How to win customers? Stop the hurt
(MoneyWatch) Do your prospects prefer sex or sleep?
Memory-foam mattresses, far and away the fastest-growing segment of the $4.6 billion wholesale market for U.S. mattresses, come with a drawback: They are better for sleeping than in, well, encouraging romance. So why is demand so strong? Because creaky, tired baby boomers appear to be choosing better sleep over better sex. Memory foam's market share has shot up from 14 percent to nearly 20 percent in just the past eight years.
That insight raises a critical question for salespeople: Do you really understand your prospects' problems? Or do you just think you know? Is there a "sleep or sex" issue in your industry, and how would your customers answer it? The stakes are high. Sending out the wrong marketing message will cost you potential customers and lead to more struggles and frustration.
A related question: Did you know that psychologists and sociologists have repeatedly found that people are more motivated to avoid pain than to seek pleasure?
For instance, in an attempt to explain how and why some individuals develop chronic-pain syndrome, scientists in 1983 developed a theory of "fear-avoidance." The central concept is that fear of pain affects behavior. Confrontation and avoidance are postulated as the two extreme responses to this fear, with the former helping people to gradually reduce their fear over time. The latter leads to fear continuing or even getting worse, possibly turning into a full-blown phobia. An increasing number of investigations have corroborated and refined the fear-avoidance model.
Your target market experiences its own unique frustrations and pains. The secret to maximizing your appeal is to articulate your prospective customers' worries, frustrations, and concerns -- issues that you propose to resolve. As the saying goes, "People don't care what you know until they know that you care." Accurately and precisely identifying your market's predicament tells prospects that you understand and empathize with them.
Here are some ad headlines from companies that understand the power of pain:
- "What if your labeling printer makes 12,000 errors a minute?" (Zurich American Insurance)
- "Here's to road warriors with spines of steel and delicate backs" (Courtyard by Marriott)
- "Nickeled and dimed? I feel like I'm being quartered." (Charles Schwab)
- "When bad vacations happen to good people." (Travel Guard International)
But there is a better way to attract customers. The secret is to turn prospects' pain into your gain. Start by asking customers about their pains. Then gather information on how to solve those worries, frustrations, and concerns.
So here's how to become a new customer magnet. Each group of prospects experiences its own pain. What's the secret to crafting a sales and marketing message that will maximize your attraction factor? Ask them (or have someone ask for you) about that pain. Start by asking a sample about their ideal business, and then segue into their problems. Listen carefully to the exact words they use -- you will want to mimic them in your sales and marketing messages.
Maybe you should sleep on it and see what you think.
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