O’Hare Airport in Chicago is not the greatest place to give a presentation, but I was invited to speak at special event for which water utility industry professionals flew into the airport for a day of talks and then flew out. My talk was the fifth of the day (out of five) and needless to say, attention was not “laser-focused.” To make matters worse, I was pretty sure that more than a few of the 250 or so executives had added some alcohol to their lunch menu.
The four previous speakers had started their presentations with, “Good morning (or good afternoon), my name is so and so. I am here to talk about X, but first let me tell you a little about me and my company.” I started my presentation with a slide of a water storage tank that had a target painted on it. I said, “Good afternoon. Your water utility has been targeted. Environmentalists, regulators and consumers have had you in the crosshairs for a long time. And recently, Homeland Security listed water systems as a high-level potential target of international terrorists. How can good marketing communications help you protect your system? I’m going to show you.”
It wasn’t until 10 or 11 minutes into the presentation that I introduced my company and myself. At the end of the day, my presentation was the highest-rated, and I ended up picking up a new client from the event. Having already been paid to deliver an education talk, I was very satisfied with the results.
So what was different about my talk that earned the higher rating and the interest from a new client? Unlike my fellow speakers, I delivered a POV Presentation. I took the Point of View of the audience and presented every word of it from that perspective.
I think you’ll find that all of the most successful marketing professionals do the same thing — not just with big industry events, but with every meeting, presentation and pitch. I find I’m more in tune with a client’s situation and needs. That allows me to address the problems they know about and point out those they don’t.
I’ve refined the process over the years, and the way I approach it now is with these key steps:
- Start your presentation with the customer’s Mission Statement. You can modify or simplify it, but doing so shows you understand what they’re about and what they’re trying to accomplish. (One slide, 30-60 seconds)
- Recap their marketing goals. Hopefully, you had a hand in developing these. (Again, one slide, 30-60 seconds)
- If you’ve previously created campaigns and other courses of action, identify them next and show where or how today’s presentation subject fits into those campaigns.
- Now, you can get into the new presentation ideas, goals, expectations, action steps, etc.
Steps 1-3 have taken you a total of three minutes, but you’ve “connected the dots” for your customer. You’ve brought added value to your work and ideas because they fit, they belong here. This is the right time and place for them because these are the next logical steps, and they’re much more likely to be accepted now, and more likely to be given the required budget. Most importantly, you’ve taken their POV (point of view), presenting information in the way they would see it as making sense.
Marketing is a difficult subject to explain. Most of the concepts are invisible and require an investment of time and money. If you want your marketing plans to be understood and accepted, explain them from the client’s, customer’s or boss’s POV.