Audrey Hepburn once famously said;
“Everything I learned I learned from the movies.”
I think she might just have been right!
If you have never seen the movie Cool Hand Luke played by Paul Newman, you are missing a treat. It’s a gritty, story of a man who refuses to accept the rules and will not conform to the ‘norms’ in a rural prison set in 1950’s US.
You might argue about the rights and wrongs of Cool Hand Luke’s behaviour. But you can’t help becoming entranced by the determination to escape, the boxing scene and the infamous boiled egg eating challenge – 50 boiled eggs in one hour!
In reality, this is actually a story of an passionate determination to succeed against all the odds, despite all the perceived wisdom telling our hero to conform – saying don’t escape, don’t rock the boat and stay down!
When we are running our own small businesses, harnessing that passion, determination and being prepared to break the mould are critical components of success – every small business owner knows that. But it’s not always easy to find differentiation, especially when you struggle to find time to think about anything other than the constant day-to-day pressures!
Success doesn’t have to be about luck – success is about hard work, challenging yourself and having a good system!
And sometimes a good system means challenging the norm and not following the crowd … and eating boiled eggs, of course!
At a networking event yesterday, there were two really good questions raised about different business strategies.
One was asking about the development of a 12 month email strategy and the second was about how to make the most of social media. This second question seemed to really resonate with people as many people seem to find themselves doing social media because they feel they should, but struggling to see any real benefit beyond accumulating followers, likes and so on … and this question may resonate with you as well.
The second question was “I have over 1,000 connections on LinkedIn, but I get no business from them. What am I doing wrong?”. There then ensued an excellent round table discussion which asked lots of questions and then generated lots of ideas and suggestions for the person asking the question.*
What was particularly interesting about the discussion of both questions was that there was a very definite need for clarity of message in both businesses. During the round table questioning, it became apparent that both owners have strong businesses with a good client base, a clearly defined niche market and these were smart people. Both had impressive and well established portfolios of products and services. Both were clear on what they offered, had great business names and knew where they wanted to go – and yet, in neither case, did the marketing make clear what was special about these terrific businesses.
The problem here is a difference between Inside Reality and Outside Perception. You may well be a leader in your specialist niche, but if your target prospects do not see that in the way you market your business, how will they know?
There are very few, if any, markets where there is no competition. So, it is imperative that, as a business owner, you define your Market Dominating Position – by answering this question:
“What exactly makes your business different from your competitors
as perceived by your target prospects and customers?”
And here’s the secret: the second half of that sentence makes a whole world of difference!
I know this sounds brutal but in most circumstances people don’t care about your qualifications, how long you’ve been in business, that you might be family owned, that you offer the best quality, you really work to understand their business etc etc … you probably get the picture!
What people care about is;
“Does this company understand my problem(s)
and do they have a solution(s) that might help?”
If you can answer this question with your Market Dominating Position, then social media, email campaigns and all the other elements of how you market your business instantly become much easier and much more successful!!
If you want to know a little more, click HERE to watch a 3 minute animation … I promise you will find it illuminating!
*This was a very different and very impressive format of networking event – if you’d like to know more about it, let me know and I will be happy to put you in touch with the organiser.
There was a great piece of research done in the mid 2000’s which proved that whatever we might be taught by the expression ‘don’t judge a book by it’s cover’, the truth is that we all establish our first impression in the blink of an eye.
What’s worse is that longer exposures don’t significantly alter those first impressions (they might even boost your confidence in your instant judgments!)
The same is true of your marketing.
Research done by the Nielsen Norman Group proved that the speed at which visitors would leave a website was very high at the 10 second point. If a user stays for longer than say 30 seconds then it is probable that the user would stay for an increasingly long time.
In other words, the first 10 seconds of the page visit are critical for users’ decision to stay or leave.
In the same way as we naturally make instant judgements about whether we are going to like someone, we also make virtually instant judgements about whether a website (or any other piece of marketing for that matter) is going to be worth looking at or not.
To make your content worth looking at it needs to be:
RELEVANT & COMPELLING!
It needs to catch the eye of the visitor and engage them with content that’s relevant to their search immediately – and you only have a few seconds to make that connection!!
The authors of the research put it beautifully when they said:
some initial screening has to be passed before a page is examined in detail
In other words, a visitor will only glance at your site. If it is not immediately obvious that it is relevant to their search and then providing a compelling reason to dig further, the visitor is gone faster than you can say “please comment on my article” !!
So, have a look at your own website (and that of your competitors) and just check your marketing against these three simple questions:
- Do I say what other people don’t say?
- Do I do what other people can’t do?
- Is my solution to the prospects problem obvious?
If the answer is NO to any of these, then you need to seriously revisit your marketing activity – because the chances are that it is not doing anything for you currently!
I recently read a fantastic article in the Guardian where a 36 year old journalist, Stuart Heritage, (right) explains that he has just bought his first house. (I have 3 sons who are all generation-rent, so the article had real resonance!)
Is he excited? No. He is drowning with buyers remorse! Given his decision-making process, this remorse might well be for good reason (have a read and make up your own mind) but, for you, as a business who is selling a product or service, how can you avoid your customers experiencing buyers remorse?
First, it’s important to understand what buyers remorse is:
Post-decision Cognitive Dissonance is the formal name for the feeling of disappointment a person has after they have bought something significant, when they think they might have made a mistake.
There is a great deal of psychological theory behind ‘why’ this happens, most notably by Art Markman who is a professor of psychology and marketing at the University of Texas at Austin. You can find more of Art’s work HERE.
But second, let’s explore what you, as the seller, can do about it.
We are in a very different world to the one of 20 or 30 years ago, and fundamentally, people hate being sold to. So, your starting point now must be based on the fact that interactions with you need to be:
The importance of belief in your product or service and building trust with your customer can not be underestimated, and these traits are only possible if you’ve provided a quality product or service that delivers on the marketing claims you’ve made.
But even if you are inviting, informative and enjoyable to deal with, and the product or service you’ve sold is exactly as you promised, you may need to do other things to avoid buyers remorse getting into bed with your customer. Tried and tested mechanisms are;
- Offer to refund money – no questions asked
- Offer a bonus they can keep even if they return the product
Remember, one purchase is an order – two purchases is a customer!
These two offers alone will also mitigate buyer’s remorse because the customer will trust you more, just for offering these things, and we touched on above, trust is an essential part of the sales process. The good news is that there are loads of other ways to turn a first order into a regularly buying customer, which also help to minimise buyers remorse:
- Offer a special price as an opportunity for you to test the market.
- Offer package or bundle deals. This makes direct comparisons much more difficult.
- Offer a referral incentive.
- Offer a smaller, more inexpensive product first to build trust.
- Offer to charge less for their first purchase if they become a repeat customer.
- Offer extra incentives – longer warranties, free bonuses if ordered by a set date.
- Offer financing options, if that’s applicable.
- Offer a bonus if they pay in full and / or upfront.
- Offer comparative data or other comparison tools.
- Offer a trade-up or upgrade from something they already have.
- You might even offer a lower price with the reason of pushing inventory to pay a tax bill, for your kid’s’ braces, or another tangible reason. Depending on your market, customers may well love that this makes you feel so much more human.
- Always try to offer additional, educational information to help them make their decision.
There are, of course, numerous other options and the choice may depend on what’s relevant for your market. Feel free to use this list of ideas to find what works best for your business, products/service and target market. Remember this…
“By making it inviting, easy, informative, non-threatening, educational, inspiring and fun to do business with you, you’ll lift your company above the competition.” Jay Abraham
And above all, build trust!
I love making bread – it’s a real Sunday treat for our family – I’ll get up early and as the rest of the house is waking, the intoxicating smell of freshly baking bread, often parmesan and sun-dried tomato flavoured, is meandering it’s way up the stairs!!
It’s not always been good bread though.
A few weeks ago, I had an aberration and completely forgot to put the yeast in – I then tried to add it after the bread had proved – horrible mistake that I won’t ever make again (hopefully)!
The incident reminded me of the Morecambe & Wise sketch from the early 70’s when they had, as their guest, André Previn. Eric Morecambe was trying to demonstrate his musical prowess and when Previn complained that Morecambe was playing the wrong notes, he famously retorted that he was playing all the right notes, just in the wrong order!
The same is true in the business world. There are 5 key ‘ingredients’ required for any advertising message to be impactful – and there is a correct order for those ingredients to go into the marketing mix.
- Commanding Attention
- Showcasing the Benefits of Products/Services
- Proving those Benefits
- Persuading People to Embrace the Benefits
- And, of course, a clear and compelling Call to Action
It’s worth remembering that advertising is simply sales in print.
So, you need to think about the unique benefits your products/services offer and showcase that in a persuasive way. That’s not always easy, especially as many markets are becoming increasingly commoditised, so you might ask your existing customers what your products or services really do for them. The point is that, it is critical that you emphasise results, not features.
So, let’s just take a minute to talk about each of these 5 ingredients:
- Command Attention: This is usually accomplished with a stand-out headline. You need an attention-grabber that makes people want to know more about your products/services. The best headlines give a vivid portrayal of the benefits or show how a problem can be avoided with your products/services. The headline is the advertisement for the advertisement. It tells the reader why they should pay attention.
- Showcase Benefits: You have to showcase the benefits of your products and services and, more importantly, show how they will solve or prevent a problem. Remember, this is not about how long you’ve been in business or that you might or might not be family owned! They need to know what’s in it for them. Include useful, factual and clear information to show precisely what the benefits are and how they are going to help the customer.
- Offer Proof: This is where you prove what the advertisement is offering. You need to establish you have a method to deliver. Consider information that establishes credibility and past performance.
- Persuade: You need to add compelling and reasons for your potential customers to purchase your products/services. Use a hard sell approach and create a feeling of scarcity (limited availability). This will enact your potential customers to feel like they have to act now. Which leads into the last component.
- Call to Action: You need to compel your potential customers to DO something. Raising awareness is good, but if you need sales, encourage an action. They need to check out your site, sign up for your newsletter, purchase your products, contact you about services…something. Offer a freebie – perhaps a booklet, sample, product, bonus, demo, consult, limited time price…the list goes on. There are lots of ways to get potential customers excited about ordering from you, many of which you may not have thought of, and help them feel like they are getting an amazing deal.
Good adverts include all of these components, positioned and delivered in the right order and an advert is not complete without any of them. You can sit down and think through any one of these components, then figure out how to best place them together for the most effectiveness.
And, in case you haven’t got the message, if you want to make better bread, don’t be like me! Make sure that you use the right ingredients in the right order … then you’ll make plenty of great bread!