All prospects share common characteristics, especially when deciding to part with their hard-earned cash. When marketing, your job is to establish trust in a way that proves you can deliver your prospects’ desired outcome.
Unfortunately, establishing trust these days is challenging, especially online. Lofty promises and fabricated facts get thrown around like rice at a wedding. Fortunately, you can still cut through the marketing clutter by addressing these seven characteristics all prospects share.
1. Your prospects are skeptical
How many times have you been disappointed with an outcome after a purchase? Maybe you were misled, or the product/service didn’t live up to its billing. Like you, your prospects have tossed away money on promises that never panned out. Help them overcome skepticism by making frequent contact and delivering information they view as valuable.
Also, consider showing confidence in what you offer by giving a guarantee. Here’s a portion of a great guarantee from A.G. Russell Knives:
We guarantee total satisfaction. You, the customer, decide what satisfaction is. You decide how long you are entitled to be satisfied. If you buy a knife and don't use it for ten years and when you do use it you want to return it, do so. If you think that a knife should provide good service for ten years and it only does so for seven years, tell us so. You are in charge of our guarantee.
2. Your prospects need direction
As much as we want to view ourselves as leaders, our decisions are influenced by others—especially when we’re in unfamiliar situations. Your prospects may have an idea about how to eliminate their problem with your product or service, but they desire your confirmation. So share your knowledge, give detailed instructions and allow them to see how you helped people in similar situations.
“If-then” statements are one way to begin guiding prospects in your copy. Here’s the formula: If (insert your prospect’s problem or desired result), then (insert your bold promise or direction).
3. Your prospects don’t want to feel alone
People go to great lengths to avoid feeling physically or mentally isolated. That’s why you must ensure your prospects you believe their situation is not unique. But don’t just tell them you understand their feelings—prove your desire to help by delivering solutions in your marketing.
You may even want to provide prospects with a place to exchange thoughts and receive support. Some businesses, such as WebMD, are built around this single concept.
4. Your prospects dislike sales pitches
When you feel purchase pressure, you naturally push back, right? If you allow your prospects to experience the same feeling, they’ll direct attention elsewhere. Make your message welcome by educating, establishing credibility and involving your prospects in your marketing efforts.
One way I like to slide under prospects’ sales “radars” is through self-tests. Check out IKEA’s online “Mattress guide” for an effective example. After answering a series of questions related to your sleeping habits, you get several mattress suggestions based on your responses.
The benefit of self-tests is they allow prospects to reach conclusions themselves, which is more powerful than you pushing your own product/service.
5. Your prospects’ minds are flooded with marketing messages
When you copy your competitors’ marketing strategies, you may as well stop marketing altogether because it becomes impossible to secure space in your prospects’ minds. You offer nothing on which they can base a buying a decision. A positive differentiation, however, can cause prospects to perceive your product/service as being better.
6. Your prospects are afraid of the unknown
You risk missing out on responses unless you clearly communicate what happens after moving forward with your offer. What should your prospects expect? How will they feel? How will their situations change? Use your marketing to help prospects visualize what it’s like to work with you or use your product/service.
In recent promotions for Kindle Fire, Amazon.com uses two simple sentences to help prospects—especially anyone intimidated by technology—understand what to expect when the device shows up on their doorsteps:
Kindle Fire arrives preregistered to your Amazon.com account. So you’re ready to go right out of the box.
7. Your prospects have an internal buying clock
You can’t determine the time it takes your prospects to gather information, analyze the data and pull out their wallets. That decision is based on personal comfort. A common marketing mistake is trying to rush the process, resulting in unnecessary pressure. In some cases, however, you can impose deadlines and add incentives to speed up a sale.
When you create a sense of immediacy, your prospects realize they must respond now or risk missing out on a valuable opportunity. The shopping rush on Black Friday is a perfect example of urgency in action. Once-a-year deals—sometimes only available for a few hours on that day—create a buying frenzy.
OPEN Cardmember Tom Trush is a direct-response copywriter for Write Way Solutions and author of “The Reluctant Writer’s Guide to Creating Powerful Marketing Materials: 61 Easy Ideas to Attract Prospects and Get More Customers.”