A feeling of relief swept over my body at exactly 7:19 this morning. A dreaded appointment, now re-scheduled. One less thing to worry about, I thought. I made this appointment a month ago. Back then, I barely gave it a second thought. I knew it would be unpleasant.
“Ah, still a month away. Plenty of time before I needed to stress about it.”
It’s easy to act brave a month before you’re called on to act. Today, the day finally arrived. Icy roads plus two sick kids and a sick wife forced me to work from home today. That left me no choice but to re-schedule.
Of course, I refer to the dreaded dental appointment. Nobody loves going to the dentist. We saddle up and deal with it because our health demands it. If we’re lucky it’s just two times per year of mild discomfort.
A lot of angst and uneasiness builds up before I walk in the office. Will it hurt? What will he find? There’s always the unknown element.
Did I feel this way when I made the appointment? No. That was a month ago. It didn’t feel real then.
We all face our own unique challenges when it comes to decision making. There’s one quirk of human nature, however, that’s almost universal.
Brave Today. Coward Tomorrow
Let’s pretend I give you a challenge. It involves doing an activity that elevates your quality of life beyond what you thought possible. The activity, however, feels scary.
Next, I tell you this challenge takes place in two months. The fear of doing this activity registers with you. You feel certain that when the day arrives, you’ll overcome your fear.
Two months goes by. Today’s the day to take action. Fear grips you. You back out.
Fear holds the most power in the present. The closer the fearful event gets the more we feel it.
This little bit of human nature holds true in marketing too, especially when you sell high priced products.
Tell your customers you’re planning a weekend seminar in six months. Advise them the cost will be $3,000. You may get a lot of folks to raise their hand and express interest.
Here’s the thing:
That kind of expense stings when you’re on a budget. Sample those same customers when it’s time to pony up the dough and see how the fervor recedes. All of the sudden the timing isn’t right. The money dries up. The potential customer disappears.
Anticipate Delayed Fear
First, you must know the fear that will drive your customer when it comes time to buy. Is it money or commitment? Or, is it doing something uncomfortable like knocking on doors?
Second, are you asking for commitment now or at a future date? If you seek commitment later, expect that when “Iater” comes, fear will take over. Those brave souls ready to take on the world today may not be so brave at the moment of truth.
Mitigate Delayed Fear
Finally, when the time comes for your customer to decide, make it easier for them. A series of smaller steps can help ease the fear. Bringing up the fear as a natural step in the process can help.
Sometimes it helps to ask your prospect to role play. Ask them to pretend they were advising a friend in the same situation. What advice would they give? That puts them in the same mindset as if they were deciding for their brave future self.
Understand this one concept and it will transform the way you think about copywriting, persuasive writing and marketing:
Your customer boasts of bravery when tasked with conquering his fear tomorrow. That same customer will feels terror when tomorrow arrives.
Don’t ignore it. Deal with it. You may help him overcome it.