Archive for March, 2010
“Follow this simple advice and I guarantee you’ll see the results from your marketing increase!”
Here are the seven key buying criteria (or key purchasing criteria) that a potential customer/prospect will consider when presented with an opportunity to buy something, anything – this applies whether we are standing outside looking at a restaurant menu, thinking about purchasing a new car, or considering professional services. Your job is to give them the answers they are looking for!
- What is it?
- What does it do?
- Why do I need it?
- What will I get?
- Why should I buy it from you?
- What’s the price?
- What’s the deal?
This is an obvious and logical sequence of questions we would all ask when making a buying decision. Your responsibility when marketing your products or services is to help potential customers make a “quick and confident buying decision”. To do this, you need to communicate effectively and help them to answer these questions. Once they have done this they are then able to move towards making a purchase. And always remember, buying something is a very different experience to ‘being sold to’.
Once you’re able to satisfy the questioner, they are then free to engage emotion and become more open to the desire of buying from you. Essentially, your marketing can help to speed up this process by providing this information early on. This helps to shorten the sales cycle and, above all, builds a higher degree of trust and confidence. All of this leads the consumer to feeling a greater degree of control; an essential element and the key difference between buying and being sold to.
WARNING: of the last two criteria listed be very careful. It is not always wise to disclose the cost of the product/service you are looking to sell. Specifically, you should never disclose the PRICE until you have firmly established the VALUE. Some products, like mass consumable goods, have a recognised price point, these goods have a nominal value (the most obvious example of this is fuel – there is very little scope for adding value on petrol, so many of us buy on convenience and price). Don’t ever be drawn into selling on price; customers you win on price, you will lose on price!
In the next section we’ll look at what each of these Buying Criteria actually means and how we can use them to create powerful and compelling marketing messages.
Here is the breakdown of how these criteria actually work and how you need to answer them:
1. What is it?
This may sound very obvious but in some cases – and the marketing of professional services is very relevant here – we simply don’t understand quickly and easily what’s being offered for sale. Do you ever find yourself reading an advert, sales letter or watching a TV commercial and thinking “but what actually is it?”. In marketing there are prizes to be won for clever designs and smart campaigns, however most business owners prefer to measure success by profit in the bank!
Keep it simple; that’s always the rule. Don’t try to be clever or keep them guessing, just tell them what it is. By doing this you can then move on to answering the next questions, accelerate the process and maximise your sales results.
2. What does it do?
Okay, once your prospect has a good idea of what you’re actually offering for sale the next thing is to explain what it does. This is where we need to start unpacking the ‘features and benefits’ that we often hear and read about.
Again, keep this simple. If it’s a product or service that your customer may have no experience of or never have purchased before, they’re going to want to know what it does. Don’t make this complicated. The best forms of advertising are able to get the message across in succinct terms and with clarity. Avoid jargon, test your message with people and ask for sincere feedback.
3. Why do I need it?
Here we are focusing on the benefits to the end-user and this is where we need to focus on the EMOTIONAL reasons why we feel a consumer will want to buy this product from us. A very good way to express this (given sufficient time/space in your marketing message) is to use case studies and examples of how other customers have used the product/service themselves. This establishes third-party credibility and uses the concept of ‘social proof’ (see R. Cialdini’s work on Influence). This is an extremely powerful tool in marketing. The power of branding is at its core all about social proof.
Remember even though emotion is the key to creating a great marketing message we need to support this with logic – “We buy on emotion and justify with logic”. Some consumers are less interested in tangible reasons, others are much more ‘left-brain’ and will want you to fill in the detail for them.
4. What do I get?
This is probably one of the simplest elements to articulate and again requires clarity. When we buy anything we really want to know what we will receive as part of the transaction. In many cases this is very simple; we want the detail of the product/service we are purchasing. However this still gives us the opportunity to use good marketing practice to increase the perceived value of the sale. In some cases this could be achieved by giving more detail on the features and benefits. Alternatively we can ADD VALUE. Stacking up the value is a very powerful way to increase the emotional desire; just watch a TV shopping channel to see how it’s done! Remember as well, giving detail at this stage is important in terms of the specifics that set the legal basis for our sale, so be clear and open.
5. Why should I buy it from you?
This is a very interesting element of the marketing message and one that often gets forgotten and left out of the way that businesses present their offer. REMEMBER: there are always TWO elements to a marketing message 1) promoting the product/service itself and 2) promoting you as the seller. Many businesses forget this (or simply don’t know it) at their peril. Have you ever been convinced about buying a new product, something that you weren’t previously aware of, only to then go off and find somewhere else to actually make your purchase? Online sales have demonstrated this significantly. As the online market expanded a few years ago, many shops and businesses began to lose vast numbers of sales because people would try/experience a product for real in the retail environment, only to go home and then order it for less on the Internet. Sound familiar?!
To ensure your marketing message is complete and effective you must always give a good reason why the customer should buy from you, over and above the other providers out there. This means you need to differentiate your offer. You need something that makes you stand out. One of the simplest, most effective and yet most overlooked way of doing this is to offer some form of guarantee. Because so few businesses have the confidence to do this it can be a highly effective way to ensure the prospective customer buys your product/service.
6. What’s the price?
As mentioned above be very careful about how you disclose price. There are several mechanisms that can be used to enhance this element; one is known as ‘price-positioning’. This is where we essentially build up the value and demonstrate why we believe it to be the case and then offer what appears to be a discounted value. Again, adding value is far more powerful than offering any form of real discount.
Price is a very important element of all business operations and one that many fail to test or really give enough consideration to. It could be that because of the nature of your product or service you may not want to disclose the price openly – this can be dangerous, especially if your competition can use this information against you. Above all though, the one most important thing to remember is that price is still all about perceived value. Price means different things to different people.
7. What’s the deal?
We all like a deal, right?! So with this final element we have the chance to establish a good deal and used correctly this is something that can close the sale. Remember, your customers should be left with a compelling feeling to buy from you. When offering a deal always remember to use the TWO key elements of scarcity – make your deal time sensitive (put an expiry date on in) and limit the volume available.
- Your job is to help customers make a quick and confident buying decision – not sell to them!
- Don’t try to be overly clever; good marketing practice gets to the result quickly and cleanly
- Get honest feedback and test your message – communication is about the response you get
- Engage people’s emotion – it’s the key to selling anything – but support this with logic
- Remember there are always TWO elements when marketing your business and products/services
- Only ever disclose your price once you’ve established the value of your offer
- Use time and volume scarcity to increase your offer and shorten your sales cycle
These seven points will help you to articulate what you’re offering and help customers to move towards you; get them to buy from you, give them a product/service that stacks up and you’ll not only have them coming back for more but also telling all their friends about you!
Make your marketing work!