Hard selling can be difficult and yucky. Persuading someone to buy something they don’t need is just icky – whichever way I look at it. When Dr Flint McGlaughlin, an American academic and business leader used the phrase ‘clarity trumps persuasion’ it certainly resonated with me.
As contemporary business owners, I believe we need to understand that our audience is quite educated. They have a plethora of choice and the internet searching device they are holding in their hands is giving them all the tools they need to carry out extensive searches in a matter of seconds. In response to this, I believe we need to consider moving out of persuading mode and into clarity mode – if we’re not already there.
By this I mean that we need to expect our customers to shop around. In fact, I believe we should encourage them to do so. Compare our product or service with many others and make a choice based on transparency: an informed decision.
Some business owners are scared of this, and their focus is still on persuading clients to do business with them. These businesses are easy to spot; they are selling all of the time. You meet them at a networking event and they are trying to sell to you, you jump on their website and they are trying to sell to you. Everything screams persuasion, with no regard to whether you are in the market for their product or service, or have any need at all. These are the business owners advertising half way through your favourite YouTube clip. I have personally heard of 3 people deciding to actively NOT purchase a product because it keeps annoying them online. That’s just me in my little world – I imagine there might be a few more out there.
Now before you hang me out to dry, I am a marketer. Ultimately understanding motivation and getting people to buy things is at the very core at what I do all day every day.
What I am suggesting is not that we stop selling. But that we do it better. That as business owners we lead with values based marketing messages and offer clear marketing positioning. Yes of course advertising still has its place and reach and frequency are at the core of this. However, I want us all to ask ourselves “Now that I’ve got their attention, will they like what they see?”
We are in a world of likes, forwards, shares and engagement, following target audiences around the internet, ads, content, views and more. We can easily be caught up in chasing the wrong objectives. Short-term gains or quick persuasive sales can certainly be effective – for this month’s results. But long term, what are your doing to your reputation?
Whilst I firmly believe that clarity trumps persuasion, I don’t expect you to drink from the same chalice right now today. However, I do encourage you to always be comfortable with the answer to this question:
“Do I buy from businesses that behave the way I do?”
Whether you are part of your own target market or not, you are part of your own community. Business is a short and long term game; we need not only to win the battle, but also the war.
I feel like I’m trying to be a little persuasive, so I will call it quits here.
Have a great week!