There are two factors at work in a prospect's subconscious mind when he's considering doing business with you: confidence and risk.
Your job in advertising is to raise confidence and lower risk. If you successfully do that, you'll sew up all the business.
So let's talk first about confidence.
The problem is that in today's marketplace, people are more jaded, skeptical, and weary. Weary of getting ripped off. Jaded from bad service. Skeptical of offers that sound too good to be true. In short, people are generally in a defensive buying position. As a result, the tendency is to either do nothing (remember your third kind of competitor, the dreaded inertia?) or to stick with their current supplier - even if the relationship isn't all that great. People figure it's safer to stay in a so-so relationship than test the waters of finding a new company to do business with.
You can probably mentally validate this in your own personal buying habits. Have you ever gotten fed up with a company you do business with, gone to the search engine and called around looking for someone better, then frustrated and exhausted, meekly returned to the original culprit because of a perceived lack of better options? Of course you have. We all have. You know by now the reason for this is the confidence gap. The customer doesn't have any ability to make any distinction whether any of the options are any better or worse or different than any of the others. There are a lot of different reasons for this - probably the biggest is the dramatically increased number of choices that people have.
Back in the old days when you wanted to buy a Ford, where did you go? To the Ford dealership. Which Ford dealership? THE Ford dealership. Why? Because it was most likely the only one anywhere near your house. And when you got to the dealership, where specifically within the dealership did you go to find out information on the vehicle? That's right - to the salesperson. And why did you go to the salesperson? Was it because you loved being 'hammer-dunked' by them? Did you enjoy pain more then than you do now? Of course not. The reason you went to the dealership and then to the salesperson was because it was the only way you could find out any information about the vehicle. It was your only choice.
So what about now? Where do you go now? To one of the 17 Ford dealerships within a 50 mile radius of your house. Or if you're like most car buyers, you go to 4 or 5 of them.
Let me take this a step further to show you how confidence gets eroded:
If you've ever bought a car, you've experienced the hassle of finding the best deal. You look in the paper and see the model you want advertised for a really low price. When you get to the dealership you find out that it was a totally stripped down model and there was only one of them anyway - and it was painted avocado green. But hey, they've got the one you wanted for only $12,000 more than the one in the ad. So next time you notice in the ad the really small print that says "only one available at this price." Won't fall for that trick again, will you? Well, now you're tired so you flip on the tube and wouldn't you know it, there's a commercial for a Ford dealership and they say that they've got the largest inventory of Fords in the state. So you make a mental note to go check that place out. You flip the channel and there's another commercial for a different Ford dealership and guess what? They're the largest volume Ford dealership in the city. Wow! How can that be true? As you're driving over to settle the issue of who's actually the largest, you hear an ad on the radio for a leasing company that says you'd be a fool to buy a car when leasing is so much cheaper...and they can handle all the details right over the phone. Then you see a billboard for vehix.com.
Okay, I'll stop here.
But you tell me, is this a realistic scenario or am I just making it up? Who do you have confidence in after trying to sort that mess out? The problem is that all the sellers are trying to trick buyers into coming into their showroom so they can pressure them into paying too much for something they didn't want. The buyer-seller relationship is totally adversarial - or at best, apathetic.
Not to beat a dead horse, but it's the confidence gap. The customer doesn't have any ability to make any distinction whether any of the options are any different or any better than any of the others. So the big question then, obviously, is how do you overcome this? How do you build confidence?
Overcoming confidence gap
There are three key concepts to building confidence; you must do these if you want people to trust your business. Here they are stated in simple terms:
* Find out what they want
* Find out how to give it to them
* Learn to communicate what you do in a way that's believable and embraceable
First, find out what they want. Simple enough, right? Here's how you find out: ASK. That's it. Ask.
Now the tricky part is how you ask and what you ask. In our consulting sessions, we go into a lot of detail about how to conduct surveys and find out exactly what your customers want. We don't have time to go into that much detail, so I'll just give you some basics.
Ask your current customers, past customers, and prospects who haven't become customers yet what they want in your kind of business. But don't just go ask them, "What do you look for in a printing company...or in a temporary personnel service...or in a hair salon?" Or whatever your business is. Put some thought into it beforehand. Identify what some of the typical problems are when doing business in your industry. Figure out some things that you could do that customers might really like and appreciate. Then when you go to talk to your customers, in addition to just asking them what they're looking for when doing business in your industry, you can bounce your ideas off them and validate whether or not the things you've identified as important or innovative are actually important or innovative.
But here's the important thing: Don't neglect to ask. Don't assume you just already know. If you did know, you'd already have all the business, right? So just ASK!
Second step to gaining confidence is to give the customer what they want. If you took the time to ask and you've figured out what they want, GIVE IT TO THEM. Does this sound familiar at all? What I'm describing here is your inside reality. I'm giving you the process - in simple terms - for crafting your inside reality so it reflects what your customers want. Here's a tip: In today's competitive marketplace, you've got to innovate and make your business better by a big margin. You can't just make your business 5% better or 10% better than the competition. It's not enough to generate the confidence - people need to give you a try. You have to make your business 50% better or 100% better or 300% better than the other options. Here's why: if you don't, someone else will. You need to have a good inside reality if you want to engender confidence with your prospects and customers. It's a critical step.
The third step to gaining confidence is the really tricky one - and that's saying what you do is innovative in a way that is believable and embraceable. And what's that? It's your outside perception. You need to learn how to take your inside reality and communicate it in a way that breaks through the clutter of noise in the marketplace, bridges the confidence gap, and gains the confidence of your prospects. See how this stuff all works together? Have something good to say. Say it well. Say it often. Find out what they want. Give them what they want. Say it in a way that's believable. The inside reality. The outside perception. These concepts are all very simple to understand.
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