you engineer messages that work? How do you create effective content or advertisements or marketing messages?

My answer to all these questions is my Communications Model of Excellence. It’s a sales model, a speechwriting tool, an article coach, a television commercial scriptwriting tool—a tool for anything where someone needs to communicate a message, and connect with an audience. The Communications Model of Excellence is outlined below.

1. Grab the Audience’s Attention

Brain function is very important for attention. There is something in your brain called the Reticular Activating System (RAS). The RAS is the bouncer in a bar. Say you are trying to go to the hottest nightclub in town, and there is the VIP line, and a special VIP pass is needed to get into the bar. The RAS is the bouncer of the brain; it lets in the people that have the ticket and filters out everyone and everything else.

When I taught the RAS concept in one of my classes, a woman said that before she was pregnant, she’d never noticed so many pregnant people. Another woman said she never knew that children went to Disneyland because she always went as an adult, and until she had kids, she never recognized the kids. That’s the RAS in action. You don’t see with your eyes, you see with your brain, and the brain will not let you see anything it is not tuned into, so the RAS is real. Google it, YouTube it, the RAS is powerful.

Now, in sales and marketing why is the RAS important? It’s because the first thing that you need to do is get your audience’s attention, and that comes with a subject line in an email, the first statement in a commercial or the opening statement in a speech. This is why trailers of movies and headlines in news articles are so important, because if they don’t grab the audience right away, they are not going to see the great content ahead. Only two things get past the RAS: One is anything you are focused on (only what is important to you at that moment in time), and the second is any danger or threat. To write an effective advertising message, focus in on the subject line as the important issue facing your audience.

2. Establish Rapport, Trust and Empathy

Establishing rapport, trust and empathy with your audience is essential. Dennis Clark, my friend and Chief Leadership Officer for VGM, taught me that people don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care. People notice when you show that you see, hear and feel everything they do, whether it’s a business problem, a patient problem, or a family problem.

Having meaningful conversations or meaningful marketing in today’s world means removing yourself from your position and sitting at the table on the side of the customer and truly feeling what that customer feels.

3. Use Emotionally Engaging Language

When it comes to language, a lot of what is on websites or in promotional literature does not sound human—the language sounds mechanical. If you’re reciting the same, “I’m with HME Company, and we care about our patients like family, and we have the best equipment because it’s got the highest rating,” think again. Evaluate your marketing materials for how well they emotionally engage with the audience.

What I call “sense-sational” selling uses the senses. Talk about what they will see, feel and hear when they use the product. Those things use sensory language and that wakes people up.

4. Provide Evidence

Provide case studies that are specifically designed for their problem, to show your customer that you have a solution to help that problem. Customers are going to respond if you have successfully demonstrated that same product with another company to solve the exact same problem, and have positive feedback. I can tell you all day long that I am the greatest sales and marketing person in the health care space, and everybody will think I am pompous and arrogant; however, if my clients say that and if I get a quote from VGM, Medtrade, GE and Siemens, that speaks a lot louder than my own words.

The company you keep gives you credibility.

5. Speak in Specific Language

Go deeper. A lot of people talk on the surface level, and they write on the surface level, which doesn’t really say anything. You think you’re communicating with somebody, “How’s your day?”, “Good.” Do you know anything about that person’s day? You have no idea what’s going on. Another example, “We have great customer service.”

When you are in sales and marketing, and you want to get into someone’s brain and get them to respond, you don’t talk at surface level, you go to deep structure. You say what separates what you offer from what everyone else offers. For example, “We not only say we have great service, but we back it up because we get our patient’s delivery there within four hours from the order.” That’s quantifying your greatness. That’s measurable.

6. Use a Call to Action

Without action, you have no business. Include the call to action—call, write, respond, see me, click here. It doesn’t matter what you want the audience to do. There is a response rate that we want to achieve—an economic goal that says what we are expecting. If I’m going to set appointments over the phone, using inside sales, I want a 30 percent response rate when I leave a voicemail (voicemail response is a hugely powerful technique). Use a call to action in all of your correspondence.

7. Refine Your Approach

Don’t simply settle for Take 1. After practicing the approach, you will want to refine and tweak it to get better. When I write anything, I pull up this model that I am sharing with you, and I make sure I hit all these points; if I have, it works every time. If I missed a point, the campaign won’t reach its potential. Maybe the campaign wasn’t strong enough; maybe the headline was close, but it only received a 19 percent open rate—to make money I need to hit a 21 percent open rate.

If you don’t get a response, what do you do? Tweak it, then try it again. If that doesn't work, what do you do? Do it again. Test your subject lines. Test everything in the campaign.

Ultimately remember that you don’t just sell oxygen concentrators and beds—you sell outcomes, you sell people getting healthier faster, you sell fewer hospital readmissions, and you sell compliance.

Best advice? Start with the end. What is it you want to achieve? Start with this, and then back into your message. Ultimately, people buy an outcome first. Tap into feelings and emotions as part of your effort. That is when you have activated the brain to shift from, “I'm a skeptic,” to “I'm on the fence,” to “I hit the buy button,” out of your marketing campaign, and that is the magic.