There’s a gas station at one of the Interstate 20 off ramps in Columbia, South Carolina that is rumored to have the lowest prices in town. If they don’t have the lowest prices, they certainly have convinced a large group of drivers that they do. Most hours of the day they have a constant line of cars at each of the eight pumps.
A casual observer will notice a young man drifting from car to car, speaking with each driver in sequence. The young man you notice on Monday will not be there on Thursday. Another young man will have taken his place.
And should the observer become an eavesdropper, he’ll hear the young man explain that he works for a glass company “up in Greenville,” has his materials with him, and can repair the dings and chips in the driver’s windshield for between forty and sixty-five dollars. He opines that the motorists insurance will cover it, reimbursing the driver so there will be no “out of pocket” expense.
Apparently, enough people accept his offer that it’s profitable for the young man, or one very much like him. They keep coming back.
Occasionally one of the motorists, wanting to “think it over,” will ask the young man du jour for a business card. He never seems to have one on him. Although he can name the company he works for, he can’t remember it’s phone number. No, he doesn’t carry a cell, so he can’t provide that number either.
In any buyer / prospective seller relationship, there are two basic reasons that people choose not to buy, and the young man carrying the battery-powered drill and pocket epoxy illustrates them vividly.
People don’t buy when they don’t feel the need for what you’re selling.
They don’t buy when don’t trust you.
People avoid risk on three levels.
- The biggest risk is that they’ll purchase the wrong solution – that they’ll have spent the money and still have the problem.
- But, there’s also the risk that the solution they purchase won’t last, and their problem will be back. (The variant on this is buying from a company who won’t warrant the purchase, or even be in business if the purchaser ever needs their support).
- And finally, if all of the solutions seem roughly equal, there’s the risk of over paying.
Put yourself in the mindset of someone who’s just become aware of a problem, which could be anything from “ring around the collar” to “my back hurts every morning when I wake up.” Whatever the problem she’s identified, she’s now looking for a solution.
Ring around the collar? One of the oldest formulas in advertising was perfected by major packaged goods companies like Lever Brothers and Proctor and Gamble. The familiar presentation is called slice-of-life, and is presented as if we, the viewers / listeners / readers are peeking in on a conversation between real people.