Lessons From the Range

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My son came barging through the door last Friday with a great idea. ‘Dad!  Let’s go to the range. I want to teach you how to shoot!’  Now, I’ve never done anything like this in my life. He served in the military as a member of the Airborne Infantry. Jumping out of perfectly good aircraft and handling a weapon are second nature to him. ‘It’ll be fun,’ he said.  As excited as I was for him to lead me into this new adventure, my primary concern was returning home with the same number of holes in my body that I started with.

The day began with a quick orientation class, the sum of which was, ‘Don’t be stupid.’  Okay, I began to feel like I could handle this.  My son selected a Glock 19 for us to use.  Before I was allowed to touch the weapon, he walked me through the basics. Here’s what he told me, ‘Okay, you need a good foundation - so, set your feet shoulder width apart and get a solid stance. With the weapon held firmly in both hands, extend your arms toward the target.  Relax. Line the target up with your sights.  Breathe in and out. Squeeze the trigger.  Don’t anticipate the kick of the weapon – let the shot surprise you.  Now, this is the important part. Even though the magazine holds 15 rounds, take one shot at a time.’ 

I practiced many times with no magazine in the weapon, trying to get the steps right.  My son said I was doing well. Except for the breathing - apparently you are supposed to breathe in and out.  I was nervous, okay?

Enough practice.  It was time to load the weapon and try this for real.  Solid stance; extend arms to the target, Relax. Line the target up with the sights. Breathe.  Try not to anticipate the kick – let the shot surprise me. Squeeze the trigger. One shot only…

BAM!

Needless to say, the shot surprised me.

We spent the better part of the afternoon shooting, talking, laughing, and creating memories.  As I think back on what my son taught me about how to safely handle a weapon; it is remarkable how similar the steps are to creating a successful on-hold advertising program.

1) Start With a Firm Foundation.  A professionally produced advertising program is where it begins.  Without a solid ‘stance’ on this issue, it will be difficult to create a foundation to build upon, let alone hit your ‘target.’

2) Extend Your Arms to the Target. A cookie-cutter approach to your on-hold concept will not work.  This is not a one-size fits all endeavor. You must be willing to reach out and communicate with your callers. Speak to them, not at them.

3) Relax. The on-hold experience should be the most laid-back, yet effective advertising moment in your marketing strategy.  This is not the time for high pressure techniques.  Think conversation rather than sales pitch.

4) Line the Target Up in Your Sights. When it comes to marketing, on-hold advertising is a powerful, yet intimate tool. Many make the mistake of using a ‘mass-media’ approach to their on-hold messaging. Remember, you are not talking to everyone that is waiting on hold at the same time (as if they were an audience). You are speaking to each caller; one at a time.  Target your message accordingly.

5) Take One Shot at a Time. You have a lot of information to share with your callers. However, it is a mistake to talk about every product, service, and opportunity you offer within the context of a single advertising message.  The most effective approach is to focus on one subject per message. More isn't always better.  Sometimes, it's just more.

The extra added bonus tip came when my son said, ‘Let the shot surprise you.’  That is precisely the approach you need with your on-hold advertising.  Predictability works against you in this scenario. Keep the content and approach different with each message.  Humor, dialogue, perspective, testimonials – all of these techniques will keep the caller from becoming complacent while waiting on hold.  Varying the presentation will help your callers engage in the content, making their time spent on hold more productive; and enjoyable.

The process my son walked me through at the range last weekend is also an effective process to follow as you design your on-hold advertising.  Set a foundation for your customers when they call.  Extend your arms to them with your messaging.  Relax and establish a conversation rather than a sales pitch. Line up your message to connect with one customer at a time, and limit the content of each message to a single subject.

And, be willing to try a different approach.  It will benefit your on-hold advertising, your clients, and maybe even your relationship with your son.

Tom McTee, Super-Genius

Tom McTee