By Tom Trush
Last week, I received an email from a frustrated business owner with a common challenge…
She wanted to talk about creating a marketing plan because she’s having difficulty demonstrating value to prospects.
“They love what we do, but they don’t see the value in being our customer,” she wrote.
Before replying back, I went to her website to do a little research. It was immediately clear that she ran a successful company with many valuable services.
But what I saw stole my attention like a spotlight – and it’s a problem I see all the time.
The company’s promotional efforts are focused on their services, not the outcomes they deliver. As a result, it looked as if nothing she offered was any different than her competitors.
The fact is, regardless of the product or service you provide, your prospects do not want it. You may think they do… But you’re wrong.
Prospects desire the end result your product or service provides – not the actual product or service.
Let me give you an example…
How many people really want a chemical-laced watering hole in their backyards?
Pools are expensive and time-consuming to build… Pricey to maintain… They take up a lot of space… And can be dangerous for little kids.
Who wants to deal with these hassles?
What people want is the refreshment a pool offers on hot days… The beauty it adds to their landscape… The status it affords… And the entertainment it provides for friends and family.
If a bucket of water offered an identical experience, my guess is that most people would settle for just that.
Unfortunately, you rarely see pool companies promote the end result in their marketing materials. Instead, they usually show pictures of vacant pools, so prospects are left to create their own conclusions (which is always a risky move).
I work with many attorneys. Sadly, many limit the appeal of their promotional pieces by telling prospects about their courtroom experience… Expert legal team… Awards… Peer ratings… Or “principles of excellence.”
Sure, if you’re a lawyer, there’s a place for this information, but as the primary focus of your marketing materials, these self-serving features do little to help prospects imagine a change in their situation after using your services.
Remember, our minds are programmed for pictures. Promoting the outcomes of your product or service helps create a positive visual experience for your prospects.
As I mentioned earlier, I see this promoting products and services problem all the time, so let me also address a response I often hear when I bring up the issue…
My prospects are different (or the variation: my company is different).
Every time I hear this claim, my eardrums rattle.
In fact, these words were recently spoken to me by a business owner – who asked for help rescuing a direct mail campaign that initially generated zero responses from his prospects.
Again, his campaign brought in no sales – and he was certain he knew his potential customers.
After one look at his marketing piece, it was clear he did little to address his prospects’ problems. Instead, he focused on a “traditional” pitch for his services.
The truth is, your prospects may have different desires related to your product or service, but the characteristics that lead to a sale are the same – regardless of your target audience.
So, let’s quickly go through the 6 most common characteristics shared by prospects in all industries:
- Your prospects are skeptical – Just like you, they’ve thrown away money on promises that never panned out. You gain an instant advantage when you establish yourself as a credible source who understands what it’s like to walk in your prospects’ shoes.
- Your prospects want direction – If they understood how to eliminate their problems, they would have never started searching for solutions. Don’t hesitate to share a little knowledge and give detailed instructions about what steps to take next.
- Your prospects don’t like sales pitches – Unnecessary pressure makes sales pitches repulsive, but you make your message welcome when you focus on educating, establishing trust, and involving your prospects in your marketing efforts.
- Your prospects are already inundated with messages – Your copy is just another collection of claims unless you do something to prove your promise – and make your marketing message memorable. Don’t hesitate to try an approach that’s different from your competition.
- Your prospects are afraid of the unknown – If you don’t clearly communicate what happens after moving forward with your offer, then your prospects are less likely to respond. Use your writing to help them visualize what it’s like to work with you or use your product/service.
- Your prospects have an internal timeframe for coming to a buying decision – You can’t determine how long it takes your prospects to gather information, analyze the data and pull out their wallets… That decision is based on personal comfort. However, deadlines will often speed up the process.