How to Tell Signal From Noise – What Your Clients Are Really Telling You

Copywriting and Sales
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Title graphic for Hillary Weiss blog post titled How to Tell Signal From Noise - What Your Clients Are Really Telling You.

One night at my Florida grade school in the early 2000’s, a rogue bolt of lightning exploded a set of playground monkey bars into a pile of smoldering splinters.

Within weeks, the understandably alarmed administration placed a lightning thingie (detector) on the roof of the library.

It looked like a child’s drawing of a stick figure horse: four legs, a metal pole body, and a head with a “hat” that was actually a VERY loud siren capable of piercing eardrums on every corner of our campus.

Naturally, we affectionately named it “Thor”.

My school’s Thor policy went like this:

If you heard the screaming BEEEEP of the siren alerting you to dangerous levels of electricity in the atmosphere, you either had to find your way indoors immediately, or stay in whatever classroom you were in until the three loud BEEEEEEPS of Thor’s “all clear” signal sounded.

Reasonable… in theory.

A Tyrannical Thor with Control Issues

Until we realized: Thor would ALSO go off on cloudless, sunny days without a drop of rain in sight, keeping us trapped in classrooms sometimes for hours.

I remember in one instance we were trapped in my 8th grade Chemistry class for an extra two hours, with our teacher rapidly running out of Bill Nye episodes to throw on to pass the time.

Within a few months, the fastidious BEEEEEP would immediately be followed by forehead slaps from teachers, and cheers/groans from students, depending which class they were in, or had next period.

Nevertheless! The policy persisted.

False Alarm, or Useful Warning?

“Better safe than sorry,” the admin counseled itself (or so I imagined).

By the time I went to high school, the Thor policy was still in place — and I’m not sure if or when it shifted.

But I think about Thor often when I see my clients, colleagues, and friends in the business world try to separate a feedback “signal” from “noise”.

It’s easy for your brain to make a big Thor BEEEEEEEP when you receive a comment from a prospect that sounds like:

I didn’t really get it…” in response to a sales page you spent hours working on.

I can’t afford this right now,” to a price you KNOW is a fit for the value you offer.

or: “Can you do something more like [thing you don’t wanna do anymore.]” when you’re trying to pivot your biz into new territory.

We should probably listen, because after all… better safe than sorry, right?

Well, not quite.

Three Ways to Tell Useful Signals from Background “Noise”

That’s why it’s vital to have a system in place for assessing which comments should ACTUALLY be acted on (a.k.a. signals)…

… And which comments are just your brain’s inner Thor going overboard trying to warn about potential disaster on a sunny, cloudless, blue sky day (a.k.a. noise).

Because the fact is: ONE comment from a prospect should not be an impetus for you to rethink an entire offer, message, or brand focus.

Here are my favorite ways to decipher one from the other — so you can keep yourself moving.

If you find that…

  • It’s only ONE person, once in a while, making the “I don’t get it!” comment, and you have multiple people who’ve understood your offer/message/brand successfully.
  • Your price the prospect rejected is at a point you KNOW your market can bear and the probable client just isn’t a fit.
  • You’re still mid-pivot, are building brand equity in your “new focus”, and need to reeducate your audience on what you actually do now. (These things take time!)

… That’s likely just noise, baby. Carry on.

Contrastingly, if you find:

  • It’s repeated – multiple people (WHO REPRESENT YOUR TARGET MARKET! Your mom/bestie doesn’t count) are still confused by your brand/offer/message.
  • Your market and price point don’t match – you’ve gotten multiple price objections from right-fit clients, and sorta priced yourself to “keep up with the Joneses”.
  • You’re still straddling – you’re freaked out about fully committing to your pivot, and because you’ve got one foot in/out still, you’ve got people confused…. That’s the signal it might be time to change.

Deciphering one BEEEEEEEP from the other is tough, especially when you’re battling the know-it-all-who-knows-better camped out inside your head.

Need a Bit of Help Determining Signal vs Noise?

That said, if you’d like a little outside perspective to figure out if it’s a signal or just noise, drop a comment below and we’ll chat more about it. Happy to share some insights on your current (or next) big thang.

And should your offer need little firming up or some TLC, a Power Sprint might be just the thing to turn those beeps into oh so sweet silence.

But in the meantime:

Let’s both try to avoid mistaking a bright, sunny day for a lightning storm, shall we?


Write on,

Photo by C D-X on Unsplash

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