As promised in the last post, I want to talk about how to understand the customer's motives. Some things are universal. I said in the previous post that customers want the best possible consumer experience for the least amount of money. I should have added, though, that a positive experience will win against low cost almost every time. (Care to delve into the psychology of that statement? Okay, here goes. If you think about it, money is only a piece of paper in your pocket or a number on a bank statement. The only positive experience to be gained simply by "having" money is a feeling of security. All other positive experiences occur when you "spend" your money. Whether you're satisfying a short-term craving or a life-long dream, it's a positive experience at the end of spending money. That's why people will happily spend money on a really good experience.)
So how does your product create a positive experience? You must know the answer to that question, and I cannot stress that enough, if you are going to persuade anyone to spend money on it. (And by the way, if your product simply doesn't provide a positive experience, no matter how you slice it, address that issue before you do anything else!) So, when crafting your message, resist the urge to go with the first thing that comes to you. The first thing will always be what you know, and what's important to you. And you may be very close to the product and how it was developed, how it is executed.
Here's an example. As recently as ten years ago, I worked for a resort company that pumped out a LOT of brochures and ads. In almost every single one of the pieces, one of the bullet points - in a message that was intended to communicate that our resort accommodations were "luxurious" - was "Color cable TV." And as many times as I tried to convince the marketers that this was unnecessary and only took up space. And that, further, there were $40 hotel rooms with "Color cable TV" up and down the highway, they insisted on keeping it. From their perspective, it made the list of amenities longer, and I couldn't convince them to look at it from the audience's perspective, to whom "Color cable TV" was practically on the same level of luxury as a working toilet.
Use your imagination. If you're writing web copy, pretend to be someone who knows nothing about your product and they've ended up on the website you're writing. Would you respond the way you want them to respond? As I write this, I'm pretending to be you, and you, and you, and you. You could be someone who's very accomplished as a communicator and simply likes to read other professionals' thoughts on the topic. Have I added anything new to your thinking? You may be a college student, or early in your career, trying to absorb everything you can? Can you communicate from a place other than your own perspective? You may be a business owner who is trying to understand marketing better. Are you at all persuaded?
These are the kinds of questions that will give meaning to your message. Dig deep, and when you get to what you were looking for, dig a little deeper just to make sure. Your customer wants to hear your message, but only if your message means something to them, not to you.
Marta Kagan's "Bonafide Marketing Genius" Blog
Andre Sanders' "Running Without Condition" Blog
Jessica Sneeringer's "Mal-Diction" Blog