New and Improved


“New and Improved!”

We’ve all heard this.  But I always wonder, how can it be both?  Improved implies it is better than before.  But that would exclude it from being new, wouldn’t it?

Of course, I am being too literal.  The point when an advertiser states “New and Improved” is not about accuracy or an exact literal meaning. It is about evoking a feeling from you, the potential customer.

A lesson from this when working on your communication skills is to remember that many things we hear may not mean exactly what the words say.  Our language is complex.  Context is important.  Emotions (or even perceived emotions) can change the message, whether it is the emotions of the speaker or the listener.

Facts are valuable but they often do not matter as much in the beginning.  It is said that customers choose on emotion, then justify that decision with facts.  In my years in business, I’d have to agree that this is very common.  Of course, it varies greatly by individual personalities.

I was visiting with a potential new client recently.  They explained in great detail their rapid growth and how it was overwhelming their computer programs.  They had simply outgrown these systems and they knew it.  However, they had not planned well for this growth nor budgeted for it.  

When I explained, based on years of similar projects, a general price range of systems of these types they were very uncomfortable.  We discussed the risks and dangers (and additional costs) of cutting too many corners… costs they were already experiencing. 

But this potential clients never felt comfortable with my suggestions.  They kept saying, “… but this is really simple.”  

You know what?  If it were really simple, they would never have called us.  They would have already solved their problem.  “… but this is really simple” was not factual, it was how they felt. And that made it their current reality, at least for now.

Although they likely believed this was factually based, I submit they were really just not emotionally ready for their growth and the tasks ahead. And that’s okay.  Rapid growth and change evokes many emotions.  This is really very common.  Plus, most of our clients don’t engage our services on the first visits.  They call us when they finally get past the emotions  (doubt, fear, uncertainty,etc.) to a point of understanding and awareness.

My reminder today is that if you think more analytically than most people, remember that how your audience feels about your message can be more important to them than your facts.  At least until they are interested and engaged.

If you tend to make decisions more on “gut feel” than facts, remember that not everyone sees the world this way.  To suggest they should ignore facts too often can damage your credibility with those that see the world more analytically.

In other words, remember your audience may not hear your words the way you do.



About the Author

Glenn S. Phillips works with leaders who want to leverage technology and understand risks within. An author and blogger, Glenn is often quoted in national media, plays a really ugly tuba (it even has a bullet hole) and is a fan of dark chocolate and great puns.