Why it is important to align your values with those of your customer

What is important to your customers? Do you actually know, or have you just assumed that your product or service addresses whatever it is?

Too often, companies make assumptions about the reasons their customers buy from them and choose to highlight those reasons without doing their homework first. This can result in misaligned messaging, missing information, and lost opportunities for conversions.

You should do your research to understand your customers motivations

People don’t just buy products; people buy the effect it has on the way they feel. Almost everything we buy has a deeper meaning and understanding this is key to making money. Brands which align themselves with their customers values are more likely to be appealing, be picked more frequently and as a result (due to the familiarity effect), become a regular purchase for the individual.

Let’s take buying a razor for example. Why do we pick the brand (or unbranded) razor we do? What are we saying about ourselves through our choice?

Now, at this point you might be thinking that personally you don’t choose your razor for any particular reason. For you, it is a purely logical decision. Perhaps you have the money to buy any razor, but choose the cheapest one available, regardless of what it is. For that reason, you consider yourself above the irrational decision-making process. But what you are really doing is making a conscious decision not to place value on one brand above the other. You are defining yourself by not defining yourself by the brand you choose. 

Despite what we may think, most of our purchasing decisions say something about who we are as a person, and clever marketing can tap into that. Companies such as the Doller Shave Club have used comedy to appeal to those who have an apparent disregard for branding. (If you get chance to watch their video on YouTube, I recommend doing so.) You will see that they are appealing those who perhaps wouldn’t have responded to typical marketing efforts, by understanding their target market’s motivations.   

To understand what motivates your customers, you need to listen to them. This doesn’t necessarily mean you have to do extensive, formal research. But you should be asking your customers why they choose your product and asking those that don’t, why they pick something else.

You should also try and dig a little deeper rather than accept the first answer given to you. Aim to understand your customers perspective on life more broadly, their attitudes, reasons for their beliefs and ways to get their attention. There are lots of cheap razors out there, but if you want to create loyalty from those motivated by price, you will have to do more than just be affordable.

Your messaging should address what’s in it for your customers, not necessarily the features you are most proud of

You’ve created a product or service that is one of a kind, market disrupting or revolutionary. That is great, truly it is. But what additional value does it hold for your customers over what they do or use currently?

That is what people are interested in. How will this product or service improve their lives? When something new is created, it’s far too easy to slip into the trap of defining its unique selling point by its features rather than its benefits.

Let’s imagine that a brand new type of toaster has just been invented. You could say that this toaster:

  • Has an inbuilt touch screen
  • Allows the user to select the desired level of “tostiness” by looking at a variety of colour shades
  • Allows user profiles to be created
  • Intelligently corrects the temperature depending on the thickness and density of bread

Or, you could do some research and discover that in busy families the settings are always being changed and are never right for who is using them. Therefore, you could say something like:

“Sick of disappointing breakfasts? Get perfect toast that will please all the family (even during the mad morning rush).”.

Now this toaster doesn’t exist (to my knowledge), and I’m not claiming it’s the best slogan you’ve ever read. But it does convey the benefit of owning it to busy families (our imagined target market). It is also a lot easier to read than a list of features.

This isn’t to say that you shouldn’t discuss your features, but when you are doing so, try and think about why that feature was included in the first place. For example:

  • Create personalised profiles for you and your family, meaning everyone can have perfect toast for them at the touch of a button.
  • Select your level of “tostiness” from the touch screen when creating your profile, rather than turning a dial and hoping for the best.
  • Don’t worry about using different types of bread, bagels or crumpets. The toaster will automatically adjust your settings for different breakfast treats.

Try and get into the habit of asking yourself “so what?” for every feature you write about. You are aware of the benefits, but your reader may not be.

If you try and talk to everybody, nobody will end up listening

We pay more attention to things which align with our world view, that reflect our value structure and make us feel part of something.

This is because as a species we like to find similarities between ourselves, things we can identify with, that make us feel a sense of community and belonging. We see it more and more everyday as the power of the media drives certain groups together at the expense of blocking others with different viewpoints out. This can have devastating effects for society, but it doesn’t all have to be bad.

There is a power in communities which can be used for good, to create belonging in an increasingly isolated world is an admirable pursuit. If your brand can create one of those communities, it will have a positive, loyal and brand promoting following which will give it the strength to weather storms.

This idea isn’t new, you can read about it by Googling Cialdini’s Unity principle, the belonging principle, the conformity principle, the role of belonging in Compassion Focused Therapy and other psychotherapeutic techniques. Our need to belong is innate, and one of the strongest things you can tap into to encourage your visitors to convert.

If you know your market well, you can pitch yourself specifically to them through your digital (and perhaps physical) presence. You can build on a sense of community through social media or community events. You then have a chance at creating a sense of belonging, giving you a powerful force for conversion.

Understand that buying your product or service is about pains as well as gains

Negative emotions are critical to the purchase of some products or services. For example, the fear or frustration associated with being standard on the side of the road if your car breaks down is a powerful motivator for many to purchase breakdown cover.

You can’t ignore the pain (negative motivator) with services such as these, because they are the reason they exist and intrinsic to the value they provide. But people don’t like to feel or dwell on negative emotions. So, if you emphasise the negative too much in your messaging people may switch off, choosing to ignore or deny the need to address the pain. You need to make sure you are protecting them from feeling too much negative emotion when viewing your content.

Therefore, it is important to provide a sense of efficacy (or the belief that the suggested course of action will be effective in addressing the problem) when addressing a negative motivator. This helps with the relief of negative emotions through action, rather than avoidance.

Promoting self-efficacy (the belief that the self can enact an effective course of action) by using role models similar in appearance, personality and experience is sometimes used in the dieting industry. Very often diet companies receive backlash for promoting their products with models who do not represent their target market. But those that show success stories from people the target market relates to and share a similar experience with tend to gain more positive reactions.

How a conversion optimisation audit can help you identify your messaging mishaps

A conversion optimisation audit from me can study metrics such as page depth, bounce rate, scroll depth, click patterns and many more indicators of engagement. It can help identify where your visitors are interested and involved in what you are saying, and points at which what you are saying isn’t resonating with them.

From there, we can carefully design tests, fuelled by your data, best practice, and user psychology. These tests will allow us to measure changes to your messaging against a baseline, demonstrating increased user engagement and increased conversion rates.

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