For more than 40 years, scientists have debated how we should communicate with extra-terrestrial beings. Do we broadcast pictures (what if aliens don’t have eyes)? Do we send formulas that demonstrate our mathematical capabilities? Perhaps we should just send off a box full of stuff that represents life in the 21st Century (assuming we know which direction to launch it). It’s a tricky problem, mostly because we don’t know enough about the recipients. We have invested billions of dollars in projects like SETI to receive incoming messages. So far, nada. Those of us who seek to market to prospective clients face a similar conundrum. How can we know what messages will engage them if we don’t understand their specific needs?
Check your deleted email folder, and you’ll find a long list of failed attempts, from e-newsletters to innocuous questions to boilerplate pitches. Chances are, very few of these emails garnered a response from you. But if the sender had done some research on your needs first and sent a poignant message that provided meaningful value, they would have made a far better impression.
So, the next time you send a message to a prospective client, seek first to understand their specific needs rather than their categorical ones. Sure, every business wants to grow revenue and minimize liabilities, but generic messaging just gets swallowed up in the void of cyberspace. Focus on your existing clients (whose circumstances are already familiar to you) or a short list of prospects whose needs you truly understand. It will increase your chances of a close encounter with your next client.