Interview: Robert Middleton – Solving the Four Biggest Marketing Problems

Robert Middleton Robert Middleton drove down to the airport hotel from his home in the Santa Cruz mountains on Saturday to ask the National Speakers Association of Northern California if there was anyone in the room whose friends and acquaintances could answer three simple questions about our businesses:

  1. Who is our ideal client?
  2. What is the main problem we solve for our clients?
  3. What outcome do we deliver to our clients?

No one in the room had confidence that our own friends knew what we did well enough to answer these questions. No one in the room therefore had solved the fundamental marketing problem: that people just plain don’t know what we do or see in the value in what we offer.

Middleton took us through the solutions to the four biggest marketing problems: how to get people’s attention; deliver the information they need; provide an experience of the solutions we offer and, finally, submit a proposal asking for business.

It’s critical that we can articulate these messages according the correct marketing syntax. Syntax honors the order in which information is presented. Most small businesses (and many large ones) mix up the syntax and unknowingly communicate a different meaning. The letters that spell A-R-T are mixed up to spell R-A-T.

A rat first tells people all about their solutions without communicating basic information about who they work with, the challenges customers face, what outcomes delivered and what action steps people can take to engage with us. The artful know what to say first.

The beauty of Middleton’s methodology is that these principles can be learned and applied to the way we discuss our business when we first meet people (engaging them conversationally rather than delivering a stilted ‘elevator pitch’) as well as to our website design, written proposals, sales letters or even – Lordy sakes! – to the way a local Chapter of a Speakers Association might recruit new members. Now there’s an idea.

I caught up with Robert after lunch and asked him to explain how his methods are used by communications professionals. To hear what he told me, click on the podcast icon below.

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