Encoding Value for Prospects and Buyers

Do you find it hard to communicate your ideas and values to people?

Are you looking for a better way to communicate effectively and achieve your goals?

This article discusses the secret to becoming a powerful communicator and influencer by encoding for the decoder.

By the end of the article, you should better appreciate the science behind communication. You can use this knowledge to drastically improve customer rapport, conversion, and retention.

Encoding and Decoding: What Are They?

Before we look at encoding for the decoder, let’s look at encoding and decoding separately.

If the concepts of “encoding” and “decoding” are unfamiliar to you, you might be surprised to hear that you’ve been applying them all your life.

So, what does encode mean?

Encode: Encoding is putting your concept or thought into a format your target audience can receive quickly.

In other words, encoding is the process of translating ideas into a code that may be speech, sign language, symbols, video, etc.

Encoding enables us to communicate our thoughts, ideas, and meanings to a target audience.

Whenever you are writing, you are encoding your ideas into the language’s text or code.

What about decoding?

Decoding is the opposite of encoding. It is the process of extracting thoughts or meaning from a given code, whereas encoding is putting thought into code.

During decoding, the receiver takes the message and converts it back into thought or meaning.

For example, when you are reading, you are decoding.

Encoder and Decoder: Who Are They?

You may have guessed by now that encoding and decoding involve at least two people. In this case, they are the encoder and decoder.

The encoder, or the source, is the person with an idea they would like to share with a targeted party/person. The encoder puts their idea into a code.

On the other hand, the decoder is the targeted party, the recipient of the encoded message. If necessary, the decoder must convert the encoded message back into an understandable thought before it gives feedback.

But why do we have to encode and decode messages? Can’t we skip it and communicate directly?

Well, we use encoding and decoding because they are the next best thing to telepathy. Communication would be much simpler if we could share our minds directly. But we can’t, so we rely on encoding and decoding to convert our thoughts into transmittable messages and transmit messages back into thought.

What Does Encoding for the Decoder Mean?

Encoding for the decoder involves structuring your message so that the decoder needs to expend only minor effort to comprehend it and get the valuable information it needs.

Encoding for the decoder means writing or speaking in the most beneficial and least stressful way for the listener or reader. It’s about viewing communication through their lens, not yours. But how do you do that?

Generally speaking, to encode for the decoder, you must:

  • Know or understand the customer, including their expertise, pain points, resources, etc. (Basically, where they are coming from and where they want to go.)
  • Sort your clients into groups based on their problems, resources, skills, etc.
  • Structure your conversation so they understand and address the pain points they want to solve concisely.

So, you put the receiver’s aims, benefits, and problems first rather than focusing on your objectives, features, talents, and knowledge.

More on this later…

Why is Encoding for the Decoder Important for Customer Conversations?

  • Encoding for the decoder helps you communicate with customers more effectively through mental models.
  • Communicating without a mental model is like driving blindfolded or without a destination; It’s risky and wasteful.
  • In businesses where you interact with several customers, mental models are especially useful. They help you understand your customers better, making you far more effective at delivering value and serving customer needs.
  • 79% of customers say they only consider purchasing if the brand demonstrates that it understands and cares about the customer (Wunderman).
  • Without a model that all your staff can follow, customer conversations are risky, prone to going off-topic, and likely fruitless.
  • Here are some benefits of implementing this practice in business and life.

Benefits of Encoding for the Decoder

  • You deliver the most valuable responses to customers. As a result, customer satisfaction and word-of-mouth recommendations will be high.
  • Satisfied customers are more likely to come again for repeat purchases.
  • Communication is less confusing for staff and customers as conversations become less of an art and more of a science.
  • Reduced risk of customers switching to a competing brand due to bad customer service experience.
  • Encoding for the decoder elevates your customer service rating, which inspires more brand loyalty from your customers.
  • Conversations are more effective, value-driven, and purposeful as your encoding considers each customer’s goals, level of understanding, and expertise.

Drawbacks of Encoding for the Decoder

There are very few drawbacks to encoding for the decoder. Most of the perceived drawbacks are not drawbacks at all.

For instance, when you are encoding for the decoder:

  • You focus less on your goals and needs. And devote more focus to helping the customer.
  • It takes more initiative and effort to know your customers, love them, and serve them.

A closer look at the above points reveals that they are virtues instead of disadvantages. To some extent, any valuable member of society must practice the above just as much as your parents did.

The drawbacks of not encoding for the decoder outweigh the drawbacks of encoding for the decoder.

Drawbacks of Not Encoding for the Decoder.

  • Conversations have no aim and tend to waste everyone’s time.
  • There is no unified mental model that guides all customer conversations, so there is a higher risk of making mistakes.
  • The focus tends to be on the business instead of the customer. On achieving business goals rather than serving the customer.
  • Customers may stop buying if they find decoding your message harder than their expected value. Or choose another business that can simplify and converse in ways they understand more easily.
  • If you are having trouble believing all this, let’s look at the examples of businesses that switched from encoding for the decoder to encoding for the decoder.

Real-Life Example of the Successful Use of Encoding for the Decoder

If you check the website of any well-respected company in the world.

What do you find?

Are they publishing:

  • Features or benefits?
  • Guarantees or Customer Testimonials and Reviews?
  • Technical Jargon or Short and Simple Explanations?
  • Long Tapestries of Text or Brief, Patterned Information?

The answer is an effective website is more likely to have:

  • Benefits over features.
  • Testimonials over Guarantees.
  • Short, Simple Explanations over Convoluted Jargon.

This is an example of encoding for the decoder being successfully used by businesses to convert, communicate, and retain customers.

Even in our daily conversation, the game’s rules are identical. The only difference is the change in the medium of communication.

How to Encode for the Decoder?

A few things are necessary to successfully implement encoding for the decoder, for the best results.

In this section, we will discuss the principles of encoding for the decoder, barriers to implementation, what to avoid, and where to practice encoding for decoding.

Principles of Encoding for the Decoder

  1. Know your customer: Use various tools and methods to understand your customer(s) better. 63% of consumers expect businesses to know their unique needs and expectations, while 76% of B2B buyers expect the same. (Salesforce Research)
  2. Building and using mental models will help you categorize customers and communicate more effectively and intelligently.
  3. Make every conversation with a customer about them, not about you: Don’t bore prospects with features and technical terms they barely know. Instead, show how the product or service will benefit or help them.
  4. Be present, concise, and helpful: 90% of customers rate an “immediate” response as essential when they have a customer service question. (HubSpot Research)
  5. Know your product and organization: No customer likes hearing “I don’t know” or “I’m not sure” from a business. This conveys incompetence, apathy, or ignorance. If an employee doesn’t know the answer, they should take the customer to someone who does.
  6. Encoding is more than what you say: Communication happens on two levels when speaking with someone in person or over the phone. The first level is about the actual words you speak. The second level, which is just as important, covers your body language, tonality, facial expression, and more. You should use both levels for the customer’s benefit.

Major Barriers to Encoding for the Decoder

    1. Not understanding your customer: Remember the Kylie Jenner Pepsi ad controversy? That was a great example of being out of touch with your customers. This further proves that If you don’t understand your customer, you cannot encode an easy-to-decode message for them. Customers may misunderstand or fail to understand your message.
    2. Personal bias: Close-mindedness is one of the biggest hurdles to effective communication. Just because you like a chicken does not mean everyone does. So, avoid the temptation to offer what works for you. Instead, find out what your customer wants and provide it. Of course, you can still suggest…
    3. Lack of diversity: This is why diversity is a major topic today. If your staff doesn’t represent the diversity of your customers, you are in trouble. Diversity is not only about race; it also includes gender, physical ability, status, preferences, etc.
    4. Selfish interest: If you aim to hit your goals before the customer, you are not a business but a customer. Prioritizing selfish interests blocks you from understanding and pursuing the customer’s goals.
    5. Lack of empathy: Putting yourself in the customer’s shoes is the first step to understanding them better. You might trivialize or appear tone-deaf to their issues without this essential skill.
    6. Technical or industry-specific terminologies: Each industry has jargon and technologies that the average consumer doesn’t understand.

Other barriers to encoding for the decoder:

  • Lacking knowledge about your business.
  • Bad listening skills.
  • Language differences.
  • Socio-economic status differences:
  • Gender differences.
  • Physical distinctions and alternative enablement.

What to Avoid During Encoding for the Decoder?

Sometimes, knowing what to do is not enough. What happens when you meet an unexpected scenario?

Well, that’s when knowing what not to do becomes important.

What to avoid?

  • Multitasking: Do not try to do something else when talking to a customer. Give them your undivided attention.
  • Prioritizing your interests: Your business only succeeds when the customer’s interests become yours. Pursuing anything else leads to failure.
  • Cutting off the client when they’re talking: A basic rule of society that everyone should follow. Cutting off someone conveys disrespect, impatience, or rejection.
  • Trying to sound bright instead of being smart: No one cares about how smart you are outside of school. So instead of showing off your knowledge and expertise, show the listener or customer how you can help solve their problem. If you sell gaming PCs, show the customer how they can enjoy that hardware rather than boring them with technical specifications.

Where to Encode for the Decoder?

You will see better results when you communicate or exchange information by encoding your messages for the decoder’s benefit.

Whether you are:

  • Holding a conversation with a customer.
  • Developing software for a particular machine.
  • Drafting your latest email to a prospective client.
  • Giving a presentation to a large audience.
  • Crafting a social media ad.
  • Or giving a TEDtalk in sign language.

You will always benefit by employing a decoder-centric approach that encoding for decoding calls for.

To recap, encoding for the decoder helps you become an effective communicator by prioritizing the listener’s needs over your own.

You should use mental models to help you understand your customers and break down conversations and other types of communication into small but repeatable steps.

Putting the listener’s needs first also gives you a metaphorical lighthouse to help you navigate the sea of human conversation.

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