This is a short excerpt from an upcoming white paper called “Getting Response in a Down Economy.” I’ll announce it in my newsletter first. Click here or use the yellow box at the top right of this blog to subscribe.
There’s no doubt about it. Business is tough out there. Every day brings more unsettling economic news.
But have things changed as much as some people claim? Has the recession completely changed buyer behavior?
In my opinion, no. Buyer behavior in this recession is very similar to buyer behavior at any other time, but with this important caveat: While people may be buying, they’re being far more cautious and making decisions far more slowly. So it’s harder to sell to them. Harder, not impossible.
Your customers are uncertain and afraid, but they are still essentially the same customers you’ve always had. All the same psychological principles apply, though some are now playing a more prominent roll.
By understanding this and allowing this knowledge to guide your selling strategy, you can give yourself a powerful advantage now and in the boom years to come.
Six things that are particularly important to remember now:
- People love to buy. They love to discover wonderful new products and experiences. In America, and increasingly around the world, people see commerce as a natural and appealing activity.
- People make buying decisions emotionally. They decide based on a feeling, need, or emotion. That’s why intangible benefits are generally the key to persuasion. For any given promotion, you should ask yourself, “What is the emotional hot button here?”
- People need to justify decisions logically. While people make emotional decisions, they justify those decisions with logic and facts. You should always give people the appropriate justification for making a purchase.
- People want to avoid risk. People pursue gain, but the urge to avoid loss is more powerful because it works on a more basic level. In direct marketing, people usually can’t see you or the thing you’re promoting before they part with their money. So there is always a level of distrust and suspicion you must overcome.
- People seek value. Value is not a fixed number. It is a subjective relationship between the thing you are selling and what people perceive its worth to be. The greater the value relative to the price, the more likely people will respond to your offer.
- People buy direct because of convenience and exclusivity. Don’t fool yourself. If your customers could easily find the things you offer at a nearby store, that’s probably where most would buy them because the perceived risk is lower.
These are not foreign concepts. They are always important. But now they are more important than when the market was flush with cash.
While a well-written headline and eye-catching photo can still make someone want what you’re offering, your customer’s fear and logic circuits are now operating on overdrive.
They need stronger justification and greater value than ever before. They also need more assurance that their financial risk is minimal or even that the purchase will save them money.