Don’t be startled by that subject line … I used it as an illustration for something that I want to have you think about today. More about that in a moment.

Yesterday it was Cyber Monday, and as is my habit, this email is being composed early in the week. Plenty to do in the week ahead, and gotta get ahead of it, after all.

Did your business run a sale for the holidays, or Cyber Monday or Black Friday? If not, you may have (ahem) missed out on some great selling opportunities.

Well, I’ll stop beating around the bush — what I want to have you think about today relates to customer psychology and the importance of understanding it in order to effectively build revenue for your business. I wrote that subject line because I knew that it would intrigue you enough to open it (and so you did).

And I’m actually not selling you anything in this email … I hardly ever do. I’m much more interested in helping to see your business succeed, and I believe this is a big part of it.

There was a book a few years back (now being made into a movie being released on December 23rd) called “The Big Short”. The book itself (by Michael Lewis of Moneyball fame) is scary reading and a fascinating look at the systemic issues behind the subprime mortgage bond crisis that wreaked so much havoc in our 2008 economy — and, in fact, continues to.

But one thing the book makes very clear: so much of human behavior is driven by incentives.

Lewis makes the compelling argument that the actual incentive structure within Wall Street firms created a rich environment for self-delusion and greed, and on a massive scale.

Not nearly as perverse of course, but your customers are also driven by a series of incentives (just like you and me too!), and it’s critically important to think through them in how you present your products and services. Here’s what I mean…

Valerie McLaughlin’s
“Real World” Business Strategy Note
Don’t Fight Against Customer Psychology
“Success is neither magical nor mysterious. Success is the natural consequence of consistently applying the basic fundamentals.” – Jim Rohn

Nobody is looking to buy something in order to solve a problem they don’t think they have.

However, one of the big problems I see in how people market to ME (and, of course, in how they market generally) is that they jump right into features and benefits without first understanding and/or speaking to whether the prospect thinks they have a problem needing a solution.

The challenge is this: if a prospect hasn’t had their identity stolen, they don’t really think there’s an issue with having their personal identification details all over the web. They won’t wake up in the morning dreaming about how to solve it, or go to bed wondering how much it’s costing them (or would cost them) to ignore it.

And so the marketing challenge is to sell the problem. Which, of course, is what drove LifeLock™ to so much success.

Here’s the thing: many people don’t actually see that they have a problem unless they also believe that there’s a solution … so part of selling a problem is hinting that there’s a solution that others are using, or is right around the corner.

Imagine, for example, getting the information about the toxicity levels of carpets after a certain age. If you knew that your carpet was X years old, and you were suddenly confronted with compelling data that, as a result, you were exposing your family to much higher levels of infections and sickness–voila. You now have a product with demand (carpet cleaning). But your prospect also then needs to see that there is a valid solution, in order to be willing to accept and deal with the problem–which, of course, is where your product (or service) then comes in.

And for the business-to-business realm, when a prospect comes to the table and says, “We have a problem,” then you’re both working together to solve it–which, of course, is a completely different sales environment–and one which you want your marketing to continually provoke.

On the other hand, if they’re talking with you simply because you’re persistent and/or charming, the only problem they have is, “how can I end this quickly?”.

And remember — my team and I are here for you, to help in any way we can.

Warmly (and until next week),

Valerie McLaughlin, EA
(410) 224-2600