No One is Actually Interested in You or Your Products!
Okay, I am afraid I have to reiterate some more tough love for you…I'm sorry but… Nobody is actually interested in you or your products… Seriously!
I'm sure you're a very nice person and you have a lot going for you, but the truth is that no one is the slightest bit interested in you or your business -- all people are interested in is ‘what's in it for them’.
I've touched on this before, and it is important enough to repeat it here. The reality is that people don't give a toss about you or your business – all they want to hear about is how you can benefit them.
Features (not benefits) doesn’t work
So many websites, brochures and leaflets take completely the wrong approach -- they let rip with a tirade of facts and figures about their business and the many features of their products and services that it leaves you stone cold and fast asleep. It's difficult to see what benefits there are amongst all that.
To make people sit up and take notice, you have to communicate with them on an emotional level. Tell them how your product can solve all their problems and make their life a whole lot better than it is right now.
Start by writing a list of all the benefits -- think of things from your customer's perspective and think of all the ways that your products or services can genuinely help them. Sometimes it takes a lot of thought, but try asking other people for their ideas and opinions as well, as they could well come up with something you haven't thought of because you are too close to it.
Once you have your list of benefits, you need to think of powerful ways of describing them -- something catchy, humorous, provocative, edgy, intriguing -- pitch it whichever way would be suitable for your prospective customers. There is a section later on the science of persuasion which will help with this.
Again, knowing your target market is enormously important and you have to remember that your claims have to be believable. Avoid sensationalizing or making claims that are simply not true or you will be caught out.
The most important thing is that you must sell benefits – not features – so how do you determine what your customer wants?
What do your customers want?
Ah now, isn't this the million-dollar question?
Exactly what do your customers want? I guess if you knew this, you wouldn't need this course. Finding out what your customers actually want is one of the keys to success, so it's worth spending some time exploring the issue -- and it's still all about digging out those benefits from your products and services.
Practically every product or service will have benefits -- some of them may be well hidden. Have you ever really analyzed what the benefits of your products and services are? I promise you, it’s a worthwhile exercise to do -- even if you've done it before. Benefits are the ultimate motive that drives people to buy your products and you can't have too many benefits.
Tap into the human psyche
The trick is to tap into the human psyche and show that you understand your customer’s needs, desires and wants …
If you can understand the things that satisfy basic human needs you can start to push the buttons that make people buy -- and you can create a much more successful business based on values, rather than relying on a ‘commodity business’ that relies on price differentials with its competitors.
Earlier, I pointed out that you should sell based on what people want, not necessarily what they need, but in fact wants and needs are very closely related. We might need shelter in the form of our own home -- that is a basic need -- but people have desires around that need which you can satisfy.
Needs and wants
For example, people need a home but they also want nice furniture and things for their home and they want to express themselves through the design features of their home. They might need a simple and comfortable bed to sleep in, but they might actually want a six-foot waterbed with silk sheets, a built-in TV and a super modern bedroom to go with it with all the latest gadgets. This is where defining what your customer wants gets interesting and infinitely more complex.
Let's start by looking at our basic human needs…
Maslow’s hierarchy of needs
Dr Abraham Maslow developed a hierarchy of basic human needs in the 1950s. Basically, Maslow's hierarchy says that our basic needs must first be met before we realize our higher needs. First we need food, shelter and warm clothing before we start thinking about buying the latest luxury widgets and gadgets. If we are hungry, cold or have nowhere to live, these basic needs are paramount.
Then, Maslow identified the need for security and safety. We need to be free from physical danger and safe from harm and we also need a feeling of security that our needs will be met.
Then come our social needs. Human beings are social animals that need to belong to a group and need to be loved and accepted -- hence the popularity of social media sites in recent years that have tapped into this basic human need.
Until these basic needs are met, we are not really interested in the higher needs of our ego or even our need to be heard and appreciated. One of our highest needs is the need for self-actualization -- in other words the need to achieve our full potential.
In the Western world, most of our basic needs have been met -- we are well fed, we have shelter and clothing and we are generally fairly secure in having those needs met. Most of us are also lucky enough to have our needs for social contact with others met and we mostly feel wanted. Many of us are also striving to meet our full potential.
So how does that help you develop your business?
Needs are still main drivers
Well, while you would think that in our modern society all our needs are being met adequately, our needs are powerful drivers and as society moves on, we want our needs met in much more sophisticated ways.
Do you remember the days when a couple got married with a simple understated ceremony? They spent their early married life struggling and working hard to get a home together, managing with the basics while they saved up for something better? Nowadays, many couples expect to spend tens of thousands on a wedding including a trip-of-a-lifetime honeymoon abroad and believe it's essential to have all the mod cons in their home, right down to the latest flat screen TV before they even move in -- if they don't have all this they feel deprived! Our needs have elevated – what was once a luxury has become a necessity. In fact, it’s true that the more you have the more you want. My neighbor just bought his daughter her first house as a wedding present. 7000 square feet and at a cost of $3,500,000. Can you imagine that, $3,500,000 million dollar wedding present? And the daughter thinks it’s “cute”.
Society’s needs are not being met
You only have to look at the high rates of depression, psychosomatic illness, eating disorders and the use of mind altering drugs, including alcohol, in our society today to realize that many people are having problems having their higher needs met. It's not just about meeting our basic requirements according to Maslow's original hierarchy of needs: our modern society has become one of higher expectations and of wanting instant gratification. People want so much more now than they ever have in the past.
This is a total gift for business owners aiming to meet these expectations and desires -- the trick is to identify what people want and offer them the solutions.
One of the biggest mistakes that people make is to pick a product they think might sell well without fully considering the benefits (as I’ve mentioned previously). A successful business that has room to grow and develop needs products that offer value and fulfill the wants and needs of its customers, not a commodity business that simply competes on price.
Despite our comparative good health, high levels of wealth and the benefits of sophisticated technology in the developed world, human beings are still struggling to achieve those higher social and ego needs as well as striving to achieve their full potential.
Despite our advanced society, we still have these ancient and very basic needs described by Maslow. Perhaps this is why social media has become so successful and is growing at such a phenomenal rate -- these sites are filling our social needs in a society which has tended to isolate us as individuals.
We don't need the company of other humans any less, but our hectic lifestyles mean we have less time for meeting family and friends in person -- instead we are turning to exchanges which consist of short snippets of information via the Internet and texting each other on our mobile devices.
Many of you, I know, will have Internet based businesses, or at least an online presence. Yet the Internet can be a fairly anonymous way to do business -- you could argue that this is part of its appeal. You can make sales and build a business without ever having to speak to a living soul and many marketers like the idea of automating their business to avoid personal contact with customers. I see where they are coming from entirely!
However, people still need a personal touch and with Internet based selling, you have to really ramp up your communication skills and get across those benefits because you are not able to do this in person.
Be a virtual salesperson
Remember the old face-to-face selling techniques? Salesman were taught to find out what the customer wants so they can pitch their sale accordingly. Well, it's still the same but using different media. In fact, online, when you don't have the benefit of your charismatic personality in a face-to-face encounter, it's even more important to cultivate trust, rapport and to reassure your prospect that you understand exactly what they want and that you have the perfect solution.
Remember that humans still face the same basic problems, struggles and challenges as they always have -- it's just now we tend to turn more to the higher needs of socializing, ego needs and the need for self-actualization. This is great news, because it brings an enormous range of ‘problems’ and desires for which marketers can offer solutions. My advice is to rediscover the common human problems we all have that need solutions. Understand the human psyche.
Take some time to think about how your current products fulfill the needs and wants of your customers -- what problems do they solve? Write a long list and prioritize them in order of importance. Then think about how your current sales copy, web content, marketing materials and so on are pitched.
Also consider how you match your words to your audience. Your target audience will respond more favorably to your sales copy if it is written using a language they can relate to and understand. Try to avoid too many acronyms, abbreviations and jargon if you are not sure that your audience will know what you're talking about -- it just puts people off. The words you choose need to be understood clearly but they also need to resonate with people, so get on the same wavelength as your customers. You also need to show respect for your prospects, so don't patronize them or take them for granted.
Style and approach count too
Watch out for your style and your approach. For example, if you attract 20-somethings with your products, consider whether you need to alter your style and sharpen up your language to appeal to that age range -- enroll the help of someone that age to help you get it right. Are you aiming for an affluent market that wants to hear about prestige and high-quality? Then you need to adjust your style accordingly. Remember that your sales copy is a great way to demonstrate who you are as a business and how you feel about your products. If you can't drum up any enthusiasm yourself, then why should your customers?
We will go into writing effective sales copy much more deeply in a later module, but for the time being it's important to embrace the fact that your products need to solve people's problems. They need to offer something of value, rather than just be a commodity that competes on price. Pulling out the benefits of your products and services as well as writing effective sales copy that highlights these benefits get easier as you understand more about your customers and the way they think.
It's all about communicating effectively with your audience, whether it's a good sales copy, the ability to design and create a great website or pitch products and services in a way that inspires customers to buy. Until we get on to the art of writing great sales copy that really connects with your customers, here are a few tips for effective communication:
- Be yourself. Don't try to please everyone by playing a role that's not really you -- this just complicates communication unnecessarily. People can always sense insecurity and if you are not communicating from your true principles, you will lose trust. If you have a genuine belief in your product and enthusiasm for it, just let it shine through.
- When you write, you still communicate the feelings behind your words as much as you do when you speak to someone in person. It's important to feel positive about your business and your products and services -- and it's really important to feel positive about your customers if you want to get the right message across. If you're feeling resentful about your customers, spend some time adjusting that attitude before you write your sales copy, or it will show.
- Communication is a two way process and it's also about listening. It's important to listen carefully to what your customers want and put aside your own opinions and prejudices. Market research is a great tool for finding out what your customers want, but don't rely entirely on what you think they want – ask them!