The Norm is Haggling Customers into Buying.
It’s no news that there’s a seismic shift taking place in the world of business with the internet disrupting almost every industry. The explosion of digital technologies over the past decade has empowered consumers with tools and platforms that make it incredibly easy to find what they want when they want it and getting it delivered to their doorsteps.
As the barrier to entry for most businesses lowers, and the pace of business quickens, the number of brands created is exponentially multiplying, inevitably creating extreme clutter of the marketplace.
Marty Neumeier, in his book Zag, describes marketplace clutter in 5 forms: 1- Product clutter (too many competing products and services), 2- Feature clutter (too many features in each product), 3- Advertising clutter (too many media messages), 4- Message clutter (too many elements per message) and 5- Media clutter (too many media channels).
Due to the vast amount of competition in the marketplace, it’s customers, not companies that decide which brand lives or dies. It’s not what you say your brand is that matters; it’s what your customers say your brand is what matters.
The best a company can do is focus on activities that build lasting value exchange by delighting customers to influence their brand reputation- This briefly is the definition of branding.
Reacting to consumer trends and behaviors, most marketers advise companies to use big data, social, and analytic capabilities to try to understand the customer and anticipate their next moves to position themselves in front ahead of the competition. They are using Advertising techniques such as Banner Ads, Google Ad word, Social Ads, to influence their customer’s buying decisions from consideration to purchase.
But there is a problem, most people find Ads intrusive, annoying, and even given a choice, they fast- forward, skip, or use Adblockers. Most people find Ads intrusive mainly because 1- They are mostly direct sales pitch. 2- People don’t like a one-way conversation. 3- People don’t trust advertisements.
The intrusive nature of most Ads makes them less effective and affects the conversion rate.
There are two main ways to influence conversion or the buying decisions — You either inspire or manipulate. If advertising is all you’re doing to market or promote your business, then most likely, you are manipulating rather than inspiring.
The reality is, in today’s world, manipulations are the norm for most businesses, primarily because they deliver fast results, and if repeated more frequently, could drive business growth in the short term. Typical manipulations include: dropping the price, running a fear-based or aspiration promotions, or using celebrity endorsements to influence consumer behavior.
Have you ever seen a Fear-based Ad like this — “Cutting your sun exposure is easier than cutting out skin cancer” reads an Ad for a sunscreen product. Or an aspirational Ad used mostly by luxury brands with messages that sell something that comes down to being better than you are — or a fitness Ad with messages like “Work those abs to your dream dress size!” or “Get ripped in six weeks” — these Ads and promotions manipulate.
Manipulation techniques are not necessarily pejorative. They are a perfectly valid strategy for driving transactions, especially transactions that are only required once or on rare occasions for business looking to achieve only a short- term gain with no consideration for the long term. But there are trade-offs — manipulation does not breed trust and loyalty, and over time, they cost more and more.
There is a big difference between repeat business and loyalty — Repeat business is when people do business with you multiple times. Loyalty is when people are willing to turn down a better product or a better price to continue doing business with you. Loyal customers often don’t even bother to research the competition or entertain other options.
As good as the short-term growth may feel from deploying manipulative techniques, they have a detrimental impact on the health of your brand in the long-term.
To inspire, it’s essential that you breed trust with your audience. If your brand fails to foster trust and a relationship with your customers, you will regularly need to haggle customers to sell your products or services instead of your customers buying because they understand the value exchange communicated by building a relationship.
If your business objective is to build lasting relationships with your customers, then it’s crucial to inspire rather than manipulate.