The Evolution of Commitment
Most of us want to sell something – want to get people to commit to plopping down the hard won cash in an exchange of value. That’s certainly one of the reasons millions of business folks have jumped into online networks and social platforms – to gain access to the hundreds of millions that hang out there and prospect for customers.
But while social technology has made it much easier to gain access to people, I think in some ways it’s actually made it harder to get those same people to commit to buy (or at least it hasn’t really made it easier.) While selling in the old days (2 years ago) was still very much about getting someone’s attention and making them an offer, it has now become much more of an intentional act of gaining trust and helping prospects evolve towards a customer commitment.
The Evolution of Commitment looks a bit like this:
- It’s pretty darn easy to get a fan or a follower, but what’s that really worth by itself?
- Using social media platforms to drive fans and followers to read your educational content furthers their engagement
- Encouraging that reader to subscribe to your email newsletter or how to series is the link to gaining permission to make offers
- Creating opportunities for subscribers to participate by evaluating, sampling and trialing your products and services is the key to demonstrating value worth paying for.
- And finally now you’ve got them hooked and it’s time to pay up – but wait, why would I pay for something I can get for free in so many other places?
The response in the last point above is the dilemma of the free online world that people have grown accustomed to. Scads of smart marketers have mastered the pre commitment dance of know, like and trust, only to fall flat when asking for the ultimate commitment – money.
So what does it take to get fans and followers to commit, take the act of paying for your offerings?
I asked some of my followers on Twitter that very question and receive responses like:
“there needs to have been serious “can’t live without” value on the free version that would make me test out the paid version.”
“the idea that what i’m paying for has real life value, isn’t free somewhere else, or won’t lose half it’s value in < 1yr.”
“add’l features get me from free to paid, as does a great free experience.”
“It has to inspire me, be enjoyable and/or fulfill a true need.”
As I look around at some of the successful freemium models, Basecamp, Evernote, and those that have experience challenges going to a paid model, Ning, I’m struck with the impression that commitment comes from an experience that so exceeds expectation, so motivates people to talk, and is so valuable that people actually feel bad not paying for the experience or come to understand their life will be better by making the commitment.
That’s a pretty high standard, but the clear message is this – people will buy anything that’s free, even crap, but they won’t commit unless it’s remarkably free and freeing.
But think about that for a moment – isn’t there a similar bar for any commitment? What gets someone to say yes to a marriage proposal? What gets someone to commit to giving up smoking? What gets someone to go after a job at a company with no current opening?
Commitment, and it’s semi-evil twin non-commitment, is all around us every day. What can we learn from it to bring to our business, culture and marketing? I think there is much to explore on this topic.
So, what tips you to a commit to something?