You’ve created buzz and awareness about your business, you’ve gained permission to educate and you’ve even started to build trust through your content and SEO work – prospects are coming to know, like and trust you – you’ve achieved the equivalent of marketing nirvana, right?
Well, not exactly. In fact, you’re also making your case in logical terms, you’ve offered up a perfectly competitive product or solution, one that everyone should buy, only to meet with one of the most powerful forces in nature – resistance.
I’m no science wiz, but I’ve always loved the idea of resistance in physics as a metaphor for the kind of resistance many business owners encounter when trying to spark a sale. Resistance is the ability of a substance to prevent or resist the flow of electrical current.
Many times we can present a solution and price that seems like the obvious and logical choice, but can’t seem to make the sale. What we sometimes fail to factor, however, is that while a product may have a logical price of, say, $10, the buyer’s emotional price – “I don’t trust myself to implement this solution, I don’t know enough to believe this is the answer, the cost of potential disruption is too high” – has effectively raised the perceived cost beyond recognition – and that’s the resistance you must address.
You must bake resistance crushing tactics, products, services and processes into your overall mix and marketing approach.
Below are seven questions that every business owner must answer, as part of what I call The Marketing HourglassTM, in order to lower or overcome resistance for their products and services and create competitively sustainable momentum.
- What are your free or trial offerings? – Although you may have created the perfect solution there are times when people need a little taste before committing to the entire purchase. It’s essential that you find ways for people sample your products or expertise. You can do this by creating starter offerings that are free or low cost, packaging information products that make your solutions accessible, or presenting educational workshops that teach while putting your approach on display in a non-sales environment.
- What is your guarantee? – This one frightens some people, because they fear the repercussions of every customer demanding a refund. Of course, if that’s even remotely possible then you’ve got bigger problems than marketing. The fact is most businesses offer or honor an implied guarantee – if a customer feels they didn’t get what was promised we often resolve this by offering a refund. So, why not lower the implied risk of doing business with you by finding a way to offer a compelling guarantee up front. Tell the world you’re so confident in the results you can bring that you’ll assume all of the risk in the transaction.
- What is your “make it easy to switch” offering? – Even if you offer the perfect answer the customer must still factor the change in routine, disruption or down time, and chance that something will not go as planned into the decision to switch to or adopt what you’re offering. It’s essential that you consider ways to shoulder some of this burden by creating support processes and assurances that all but eliminate this potential snag. This may include doing prep work unrelated to your product or even offering to switch the client back if they don’t realized the promised benefits.
- What are your core offering enhancements? The question of buying or not buying often comes down to total value and total value is built by surrounding your core offerings with additional products, services and value enhancing features that may or may not be directly related to your product or service. For example, if you sell a product, then offering training or providing a maintenance plan as part of deal may tip the scales in your favor. If you’ve developed an expertise in some area of business that could benefit your client base, say blogging or SEO, you may find that you can add value by teaching these skills, no matter what you sell.
- What is your good, better, best appeal? Offering a variety of prepackaged price points makes it easier for some prospects to make a decision about your products and services. There is a strong psychological pull in this approach and some firms find that, although most of their sales come from one package, the existence of the other options helps to overcome resistance because people feel they get to make a choice. This can also create some distinct competitive differentiation as well.
- What is your members only offering? The offer of exclusivity or community is very appealing to most, no matter the industry. The airlines, rental car companies, credit card companies and even the local coffee shop, have based a large part of their existence on the loyalty club and membership program model. I believe any businesses can explore ways to promote their best customers into some form of exclusive membership offering. This can include things like special discounts, networking opportunities, advance product features and premium content.
- What are your strategic partner pairings? I’m a very strong advocate of assembling a team of best of class providers that can help your clients with any facet of their business or personal needs. When you become the “go to” person for your clients, you dramatically increase the value you provide in the relationship. I believe you can take this a step farther than many people do and proactively promote access to your network as a benefit of doing business with your organization. Of course, this mindset requires you to build strong and tangible relationships with your strategic partners, but if you do, and you take this proactive pairing approach you can dramatically enhance your own offerings while simultaneously creating referral relationships that will open the doors to additional opportunities.