If you own a business you probably spend a lot of time thinking of different ways you can sell your product or service. Maybe you’ve investigated neuro-marketing or tried one of these sales approaches. A hard, persuasive sell is getting more difficult these days, isn’t it?
Relationships are becoming incredibly important to brands, especially with social media. So is content marketing. Everyone wants infotainment. They long for information that is engaging and solid, not too long, not too short. Consumers are like Goldilocks nowadays.
But there’s so much noise out there. How do you get heard and give them what they want? Whether you’re producing an article, copy, videos, or podcasts, here are a few simple concepts to keep in mind as you create your content. These approaches are used by copywriters everywhere because they work.
4 Approaches that Sell
These techniques cut through the noise and get you noticed. The reason they work can be easily understood if you think of a sound. There are certain tones people can’t hear. Sometimes it’s due to nature (for instance men lose a lot of the upper frequencies as they age); sometimes it’s surroundings (like a noisy coffee shop may drown out lower frequencies). Either way, they can’t hear it.
The same is true of customers and potential customers. If you are creating content on a topic that doesn’t fall into one of their “audible” ranges, they won’t be able to “hear” your messaging. You have to create something that resonates with them and you do that by using these hacks. (I’m using the word hacks because we’re past the time when sales and marketers “trick” their audience into buying.)
Let’s get the dirty one out of the way. Fear is a huge motivator for most people. Fear of missing out, fear of dying, fear of loved ones dying, you get the idea. We do a lot of things in life because we’re afraid (or we’re afraid of what will happen if we don’t). Knowing what keeps your audience up at night and playing to those fears and insecurities, is a very strong motivator for action. Before you take this approach, ask yourself if this is how you want to sell. Do you want to scare your audience into a decision or do you want them to choose you over others? In some businesses, it’s hard to sell any other way (insurance comes to mind). It’s hard to give up an approach that works.
This approach takes what keeps people up at night (aka their fears) and instead of compounding them it builds empathy. This tool is about building bridges, showing your audience you get it. You’ve been there. You know their frustrations and this is how your business can help your customers solve them. You can do it together.
All three of these approaches so far begin in fear but where they go after that is what makes each of them different. The first one begins and ends in fear. The second takes fear and creates a solution to that fear. The third builds on that solution and brings your customers to the next stage. This approach concentrates on talking about how once they work with you to solve their problems, their new life is going to be so wonderful – filled with many freedoms and no fear. John Lennon’s song Imagine conveys this idea (minus the business branding, of course). It’s all about imagining a better future because of the investment they make with you today.
Appealing to Curiosity and Fascination
There are some things we can’t help but be drawn to. It’s the old idea of rubbernecking at a car accident. Whether it’s morbid fascination or the type of fascination behind topics like Steve Jobs or a celebrity’s personal life, we all have these areas that we can’t get enough of.
If you get to know your customers very well, you can figure out what this is for them and play to that. You can also use this concept in the way brands use celebrity endorsements because often our fascinations become entwined with a desire to become like that person or thing that fascinates us. Curiosity and fascination are vehicles that drive desire. A brand that personifies that fascinating concept, or one that is tied to a celebrity the audience is interested in, will transform that product or service into one the audience is also interested in.
A Final Word on Selling
Hard sells are out, so is trickery, in an obvious sense. In some ways, there are products that need a little “smoke and mirrors.” But for the most part, your audience wants to do business with people they know, like, and trust. Keep this in mind when creating content. Try to escalate the marketing beyond fear but don’t ignore it. You have to understand what your audience fears to understand your audience, but instead of stopping at scaring them, use their fears to formulate a more elevated approach to helping them make an informed decision and selecting a solution that will help them overcome those fears. After all, helping them overcome their fears will make them loyal to you. Using only fear as the motivator does work until someone scares them more.
Christina R. Green teaches small businesses, chambers, and associations how to connect through content. Her articles have appeared in the Associations North (formerly Midwest Society of Association Executives’) Magazine, NTEN.org, AssociationTech, and Socialfish. She is a regular blogger at Frankjkenny.com and the Event Manager Blog. She’s a bookish writer on a quest to bring great storytelling to organizations everywhere.