Bob’s enthusiasm is contagious. He’s convinced that America’s tap water isn’t safe to drink because of the presence of pollutants. The water filter he sells removes minerals, microorganisms, toxic metals, and organic chemicals.
If sales is truly a transfer of confidence from the seller to the buyer, Bob is going to sell a lot of water filters. Assuming, of course, he can get his message to enough people.
He thinks advertising problems in the water supply is an excellent way to attract potential customers to his business.
Bob has two problems. Each will affect his marketing strategy. Can you identify them?
First, he offers a solution to people who don’t recognize that they have a problem. They will naturally be skeptical.
Second, as small as his industry is, he has competitors. That means if he chooses to educate potential customers about the need for water filtration, they may well buy filters from some other company.
Bob is not alone with this “Teach them why they need it” vs “Ask them to choose mine” dilemma.
- A manufacturer can’t sell his brand of coffee to people who don’t drink coffee. First, those people must choose coffee as their beverage. Only then can the manufacturer persuade them to choose his brand instead of another.
- The provider of high-speed Internet can’t sell connections to households without computers. First, the family must choose to purchase a computer. Secondly they must elect to be connected to the Internet. Only then can the provider convince that family to select his service over that of a competitor.
And Bob can’t sell his brand of water filters to consumers who find the quality of their tap water to be quite acceptable.
Why Shouldn’t Bob’s ads explain and educate?
Because even the most effective marketing message can only advance the decision making process by a single step at a time, and there are too many steps between “Have you ever wondered what’s in your drinking water?” and “Will you buy my filter today?”
Convincing people they have a problem is tough enough. Persuasion becomes even more difficult when they know you benefit from the sale.
“You have a problem that you’re not aware of. Really, you do. And I’m here to help. Just buy my product…”
Selling to an existing need may eliminate the credibility issue, but it doesn’t eliminate those additional steps.
Consider the local automobile dealer who no longer needs to convince people cars are superior to horses or bicycles. He still has three decisions standing between each prospect and each sale.
- First, the prospect must decide she needs a car.
- Then she needs to select a brand.
- Finally she has to choose a dealership.
Advertising can advance the process by only a single decision at a time. Which of those choices should the dealer’s advertising try to influence?
Sometimes competitors join forces to inform.