Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Help Them Buy Without Being Pushy

Whatever you're selling, whether it's a product, a service, a message or a cause, you can't pressure people into "buying". Maybe that worked in the past, when all the power was with the salesperson, marketer or leader. But that's no longer the case. Today's buyers are smarter, better informed and more sceptical than ever before. This isn't only true for products and services; it's also true for causes and messages - maybe even especially so.

So how do you get through to them? Rather than trying to manipulate, cajole, browbeat or force them to buy, create "buying frames" that explain the reasons for them to buy.

I'll explain ...

Everybody is asking these four questions:
  • Why this? What are the benefits of your offering?
  • Why you? What authority do you have for me to believe you?
  • Why now? What is the urgency for me to take action?
  • Why me? Why is this the right fit for me?
Before they buy, they must answer all four questions in their mind. You can help them by suggesting some answers.

Let's consider each of these in turn.

"Why this" (benefits)

This is the standard sales technique of describing the benefits, not just the features, of your offerings. Features are "what this does"; benefits are "what that means for you".

One simple way to convert features to benefits is to list each of the features in turn, then add the phrase "so that" or "which means that", and then finish the sentence.

For example, if you're considering the features of a car:
  • This car has cruise control ... so that ... you don't get a speeding fine
  • The car has radio controls on the steering wheel ... which means that ... it's safer because you're not distracted while driving
  • This car has keyless entry ... which means that ... it's faster to get into the car in an emergency - particularly for women alone at night
The same applies when you're selling a message. That's why you see messages like, "$20 a month pays for a child's education". That's turning the feature (your donation) into a benefit (the result). Make sure you do the same with your message.

"Why you" (authority)

People buy from people they trust. Why should they believe you, your business and the people in your business?

Do you have testimonials from other happy customers, endorsements from well-known people, formal qualifications or practical experience?

Focus on the kind of authority that matters most for your customers - for example:
  • Some people respect celebrities, so get celebrity endorsements;
  • Doctors respect letters after your name, so pharmaceutical companies engage experts to talk to doctors about medicines;
  • Business owners respect experience more than qualifications, so prove your experience.

"Why now" (urgency)

You see this sort of marketing everywhere:
"Mid-season sale - two weeks only"
"Register now for the Early Bird special"
"Only 20 memberships available at this price"
"Closing down sale - all stock must go"
"New season fashions coming soon - current stock at bargain prices"
This is the motivator for them to take action now, rather than putting it off until later. It's usually based on pain or pleasure - that is, the negative consequences of not taking action or the positive consequences of taking action.

This can be the most important factor that gets the sale; however, it can also be the most difficult to do, because it's not always easy to do this without being manipulative.

If you genuinely do have a reason for making an urgent announcement, do so and your customers will respond. But if you keep doing this over and over again, they'll soon grow weary and skeptical.

A more respectful approach is to explain why now, more than ever, your offerings are important and relevant for your customers. It's not about forcing them to buy; it's about explaining how their circumstances have changed - perhaps without them realising it.

For example:
  • A real estate agent could say, "There's never been a better time to sell your home", based on the strength of the property market.
  • An accountant could say, "The new tax laws could cost you thousands of dollars".
  • A restaurant could say, "The economy is booming - come in and celebrate with your friends!"
  • A business consultant could say, "The Internet is making it easier for competitors to put you out of business"
In all these cases, it's not enough to just state that claim; back it up with evidence.

"Why me" (fit)

Finally, explain why your customers are a perfect fit for your offerings. This means identifying, understanding and addressing a niche market.

Mass marketing is dead, folks! Look for smaller, targeted niches that you serve, and serve them well. The smaller your market, the better your products, and the more effective you can make your marketing.

People like knowing you understand them. Not just because they're a member of homo sapiens, but because they are a single mother looking for part-time work, or an accountant working their way up to partner, or an Apple user wanting to date another Apple user (I'm not kidding!).

Here are some questions to ask yourself when writing your marketing material:
  • What makes them tick?
  • What makes them different from other people?
  • What differences are they proud of?
Then turn your attention to your product or service:
  • How have you tailored it to them?
  • Why is it more relevant, useful and valuable to them than to anybody else?

How do you put this into practice?

Now that you understand these four questions, look at the way you promote your products, services, causes and messages. Do you answer all four questions in your potential customer's mind? If not, change this now - it will make a big difference to the impact of your message.

1 comment:

  1. This is a wonderful read. Thanks for the post!