Proof train car #5: specificity

Philip Morgan

An American soldier, serving in World War II, had just returned from several weeks of intense action on the German front lines. He had finally been granted R&R and was on a train bound for London. The train was very crowded, so the soldier walked the length of the train looking for an empty seat. The only unoccupied seat was directly adjacent to a well dressed middle aged lady and was being used by her little dog. The war weary soldier asked, "Please, ma'am, may I sit in that seat?" The English woman looked down her nose at the soldier, sniffed and said, "You Americans. You are such a rude class of people. Can't you see my little Fifi is using that seat?"The soldier walked away, determined to find a place to rest but, after another trip down to the end of the train, found himself again facing the woman with the dog. Again he asked, "Please, lady. May I sit there? I'm very tired." The English woman wrinkled her nose and snorted, "You Americans! Not only are you rude, you are also arrogant. Imagine!"The soldier didn't say anything else; he leaned over, picked up the little dog, tossed it out the window of the train and sat down in the empty seat. The woman shrieked and railed,and demanded that someone defend her and chastise the soldier.An English gentleman sitting across the aisle spoke up, "You know, sir, you Americans do seem to have a penchant for doing the wrong thing. You eat holding your fork in the wrong hand, you drive your 'automobiles' on the wrong side of the road, and now, sir, you've thrown the wrong bitch out of the window."---Today we're looking at car #5 on the "proof train", which is to use exacting specificity in every aspect of your marketing.If you look at your marketing message and say, “wow, there are probably only 10 companies out there that fit that profile”, then you are in the right ballpark in terms of specificity. The reality is that there will be far more than 10 good-fit clients, and those 50 or 100 truly ideal clients will find your marketing extremely compelling.Trust me, they won't find it compelling if you don’t have the courage to be extremely specific.Why is this?One moment while I put on my white armchair scientist lab coat...Ah, there we go!What happens when you're in a crowded room and someone calls out your first name? 97.9% of test subjects with that name turn their head because you got their attention. You matched a pattern their brain is on constant lookout for.It works the same way in your marketing. Our brains are working nonstop to screen out irrelevant sensory input, but being specific about who you are trying to connect with or what problem you can solve (or both) triggers your prospective client's mental pattern matching heuristic and helps them pay attention to your marketing message.Which of the following claims seems more believable to you?1) We help OTR trucking companies become more profitable.2) If your OTR trucking company files more than 3 insurance claims per 100 deliveries, we can cut that by 50% which will reduce your insurance cost by 37% over time.#2 is more specific, and that specificity is a form of proof.Highly specific numbers (like my made up "97.9% of test subjects" number above) are more believable because they register to the mind as measurements rather than estimates and we have a bias towards believing measurements more than guesses or estimates.That's another reason why being specific is a useful proof element.I'm not saying you should create artificial specificity, just that you should go for accuracy wherever possible because that accuracy is a form of proof.All the proof in the world won't help much if you lack a compelling value proposition. Get help with that: http://thepositioningmanual.comThe next car on the "proof train" has to do with being a troublemaker, so look for that next time!-P