How To Interrupt Like a Boss
If we teach what we most need to learn, then this is the perfect article for me to write. I can attest that all the people who truly know and love me well are those incredibly patient types. I can say this with confidence because I'm a well-known interrupter-in-recovery. While I learned some so-so listening habits from a loud and spirited family, I also came to deeply love storytelling and lively dialogue.
I've given a lot of thought to how interruption plays out in our stories, both personally and professionally.
What’s the best way to interrupt in a conversation (besides not doing so)? It seems to me it lies in acknowledge the other person’s needs and perspective, and then offering something valuable in reponse. Similarly, in business, it’s crucial to learn about and acknowledge your patron’s needs and desires, and then offer them something valuable and personalized. Sounds obvious. Alas, it's crazily not so.
Permission-based marketing is telling truly great stories to a table of willing guests. It's any correspondence that you've chosen to receive. Permission marketing is about capturing imaginations. If you’re someone who appreciates class and dignity in how businesses reach out to you, then this is already something you love.
We’re currently styling an endless dance of following and being followed, liking and commenting and engaging with each other across time and space… all beginning with giving each other permission to be seen in one way or another.
It can inspire and motivate us; it can gobble our time and focus. With this constant, delicious buffet of information, images, newsletters, deals, et al… which ones are consistently grabbing our attention, and why? Which ones do we look right past? Which ones are starting to annoy us?
I've been on an email crusade recently… unsubscribing from anything and everything extraneous to clear space for the stories that matter most to me.
I’m just one little human, after all! Some of the things I've been letting go of are really salesy, generic emails. I’m also done with those companies who routinely use fear-based subject lines- a pervasive, so-called “technique.” It’s one thing to pique someone’s interest (i.e. Are You Doing Everything You Can To Deliver Value?) and just bullying (i.e. Last Chance to Feel Better About Yourself). That’s an extreme example, but you get my point. In some cases, I'm even letting go of great stuff that I just never get to at this point in my crazy, entrepreneurial, toddler-under-foot stage of life!
Every time I press send or publish any post, my newsletter, even emails to new clients, I get a little rush- Will this be of value?
Will they like it? Am I still allowed to reach out to them? Will this improve their day in some way? That fear and excitement is normal. In fact, being a little nervous means you put some honesty and heart, some time and thought into something. If you don’t care, who the heck else will?
But how do we answer the fundamental question of value before we press send?
Use these two strategies to authentically and consistently offer something worthwhile:
1. Identify and understand your ideal customer. As many times over as is necessary.
I’m not talking here about your “target market.” Ok... kind of. But that’s a bird’s eye view, appropriate at other points of brand development. We are talking here about intimacy. Who are the people that you think would enjoy what you’ve got? What are their problems and worries? Can you help them solve them? What would inspire them today? We aren't mind-readers, but we do our absolute best to genuinely understand and think of our customer's needs FIRST.
2. Orient every post, newsletter, or other email around an offer of some sort.
Think tip, advice, opportunity, promotion, relatable story, etc. Make it clear in the title/subject line what that offer is. From a strong sense of who our people are, it’s easier to intuit what they might be wanting to know more about. We can apply this to every single thing that we post.
The truth is, it takes a lot of time to think through these questions of who we are and what we have to offer (beyond our actual services and products).
It takes courage to own our unique contribution, knowing that not everyone will like it. The ego-self wants to be everything to everyone, wants to be liked. The fearful side of us doesn’t want to alienate “potential clients.” But let’s be real. There are 7+ billion people in the world. You only have to reach a microscopic portion of that number to have a successful, vibrant business. Who are they?
It’s hard to be willing to go slow, but in the long run, you will end up with a loyal and distilled group of people perfect for your company.
Whenever I see that someone has unsubscribed to my list, no matter how many more have signed up- I feel like, shoot- I let them down. Then I remind myself, I can’t be everything to everyone. And I don’t want to be. I want to figure out who I’m a good match for, find them and offer them something nourishing for their unique table of experience. We actually get closer to understanding what that is with every unsubscribe.
What a revelation!
So, when we reach out to those dear folks who have graciously decided to give us their time (by the way- thank you so much!!), or at least the option of their time, we need to treat them consistently with utmost care and respect, be ourselves, and offer something of value.