Sell people what they want and not what your product does

Today you will discover what a newspaper advertisement from 1923 has to do with an African Stem workshop and how startups offer demos to their prospects.

A few years ago I started a STEM and business workshop for young people in Africa.

Whenever I would speak with the parents who brought their children, I discovered the knowledge their children were receiving was not the only reason none of them complained about my fee.

Many of the parents realized that a child with knowledge of coding, marketing and entrepreneurship also offers them bragging rights.

Paying for my program gave them the ability to say things like “My kids know how to build their own website and they are even working on their own side business in their free time. They also know how to read a 300-page book in less than 2 hours with good retention.”

They weren’t just paying to educate their children. They were paying for the end results which were first, a mentally developed child and secondly, bragging rights that made the parent look good before family and friends.

The lesson here is to always find out ALL the things your prospect wants and tie it to the solution you provide.

In 1923, a newspaper advertisement had the following copy “

When you buy a razor, you buy a smooth chin — but you could wear a beard. When you buy a new suit, you buy an improved appearance — but you could make the old one do. When you buy an automobile, you buy speedy transportation — but you could walk. But when you buy plumbing, you buy cleanliness — for which there is no substitute!”

This is the precursor to the now-famous quote attributed to Theodore Levitt,

People don’t want quarter-inch drill bits. They want quarter-inch holes.

There’s another quote from a 1946 ad run by L. E. ‘Doc’ Hobbs who was the District Sales Manager of The Manhattan Mutual Life company. It says,

We don’t want to sell you Life Insurance . . we want you to know and have what life insurance will do. A 1/4 million drills were sold last year, no one wants a drill. What they want is the hole.

Your Own Local Life Insurance Company has only the sincere desire to furnish food, clothing and shelter to your loved ones if you die too soon . . .

In 1985, “Zig Ziglar’s Secrets of Closing the Sale” included the saying: 9

You don’t sell what the product is — you always sell what the product does. Example: Each year over 5 million quarter-inch drills are sold, yet it’s safe to say that nobody wants a quarter-inch drill. They want a quarter-inch hole.

What does this mean for startups?

When a prospect visits your site, don’t just offer them a ‘demo’ like everyone else.

Tell them what exactly, the demo will do for them.

No one really cates about your demo. (That being said, you should make it very easy to access your demo. Those 15 fields you require will lower your conversion rate for that opt-in form. Ask for name, company email and anything else that is absolutely necessary. )

Everyone wants to know what exactly your product will do for them. How it will help them. What solutions it will provide. What problems it will fix. How much time it will save them. How much money it will save the company. How much revenue, sales, profits, and market share it will deliver.

Many times a senior-level executive is looking for a software solution that will make her look good before the board or the press or their colleagues.

Smart commercial real estate developers factor this in their marketing and construction plans all the time.

They know that some companies say they care about the location so their employees can commute to the office cheaply and quickly.

What they don’t say publicly is that ‘by having an office in this neighborhood we also get prestige, proximity to the right investors and it signals to the market that we must be doing well if we can afford to be here.’

Back to the drill quote…

The drill provides the hole, the hole provides the ability to hold a bookshelf, the bookshelf provides easy access to the books your customer has been keeping in boxes for a while..the bookshelf also makes the room look well put together and that makes the owner of the house happy…I guess you could say the drill provides happiness in the end.

All of the above helps you write your copy, create your ads and have the right images on the site.

Understanding what human beings want is one of the greatest superpowers in business.

The less you think about what you want versus what they need to see or hear to make a decision, the more creative and successful you will be.

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