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Being All Things to All People Is a Marketing Dead End There are universal problems but customers are skeptical when you promise a universal solution.

By Dixie Gillaspie Edited by Dan Bova

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

It's true that pretty much everyone wants the same things. If you're selling to businesses you already know that your prospects share some universal desires; they want more clients or customers, more income and less stress. If you're selling to consumers you know they have universal desires as well; they want to save money, have more life enjoyment and satisfaction, and less stress.

So why is it that when you have a product or service that you know will deliver on one or more of those desires people aren't jumping at the opportunity to do business with you?

Usually the answer I get from entrepreneurs is, "They just don't understand what we can really do for them."

No, that really isn't why. The real reason is they don't believe what you claim you can do for them.

If you're promising you can save them money or make them money, just think about how many similar promises they hear every day. For that matter, think about how many similar promises you hear every day, then ask yourself how many of them you believe.

There are two reasons people don't believe in your promise. Fortunately, there is one method you can use to overcome them both.

They have limited imaginations.

It doesn't matter whether you're promising more money, less stress or a better life, if they can't imagine it they won't believe you can help them achieve it. They might understand what you do, and they might believe that you can do it for other people, but until they have that vision of what that would look like in their own life they aren't going to buy something or hire someone to help them make it happen.

Related: Which Selling Technique Will Best Benefit Your Business?

They've heard it before, they've bought it before and it didn't work.

No matter what you promise, if your message speaks to these universal desires you can bet there are others making a similar promise who don't deliver. Maybe they're the classic "snake oil traveling salesman," or maybe their solution just wasn't a match for the buyer's problem, but we've all been "had" by someone making that all-encompassing promise. It's no wonder people are skeptical.

Related: Craft a Great Email Sales Pitch by Following This 5-Step Process

The key is to be specific and relevant.

In creating your brand story and marketing message, rather than make big promises of solving universal problems, paint a picture for your prospect of what their life will look like when those solutions are in place. To be relevant you'll need to have a concise grasp of who you're marketing to. A life with less stress doesn't look the same to a mother of three who is a VP in a large bank as it does to a single, childless new college graduate who is interning for a startup tech company.

But when you use your marketing message to communicate a picture to the working mother of how, with less stress, she can arrive at the office organized and ready for the meeting with a smile on her face, or you illustrate for the new college graduate how he'll replace the dread of making a mistake with the confidence that he's building a good reputation, you're demonstrating a unique selling proposition by being more specific and more relevant than anyone who has made similar promises before you.

The same is true when you create a message that helps the overwhelmed project manager imagine what it would be like to have a team that is dependable, self-sufficient and highly collaborative versus the message that helps the new solopreneur imagine what it will be like to delegate and outsource some of the more tedious tasks on his list.

Once you've developed a story for each market segment you're pursing that allows your prospect to imagine how their life will change because of their choice to hire you or buy from you, you've got a strong foundation for overcoming both the limited imagination and the skepticism. Because chances are no one has ever promised exactly what you're promising in exactly the same way, and just as likely, no one has ever taken time to show them the life changes they're really buying into when they buy from you.

Related: 7 Strategies for Tailoring a Custom-Fit Sales Pitch for Each Prospect

Dixie Gillaspie

Writer, Coach, Lover of Entrepreneurship

Ever since she was a little girl, Dixie’s least favorite word was "can’t." It still is. She's on a mission to prove that anything is possible, for anyone, but she's especially fond of entrepreneurs. She's good at seeing opportunities where other people see walls, navigating crossroads where other people see dead ends, and unwrapping the gifts of adversity and struggle. Dixie also contributes to Huffington Post and is a senior managing editor for The Good Man Project.

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