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.
My approach to marketing is different.
Conventional marketing focuses on persuasion: to make the case better that yours is the more desirable product. That’s good. But there’s a better way.
My approach is to remove or reduce all decision obstacles. Only sometimes does this involve tuning up the persuasion. Usually, this involves eliminating the many ways that you have inadvertently made it difficult to understand, buy or talk about your product.
This is a fundamentally different approach to marketing.
I call it Decision Easification —- because there’s no word on English for “to make things easier.” “Facilitation” doesn’t quite do it.
Let me explain:
The customer goes through several stages on the decision path. 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, effort, time wasters, information overload, distrust and many other stumbling blocks.
So, they (1) stumble enough, (2) turn around and go home or (3) find another product that’s easier to fathom.
It’s at these hidden obstacles that you are losing most of your potential customers.
They’re mostly hidden to you because you are an expert who doesn’t see how difficult it is to get past these obstacles. You see it as a smooth path, they see it as a bumpy, rough and uphill obstacle course.
Example: Take the switch from Windows to Mac. For years, Apple didn’t get how hard the switch is. Yes, OS X is a simpler, more intuitive way of doing things. But while it’s simpler and easier, it’s different. So, at every difference point, learning or thinking has to happen. That slows people down, disorients them, breaks their flow, and makes them feel frustrated or stupid. Every Windows user knows they will have to go through this, so it’s a gigantic bump on the decision road, up the Culling, Trial and Learning hills. While Apple has made tremendous strides in easing the transition, they are still not there yet. They should have a Windows Transition Mode on their OS and their programs, and run Windows natively on OS X. The point is that Apple can be persuasive and convince people they have an easy-to-use operating system: but they haven’t eased the anticipated and actual transition enough. So, the hidden obstacle is: anticipated transition difficulty. Ease that and sales will multiply.
Your job is to find these friction points and get people past them. In age of overloaded customers, you have to do it — not by glitzy, razzle-dazzle marketing — but by making every step and stage of the decision process easier.
If you would like to learn more about getting a one-on-one consultation with me, click here.
I just noticed something interesting. A lot of people come to this site after having Googled the phrase “Marketing Questions.” So, I looked up the phrase on Google Trends.
Pretty interesting and rare. It’s not very often that you see a common phrase suddenly appear with a few spikes and gradually double in a few years.
Even more interesting is that I get one of the top rankings on this phrase in Google Search. And, it’s around 2005 that I put up a lot of pages using that phrase. Here’s one: “Answers to these 23 marketing questions will send your product through the roof.”
In the meantime, the frequency of searches for “marketing” has gone down!Read More Post a comment (0)
Examples of Easifying Customer Buying Behavior
There are always blocks and barriers to the customer decision process.
Problem: Sometimes, the “customer” is a prescriber and approver, not the end user. For instance, a pharmaceutical company came to me with a drug that physicians strongly claimed they wanted to prescribe, but wouldn’t. I interviewed physicians who confirmed that they wanted to prescribe it, but didn’t. They were very defensive. It turned out that they couldn’t get insurance companies to approve the use of the drug without a long series of other drugs first, and complex approval phone calls or form (Certificate of Medical Necessity). These phone calls were time-consuming and intimidating, requiring physicians to engage in a scientific justification they were not equipped to engage in. The hidden decision barrier was the high burden of time and intimidation that the physician had to bear every time he/she wrote a prescription for the drug.
The pharmaceutical company had no idea that this was a burden, since — to them — the justification was simple and obvious. A classic case of Expert Blindness.
Solution: Their solution was so technical that physicians didn’t understand it. So, I interviewed high prescribers of the drug who had obviously gotten past this barrier. Obvious, but not so obvious if you don’t know about the hidden barrier. It turned out that some of the experts in the field who had busy clinical practices had developed a simple, one-sentence script that mentioned two peer-reviewed studies in reputable journals that said that this drug was the new standard. The sentence was one that any nurse could read or put on the form to get the approval. It was worded in such a way that it put the insurance company in a legally untenable position of they denied treatment, thus compelling approval. The salespeople were sent out with materials that addressed the issue, and prominently displayed the “magic sentence.” Sales tripled. We Easified the approval decision (“Is it really worth fighting this battle?” “No.”) to a no-brainer (“Is it worth it?” “Of course, my nurse can handle it in a few seconds.”)
Secret: There is almost always a simple solution: a barrier waiting to be discovered and a simple way of removing it.
Problem: In a more complex approval situation, the technical buyers didn’t know how to answer the financial concerns of the company’s top management.
Solution: I got permission to give out a “fill in the blanks” version of the presentation and spreadsheet that a customer used successfully to convince his company’s management — one that (unlike our client’s) talked their language and actually worked! I Easified the presentation construction and persuasion decisions and collapsed the learning curve.
Problem: A product’s acceptance depended upon a crucial fact that could only be established by an accepted industry expert.
Solution: I asked potential customers to tell us exactly what reassurance they needed, from whom. I then went to the most-named industry expert and drew out of him the perfect testimonial that used the words the customers said they needed to hear — increasing sales more than tenfold, establishing an industry record that has never been broken. I Easified the fact-checking and “justification of use” barriers.
Problem: Technical web sites that weren’t connecting to real people. Several of our clients’ products and services had gorgeous Web sites that were abstract, information dense and cerebral — missing the vivid, involving language that comes from the customer’s hearts and real-life experiences.
Solution: I formed an Advisory Group that provided emotionally compelling language that we put into simplified, less Flashy, focused web sites and presentations. The usual reaction is, “Wow, you really get what it’s like to be in my shoes.” I Easified the trust-building barriers.
Problem: Customer buying cycle that took years to gather enough experience to commit.
Solution: I’ve compressed the years-long decision processes of many products into a few weeks with teleconferences that put enthusiasts together with prospects, allowing them to gather more experiences in weeks than they could have in years. I Easified the long, tedious and risky learning, verification and trial processes that usually take so long, particularly in the pharmaceutical industry.
Problem: I often find that complex products and services aren’t understood by their customers and their bosses.
Solution: I distilled their essence into a simple phrase that replaced the page-long incomprehensible nonsense that the high-tech client and their ad agency thought was crystal clear and irresistible. I Easified the cognitive burden.
Do you have a Decision Barrier that’s holding back your product? Believe me, you do. Could you use a consultation? Probably. Find out more: Click Here.