Right before Ralph and I got married – and for a few years afterward as we basked in the honeymoon glow – we made notoriously bad decisions. Call us younger… more naïve… or just more, er, enthusiastic… but those were good days to be a salesperson in our general vicinity.
We planned ourselves into an extravaganza that neither of us really wanted. But the upgraded photo album sounded so awesome and the enhanced cocktail hour seemed like a must-have and the exclusive band selections were surely something we couldn’t do without.
We made on-the-spot decisions because the salespeople were impressive and convincing and we knew they were certainly looking out for our best interests. I mean, how many brides got the regular old photo album and spent years and tears mourning the lack of embossed cover? A lot. But not us!
Things didn’t change much for those first few years, either. We were sold and bought water filtration systems and air cleaning units, stainless steel cookware and upgraded carpet padding. Our friends loved us too, because we were the one couple they could put on their referral list who was bound to sucker up and buy something so our friends could collect their free set of referral knives.
Things went very well for the salespeople and knife-desiring friends around us until one day, Ralph and I looked around us and asked, “Why?”
And coming up with no good reason other than the fact that it had seemed like a good idea at the time because someone told us so, we promised each other from that point on that we would never make a decision again without sitting on it for 24 hours.
And thus a more sensible – and less financially challenging – era was born.
Here’s why this lesson matters to your business and marketing.
Salespeople, Coaches And Consultants Are Not Always Looking Out For Your Best Interests
I’m not trying to disparage anyone and there are certainly people you’ll meet who will not take your money if they don’t think they can provide value in return.
But that’s for you to decide, and it’s tough to make an informed decision in a split second or during the course of a single phone call or meeting.
Is someone trying to sell you on their monthly SEO package? Or a Facebook promotion? How about a training webinar or eCourse?
Of course they’re going to make it sound like a must-have. Of course the sales page is impressive.
But take it from someone who spent many years paying off appliances and accessories I bought on the merits of a salesperson’s personality – it’s their job to sell.
It’s your job to decide if you’re buying.
If that person wants the sale, trust me, they aren’t going away if you take a day or more to think about it. And if someone needs to pressure you into buying/signing up for/trying something, that should be a warning sign to cut and run.
So put your salesperson/consultant aside for a moment and think about the offer and whether it’s in your best interests to bite.
You Don’t Always Need Everything You Buy
Just recently, Ralph and I were ready to upgrade our iPhones. The only question was which provider we’d choose. We spent a day visiting various stores, comparing plans and asking questions.
Guess what we didn’t do that day?
Buy a phone!
But we did go home that evening and think about the plans we had been offered. One provider capped the data plan at 2GB per month. But for just a few extra dollars, another provider offered unlimited data.
Hm… seemed like a no-brainer, and at another point in our lives we probably would’ve jumped at the unlimited plan right away.
But with 24 hours to think about it, guess what we discovered?
In all the time we’d owned our iPhones, we hadn’t even accumulated 2GB of data usage – let alone in a single month.
In the end we went with the capped plan because we didn’t need unlimited data and we certainly didn’t need to pay for something we would never use.
Keep this in mind the next time you’re shopping for business resources, especially things like hosting and email service. Lots of providers tempt you with unlimited emails and unlimited bandwidth – but think about it, how many email addresses do you really need? We have 10 with our provider and we’ve created email addresses indiscriminately and still haven’t come close to maxing out.
Same with bandwidth. Most small business sites use an inconsequential amount of bandwidth. “Unlimited” is easy to offer when you know it will never be tested.
Watch out for large quantities and small price jumps. It’s no secret that vendors price their packages in increments that tempt you to upgrade because the cost differential is so small but the additional features seem so huge. That’s smart marketing on their part.
But smart thinking on your part is to ask yourself whether you really need all those extra perks and services, even if they use words like “unlimited” and “lifetime” and “priority”.
Maybe you do. And maybe you don’t. Give yourself enough time to think about it before you jump on a “good deal”.
You Don’t Always Need Anything At All
As a corollary to the point about buying more than you need, consider the fact that maybe you don’t need whatever the thing is… at all.
I can tell you for a fact that we didn’t need several hundreds of dollars’ worth of lifetime-guaranteed extra carpet padding – especially since we ripped the carpets out two years later and replaced them with hardwood.
And maybe you don’t need that advertisement in the local paper. Maybe you don’t [gasp!] need a Facebook page. Or a Pinterest account. Or whatever the thing du jour is.
It’s tough to decide, in the heat of the moment, when you have a passionate salesperson or consultant telling you all the great advantages of whatever the thing is they’re trying to sell you on. The truth is that a marketing idea may actually be really, really great… for someone else.
If you give yourself a breather and think about it, you may decide that the thing you’re being offered isn’t something that fits with your business, your customers or your needs and goals.
“Hurry! Expires Today!” Is Just A Marketing Gimmick
While I’m personally fine with making an offer time-sensitive, I’m not a fan of pressuring people to buy something with “one day deals” and things that expire so quickly that you don’t even have the luxury of 24 hours to decide whether it’s something worthwhile.
Do you know what I do whenever I get one of those “one day only” emails? I delete them without hesitation. I steadfastly refuse to be pressured into making a decision and I have a pretty good record of not breaking the 24 hours rule so far.
Unless it’s the deal you’ve been holding your breath waiting for, I suggest you do the same. If the service, software, course, training session, etc… is that good, it will be worth the regular price.
I truly believe that people who put on these high pressure deals are exploiting their customers. I’m sure it makes them money or they wouldn’t do it, but I don’t agree with the ethics of it. If their product or service is so valuable, then give people reasons why, prove it to them, and let your customers come to their own conclusions.
If you ever find yourself sitting across the table from someone who tells you that if you sign their web/SEO/social/hosting/anything contract right now then you’ll get some kind of discount, I sincerely recommend you walk away. Because if that person is that afraid of giving you a moment to think about what you’re doing, then there’s something wrong with the offer.
Add Some “Think About It” Time – You Won’t Regret It Half As Much As Making The Wrong Snap Decision
Some people like to rely on gut instinct and make in-the-moment decisions.
I say that’s bad for business.
Most of us don’t have unlimited budgets and wide open schedules these days. Marketing ideas, tools and services that cost us time and money shouldn’t be things we choose lightly.
I’m not saying that you need to agonize about everything you do. There’s a difference between thinking through a decision and being indecisive, which is why I said “24 hours” and not “24 days”.
And certainly, you may decide that something is a great idea only to be proven wrong later.
But if you promise yourself right now that you’ll take 24 hours to sit on a decision – even if you’re totally 100% sure you already know the answer – I bet you’ll find yourself making some better decisions.
And will you miss the one-day-superdeal? And will it cost you full price 24 hours later? Maybe.
But I bet you’ll be paying a lot less for things you don’t need and that will more than make up the difference.
What are your thoughts about deciding on marketing ideas? Are you a “jump in and repent later” kind of person or do you prefer to take your time? I’d be interested to hear your experiences.
Join the discussion 12 Comments
Great article. You sound like you have a great husband.
He’s an expensive date…. but I Iike him.
Great advice! Unless your life depends on (and really, does it?) waiting 24 hours will save you thousands of dollars, wasted hours and more. I especially like the “hurry, offer expires today.” My saying has been, “sale ends today. Next sale starts tomorrow!”
A little hyperbole 🙂 I’m pretty sure nobody’s life depends on some marketing offer! And you’re quite right. There is always the next sale. And the next one. And the next “one time only never seen before hurry up and get it” special. Ah, marketing!
The 24-hour waiting rule is also good for sending ranty emails, publishing difficult blog posts, or any other marketing thing you might do in because of an emotional situation. (And even when you’re not emotional, letting your posts simmer overnight can only bring more flavor and clarity to the darn thing). Great post!
oooo how true is that! I make that my “other” 24 hour rule. Never comment/post/email in a rant and even let the good stuff simmer. As they say on Chopped, you’ve got to develop your flavors!
Great post. Where I come from, there are businesses that specialise in cheating old people into buying expensive stuff that they don’t really need. There are also those who sort of lose their brains when they see the words sale or discount. These are the kind of people who fall victim to the scarcity principle of influence.
“Influence: Science and Practice” by Robert B Cialdini is great book for those who want to know more about how sales people do their best to make us forget about the 24-hour waiting rule and how to protect ourselves from their tactics. Thanks for sharing.
I know exactly what you mean about those types of businesses. It’s easy to prey on people who are vulnerable because they don’t know much about what you’re selling (so they think you’re an “authority”) or certainly older or more susceptible people. I wish I could shake them all up and tell them not to buy! Sounds like a good book – I’ll check it out. It’s always good to have something in your arsenal when it comes to recognizing things that can affect your own behavior and decision-making. Thanks for reading and sharing your thoughts!
Great Post/ Article Carol. Will definitely make use of the 24hour rule. Will help us as small business a lot.
It’s definitely helped me! “Marketing” is in part about influencing people to buy what you’re selling. Sometimes it’s done in a high-pressure way and you may not even recognize it until it’s too late. Salespeople are supposed to sell – and make everything they’re selling sound great, like something you can’t live without. But we can be smarter and give ourselves time to process, think it through and really decide – maybe even get a second opinion!
And here I thought I was the only crazy woman who waited 24 hours to make ANY decisions. Haste makes waste which translated means I’ll probably be wasting my money.
I will admit, however painful this will be, that I’ve succumbed to the sales pressure and made an impulse buy. I regretted it 100% of the time. Thank goodness for return policies.
In regards to my business, I’ve started to apply the Benjamin Franklin Pro/Con technique. If there’s something I want but am on the edge for one reason or another, I sit down and truthfully list all the good factors and all the bad. The outcome gives me the answer I need because I thought it through AND put it down on paper.
I’m glad there’s another “waiter” in the world! I really dislike the pressure deals, because we are prone to making bad decisions WITHOUT them, let alone under all that sales pressure! Stop-and-think time is so important.
I like the pro/con rule, too. I definitely do that. I might have to admit here that I do it for a lot of things, not just business, and sometimes that makes certain people a bit…. er…. crazy. But really, there are very rarely good/bad things. There are things in shades of good and bad and you just have to decide which side outweighs. Love that advice!