If you want to persuade someone to buy your product or service, you’ll find it much easier if you are offering something they already want.
This may seem too obvious to be even worth mentioning but the truth is many people set up businesses with great ideas or good intentions based on what they think might be appropriate or good for people.
The key when you want to persuade someone is thinking about what they ‘want’ rather than what they ‘need‘ as people will usually spend more on something they want.
This was perhaps best set out by advertising legend Rosser Reeves when he coined the term Unique Selling Proposition and set out the following criteria for a good USP in his book “Reality in Advertising” in 1961:
- Each advertisement must make a proposition to the consumer. Not just words, not just product puffery, not just show-window advertising. Each advertisement must say to each reader: Buy this product and you will get this specific benefit.
- The proposition must be one that the competition either cannot, or does not, offer. It must be unique – either a uniqueness of the brand or a claim not otherwise made in that particular field of advertising.
- The proposition must be so strong that it can move the mass millions; i.e. pull over new customers to your product. (In other words, it should sell – because it is something your prospects really want.)
When we want to persuade someone, let’s start by getting clear whether we have something that they want to buy.
The keys to that are as follows:
- What are the specific benefits your customer will get from buying your product or service?
- How do know you they are willing to buy it?
Focusing on benefits to persuade someone
Many business owners describe what they do by a label or product name – “I’m a consultant” or “We clean carpets”.
To be persuasive, you need to think of your products or services in terms of what they do for your customers.
One way to approach this is by viewing it from your customer’s perspective and thinking about the problems they have or what they want to achieve.
- What problems do people have that your products and services are able to solve?
- If there is no problem to be solved, what opportunities or benefits can you offer that they are already looking for?
- What are they currently buying to solve this problem or satisfy this need?
- What’s wrong with the current solutions so that their wants are not being fully satisfied?
- Why have they not satisfied this want already?
Another way of thinking about this is in terms of features and benefits.
A feature is some basic factual information about your product or service. For example, in a computer, one of the features may be that it has 1 gigabyte storage capacity.
Some people will understand what that’s all about but others won’t have a clue. So it’s important to spell out exactly what that means to them. This is the benefit.
For example, “It has 1 gigabyte of storage capacity, which means you can store as much information as you want with virtually no fear of filling it up.”
Try to uncover the ultimate end goal for a prospect interested in your product or service. For example, for tooth whitening, you might be tempted to say the end goal is to have white teeth.
But the end goal could be appearing more attractive to the opposite sex and having more confidence. Sometimes, you have to dig deep to find the real benefit.
Are they willing to buy?
It is one thing for people to say they want something and another for them to be willing to buy it at the price you want to sell it for.
So it’s important not only to have identified something that people want but also to have evidence that they are willing to pay for it.
You need to be able to identify who your potential customers are and establish data like the potential size of the market and details of competitors and their products.
In general, when you look at your market, you should see competition as being a good thing as it usually shows that there is a demand. Sure it’s good to be innovative with some new ideas but it’s also risky to break completely new ground where there is no existing competition.
So when you know you have something that people want to buy, the next step is finding out what makes your offer unique.