Meet JT.Jaden is almost 8. He loves dinosaurs, sharks, Godzilla, Lego, mostly anything “huge”, burgers, peanut butter or cheese sandwiches, and milk. Mostly, in that order.
I’ve never met a customer as hard to convert as Jaden. He won’t eat vegetables OR fruits. He needs to be sold or tricked on the idea. He’s really not that different from most of your customers who clearly have a need for what you’re selling.
But I don’t like vegetables.
You can’t just tell JT that he’s hungry and that veggies trumps his most favorite food. You also can’t just tell your customers that you’ll save them 20 hours, thousands of dollars, and get a free prize for signing up.
Those are great bullet points to keep on your page, but they won’t work unless:
- They feel like they can trust you.
- They feel as if you’ve spoken directly to them.
- They feel you are empathetic to their needs.
Emotion trumps logic. Without these feelings, everything else is a meaningless feature bullet that doesn’t exist to them. With Jaden that means getting down on his level, looking him in the eyes, and explaining:
“I understand how you feel. When I was little like you, I don’t like eating vegetables either.”
I didn’t mention the nutrition he’s going to get when he eats veggies. I didn’t offer a “FREE” chocolate milk (JT’s favorite) if he eats his veggies. I didn’t just tell him I’d solve his problem. Creating emotional connections is a basic pitch style with proven effectiveness you can use for anything. You need it in addition to a logical set of value propositions.
What if it will give you SUPERPOWERS?
Last night JT, again, needed convincing about eating his veggies on his burger. We’d already made the emotional pitch and told him he’ll have his milk after then I found the hook:
“What if I tell you that those veggies can give him super powers? What if it would make him taller than his classmates? Wouldn’t that be awesome?”
This pitch worked because:
- It created an association to something we know he likes.
- It created the feeling of exclusivity because of the secret.
- It made him envision having fun eating veggies.
- He’s eight. Customers in that segment think superpowers is kinda smart.
You might need different hooks for each customer segment. You may also need one hook to get someone into a free account and another to convince them to make a purchase.
You have to use words and terminology your customers will understand. Realize that you are probably an expert in your field. Your customers know far less about your industry than you imagine. For Jaden, that means selling him on “eating veggies that will help make him taller” is something he understands.
Remember that the average adult in the U.S. reads at an 8th grade level. How would you pitch your product to a middle schooler?
If we try to skip a ritual, it could take twice as long to get him down to bed. It just throws off his world. Your potential customers aren’t any different. It’s fine to stand out and try new things from time to time, but if you have an e-commerce site selling cat products, people expect:
- Product descriptions and pictures that accurately describe what they are ordering.
- A shopping cart and a clear way to add items to it.
- Trust indicators that clearly state they could return the items, it will ship quickly, etc.
- A chance to review their order before they commit.
They don’t expect blog posts about dogs and a lengthy checkout process. To understand which rituals are important for your business, you need to look at the market leaders and your competition.
E-commerce sites, for example, should just let Amazon do 90% of their usability because they’ve created and tested the online checkout rituals of consumers today. Neglecting rituals will make selling something twice as hard as it should be. Rituals create comfort.
That was all he heard and all he cared to know. People have short attention spans. Whether it’s your tagline, the background image, or logo… something is going to grab their attention and that’s all they are going to remember. The rest is fluff when it comes to first impressions.
In this spirit, I encourage you to:
- Compliment facts and features with an emotional connection that builds trust with your customers.
- Build hooks specific for each of your customer segments. Your hook should make people picture how happy your solution will make them.
- Make sure you aren’t forgetting basic rituals customers expect from a service like yours.
- Use terminology your customers will understand. Don’t try to impress them with your expertise.
- Sometimes it’s just a big blue truck. What do you think someone sees in the first 2 seconds of your landing page?