Mar 10, 2006

Language obsessions

People that know me might tell you that my obsession with language borders on being pathological. I am surprised at how much time and energy I spend defining language to use within Welcome, and creating language for our customers to get the most value out of our software. People probably began noticing this a couple years ago when I started banning the use of the word loyalty and focused on language that helps avoid getting stuck in “nice-to-have” features and technology.

A couple weeks ago, one of our solution architects managed to put in words something that I was having trouble communicating myself. Waikeong Mok sent me this e-mail after a group session that I ran for our team in Singapore:

“XLS is a must have NOT nice to have for our customer. A ‘nice to have’ is something to make a situation better from normal. Things are working properly now. We use words like to increase and to enhance. By definition, I will buy it when I have the extra money or resource. A ‘must have’ is something to make a situation normal from worst. Things are in problematic now. We use words like to cure the pains. We focus on the pain. The pain will get worst if we don’t confront it now. Urgency is very clear here. By definition, I will find the money or resource to buy it asap. Confronting and resolving all our customer barriers in making the decision in an honest way. Whatever bothers them to make the decision does bother us to close the deals. This is a very powerful tool which I learned today which I’m convinced will benefit me in future negotiations.”

Thank you Waikeong for putting this in words that make things even clearer.

We need to focus our energy on unbearable pain that we can help eliminate, and not waste energy on simply offering improvements to something that is already bearable.

We have integrated this approach into our marketing seminars, showing banks how they themselves can focus on language that presents their payment services as being vital to a merchant’s success.

In our marketing seminar for acquirers, we include a section that describes a 3 step methodology to a more profitable way to sell payment services to merchants. Part of the methodology consists of presenting a pain relieving value proposition to merchants. It shows how to focus on several simple features and make sure you use words to describe how the features will help the merchant avoid his pain.

For example:

“My payment services have built-it promotion features that help you avoid giving the same high value promotions to all customers.”

“My payment services help you avoid losing customers to the competition.”

“My payment services help you avoid the cost and trouble of complicated loyalty card programs.”

“My payment services help you avoid giving the same gift samples over and over again.”

“My payment services help you avoid loss of margins when offering high value services to your customers.”

By presenting your payment services in this way, you are offering valuable solutions to problems that are unbearable. Not simply offering nice-to-have features that help the merchant improve on things which are already OK right now.

Related posts:
Payment services that are irresistible, not just nice-to-have
Key success factor #1: Focus on enhancing the payment experience
Key success factor #4: Show merchants how your payment brand can help solve major problems
The commoditization of points, miles and other loyalty currencies

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

You might find this guy's work an interesting read:

http://www.sourcetext.com/grammarian/