counterintuitiveI’m always trying to improve my selling and persuasion abilities at least 1% per week…

As I’ve covered here numerous times, 1% doesn’t seem like much.  But if you get 1% better every week for years’ the compounding effect is massive.  We’re talking millions-of-percent better.  Untouchable status.

What this means is that I’m always reflecting.  Trying to find some aspect of what I do that has an opportunity for improvement.  Preferably, one that is relevant to current work.  And then find out what I can do to improve that.

This often means asking a LOT of questions of myself.

Recently, I’ve found myself asking a bunch of questions about a very specific topic…

Who am I attracting to read or consume my promotional material?

For example, I was just in a conversation with a client the other day.  We’re working on a promo to go in the mail this fall.  We were discussing the merits of two particular big ideas that could be used to create a selling narrative for the product.

As we weighed the pros and cons of each, one of them hit a brick wall.  Both could easily be turned into a logical justification for buying the product.  But because they were each about such different topics, they would most definitely attract different readership bases.  That is, a different group of people on each mailing list would probably be interested in the “cover story” of each promotion.

So I started asking the questions:

— “Will big idea A attract the kind of readers who’d be most likely to respond and become satisfied customers?”

— “What about big idea B?  Will it attract the kind of readers who’d be most likely to respond and become satisfied customers?”

I was hit with a moment of clarity.  One of the big ideas would attract the perfect audience for this product.  The other, not so much.

Let’s get deep…

If someone has a set of beliefs and a personal identity that resonate with your product, it can be really easy to persuade them to try it.  Because it’s in line with their beliefs and personal identity.

However, if they have a set of beliefs and personal identity that are discordant with your product, your selling challenge is much bigger.  Not only do you have to convince them of the merits of your product…  You also have to either convince them to act against their beliefs and identity, or get them to change those beliefs and their identity.  Much more difficult!

So, for example, some investors pretty much always chase fad stocks.  You can tell them one fad is going out of fashion, but then you have to tell them what fad is on the rise — it’s very difficult to convince them to stop investing in fad stocks.

Other investors are, as another example, conservative value investors.  You can point them to a great value investing opportunity.  But try to convince them to buy into the latest big Wall Street trend, and you’re in trouble.

If your promo selling value hooks a fad stock buyer with it’s big idea…  Or if your promo selling fad stocks hooks a value investor with its big idea…  You’re getting the wrong readership, so you’re setting yourself up for failure.

On the other hand, matching the message to the market that is the best fit for your product puts the odds overwhelmingly in your favor.  Such that a half-cocked attempt with perfect message to market match will almost always outperform a perfectly-executed promo that attracts the wrong market for the product to begin with.

Which leads me to the concept I really wanted to talk to you about today…

Sometimes you just have to ask: what will my market be most interested in learning about?

I’ve had a lot of success in the last few years with promos that seem to break the mold of what a good direct response promo will be.

They’re often “far too editorial” and “spend too much time in the story before they get to the selling.”

In fact, they seem totally counterintuitive.

Because some of the topics have very little to do with the product at all.

But what the topics are exceptional at is attracting the right target market.

This is what I call a “counterintuitive selling angle.”

That is, it’s a topic or big idea that seems to come out of left field.  You almost never find it by studying the product.  You also don’t find it by looking into the company or the person  behind the product.

You find it by getting in the head of the prospect, and really trying to feel, from their perspective, what stimulates you.

— What gets you excited?

— What do you want to learn more about?

— What makes you vibrate?

When you find a story like this, then you ask another question…

— Can this be linked in any way to my product?

You work through the angle, the big idea, the narrative that you think will appeal to your target market.  You work through the product, and all its features and benefits.

You push each toward the other, until you find where they meet in the middle.

You come up with a logical connection that can be made between this counterintuitive and seemingly unrelated big idea and your product or service.

You connect the dots.

This gives you the narrative, and then you tell the story.

This is a very indirect way to get to the sale.  Your regular customers will not get as excited about it as they will a more direct promise (because they know you, so they need less).  Your staff or your client’s staff — used to more direct connections — will also likely think you’re crazy for trying this.

But those members of the market who need a gentle introduction to you before they’d even consider your product…

Well, if you get the narrative right, they’ll be really into it.  They’ll be buying into the story you’re telling.

And slowly, they’ll start to buy into you.

They’ll follow along, and start to buy into your product as well.

And they’ll buy your product.

Counterintuitive selling angles are the hardest to convince yourself to test…

When it’s crystal clear that there’s a connection between the big idea and the product, it’s usually easy to throw it out in the market and see if it sticks.

It’s obvious.  It should work.  And so you are willing to try it.

A counterintuitive selling angle is different.  Sometimes it feels like it shouldn’t work.  Like it just doesn’t tick off enough boxes in “what good copy looks like.”

And sometimes, that’s totally right.  It doesn’t work.  But if you want a breakthrough, it can be the one thing that cuts through and really makes one happen.

Yours for bigger breakthroughs,

Roy Furr