It was Jim and Kathy’s first — and last — date.
They went out to dinner, and Jim understood the mission: to make sure that Kathy understood his many great qualities. As the appetizers were delivered, Jim gave her a full background of his academic achievements and about the fact that he had been the captain of his high school basketball team.
Before they were through with their salads, Jim had given Kathy a list of his college and graduate school accomplishments. He told her he could totally have continued playing basketball at the college level, but he was pretty popular and just busy all the time.
Knowing that the more he said about himself, the more attractive he would appear, Jim began giving Kathy his work history as dinner arrived. At this point Kathy had said nothing in nearly 45 minutes beyond a few perfunctory interjections such as “you don’t say…” and “sure,” and “wow, really?”
At the end of the night, Jim drove Kathy back to her apartment. He had not had the chance to tell her about his hobbies, interests, and favorite movies. So he wrapped things up with the tantalizing words, “And there’s so much more that you’d be interested in knowing about me, but we’re out of time.”
Before she left the car, Jim thought it would be a good idea to create a little bit of urgency in order to secure a second date. His parting words were, “My schedule fills up quickly, and I only have limited space available on my calendar. Don’t wait too long to call me back!”
He spent the next several weeks waiting for Kathy to call. Remarkably, she never did.
Months later, a friend asked him, “Are you seeing anybody these days?”
“I tried dating,” responded Jim, bitterly. “It didn’t work.”
Jim is the classic bad date. He talks only about himself, believing that the more positive data he can provide to establish what he’s done and who he is, the more appealing he will seem to the person that he is trying to impress. Here’s the thing: if Kathy wanted Jim’s resume, she could have looked him up on LinkedIn before they met for dinner. The information she wanted that night was very different: “Are you a nice guy? Do you have the same sense of humor as me? Would we be a good team? Do you find me interesting? Do you like dogs?” None of these questions were answered.
More often than not, this is exactly how we advertise. We are convinced that if we can load up our ads with enough positive facts and figures about our business, we’ll win the customer’s business. But as the advertiser, you weren’t asked about how many years you’ve been a local, family-owned company. You weren’t asked if you’re the number one volume ______ dealer in New England, four years running. You weren’t even asked whether you will or will not be undersold.
Here’s what the consumer ALWAYS asks: “Can you help me with my problem? Can you fulfill my need? Can you improve my life?” Anything else is just data. Data has its place, but it should never be used to drive the ad copy. When that happens, the buyer’s response is to stop listening. You had their attention, but then you lost it. And more often than not, the final analysis is, “I tried advertising. It doesn’t work.”
Author Kaitlin Wernet summed it up nicely: “Most marketers are simply trying to force their customers to make a decision that will end in a sale. What they should be doing instead is making the buyer feel understood and working to gain their trust.”
Listen to what your customers are saying, and find out what they need. Show them that your product or service can help them cross their particular finish line. If you communicate that point effectively, the sale will happen. Not because you ordered them to “hurry, buy now”, but because you explained clearly that you have the solution.
Your relationship with your customer could turn into a long-term thing.
In order to get to that level of commitment, however… you gotta get a second date.