How to sell things: Highlight the obvious

don't overestimate your customer

“Nobody ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of the American public.” – H.L. Mencken

If you feel a bit insulted by that classic Mencken comment, I need to tell you that so do I. However, there’s a bit – actually a lot – of truth in it, especially when you put it in the context of dealing with large groups of people. And to be fair, Mencken was referring to the “American public” when he said it, which is a rather large group of people.

You need to keep this in mind when you’re creating anything that can be remotely considered a marketing or advertising piece for your small business. When you are trying to sell people on something, you have to start out with the mindset that you need to lead your prospects every step of the way.

And here’s a very important, and often overlooked part of this:

When describing benefits in a sales piece you must include the obvious.

Small business owners become so close to their product, service or offer that they stop seeing the obvious benefits. In fact, this is why so many advertising pieces, landing pages, and content marketing materials focus almost exclusively on features instead of benefits. Small business owners gets super excited about all the cool features they have developed that they forget the basic benefits those features create for the consumer.

Consider this:

The most versatile widget in the world!

Our new widget has 27 settings so it can handle whatzits of all sizes! Imagine how much easier it will be to run your line and push product through with that level of adaptability. If you’re still using the old style widget, you’re going to be blown away by the way ours will transform your shop.

That may seem okay but it is far too focused on the features and it assumes the person reading it is going to think deeply on the subject. Sorry. People are busy and frankly most don’t like to think. How about something like this:

Save $5460 next year by making one simple change

You’re spending seven hours a week right now adjusting your old widget to handle all the different-sized whatzits that come through your shop. Do the math. With our widget you’ll save seven hours a week, 52 weeks a year. At $15 an hour, that’s $5460 straight into your bank account.

Effective appeals are those that hit people on an emotional level because our emotions are universal. People have widely varying abilities to logic things out, but they are all moved by the same basic emotional triggers. Hand anyone a check for $5460 and it’s going to make a big impression. Make the same person consider the variables involved with increased assembly line productivity and you’re skating on thin ice. A few will get it, but most won’t.

Look over your marketing materials and drill down to discover the most obvious benefits and their related basic human emotions so you can tap into those to sell your product of service. Then sit back and watch what happens.


Image: By Reid, O. Richard (Oliver Richard), b. 1898, Artist (NARA record: 8466378) (U.S. National Archives and Records Administration) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons.