Proof Power

Stu’s News
with Trina’s Tips



Proof Power
Most firms spend huge amounts of their marketing resources and materials, major portions of their submittals, and considerable chunks of their presentations focused on “Proof”…trying to demonstrate to clients that their firm is unquestionably capable of doing an excellent job for them…
“Last year alone, our firm widened 17 highways just like yours, and we can do an equally excellent job for you, too.”
The problem is, virtually every firm clients consider for a project can make virtually the same claims…laundry lists of successful past projects. Such laundry lists become known by clients and firms as “boilerplate,” because they’re overkill and boring. Clients simply can’t read about all those past projects and maintain sanity.
What’s the goal of “Proof”?
Ultimately, it’s to boost the confidence that clients have in your ability to produce a positive outcome to a problem. While the future can never be guaranteed, if any of us have a serious problem and seek help, the closer a professional comes to instilling confidence in us that the future will be successful, the more likely we are to ask that professional to do the work for us, and lead us to that successful outcome.
Here are three guidelines for shifting your offers of Proof from boring to inspiring.
1.     Focus on one concern at a time.
Comparing projects to projects – they need a water treatment plant, so we show them 30 successful water treatment plants – carries little emotional loading. However, after you’ve Mandevilled a client, you know his or her biggest concerns…
            “How to gain public approval, so we get our funding.”
            “How to expedite regulatory approvals, so we avoid being fined.”
            “How to do the project within the admittedly tight budget we’ve approved.”
When you respond to a concern, articulate a process you’ll being using to resolve that specific concern. Then, select a previous successful situation in which you’ve applied that process and experienced a positive outcome. “Concerns” are emotionally based. Focusing Proof where there’s emotional loading increases its impact…
            “They can unquestionably take care of my biggest worries.”
Next question: How much Proof is enough?
2.     Less is more.
The best answer seems to be ONE. The longer the laundry list, the less the impact will be of any single item on it. Plus, the harder you try to prove how good you are, the more people may wonder why you’re having to try so hard. If you’ve “got it” – you don’t need to flaunt it…
“This is the process we use whenever community approval is especially critical. One of the most recent applications of this process was…”
This bias is a major departure from the usual “Partial list of past projects.” However, for each specific client concern, you’ll need a detailed process for solving it…and you’ll need proof that your process works. So, you actually have an opportunity to select and use a different proof for each client concern.
3. Tell a story.
Most proof cites the name of a past project and a few statistics – not often linked to a specific concern. The effect is comparable to name-dropping, and has limited impact on clients. When you respond to a specific concern, describe the process you’ll use to solve it. Then, you essentially cement client confidence in you by describing the proof you’ve selected in story format. Describe the situation – which ideally is one that was more difficult than the one at hand, and on as similar a project type as possible. Then describe how your process was applied. And, most important, describe the positive outcomes that resulted, in detail…
“This approach for gaining public support recently enjoyed excellent outcomes in a neighboring Smallville. The emotional climate there was more hostile than in your community; they hadn’t approved new project funding for over 11 years.
“Yet, this process brought their community together, helped everyone to experience and believe in the real need, and convinced everyone that the project was truly in the best interest of the entire community. Their approval was an overwhelming 87% positive. Later, they actually celebrated the project’s completion!”
As you complete your Proof in story form, your clients will believe they’ll enjoy the same success as your story, which is your intent. Proof is essential for cementing client confidence in our ability to solve their problems and deliver an excellent outcome to them. These three keys will jump the power and the impact of your Proof.
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