Posts Tagged ‘customer decision making process’

Decision Ease and Simplicity is What Your Customers Really Want

Forget engagement, relationships, social media, permission marketing and all the other fads, myths and marketing hype.

The key to successful marketing is making yes decisions easier for the customer.  I’ve been saying this for decades! Now, it has finally been validated by a formal study. See the Forbes article: Marketers Have It Wrong: Forget Engagement, Consumers Want Simplicity.  

Of course, I don’t need a study. I’ve applied this principle to help some companies create hundred million dollar sales increases, and one billion-dollar sales increase (Prilosec®).

As you read the article, beware of the common mistake the authors make. They blur the crucial distinction between “easy” and “simple.

The Difference Between “Easy” And “Simple” And Why It’s Important

Promise: In this article, I will help you learn how to help your customers make YES decisions more easily, whether your business is large or small, and whether you sell a product or a service. That’s my promise.

First, here’s the difference between simple and easy.

The opposite of simple is complex.

The opposite of easy is  difficult.

 

Simple, not easy: you are on safari, deep in Africa. Your guide says, “We are out of your Western food. What would you like for dinner tonight, worms or beetles?” This is a simple [non-complex] choice, but not easy. Product sellers do this all the time when they ask customers which added features they want, or whether they want Model A or Model B. Most of the time, customers have no idea what the difference really is, and if that difference is worth the price difference.

Easy, not simple: For example: the route from my house in NY to my friend’s house in Boston is extremely complex. It can’t be simplified. But my turn-by-turn navigation system makes the still-complex route easy, but not simple. When I use my GPS system, it just tells me to “turn left ahead.” It’s very easy and I end up where I want to go, with just as much complexity, but a minimum of difficulty.  The same method works well in marketing. The trick is to keep each step small, simple, easy and fun, with plenty of guidance, feedback and rewards. Are you acting as your customer’s turn-by-turn decision navigator, his GPS? In every category, the company that does it best wins.

If you blur this distinction, you will concentrate on making things simple, which is only one method of making things easy. And, it’s easy that you want.

Your job when marketing your product, service or idea is to help the customer’s decision-making process easier. Implementing even just the first three simple, easy steps I’m about to recommend here will increase your sales substantially. There are plenty more, so stay tuned. If you are getting this as a forwarded email, go to www.mnav.com and sign up for my newsletter with the upper right form. You’ll also get the 10 Yesses report that you might have heard marketers discussing. [Another example of making things easier!]

The Three Best Steps That Will Explode Your Sales Immediately

Step 1.  Look at the materials or other place where your customer first encounters your product, service or idea.  Insert into all materials – or put a sign on the wall – that offers your equivalent of this incredibly effective, simple, clear, easy to understand promise: “If you [use/buy/prescribe/recommend] my product, I promise you that you will get …” Make sure it’s a benefit. That means, your product will make their life better in some specific, measurable way, whether it’s 15 minutes to change their oil or fresher bread or, as in my case, more sales faster by making customer decisions easier.  The “Promise + Benefit Combo” has been a marketing staple for over 100 years, but it’s astounding how often a simple, clear, easy to understand promise or claim is missing. Make sure you’ve got yours up front and center. Chances are, it’s not. Mine is after the 4th paragraph above in boldface type.

Step 2:  Go through the materials (such as web pages) or events (such as sales calls, demos, slide presentations, etc.) with a machete. What is your customer supposed to read or ingest into their brain as they try to navigate the path from interest to evaluating options, to learning about your product, trying it, buying it, learning to use it, etc. Pay attention to where they are dropping out or slowing down and take out at least 5 paragraphs that are not essential. More if you can get yourself to do it. Ruthlessly cut, which is one way of simplifying, which is one way of making things easier. You’ve seen many web sites that are distracting and cause you to lose interest.  Make sure yours isn’t one of them! Don’t believe me? Test the simpler version against the earlier, more complicated version and see how your sales convert. If something essential really is missing, you’ll find out quickly because people will ask questions. But, before you do, there is one thing I want you to add:

Step 3. Repeat your simple, solemn, beneficial promise in every place where it can reasonably be inserted without looking ridiculously repetitive. Make sure your materials support why the promise will be fulfilled.

To follow my own advice, I can make this entire article even easier for you to implement:

Make a promise. Cut everything else to the minimum communication required to support the promise. Rinse and repeat. Less is more.

Do it, with one thing, anything, NOW.

Let me know what happens.

 

 

A little more detail about the 3-sentence Secrets of Marketing

This site is about ONE central idea:

“Easify” the customer decision process:

It’s The Secret Key to Marketing Success

  • Customers are overwhelmed by information overload.
  • So they usually choose the easy-to-decide-on product, not the best.
  • So, the key to marketing is to make it easier to decide on your product than the competition’s.

    Conventional marketing: make the product look more desirable.

    My approach: Eliminate the decision blocks.

    A little more detail: Every decision path has several major stages. Think of them as hills to climb:

    Status quo → finding you → learning about you → culling → weighing → sorting → evaluating → comparing alternatives → justifying trial →trying → buying → using → fixing → teaching → recommending → evangelizing.

    On each of these hills, there are many obstacles:

    Questions, qualms, issues, confusions, uncertainty, misunderstandings, distractions, competitor counter-information, fog, effort, time wasters, information overload, distrust and many other stumbling blocks.

    If they stumble enough, they pause, flounder, go home or find another product that’s easier to fathom. It’s at these hidden obstacles that you’re losing most of your potential customers.

    They’re mostly hidden because you are an expert who doesn’t see how difficult it is to understand and get past these obstacles. You see it as a smooth path, they see it as a bumpy, hilly obstacle course.

    Your job is to identify these friction points and get people past them. In this day and age, you have to do it — not only by being more persuasive — but by making every step and stage of the decision process easier. Give them shortcuts past the hills.

    Conventional marketing tries to be more persuasive: to make the case better that this is the more desirable product.

    My approach is to remove all possible obstacles. Only sometimes does this involve tuning up the persuasion. Usually, this involves getting finding and eliminating the many ways that you have inadvertently made it difficult to understand, try, buy or talk about the product. Every click. Every unnecessary word. Every distracting graphic. Everything that doesn’t clarify. Everything that isn’t from the right source, in the right medium, in the right form, at the right level of detail, in the right sequence, for the right kind of customer.

    This is a different approach to marketing that has caused record-breaking sales increases.

    I’ve finally distilled the secret to marketing success into 3 sentences

    The Secret Key to Marketing Success

    • Customers are overwhelmed by information overload.
    • So they usually choose the easy-to-decide-on product, not the best.
    • So, the key to marketing is to make it easier to decide on your product than the competition’s.

    I’m the leading expert on easifying the customer decision process. If you want clever word play, pretty pictures, or other razzle-dazzle, I’m not your guy. But if you’ve tried all that, try my approach. It’s easier, cheaper and so much more effective.

    I keep telling my consulting clients that they need to have a terse statement like this that sums up the essence of their differences, but they are blocked by expert blindness. I’m no exception. It’s taken 10 years to come up with these three sentences for myself. If there were another decision easification consultant in the world, he or she could have done it for me in a few hours, except for one thing: S/he also would have also had expert blindness in this area! But in your area, I’m an expert in easification, and just ignorant enough to say it simply.

    Learn a little more about the secret to marketing success.

    How to Research your Customers’ Buying Process

    How to research the buying process of your customers and shorten the buying cycle

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    Great example of simplicity

    The cartoon on this page is one of the best on simplicity I’ve ever seen.

    Cagle Blogs » Best Generic Speech Ever.

    Why are some people and organizations incapable of simplicity and ease?

    Why don’t some people and organizations simplify and easify their messages, products, directions, etc.?

    I’m beginning to think that it’s not that they don’t want to, or don’t understand the value of simplicity and ease. I suspect that they might actually be incapable of simplifying!

    Can people who understand the power of ease and simplicity, who devote large amounts of resources to these pursuits, actually be incapable of simple and easy product design, web site design, communication, structure, etc?

    I’d like to raise some questions and share some musings.

    I won’t bore you with the complexity, but I’ve just been sensitized to this issue in struggling to move my web site to another supplier that gives the site more speed and ease of use. I’m also switching from Drupal to WordPress and moving my mail to Google Apps Mail. So, I’m attempting to do three major switches that all have to be done at the same time. What’s important to you is that I’m learning some important life lessons and questions about Ease and Simplicity (EAS) that I thought I’d share.

    You don’t have to know what they are, but WordPress and Drupal are programs for managing the content of web sites like this one. WordPress is a dream, written totally from the point of view of the user. They really understand ease and simplicity. Drupal gets the need for ease and simplicity, but they have been unable to implement it, even when they just spent years on a massive crusade to make it more user friendly.

    It’s a fascinating mystery to me why some organizations like Microsoft and Drupal understand the need for ease and simplicity, but seem epistemologically unable to do it despite intense efforts. I’m not talking about the old Microsoft, which didn’t have a clue about simplicity. I’m talking about the present, hip Microsoft which desperately seems to want to simplify and make their products easier to use. There are Google, Apple and WordPress, sitting out there as outstanding examples of simplicity, dominating their markets, the most successful organizations on the planet, with everybody understanding that Ease and Simplicity (EAS) are major keys to their success, with everyone trying to emulate them, and no one able to.

    Why can’t fabulous organizations, with amazing resources, copy the Ease and Simplicity that they know they need, that competitors have demonstrated are successful? It’s not that they don’t have the resources, attitudes, will, knowledge or desire. It’s not that it cannot be done: Adobe is a shining example (the only one I can think of at the moment) of a company that had hopelessly complicated products with the most capabilities in their fields. They have somehow gone to elegantly simple interfaces and explanations, while increasing the capabilities of their programs. Photoshop, Dreamweaver, Illustrator, and their other programs can hardly be considered simple and easy in the grand scheme of things. But they are masterpieces of EAS, given that they are professional programs designed to have more bells, whistles and other capabilities than their competitors. They also have simpler versions, like Photoshop Elements and Lightroom, that aren’t just stripped down, they are re-designed from the users’ point of view, for the non-professional in the case of Elements, and from the photographer rather than the graphic artist point of view, in the case of Lightroom. BRAVO!

    You would think that Microsoft, Drupal, all the phone companies, HP, and many others, could do anything they set their minds to, given their resources. So what’s going on and what can we learn from it?

    Here’s my thinking so far: I realize that the inability to easify and simplify is related to a particular kind of knowledge blindness, but it seems to go beyond just blindness.. Knowledge blindness (and its more extreme form, expert blindness) is the inability to see things the way a beginner or less-informed person sees it. But I think that something much more profound and deeper may be operating here. Maybe it’s not just the inability to see, but Ease and Simplicity demand that someone’s mind work differently: They have to engage in an alien process. instead of piling on more and more information and features, they have to see what can be simplified or eased for the other person, even though it’s easy and simple for them. Then, they have to simplify, which, it turns out, is a very difficult process. It doesn’t only involve leaving things out. It involves many things like abstracting out the details, re-sequencing things, organizing concepts into sub-concepts or higher-level categories, forming new concepts or groups, and many other psychological, communication, and product design skills. It’s a form of thinking that very smart people don’t have to do much, because they are so smart that they can hold so much in mind, and less intelligent people can’t do because it takes a lot of intelligence.

    So, my working hypothesis is this: Easification and Simplification can only be done by very intelligent people who have mastered an additional complex skill set, much like some writers and editors have mastered the art of writing simply about complex subjects. No one — to my knowledge and I’ve searched a lot — has set out the methods of easification and simplicity. Hell, there isn’t even a word “easification” “easify” or, for that matter, “funification.” I plan to write about this skill set in much greater detail. Stay tuned.

    How to exceed your projections in half the time

    Contrary to popular belief, the better the product is, the harder it usually is to sell. The best products tend to be the innovative, breakthrough products – and the marketplace rarely beats a path to their door.

    Why? Because innovative, breakthrough, high-tech products make most people uncomfortable.

    That’s why they are called discontinuous or disruptive innovations.

    There are invariably problems with:

    • communicating the benefits,
    • getting people to believe the claims,
    • getting people to do things a new way,
    • satisfying the vested interests,
    • overcoming natural inertia,
    • overcoming people’s discomfort with initial trial,
    • supporting their initial learning curve,
    • helping them “sell” their colleagues, etc.

    New products increase people’s uncertainty, make them uncomfortable and increase their feelings of insecurity.

    That’s why marketers seriously overestimate market share and underestimate the time that it will take to get there.

    One VERY successful Marketing VP once advised, “Give them a number and give them a date. But never, ever in the same document.”

    Yet, it is possible to dramatically reduce the time it takes for new products to be adopted. This is especially true for technical, high-tech, innovative, breakthrough products, where the decisions tend to be more deliberative and less impulsive than many consumer packaged goods decisions.

    (For verbal convenience, I’ll call these high-tech products, but I’m including here technical, medical, business-to-business, marketing automation, agricultural, chemical, financial and similar products and services.) The following product acceleration methods do not apply as well to consumer packaged goods, particularly those that involve personal taste and depend heavily on product image.

    But if you’re selling “high-tech products,” I sincerely believe that the ideas that you are about to read can make the difference between failure and wild, run-away success.

    The key to accelerating product adoption

    You’re trying to get your product adopted in the marketplace, fast. Obviously, that means that you are trying to get people to evaluate, choose, try, buy, implement and use your product. This means that you are trying to influence their decision process. The decision process is central to product acceptance and product success, yet it is almost totally neglected.

    When you reduce the time it takes for customers to decide on your product and make it significantly less than your competition, you will dominate your marketplace.

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    WOMworthy: the Pluot

    Just ran across an inter­est­ing new prod­uct that is appar­ently catch­ing on by WOM: the Pluot®. It’s a cross (actu­aly an “inter­spe­cific,” which is more than just a blend) between a plum and an apri­cot and comes in many vari­eties. It tastes great, but our focus here is on inter­est­ing Word of Mouth stories.

    To read an inter­est­ing WOM story about how the Pluot word of mouth is being trans­mit­ted by an expert and by ordi­nary peo­ple, see Emeril’s post about it here.

    You can also read about the prod­uct from its devel­oper. Link. There, you’ll also read about another prod­uct, but I’ll let you dis­cover it for yourself.

    Isn’t this a prod­uct that cries out for sam­pling and in-store tast­ing? Why haven’t I been offered a taste of this won­der­ful product?

    Warn­ing: don’t just buy one to take home.

    By the way, I go to a small Korean super­mar­ket (Orange Mar­ket in Orange­burg, NY) that will let me taste (actu­ally, they encour­age me to taste) any fruit that I’m think­ing of buying. Isn’t that the way to make the decision easy?

    Lesson; Give them a taste. In showbiz, it’s called “Show ’em a little leg.”