Issue 9: Changing the Way You Change Your Customer’s Mind

Did you miss Issue 8? Titled: How Two Words Doubled the Number of Opt-in Subscribers
Click here to read.

In 1972, ABA basketball legend Marvin “Bad News” Barnes, refusing to board a flight scheduled to leave Louisville, KY at 8 a.m. and land in St. Louis, MO at 7:59 a.m. was quoted as saying:

“I ain’t goin’ on no time machine.”

“McDonald’s has sold more than 100 billion hamburgers worldwide.”
— As reported in a recent study conducted by Emory University

The two quotes above reveal one of the most important stumbling blocks you have to get past in order to sell any product or service. Yet, few people even recognize that this stumbling block exists.

To make matters worse, because they fail to recognize this critical factor, many companies waste tremendous amounts of time and money trying to “fix” other areas of their marketing in an attempt to improve their sales. But in reality, if this stumbling block isn’t recognized and dealt with directly, whatever changes they make will fail to have any significant impact on sales or profits.

I’m not going to reveal exactly what this problem is quite yet — but I promise to do so later in this issue. But first, I want to give you some more background that will help you understand the power of this stumbling block and help you see why even the most forward-looking companies must come to terms with it.

The popular sport of chasing marketing windmills

I’m going to let you in on a little secret about the consulting side of my business. Less than 50% of the advice I provide to clients gets implemented. Companies pay handsomely for my services, then do nothing with the advice they’ve paid for!

Why does this happen?

Typically, it goes something like this — and by the way, this is a true story based on my experience with a client whose annual revenue is around $100 million.

I was recently hired to provide advice on how to reinvigorate the sales of a company that publishes trade journals for a number of different industries. Their sales had been flat in most markets, and dropping significantly in a number of others, for the past three years.

After meeting with their staff, reviewing all of their successful and unsuccessful marketing from the past 10 years, scoping out what their competition is doing, plus researching a number of their proprietary marketing components that I can’t reveal here, I came up with a set of recommendations.

When I presented my recommendations, the CEO and VP of Marketing were thrilled. They could clearly see that what I was recommending had the potential to be a multi-million dollar breakthrough.

However, about 10 minutes later, the VP of Marketing changed courses completely when he announced, “This is really great. But we’d have to change what we’re doing, and that would mean additional work”.

I was absolutely floored, but proceeded anyway. “Well, what could you recommend as an alternative”, I asked.

“I was kind of hoping for a new headline or some bullet points that would really pump up our sales”, the VP replied.

“I’m sorry, but with the level of declining sales you’ve been experiencing for well over three years, there just isn’t a quick fix that will accomplish that. You’ve already agreed that the recommendations I’ve made are highly likely to turn your business around significantly. Plus, as with any marketing strategy, you can test it on a small, controlled basis”, I responded.

“That’s true, the VP replied. Let us bat this around some more and we’ll get back to you in the next day or so”.

As you can probably guess, “the next day or so” never came.

What I want to underscore here is that this scenario is not uncommon. It happens frequently with companies of all sizes. So what exactly is the problem? Is it just that companies want a quick, easy fix that explains why they chase so many windmills that lead to even greater declines in sales and profits?

Actually, it runs much deeper than that. The true problem is…

Fear of change — even small, reasonable change

As I mentioned at the beginning of this issue, the two quotes reveal a deep-seated problem that you must overcome if you’re going to maximize the sales of your products or services. That problem is that people deeply fear change, even the smallest, most reasonable change.

Think about it. Why would people purchase more than 100 billion McDonald’s hamburgers? The answer is so simple, that most people miss it completely. It’s because when you walk into any McDonald’s anywhere in the world, you know that the burger and fries you order are going to be identical to the burger and fries at any other McDonald’s.

People are so dependent on their need for stability and sameness, and so unwilling to confront even the smallest changes, that they will purchase the same lackluster burgers in every city they visit. This same trait of human nature is a tremendous threat to the sale of any product or service.

The big lie

Marketing experts and marketing books have sold you on logic that sounds good, but is actually completely false. The problem is, these experts all believe their own spiel because it sounds so logical. I’m sure you’ve heard things like…

“Just change the headline and you’ll double your sales”

“Add a couple bonuses and sales will shoot through the roof”

“Reposition your product (or service) and you’ll be able to sell it at twice the price”

What this all boils down to, is that the experts think you can market your way out of any problem. But it just ain’t so. In fact, if they actually recognized the flaw in this conventional wisdom, they’d realize it’s a downright lie.

I’ll show you precisely how to change the way your customers deal with change in just a moment. But first…

An easy way to add a lucrative new profit center to your business

Creating and selling information products can be a very lucrative addition to your business, whether you do it full time or use information products to add a large stream of passive income to your existing business. For example, I’ve had profits of $64,200, $84,500, even as high as $150,000 in a month. And plenty of other five-figure months as well.

But here’s the interesting part. As good as those results have been, I recently stumbled on a new “stealth marketing” system for creating and selling information products that is dramatically outperforming everything else I’ve ever used. And I will be offering a 12-month, in-depth training and implementation program on this system for people who are serious about making a fortune with information products.

Also, it doesn’t matter whether you’ve ever created an information product or not. This new method is fast and foolproof. To get all the details on my new Information Products Master Course, just please fill out the short request form at the link below and I’ll send you the complete information packet by postal mail:

/ipmc-request.html

Overcoming the fear of change


I wish I could tell you that there are guaranteed ways to overcome the fear of change. But unfortunately, because this fear is so ingrained in most people — almost at a dna level – the best you can do is use some proven techniques that will help stack the odds in your favor.

My three favorite ways of changing a customer’s mind about change are:

  1. Case studies
  2. Admitting that change is required
  3. Take-away marketing

Again, there is no foolproof way to eliminate the fear of change in all your prospects. But the three methods I’m about to show you are the best tools I’ve found for making prospects more comfortable with the idea of change — and if you can do that, you’ll win a lot more sales.

Let’s take a look at each method in detail.

Using case studies to ease the fear of change

Remember, even though people claim they want to change, in reality few folks will risk doing anything different to bring that change about. And purchasing any new product or service always means the customer must open the door to some level of change to use it.

One of the best ways to overcome this is to use case studies in your sales copy. If you look at the home page of this web site, Direct Marketing Insider, you’ll see that the copy is peppered with mini-case studies. I don’t just tell potential subscribers that I can increase their profits and then give them testimonials. Instead, I weave in stories of the results my strategies, techniques, and copy have produced, followed by a testimonial from the person who benefited from those results.

Why does this work so much more effectively than testimonials alone? Because stories are the root way we communicate with each other. When you go out to dinner with friends, stories are the main method of communication. For example: “Last week, we went to the mountains for three days and saw wolves in the forest. Have you ever seen wolves up close? Let me tell you, it makes the hair stand up on the back of your neck”.

Then the conversation is off and running. “No, I’ve never seen a wolf up close, but let me tell you about the time we were chased by a shark on a reef in Hawaii”.

Always remember — stories are the most natural form of human communication.

By including stories, or mini-case studies as I like to call them, in your copy, you come in under people’s radar. The subtle message is, “Look, this person changed and got the exact results you’d like to get. It isn’t as hard as you might think”. But the critical point is that the message gets delivered in the most natural way that people are used to taking in a lot of information, rather than defending against that information.

Try this. Once you see how powerful case studies in a story format are, you won’t go back to the old form of copy.

Admitting that change is required

Sometimes the best way to solve a problem is to tackle it head-on. When I’m working with a product or service that is an obvious departure from the way people are used to doing things, I tell them.

However, I always try to emphasize that the level of change required is minimal and the potential return far outweighs the minor discomfort they might feel. For example, here’s a block of copy from the promotion for my Information Products Master Course:

Now I realize that this kind of committed, intense approach is not for everyone. Even though it doesn’t matter how long you’ve been in business, how successful you are, or whether you’ve ever written a word in your life or not, my program will only work for you if you’re ready for maximum success. And if you’re open to making a few changes to “the way you’ve always done it”.

Why hide the fact that change is required? People already have a gut feeling about it. And if you ignore their gut feelings, you virtually assure yourself of losing a significant number of sales. Admit it. Don’t ignore “the elephant in the room” and you’ll end up closing a lot more sales.

Using take-away marketing to get people to voluntarily change

Another powerful fact of human nature is that people are far more afraid of losing something than they are interested in gaining something. This common trait can be leveraged to ease people over the hurdle of change.

If you put a time limit on your offer, limit the quantities available or the number of clients you can accept, or use some other form of “taking away” an opportunity that’s being offered only on a limited basis, people are forced to challenge their own fear of change or risk losing out on the opportunity forever. Often, this is all that’s needed to stimulate far more sales.

Interestingly, because people like to defer their pain as long as possible, the closer you get to the deadline, the more quickly people will take positive action to get what you’re offering. Whenever I limit the number of copies of a product I’m offering, the last copies available sell much more quickly. When people understand that the opportunity in front of them is about to disappear forever, they react much more quickly.

Naturally, this means that if you have a limited offer (you do, don’t you?), you want to keep prospects updated on their narrowing window of opportunity. The closer you get to the deadline, the more you’ll sell.

Conclusion

Even though change is inevitable, few of us truly welcome it. I’m willing to bet that you have about five outfits that you wear 90% of the time. You probably have no more than five to ten core foods that make up your diet. And even though there may be 200 restaurants in your city, you probably do most of your dining at just half a dozen restaurants.

You can’t fight it. People love the comfort of reliability, even if it means compromising quality or accepting boredom.

If you fail to recognize this, no marketing tricks can make up for it. You must make it easier for people to change the way they deal with change if you truly want to maximize your sales and profits.

The three techniques I’ve just given you will give you a powerful advantage over your competition. Give them a try. After all, all it takes is making a small change to your marketing to reap potentially huge benefits.

Copyright © 2005 by Bob Serling All rights reserved