The following are steps to help customers “comfortably” move beyond those comfort zones into conversations of meaningful engagement about reality and what you can do to help it unfold positively.
1. Address the Fear: Perhaps more than ever, our society lives on the edge of fear. Fear of failure, fear of losing ground to competitors, fear of losing what we have and fear of change. So we kick into denial, which takes consumers out of the shopping process for many products we marketers are trying to sell.
Talking about the elephant in the room in a non-threatening way is critical to get people thinking and accepting the fact that they do indeed need to purchase survival kits, insurance products, extra warranty protection and many other products designed for the “what ifs” of life. This is what social media enables — content and dialogue about reality with no sales pressure, just some reality checks delivered in relevant, non-threatening ways.
2. Provide Hope: Hope and fear are often byproducts of each other. If we have fear, it’s because we have given up hope, and if we have hope, we have learned to let go of fear. What is the hope associated with your product? Politicians campaigning on hope have traditionally (this year excepted) done better than those campaigning on fear. We want to focus on positive outcomes, as mentioned earlier via the research Sharom conducted. Showing customers the hope you provide through the products and services you sell minimizes fear and the emotions that go with it — anxiety, anger and an inability to trust. If you help remove negative emotions, you become a trusted partner and that is the foundation for securing lifetime value for any brand.
3. Elevate the Solution: You are not the only provider of a solution that can minimize their fear associated with your product category. So instead of stopping at the promises of security and peace of mind, elevate the overall experience of aligning with your brand.
If you are in insurance, beyond offering a solid policy at a competitive price, offer advice. Host customers-only webinars on financial planning that elevate their feelings of security, stability and of course trust for you, their “advisor” vs. just their policy provider.
If your business is in weight loss, how can you tap into sublimation and give customers a substitute for rich, fatty foods that is far more meaningful and satisfying? Free yoga sessions with other successful dieters? Free shopping sprees? Imagine the loyalty when you can offer sustainable joy vs. just a temporary service or product.
Perhaps one of the greatest denial stages we need to overcome is the one we sit in daily behind our own screens. The “what if” I try something new? Will it fail? Will I lose my reputation, my job? How much time will I waste? The best way to help our customers move out of denial stages into open mindedness toward our products is to step out of our own denial stages that cause us to maintain the status quo or do what we have always done.
Take the ESP — emotional selling proposition — challenge and spend some time really learning what emotions drive your customers, what fears they suppress and what possibilities they deny. Create campaigns that build hope, minimize fear and help people take a step toward a reality that you can help them survive. Whoever in your business category learns to do this, will “undeniably” emerge as the market leader. And that could well be you!