Chapter 3: Getting Your Customers into Decision Making Mode
If the nature of your product or service is such that the buyer might consider buying only once per year, they are spending 99.999% of their life without even the slightest thought of buying from you. How do you like that? Do you want to change that and get them to consider buying just a little more often? Well that's what we’re going to do.
The purchase decision is what affects your sales.
Before anyone makes a purchase, that is before they say yes to your proposal or before they actually engage in the transaction, they have to mentally evaluate things and then make the buy decision. In other words, the mental decision to buy comes first, then the actual act of buying follows, they are two different things, although they sometimes occur in such rapid succession that they appear to be as one. But we're going to separate them out.
The purchase decision from the purchase act and you are going to be able to affect the client’s decision making which results in your sales skyrocketing.
This chapter is about getting your customers or potential customers into a decision-making mode.
That's the prerequisite of actually buying.
Let's start with a quiz, it's multiple choice with no right or wrong answers. I’m just trying to determine what mood you're in right now. Here's the question: based on your present mood, which of the following activities would you rather do right now assuming you had to stop reading my blog and engage with one of them.
A) Play a 90 mins football match or any other sport you like.
B) Call a friend and chit-chat on the phone.
C) Watch a movie.
D) Go to one or more stores and shop for new clothes.
If you choose either A or D, you're in the decision-making mode (DMM).
Engaging in a sporting activity requires concentration and many instantaneous decisions on your brain's part. Shopping also requires thinking, concentration, and decision-making.
If you chose either B, talking to a friend on the phone, or C, watching a movie you're out of the DMM during this time. Neither chatting with a friend or watching a movie requires much thinking or decision-making. Well technically just being alive requires some brain activity but the minute decisions required to talk or watch a movie are so insignificant we won't count them in this article.
So you can see that the brain fluctuates back and forth like a light switch going on or off into and out of decision-making mode based on the situation at hand. Which does the brain prefer to be in DMM or out of the DMM? Well consider this, the brain likes to avoid any unnecessary activity as a means of self-preservation. It tries to expend the least amount of energy to accomplish its tasks and will therefore take the easy path whenever possible.
Making decisions requires more brain activity than not making decisions therefore the natural tendency is for the brain to avoid DMM.
If you want consumers to deliberately decide to buy your product or service, you've got to do things to wake them up and keep their brains into DMM or those sales won't happen. Incidentally, you may wonder why I'm going into this in-depth discussion instead of just listing my recommendations with no explanation.
The reason is this, I'm relying on you to create different ways of implementing my eventual recommendations. If you have the background knowledge and an understanding of how it works, you'll be able to create and implement it.
Even though the brain likes to relax out of DMM, obviously a person needs to be in DMM once in a while to function, handle everyday tasks, and excel when meeting challenges.
In addition, there are times when people choose to go into DMM because the resulting feeling such as emotional stimulation let's say, is worth the effort.
That's why you choose to play football or play video games or the right software code or to call potential clients.
Making all those necessary decisions is rewarding to you in some way.
A person must be in DMM in order to make a purchase decision that's not exactly the same thing as saying that a person is in DMM each time he makes a purchase. He could after all decide to purchase a product on Monday but not get around to making the purchase until Friday or until a month from Monday. By the time he actually makes the purchase, his brain may well be out of DMM.
What If I tell you, the act of purchasing is not really all that important. Is that shocking? not really, when you consider that the purchase decision which occurs sometime before the act, is what's really important. The purchase decision is what affects your sales. Speaking of the time lag that sometimes separates the purchase decision from the purchase act, isn’t that what really a buying habit is? A buying habit is nothing more than an old decision that is repeatedly acted upon sometime after that all decision has been made. I'll let you know someone who shops at the same grocery store week after week month after month year after year. Once upon a time, the consumer was in the decision-making mode with regard to grocery shopping.
In DMM, Meteor made the decision to shop at a particular store, then she dropped out of the DMM as far as choosing a store is concerned.
Subsequently, she just acts upon that decision over and over.
Buying habits are good for you as a marketer. They help protect you from having your customers stolen away by your competitors. Yes, it works the other way around too. You might have to break a buying habit to gain a new customer.
But with all the knowledge you're gaining from my blog, you'll be breaking buying habits and gaining new customers right and left.
One more point as we get deeper and deeper into this, just because a person goes into DMM with regards to purchasing your product or service, doesn't mean the person will necessarily choose to purchase your product or service.
He/she may choose to purchase a competitor's product or none at all.
Later in my blog, I will discuss how to get them to choose to buy your brand but in this article, we're concentrating on getting consumers into DMM as a first step. But good news, when a person's brain is in the decision-making mode with regard to your type of product or service, that person is ready and willing to make the purchase decision.
However, the bad news, that doesn't happen very often with regard to any particular type of product or service like the ones you offer, a consumer may be out of DMM almost all the time. Out of 604,800 seconds that comprises a 7-day week, your typical customer might spend oh let's say 10 seconds thinking about buying your product, that's a whole lot of time they're not thinking about buying from you and that's if they think about buying once each week.
If the nature of your product or service is such that the buyer might consider buying only once per year, they are spending 99.999% of their life without even the slightest thought of buying from you. How do you like that? Do you want to change that and get them to consider buying just a little more often? Well, that's what we’re going to do.
There are several different things that cause the client's brain to go into decision-making mode. By the way, there are only two different things that cause his or her brain to drop out of DMM. We already noted that dropping out of DMM with regard to any particular type of buyer decision is the brain's default state. So it will be out of DMM state most of the time.
In addition, the brain drops out of DMM immediately following a decision. Of the many different things that cause the brain to go into the DMM, two are out of your control.
Let's identify those two first, so you don't inadvertently waste any marketing effort trying to affect them. One DMM activating stimulus that you can affect is an acute need.
For example, your television just broke down in a major way and suddenly you're in need of a new one, yesterday you didn't need a new one but today you do. Just as suddenly, your brain finds itself in the DMM with regard to television sets. You'll need to think about it now and make several related decisions about what brand, size, the price range you want plus what store you will buy it from.
The consumer may be running low on food at home so her brain kicks into decision-making mode and off she goes to the store or supermarket. Notice of a lawsuit or penalty charge notice arrives and suddenly decisions have to be made about hiring a solicitor to start with.
In these cases, it's the growing or sudden need to acquire something that activates DMM and you the marketer usually have nothing to do with this.
The other DMM activating stimulus that you can not affect is periodic self-activation.
Rarely does someone make a decision only once and then continue to act upon it over afterward. Even without any outside stimuli, the customer will reactivate DMM from time to time with regard to any particular product or service. Companies call it periodic review or needs analysis. The typical consumer has no formal name for it, they just do it instinctively.
Now here are some DMM activating stimuli that you the marketer can affect. The first one is collective impressions. The cumulative weight of a number of persuasive impressions referring to your advertising and other marketing can cause the client's brain to kick into DMM. Like drops of water that accumulate in a precariously balanced bucket.
One more drop, and the entire bucket tips over. We noted earlier that most people are out of the DMM with regard to any particular type of product or service most of the time.
This means that your marketing messages and your sales calls are reaching potential buyers while they are out of the DMM. Here is an important question, if the vast number of people you're paying to reach with advertisements and more are out of the decision-making mode, meaning they're not thinking about buying at all, is that advertising or sales effort wasted? NO! such impressions are not wasted when people are out of the DMM which is most of the time their brains are still receiving information there still susceptible to influence. The impressions you make on a consumer's brain regardless of whether they are in the DMM or not, mount up.
When they reach the tipping point the brain kicks into DMM. Another thing that activates DMM is emotional stimulation. Sometimes a buying habit becomes too comfortable, too dull, too boring, when an alternative stimulates emotion in a way that habit does not, DMM can be activated. If this weren’t true, a few married people would never stray.
After all, once two people commit to one another the brain is supposed to drop out of the DMM with regard to mating. But when the brain finds itself lacking the type of emotional stimulation it craves, it will be most receptive to another source that can supply the desired stimulation.
A third DMM activating stimuli is a different and or better outcome.
People will get into the decision-making mode when they believe that a different or a better outcome is likely. Something new or different can break a buying habit and snap a person into DMM. Why are laundry detergent makers always sticking the words "New and Improved" on their boxes?
They are telling us that the outcome presumably a cleaner or brighter wash is now attainable.
Another thing that activates DMM is a significant price drop that is a good old sale of one kind or another. I know this happens to you once in a while you're walking through the aisle of a store or visiting a favourite website, suddenly you see something on sale and the savings are very attractive. You instantly find yourself in decision-making mode with regard to a product you had no intention of buying until you saw the sale price. Let's boil all this down to action-oriented things you can do to get buyers into decision-making mode.
#1 Maintain Marketing Activity, as we noted, collected impressions are very potent. When you maintain a healthy dose of marketing activity including advertising and person-to-person selling your filling those brain buckets out there.
Your latest direct mail promotion, the latest billboard campaign, latest internet ad, or email or radio schedule, or latest sales call, may very well be the final drought that tips the bucket and causes the brain to go into DMM. This can happen to many different brains out there in consumer land which moves the sales needle.
Compare that to a marketer that does not engage in any regular marketing effort; they won't benefit from the effects of collected impressions because no impressions are collecting customers' brains. Every once in a while, such a marketer might engage in some ad campaign or sales effort and get disappointing results that's because there are only beginning to fill buckets and none have tipped over yet but when you maintain a steady amount of marketing activity, you empower each individual advertisement, commercial promotion or piece of publicity to produce immediate results.
Each lays on top of the accumulated impressions of all the others that preceded it and lots of brains are kicking into DMM at once.
Here's a point of clarification when I say maintain marketing activity, I don't mean you spend like a maniac, you can be cautious and save money in various ways, yet still maintain your marketing, for example, I'm sure you're aware of flighting in advertising.
Meaning instead of buying a schedule of ads that never ends, you purchase off a flight.
This is when your adverts appear for a certain length of time usually in quarter your increments like 12 weeks or 24 weeks or it can be any direction you and the media outlet agree upon. Then when your flight ends it ends! and you go without any adverts for a while then you buy another flight and so on. if your length of time between flights isn't too long it can be just as effective yet cost less than running adverts all the time.
Another way to save on advertising is to cut back on the number of different mediums you use. Instead, dominate just one medium or possibly two if budgets allow.
Choose social media, radio, newspaper, television, paid advertisement, coupon booklets, whatever but only one or two of them. By dominating just one or possibly two mediums, you make enough repeated impressions on the same people to kick those brains into DMM.
#2 Periodically improve or update some aspects of your products or services.
Technology marketers like myself do this often non-stop. Technology by its nature is always evolving and improving, so new updated gadgets and software are constantly hitting the marketplace. But what if the nature of your products or services is the opposite of high-tech? What if your product or service hasn't changed in 100 years or so how can you periodically improve or update something that just doesn't lend itself to updating. But that hasn't stopped Gillette from periodically updating its line of razors.
Keep in mind the plane razor has not ever changed, it's a blade on a stick and it's always been that but Gillette launches new cheesy versions every few years.
I can still remember my father's Gillette Sensor in the late 90s, they brought it to Market with great fanfare and it met with great success a few years later they eclipsed the sensor with that Mach3 also accompanied by heavy marketing pre-frame a few years after that the Mach3 Turbo came out razzle-dazzle and well you see the pattern and the pattern continues.
Gillette’s M3 power razor, followed by the Fusion, followed by the ProGlide, and on and on. Every three to five years like clockwork Gillette releases a newer snazzy slicker better razor. If they didn't improve or update the Razor sales would decline as the consumer would simply keep using the same old one they've already got. The entire clothing industry is supported by changes in fashion from season to season if they didn't constantly change styles, sales would drop drastically as customers simply continue to wear the clothes they already own.
This is another area where your creativity needs to shine. Think of ways you can make both improvements and style changes from time to time. Automobile manufacturers thrive on this and you can too.
#3 Stimulite a Different Emotion. Back in chapter one, I talked about how emotional stimulation is one of the things people really want. Let's say you've taken advantage of this by identifying emotion and stimulating it in your marketing. But after some time, several years most likely it may be time to start stimulating a different emotion that can cause your product service or company to take on an entirely different persona which might be exactly what you need to splash water and the sleeping buyers and snap them into a decision-making mode.
#4 Announce a dramatic price drop. I'm talking about a good old-fashioned sale. Now you know I like simple stuff and the simpler it is, the more powerful it is and nothing sounds simpler than just sticking a big sale sign on it. But only if it were that simple, the truth is pricing strategy whether you raise or lower your price and the timing of all that is a bit more complicated. As it turns out pricing strategy is quite involved with a lot of tricky angles to consider. One could write an entire book on a subject but here's what it boils down to as far as sales are concerned.
Fixed costs versus variable costs. If you are in a high fixed cost low variable cost business, you can have really enticing sales from time to time and come out way ahead. Here's why: once you cover your fixed cost, every additional bit of revenue goes straight to the bottom line.
So have lots of additional revenue even if it is at lower price points. For example, a pizza's shop, their fixed costs of setting up and running the entire business including advertising and promotion are high relative to the cost of producing each pizza. If you just count the cost of ingredients of each pizza, even throw in the box and time for someone to put things together, that is really low compared to the price of that pizza. So you can afford to offer some specials or sales all the time such as buy one get the second half price or buy 2 and get the third free.
Since your costs of the additional pizza are low the end result after kicking customers into DMM is a larger top line and bigger bottom line. if you're in a low fixed cost, high variable cost business on the other hand you really can’t have dramatic price reductions.
An example would be a car dealer although some dealerships are high cost too the cost of each vehicle is such that they can offer the customer a buy one get one free deal or 20% off, of course, every car dealer in town claims to have the lowest price but that's another matter entirely. With a high variable cost business, you may be able to have a dramatic sale on some high-margin accessory or related service, however.
#5 Sell Responsibility. People are tired of all the stress, anxiety, frustration, and time required to do it themselves. They want to hire it done, they want to pay you to do it for them and take responsibility for getting it done. Done right, on time, and with any necessary corrections. The customer wants you to remove the heavy burden of responsibility from their shoulders and assure them you're going to take care of it. Whatever it might be in your particular case and they will pay handsomely for you to do this. Have you noticed that many service businesses especially those that deal with home maintenance such as painters, plumbers, remodelers, window or carpet cleaners, do the job, take your money, and then totally disappear.
Once you had the final payment good luck ever seeing them or hearing from them again. Unless you want to pay them some more money then you'll hear from them again otherwise not and I'm not talking about those fly-by-night cowboys who are dodgy, I'm talking about so-called reputable outfits with actual street addresses. They do the job meeting minimum requirements but take no responsibility beyond that and that's a big mistake I believe when you sell responsibility and can honestly say that the customer will take care of it to your satisfaction you don't have to worry about a thing and you really do follow through and deliver on their promise this can really put people into decision-making mode.
Remember they have a restrained demand to be relieved of the responsibility and when you're right they are ready to assume that, they're ready to make a buy decision.
There's an added bonus to selling responsibility beyond kicking people into DMM, most likely you can charge extra for assuming responsibility either with a higher price, to begin with, or by offering the client an extended warranty type of option that they pay extra for.
In this chapter, we’ve discovered that the buying process is composed of (A) making the buy decision and (B) the actual act of buying. We concluded that the buy decision is the more critical of the two and we discussed several ways you can take the consumer into the decision-making mode. In the next chapter, I will continue to build on top of this by triggering the purchase decision this is when your sales really start skyrocketing!
Read Chapters 4. Bookmark this blog and do not forget to leave a comment. Your feedback really matters. See you soon