I’ve been approached several times recently by different friends to take in kittens who need a home. I said no each time because we already have a full house of animals.
(Learning to set boundaries is key to maintaining my emotional and mental health, or I’d be one of those people with 24 cats and 8 dogs. And my husband would have headed for the hills.)
Now, I know myself and my limits. If my friends had approached me about the kittens with one slight difference, I’d probably be the happy-and-overwhelmed caretaker of a furry little wonder.
You see, when they asked if I could take in another cat, they said “kitten” and not “Sunshine” or “Boots”. They didn’t show me a picture of an adorable little ball of fur for me to fall in love with me.
In other words, they kept it general, not specific.
It’s easy to say “no” to an abstract, unknown person, place or thing.
Here’s an example. If someone says, “Do you want to travel 20 hours to go on vacation?”, your answer is probably, “no, thanks” or “it depends”.
If someone says, “Do you want to go to Bali with its stunning beaches, deliciously fresh food, all-encompassing feeling of serenity and people who love visitors and sharing the richness of their homeland?”, then you’re a lot more likely to jump in with both feet.
Fear and prejudice get marketed with the same principles.
If you want someone to be “against” a group, let’s say dentists, then talk about them in a general sense, as a group. “Dentists are just out to make money.” “Dentists don’t care about your teeth and health.”
Showing a photo of someone and saying, “Michelle worked hard in college and then spent another 4 years in school to become a dentist. Years afterward, she made the last payment on her student loans – and immediately started putting money away for her children’s college. Last Saturday, she missed her kid’s ball game because a patient she’s had for 15 years got an abscess and needed her help right away. She’s just out to make money.”
Feel the difference?
This is why client stories and testimonials are so important. When people are getting to know you and what you offer, it helps them to “get to know” a specific person you’ve worked with.
Notice the difference here.
When I say it:
“I help clients dissolve the internal blocks that keep them from taking the action they want to take in their businesses and their lives.”
When my client says it:
“So there in front of my computer, I had one metaphorical foot on the brake and the other on the gas pedal…and I wasn’t getting anywhere with my book.
Sara helped me move past my fears…but it was deeper than that. Wherever I had stored those fears in my body energetically dissipated. Session after session we addressed the fears. Each time we did I felt a major wall come down and a space open up in me. I was shocked at how some of these feelings that I’ve carried for a very long time were gone.
And wow did that free up my writing. Everything in my mind, heart and soul just flowed onto the paper. The agent appeared. The publisher appeared. And now I’ve been speaking on the radio all over the country.”
This isn’t about manipulation, it’s about connection and communicating what you offer.
When you connect to a specific person, your heart and mind open. You begin to see yourself in them and your story in theirs.
Another great example of this is at the Holocaust museum in Washington. One exhibit is a pile of shoes that the men, women and children were wearing just before going into the gas chamber. Seeing something so individual and also so common left me feeling connected to the wearers and deeply horrified at what they went through.
Notice when people use specifics and generalities to either connect you or distance you from who they’re talking about.
And be aware of it in your marketing and conversations. Be as specific as possible. Make it easy for people to understand and connect with the services you offer, then let them decide if they resonate with you and what you can do for them.
I’d love to hear your insights on this in the comments below.