Speaking the language of your customer

Ok this picture of a bunch of sweaty guys maybe isn’t what you were expecting is it?

BasketballAlbaniaHere’s how the story goes.

My two boys are in this picture.

Not such an unusual picture – they love to play basketball and the post-game pose is not all that surprising.

What makes this picture unique is that these basketball courts are in Albania.

They bring a basketball wherever they travel and over the past few years they have seen courts all over Europe and northern Africa. Sport can be such a unifying language!

So they arrived at the courts in Albania where several guys were playing and they didn’t feel totally welcome. They stood by understanding the language of the courts – that you need to be invited onto the court. And  they get that. So eventually the invitation came and hours of basketball was played. Friendships were made and the games continued on as the Albanians took them out on the town for one of the most memorable experiences they have had.

This story is just so good on so many levels but I couldn’t help to think how it related to some of the work I am doing right now on how to make sure your clients hear you. Effective communication with clients means being clear on your purpose.  Then you need to find them where they live, understand their worldview, and put yourself out there with your heart on your sleeve. That kind of authentic communication will be heard – even if you don’t speak the language.

What do you do?

What do you do?

I have one son studying in France, and another son packing his bag to go meet him, so my thoughts have been swirling about all things French.

It got me thinking of a time, not long ago(!), that I was enjoying a similar adventure back packing through Europe after studying at the University of Edinburgh.

One memory that has always stuck with me is when our merry band of adventurers boarded a train in Paris. We had no set plan and would hop on and off trains as we liked. We happened to be sitting with a very suave Frenchmen (right down to the elegant leather shoes, sans the nike swoosh) and the conversation naturally got around to us asking him “What do you do?”

And his answer was simple and succinct – he simply said “When?”

For a bunch of soon to be graduates, it left us a bit speechless. We had been asked incessantly “what we were going to do” once we graduated, we were expected to have a plan, to have our life laid out, milestones marked and above all else know what the answer was to: “what do you do?”

Since this was our “Go and find yourself” European style adventure his answer could not been more appropriate. And,  I’m guessing that since I have never let go of the conversation, that finding my “when” is just as important to me today as it was then.

As a marketer we are always looking to perfect the 60 second pitch. It’s way up  there on the “important things to master” to market yourself, your cause, your business, your brand. And you can count on us diving deep into that very concept on this blog so you are armed and ready for when the big question, that can make any of us stumble, comes your way.

But sometimes, there will be days, when life asks you “What do you do” and saying “when” might just be the best answer.

Happy travels to the spirited of adventurer in all of us.

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