It makes perfect sense to you and me. If that restaurant or hair salon doesn’t have a mobile website, they’re losing customers and therefore money. Yet, surprisingly, that restaurant or salon owner can’t seem to make the connection.
When selling any type of advertising or market—be it a print ad, website, or search engine optimization—there’s an inevitable disconnect that occurs. Your prospect is unable to connect the dots and understand how what you’re selling puts more money in his pocket.
That’s because your prospect is not the end-user of what you’re selling. His customer is the one who’s going to interact with his website or advertising. So all the supposed “features and benefits” don’t benefit your prospect in the least. Hence, the disconnect.
Take a Yellow Page ad, for example. The phone directory in which that ad is placed is designed to appeal to the end-user, your customer’s customer—it’s full of information and easy-to-use. The same can be said of a website. Your customer benefits indirectly, when that consumer finds his website or print ad, and calls.
That’s why “features and benefits” don’t work when selling advertising and marketing. What needs to replace “features and benefits” is “usage and action.” How does your customer’s customer use the advertising platform and what action do they take as a result?
So going back to my Yellow Pages example, I can say the following:
- Usage: 69 percent of San Francisco Bay Area residents use the Yellow Pages.
- Action: 82 percent of Yellow Pages users contact a merchant, and 46 percent make a purchase.
In order to cross the chasm between product and profit, Yellow Page sales people have used a technique called “picturing the buyer.” That’s when you get your prospect to step out of advertiser mode and into consumer mode, by getting him to flip through the directory, view the ads inside, and imagine how his customer would look for and find him there.
Now, phone directories have been around for over 120 years, so there’s a good chance your prospect has used the Yellow Pages in his lifetime. But with digital marketing, not so much. Getting your prospect to grasp and understand how a consumer would search for a local business on a smartphone—when he’s never used one—is a challenge, to say the least. But unless you bridge that gap, you won’t succeed at selling your web marketing services.
In the same manner you’d get a potential Yellow Page advertiser “into the book,” you’ll need to demonstrate how a mobile consumer would conduct a local search for his business category on a smartphone (there’s also the added benefit of your prospect realizing his competitors’ listings appear above his).
Picturing the buyer is an effective method for getting your prospect to step into his customers’ shoes and understand how the average consumer uses technology to search for the products and services they need. Use it to help your prospect to “connect the dots” between what you’re selling and what puts money in his pocket—or else be forever frustrated with clients who “just don’t get it.”
Former owner and partner of web firm Jenesis Technologies, John is currently Director of Digital Strategy at Haines Local Search, a company providing local search marketing solutions to SMBs, including print and Internet Yellow Pages, web design, and local SEO. When not working or spending time with his family, John offers great sales and marketing advice on his blog, Small Business Marketing Sucks.