We’d like to think that everyone makes sound, well-reasoned choices regarding purchasing products and services. But in reality, people are complicated, and so are the emotions that drive them. Marketers and scientists study how emotion and motivation influence behavior, and in the process uncover ways to influence buyers by appealing to their negative emotions, fears, and insecurities. The results are tools, neutral and harmless until used in the wrong way, and despite the possibility of exploitation, these tools can be used to increase customer satisfaction and repeat business.
Preying on people’s weaknesses and fears to sell your products is unethical. But if you’re solving real problems for them, instead of lying and stealing their money, you can use even negative emotions to improve life for your customers and yourself. But remember, your customers are your most important resource, and alienating them by marketing negative emotions the wrong way is a real possibility. Make sure you understand your customer’s pain points, and find real ways to solve their problems; don’t trick or deceive your most valuable assets, cherish and care for them, and watch them bloom into loyal repeat customers. With this in mind, let’s look at how understanding your customers’ negative emotions, and formulating a useful response, to increase your sales.
1.Make Things Easier for Them & Calm Their Fears
What’s better than free and easy? Nothing. We all enjoy getting free stuff, or not having to work for the things we want, but most of us already know that’s not how the world works. If we want more, we’ll have to work harder, and hope it pays off. But many people still believe their lives can be improved with little or no effort, if only they knew the secret. They’re sure they could be rich and famous, if only they could read the right book, network with the right people, be at the right place at the right time, etc.
For the most part, the problem isn’t a lack of secret knowledge, but a fear of how hard actually achieving their goals will be. Usually, these people just need to buckle down, accept reality, and get to work. But occasionally, they’re right; there is a better, more efficient way to do…whatever, and they just need someone to show it to them.
Maybe you sell websites, or chickens, or wooden barrels. Do your customers want to know every detail related to the acquisition, manufacture, and distribution of your goods or services? No, they want you to deliver on time and without excuses, making dealing with you as easy as possible.
Use this to your advantage by quickly and efficiently identifying and countering problems in advance, informing them of new, better ways to do things, and illustrating options that could same them time, money, or effort. By making things simpler for your customers, you’re not only increasing their satisfaction with your business, but also making their lives easier, which is something everyone appreciates.
2. Build Rapport – Let Them Know You Understand and can Empathize With Them
Being worthy, respected, admired, and envied is important to everyone. We all hate being made to look stupid or incompetent, weak or foolish, ineffective or wrong. We’re social creatures, and we don’t want to be the one everyone else pities and scorns; we want to be respected and admired. Any time we feel left out or put down we tend to become resentful and hurt, and begin looking for ways to redress such inequitable treatment, leading to a whole host of negative emotions. Such feelings can be extremely detrimental to our emotional health, leading to unhappiness and depression. But if you can identify someone’s pain, you might be able to do something about it. And if you ease a person’s pain, they’ll remember it, and possibly come to rely on you as a pain reliever.
Before you can solve their pain, you have to convince them you’ve felt it yourself. Make personal confessions they can relate with, like “when I was researching, I found it difficult to understand all the options”. Remind them you have experience with the problems they’re suffering from, and that you’ve found solutions that work. Give examples of how others currently view them, and how they might be viewed after solving their problem, like “without an email address, people might think you’re too busy to communicate with customers, but after you get email set up, people from all over the world will be able to talk to you anytime, which could lead to more sales and increased customer satisfaction”. Point out additional problems they might encounter, and how you’ll help solve them. Remind them of all the time, money, and effort they could waste trying to solve such problems on their own, especially when you already have the answers.
After establishing yourself as an expert capable of providing a solution, actually eliminate or ease your customer’s pain. If a customer says a topic makes them feel stupid, explain how difficult it is to understand, but reassure them they’ll be more successful with your help. If a customer feels they’re not competent with a procedure, help build their experience and mastery through training, coaching, and support. If they feel like they’re being ignored and marginalized, find ways to make them feel needed and respected, like asking their opinion and giving them responsibility. Often, negative emotions can be reduced or eliminated by judicious application of empathy and understanding, leaving favorable opinions and repeat sales where ignorance, resentment, and fear used to be.
3. Play to Their Anger – Let Them Know You Are On Their Side
Everyone’s gotten angry at some point, whether with themselves or someone else. Sometimes we quickly get over it; other times we hold onto it our entire lives. Instead of harmlessly venting their anger and frustration into the atmosphere or the nearest pillow, some instead allow the pressure to build. In time, the anger becomes concentrated, burning hotter than ever before.
This fire, while dangerous, can be a lucrative niche to focus on when marketing products. Just be careful. Marketing to anger carries both risks and rewards. Sure, it might be easy to talk an angry person into buying a gun or a home in a different part of the country, but they could also direct their anger toward you, using your products or services to harm others, or even threaten your reputation and personal well being.
Don’t encourage customers to nurture anger or other strong negative emotions; show them ways to use their emotions to achieve constructive outcomes. They might think they want to get even, but sometimes all they really want is to solve a few of their problems. Rather than feeding their anger, identify why they’re angry, and find ways to reduce it. If you defuse tension and solve customer problems without adding new ones, you not only reduce their anger and stress, but also increase the chances they’ll patronize you in the future.
4. Providing Secret Info
Many people believe in secrets, conspiracies, hidden information, and items/people/products with unusual powers. They need to believe such things exist so their problems aren’t purely a result of personal failure or misfortune, but a lack of the knowledge required to improve themselves. Like those looking for a get-rich-quick scheme, these people are afraid of how much time, effort, and uncertainty is involved in making a decision. Rather than accept reality, they search for an easier way. Sometimes, all they really need is someone to sit down and explain, in detail, what they need to do to achieve their goals, and how to do it.
Claiming to have inside knowledge in a field has been an effective way of attracting business for untold years, and will continue to be for the foreseeable future. But rather than manufacture “mysteries” for the gullible to digest, share the fruits of your hard work and the insights gleaned from your experience. You may find designing websites to be simple, but it’s an intimidating chasm of confusion to the uninitiated just wanting a functional site. Rather than assume that everyone will learn with the ease you did, instead help them learn. Tell them about problems you’ve encountered, and the solutions you’ve discovered. Tell them about the strategies you’ve developed to become more efficient, more productive, and more satisfied.
Some fear sharing such knowledge would rob them of the advantages they’ve worked so hard to achieve, but in reality showing a willingness to help others paints you in a far more favorable light than if you selfishly keep your discoveries to yourself. Of course, there’s no reason why you can’t improve yourself while helping others, so feel free to charge for you time. As long as you can honestly say you’re helping others, you can earning a living while making life easier for your clients, resulting in lucrative, mutually-beneficial relationships for everyone involved.
Use Powerful Emotions To Your Advantage, and To Benefit Your Customers
Negative emotions have an incredible power over us, one that unscrupulous marketers can use to manipulate us to their advantage; but only if we let them. Understanding the power negative emotions have over us is the first step to robbing them of their power; using them to everyone’s advantage is the final nail in their coffin. Rather than using fear, anger, greed, and laziness to influence your customer’s behavior, find ways to overcome them, bringing benefits to yourself and others in the process. If you do, you’ll not only decrease the impact such emotions have over you and your clients, but also help increase everyone’s success and happiness.