I’m willing to bet you, it’s not at all what you think. Because the business you’re in is not what you’re selling. The business you’re in is not your product.
The business you ARE in is the emotional promise you give your customer that’s most relevant to them.
WHAT DOES THAT MEAN?It’s easy to confuse what business you’re really in especially when you’re a small business. And that’s ok. It’s part of the process of building your brand. It’s understandable to be confused about this idea. If you design athletic wear, you may believe you’re in the athletic clothing business. If you design jewelry, you’re in the jewelry business, right? And if you design and build home decor pieces, you’re in the business of home furniture. But in actuality, not really. None of those are the actual business you’re really in. Let’s break this down. A product, regardless of what category it’s in, has a list of basic requirements in order to compete with other brands. For example, a car (in order to be considered a car) would require 4 wheels, an engine, a steering wheel, and seats. But it’s really more than that, isn’t it?
PRODUCT FEATURES ARE NOT WHAT TRIGGERS A CUSTOMER TO BUY. IT’S WHAT THOSE PRODUCT FEATURES MEAN EMOTIONALLY TO THEM.These features alone are not enough to persuade someone to buy, because consumers are not simply making a purchase solely on needs, like purchasing a vehicle only on the fact that the vehicle can get them from point A to point B. They’re making emotional decisions to fill that need but basing their decision on what they desire most, like safety, power, or the status symbol the vehicle provides. It’s never about the actual product, but what having that product means. When a customer is looking to make a purchase, the purchase needs to match their most important values. The product makes them feel a certain way and shows others what they feel and value as well, it’s a symbol. Regardless of what any consumer says about their purchase decisions and what motivated them to buy, their purchase decisions are making a statement, to themselves and the world.
THE BMW vs VOLVO COMPARISON STUDYA Volvo owner chooses their car over a BMW for certain reasons, and a BMW owner would never leave the BMW family for their own reasons. So what exactly is the difference? Without me even adding anything else, in your mind, you’re already saying to yourself, “Well, that’s because a Volvo is not a BMW” or vice versa. But why not? Are they not two vehicles with similar product features? Both car brands are incredibly popular, both offer similar levels of luxury, and both have that understated elegance it’s consumers love to see in affordable luxury. BUT … even though they both offer a similar driving machine, in the minds of their consumers that statement couldn’t be farther from the truth.
The VOLVO Tagline: “For Life“Volvo has built it’s brand on safety and reliability. Everyone knows Volvo is the safest vehicle on the road, especially with its impressive crash test facility in Sweden consistently developing new advancements and dominating safety ratings year after year. A tagline like “For Life” is telling their consumers two things, one it’s built to last, and two, it’s built for the ultimate safety.
The BMW Tagline: “The Ultimate Driving Machine“This simple 4 word slogan has a different statement in mind. It’s making it clear that BMW is not for everyone on the road (even though it has captivated entire generations), but built for those who seek the ultimate driving experience, for those who prefer performance and pleasure. BMW is still one of the highest safety rated vehicles and Volvo still provides a smooth ride. But do you see the differences now between two virtually similar products, with similar product features, and how differently their consumers feel when using each brand? Volvo is not in the car manufacturing business. It’s in the business of “safety“.
BMW is not in the car manufacturing business. It’s in the business of providing “pleasure behind the wheel“.
Two similar vehicles with two very different purposes.
HOW TO FIND THE BUSINESS YOU’RE REALLY INIn order to really understand what you’re really selling to your customer (not the product), you need to first understand who your customer really is, what they value most, who they desire to be, and how they want to feel when using your product. [Not sure how to figure out who your customer is? Check out IDENTIFY YOUR CUSTOMER IN 4 SIMPLE STEPS + a super simple downloadable cheat sheet at the end.] Here’s the 3 question system to determine what business you’re really in:
- BE RELEVANT. What matters most to your customer? What do they value most about your kind of product? Do they want elegance? Craftsmanship? Durability? Performance? A specific style? Status? What value does your product provide?
- WHAT EMOTION DOES YOUR CUSTOMER WANT TO FEEL. What emotion matters to your customer most? Do they want to feel sexy? Comfortable? Stylish? Smart? Powerful? Like they are part of an exclusive elite club? What’s the most important emotion they want to feel?
- WHAT PROMISE ARE YOU MAKING. How are you committing to making your customer feel how they want to feel most? How are you promising the emotional benefit they desire (performance, status, sex appeal, etc.)?
Last, now that you understand what truly triggers your customer to buy from one brand over another, it’s your job to be consistent with this promise. If your customer can’t trust that you can deliver the emotional benefit they are seeking with your product they’ll move on to another brand and it will cost you greatly trying to get them back.
Still need a little more?
There are several emotional drivers that impact why consumers choose one brand over another, but these 5 are some of the top motivators when it comes to decision making that a product can provide.
- STATUS. People want others to know they’re successful. They want to share that they have wealth and high status. It makes them feel good and provides validation that they’ve “made it”.
- PLEASURE. Everyone has a weak spot for their guilty pleasures. It’s easy to see when some are willing to pay $7 for a specialty brewed coffee or $2000 for a limited edition leather purse. EVERYONE has a guilty pleasure of some kind, jewelry, music festivals, sports cars, shoes, lingerie, luxury vacations, gourmet restaurants, spa days, or chocolate. How can your product make your customer happier and how can you make the experience of using your product as enjoyable as possible and make them feel good about their purchase?
- CONVENIENCE/TIME SAVER. There are several things people can’t do and several things people won’t do themselves. This is where you come in. People are busy and time is money. Show your customers how much time and money they could save by choosing you, or better yet, show them how they could better spend that extra time they’ll have by allowing you to take care of it. It’s all a matter of perspective.
- REASSURANCE. Regardless of life’s surprises (and issues that arise), people want to feel good about their choices and have peace of mind when it matters most. This is why “Money Back Guarantees” are so successful with products. It gives new customers peace of mind to take the risk (without feeling like they’re taking a risk). It’s a promise your customers have grown to trust, like FedEx’s famous tagline, “When it absolutely needs to be there overnight”. People want to have control, but they can’t control everything. If you can ease that anxiety, you’ve found yourself a strong motivating purchase trigger.
- SELF IMPROVEMENT/EMPOWERMENT. Personal improvement products are a gold mine, whether it’s education, fitness, beauty, or finance. If you have a product that can help someone achieve their goals and dreams, that’s the business you’re in. Customers are more concerned with the results than they are the process, and if you can show them your method is the least painful or smartest route with the results to prove it, you’ve got yourself a winning motivational trigger.
What business are you in? Let me know in the comments below.