Have you ever been in a conversation with someone who only talks about themselves? I have, at more networking events then I care to remember. While I stand there politely for a few minutes asking the appropriate questions, I find myself getting annoyed when they show no interest in me as anything other then a potential customer. I have learned to gracefully end the conversation and walk away.

The same behavior carries over when I am watching television, reading a magazine, looking at email or direct mail. If the advertiser doesn’t make it immediately oblivious they care about me (my interests) I am likely to flip the remote, turn the page, delete the email or trash the postcard without a second thought.

So how do you capture the attention of prospects in a world where they receive thousands of messages daily?

Talk about them first! – Sounds simple, but it is not easy. You have to know who you are talking to. If you are trying to sell to everyone the message is so watered down it isn’t relevant to anyone. To do this well you have to know a bit about your audience. For example a day care center wants to talk to moms, but what kind of moms? What is most important? Safety? Stimulating environment? Affordable child care? Nurturing environment? Pick one and build a story around that.

  1. Safety: Did you know, x% of children are injured in day care center accidents each year.. That is why….
  2. Stimulating Environment: Your child’s future academic success begins in day care….
  3. Nurturing: Sometimes the thing a child needs most is a hug… when you are not there, we are

I am often asked by small business owners, what if I pick one message, and that isn’t important to a particular client? Instead of trying do all these things in the same place, have multiple communication paths. When clients come to your website, ask what they are most interested in. For parents interested in safety offer supplemental information on how to keep your infant or toddler safe at home. For those parents interested in raising the next Einstein, offer tips on how to stimulate brain development. Once you they tell you what they are interested in, you can begin to send more information on that topic.

You don’t have to tell them everything at once, either. In a five minute conversation, I can’t tell you everything you need to know about my business, so I pick the most interesting things, and if you have questions, I have an invitation to a longer conversation. Do the same in your advertising and marketing, give customers the opportunity to ask for more and they will. Email and social media are both terrific tools to continue the conversation with prospects, help them get to know you, and hopefully become clients.

Will you miss some people on the fringe? Maybe. But you have a better chance of reaching the ones who are really interested in what you have to offer.