In eight days, the 2012 Olympics start.
And one company contracted to help out has announced they can’t deliver.
The company, G4S, was paid more than $444 million to provide 10,400 guards for the event.
The chief executive, Nick Buckles, told UK’s government that they had a shortage of staff and he “hopes” they can provide 7000 guards.
So far they’ve only been able to send 4,200.
While the company said they would investigate after the games how this happened, one reason given for their failure had to do with G4S’s employment policies which pays little more than minimum wage.
After reading the story, I read a few comments from readers…
“20 billion and the publicity begins to pour in for London…what a waste of money and resources.”
“Just think, New York. If NYC’s bid had “won” the rights for the 2012 games, this mess could have been all yours.”
“The following MUST resign or be sacked. CEO of G4S Nick Buckles, Minister Theresa May MP, Jeremey Hunt MP. End of discussion.”
Here’s the thing… Nick Buckles, despite the situation he was in, could have found a better way to deliver the news.
For starters, instead of saying “We hope to have 7000 guards”, he could have said, “We will have at least 7000 guards and have already made arrangements to have our current staff work overtime to meet this demand should we be unable to hire enough additional guards.”
This would have painted him as a man who is proactively doing everything he can to correct the situation and painted him as a man with solutions.
Of course, when a situation like this arises, word choice appears more critical.
But the truth is…
Word choice is important in EVERY situation.
From selling your products and services to generating leads to handling situations when mistakes occur—the way you say something can make a huge difference.
When choosing your words do the following:
Paint a picture that puts you, your product or service in a positive light with your target audience. Dan Kennedy relays a story from Cavett Robert about the southern politician during prohibition who was asked for his position on liquor and moonshine.
The politician said, “If by liquor you mean that evil substance that corrupts America’s youth, disrupts family life and pits friend against friend in drunken argument, then friends I am 100% opposed. But if by liquor, you mean that nectar of Nature, born from the golden grains of our farmlands, that soothes the aches and pains of the elderly, lubricates enjoyable conversation and brings friends together on the front porch, then, by God, I’m for it.”
Same product. But two completely different pictures. Two different takes that conjure up extreme opposite emotions and paints the politician in a positive light depending on who he is speaking to.
Choose salesmanship over explanation. Too often businesses give explanations of their product or service when they really should be focused on salesmanship.
A weight loss product with the messaging “Tone Protein Brand gives you 26 grams of protein and no added sugar in each serving” is an example of telling you what the product is (explanation). Changing the message to “Lose weight faster and never feel hungry drinking one Tone Protein Brand shake a day,” turns this message into an example of a message that tells the reader what the product or service will do for them (salesmanship).
This is important because, the true function of your copy is to cause the reader, viewer or listener to perform a positive act as the direct result of your message.
Explanation does nothing more than educate. You want to get your reader to give you their contact information… buy something… sign up for your free report. In other words…do something.
Create clear messages. Have you ever seen the bit on the Jay Leno show called “Headlines”where people send in ads with funny headlines, stories or ads? Often the reason the ads are funny is because the advertiser was not clear with his message.
An ad ran for a hair system product for men looking for a solution to their thinning hair. The headline said, “Thinning Hair…” and the second line said, “We Guarantee It!” Do you think the company meant to guarantee you’d experience thinning hair with their product?
When you choose words and phrases, a clear message should take precedence over everything else.
While it’s true that security company G4S would still have an embarrassing situation to handle, paying more attention to their choice of words would have dramatically helped their situation.
I hope you never find yourself in the position of over-promising like security company G4S did, but if you do, these three principles will go a long way to helping you make better word choices so that you’ll come out looking much better than they did.
Regardless, developing positive messages using salesmanship and clarity will help you gain more customers, sell more product and most importantly, stay in good standing with your prospects and customers.