Good copywriters ask their clients a lot of questions. Sometimes these questions elicit perplexed looks, raised eyebrows, head shaking and even red-faced anger.
One such question that I often ask is this:
Are there any common assumptions, misconceptions, fears or negative stereotypes that people have about your product or service, your business, or your industry that might prevent them from doing business with you?
The most common response is this:
Why do you want to know that?!?
First, it helps me get deeper inside the mind of my client. I need to understand why someone might have reservations about handing over money to your business. After all, marketing isn’t just about coming up with a long list of reasons why your business is so wonderful.
Every business has at least one obstacle that needs to be removed before a sale is made. If there wasn’t, you’d close the deal every time.
When you identify these obstacles, you can overcome them, or at least start the process of overcoming them, in your marketing.
Many business owners, and some marketers, will claim it’s a bad idea to reference anything that may be perceived as an obstacle to a sale. They say you should avoid delving into the “negative” that causes people to have reservations. That would just feed assumptions, misconceptions, fears or stereotypes. Just focus on the positive – as if the negative will somehow fade away.
That’s really a shortsighted, self-serving mentality. It’s not a matter of being negative or positive, and the fact that these obstacles exist doesn’t mean something is wrong with your business.
Dealing with obstacles in your marketing has two major benefits.
1) You’ll build trust with your audience by addressing their concerns in a way that’s transparent and honest.
Hiding from negatives or pretending they don’t exist is just asking for trouble. People have easy access to too much information – and too many opinions – whether the information or opinions they find are correct or not.
Address the most common obstacles directly instead of letting them fester in people’s minds.
By being upfront and honest about why people may be apprehensive about doing business with you, you help to establish your credibility and integrity. You show people that you care.
Maybe you can show data or statistics that prove an assumption wrong. Maybe you can show how a stereotype that may have been accurate 20 years ago is no longer accurate. Maybe you have a client who was hesitant to make a purchase because of a common misconception but can now offer a testimonial to clear up that misconception.
2) By tackling these obstacles head on now, you can speed up the sales process later.
When we watched the Olympics last month, there was a reason why the times in the 100-meter sprints were faster than the 100-meter hurdles.
Hurdles slow things down.
If someone is apprehensive about doing business with you, I’m not saying you’ll be able to completely win them over just because you can effectively prove in your marketing that their reason for being apprehensive doesn’t hold water.
But if you can use your marketing to reduce a major hurdle into a minor speed bump, you can alleviate their concerns to the point where they’re at least open to contacting you. And you’ll make the sales process that much easier before it even begins because your marketing has accomplished some of the heavy lifting already.
The ability to change someone’s perception is a powerful thing, but it can be a process. Why not start that process in your marketing? If each sale takes less time to close because you’re overcoming obstacles in your marketing, that’s a good thing.
Here’s a real world example that worked.
When I was a Creative Director in radio, we had a client who was selling reverse mortgages. The client pointed out that there were myths about reverse mortgages that scared seniors. We identified the three most common myths:
- I won’t own my home anymore and I’ll have to leave.
- I’ll end up owing more than what my home is worth.
- I’ll lose my Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security benefits.
We created a different commercial for each myth. The commercials started by identifying the myth, continued by offering easy-to-understand data that debunked the myth, and closed with a call-to-action that invited people to contact the company to get the facts about reverse mortgages.
We addressed the most common obstacles to the sale in a very straightforward, honest and credible way, and the response was phenomenal.
If we were able to overcome obstacles in 60 seconds (about 150 words), or at least begin that process, you can certainly do the same on a page of your website, a series of blogs or videos, a brochure, or whatever other marketing platform you’re using.
Tear down those walls. Build trust. Speed up the sales process. Win-win-win.
What are you doing to overcome obstacles that may be preventing people from doing business with you?