My sister-in-law was throwing out an old push lawn mower, so I rescued the patient from the trash heap. I enjoy doing a little mechanical work and embraced the challenge to get this machine working like new again.
A quick diagnostic revealed that the engine head was loose so the single-stroke chamber was losing compression, which was the main reason for it not starting. Then came changing the air filter and finally the carburetor needed cleaning. Much to the joy of my son and I that little engine soon roared back to life.
But my adventure was not over because every now and then the lawnmower would cut out. This baffled me for some time until I discovered by accident that the gas cap was airtight so no air could get in the tank to allow the fuel to flow out. The tank needed to be open to the atmosphere otherwise a back pressure would build up choking the Briggs and Stratton engine to death.
Well, your customers are a lot like that rescued lawn mower. You can clean them, tighten them push them, but if no fuel is getting to their engines they won’t act on your appeals. What is that fuel that would get them moving? We call this desire, and the skill of getting that desire flowing freely we call persuasion.
Now there are a lot of fancy things written about persuasion from the light to the dark areas of cultic leaders and brainwashing. But, for the marketer, persuasion is simply finding the things that motivates a prospect and elevating this to a level where it overcomes their tenacity to the money you are asking for your product or service.
Simply put, if you can stir the prospect’s desire to a level which overcomes his desire to keep his money in his pocket, then you have persuaded him to take action. You have made a sale.
The most basic way to persuade towards a purchase is to show how this action would benefit him. Now note that you are thinking here about benefiting him and not yourself. So you have to study your prospect and see things as he sees them—this is all part of market research.
As fundamental as this principle is, there are still so many businesses who talk about themselves more than they talk about the interest of their target market. It’s the cardinal sin of marketing.
In general we can say there are some fundamental desires most people share—to be healthier, richer, happier, recognized, and satisfy some passion. If you can show how your product or service would add power, comfort, prestige and general well-being to your prospect, then you’ll win most.
Of course any product that you are selling must be explained to your target market. For you, because you have worked so hard to bring this product to market, this may be the exciting part but it is not for the prospect. You cannot sell effectively by just describing the features of your product. You must attach these features to the deep desires of your audience—this is the real fuel that would get your prospects and your products moving.
Those who study human psychology tell us that there are six primal motives for human action: pride, love, gain, duty, self-indulgence and self-preservation. Perhaps Maslow’s hierarchy of needs is the most well-known summary of these motives.
Now because the human mind is so complex there is no way that the marketer can fractionally distillate each of these motives to know just which one to appeal to when marketing a certain product.
For example, a man may want an expensive golf club simply because of its superior appearance, but unless he is sleeping on a mattress padded with hundred dollar bills, pride alone would not be enough to get him over the line.
So an advertisement written for these clubs that appeals to pride alone may fall flat. The ad must also appeal maybe to self-indulgence, love for the game and gain. The advertiser must show how his old golf clubs are crippling his game and how these “new and improved” clubs would take him to the next level, making him a happier man, father and husband!
The point here is that the more motives your advertisement can hang its appeal on, the better are your chances of getting the sale. Now here is where it gets tricky because what makes me want a thing is not the same motives that will make me buy it.
Let me explain.
I can recall as a door-to-door salesman selling books to earn a college scholarship, I thought that once I could convince my prospect of the great benefits of buying my books they would buy. One day while I was canvassing, a more experienced student came along and saw me in my struggle. He had been selling these books for a while and right away realized my mistake. After he saw that my prospect was convinced, but not acting, he took the books from my hands and placed them in her hands and the sale was made. I was “persuasive” in getting my prospects to desire the books, but not in getting them to buy the books.
So just desiring your product alone is not enough. You must get him to take the action of buying your product, and these are two distinct steps in the persuasion equation. Sometimes to close the sale you have to show the prospect what he would lose if he doesn’t act right away, that there are limited quantities and that the price would be raised soon—arguments if which absent will leave him to go away and “think about it”.
A couple of years ago I was in the market for a used Jon Boat to do some wide-mouth bass fishing with my son. About every person I contacted on Craigslist told me that their boat was already sold. So when I finally contacted an owner the first question I asked was if anyone else had responded to the ad. Learning that there were other interested buyers only motivated me even the more to make a positive decision. So when it came my turn to resell that same Jon Boat, the first thing I told the second and subsequent callers was that there were other interested parties. Did this work? For sure it did.
The bottom line is that you have to make the prospect want your offer, not merely for what it is but what it would do for him. And act right away on those desires.