B Y T O M T O R T O R I C I
Did you know you have a super power?
It’s your ability to make decisions that affect your own life. Sure, there are lots of things we can’t control. Yet every day, we find ourselves with the power, and the responsibility, to make all kinds of decisions, from the trivial to the life-altering.
The snag is that each available option has pro’s and cons. If you choose X, you’ll have to put up with its side-effects or unintended consequences. So you decide to get a cute little puppy, yay! Of course ongoing food and vet expenses, as well as other ongoing responsibilities, are part of the deal.
I’m guessing we spend the better part of our waking lives sorting out all the competing and overlapping considerations, in trying to make the best decisions for ourselves.
What’s the Most Important Thing?
Is it the companionship of a loving pet? Or is it keeping your costs down so you save up for something else important? Is it the chance to show off your furry little darling of Facebook? Or is it the freedom to take a trip on a whim, without trying to find a last-minute pet sitter?
In the end, our final decision flows from whatever it is that’s MOST important to us. That’s what makes that consideration the Most Important Thing.
But what about the downsides?
Well, we put up with things we don’t like, because those considerations weren’t the winners in the M.I.T. competition.
We move to the city to be near the action, but then have to put up with the noise and bustle. Then we move to the country to escape that noise and bustle, but then of course we’re far from the action.
Options that are perfect in every way are, sadly, a rare event. Think of it as life’s not-particularly-funny cosmic joke.
So what does this have to do with marketing and websites?
I was getting there, but glad you asked.
I regularly see bullet-point lists of product features and benefits on business websites and other marketing tools. What bugs me is that the strongest points are mixed in with the weakest ones. That one essential benefit that buyers really care about gets buried among all the marginal features that were added to make for a longer, and presumably more impressive, list.
But how do you know what’s most important to buyers?
Another good question. Traditionally, companies have conducted primary research, often in the form of consumer focus groups, to directly query consumers about what’s important to them. That gives marketers some basis for their marketing messages.
The well-known problem, though, is that what focus group participants say doesn’t necessarily correlate with their eventual behavior. One reason is that our core M.I.T. motivator may be the type of deep-seated emotion that we’re not comfortable divulging publicly – or even to ourselves.
If asked about what’s important to us in a personal vehicle, we might say safety, and plenty of room for our family. But deep down inside, we yearn for that convertible sportscar to, at least on occasion, escape that same family.
So, could you answer that last question?
Okay, right. Well, when conducting Discovery session with a new client before writing their website, I ask if they deal with customers every day. If not, I ask them to include their sharpest salesperson or CSR in the interview.
That’s who knows what questions customers are asking and what concerns they’re voicing. That’s at least a starting point. It’s even better if that employee is clever and experienced enough at reading between the lines, with their finger on the covert as well as overt considerations of buyers.
What if different buyers have different priorities?
That’s quite often the case. Which is why you often see those three-across boxes on the Home page of a company website. Each one focuses on a different product benefit or other consideration. It’s sort of like a fisherman attaching three different lures to the end of their line, unsure of which one the fish prefer.
And sometimes you can’t avoid that. But it’s worth your time to dig down deep enough to try to determine that one single Most Important Thing that most buyers, deep down, care most about. If that’s the first thing they see upon landing on your website, well, that’s your best chance to make a genuine and immediate connection with that human.
If you know what their M.I.T. is, it makes sense to focus your overall content on various aspects of that Thing, rather than spending too much time on other Things that aren’t going to be central to your buyer’s final buying decision.
Are there different types of M.I.T.s?
Yes. Sometimes, the Most Important Thing is the ultimate benefit to the user, like the porch light with a built-in timer, so you don’t have to keep turning it on and off every day.
Sometimes, it’s a process benefit, such as being able purchase online, without having to talk to a pushy salesperson.
And sometimes, the Most Important Thing is simply getting the lowest possible price.
Is the M.I.T. the same as a Value Proposition?
It should be. Unfortunately, when companies are determining their value props (otherwise known as their U.S.P., Main Message or Company Differentiator) they often start by focusing inward on what they see as their own strength, or on what they would ‘like’ to be known for. That’s understandable, except that it may or may not have anything to do with what their market truly craves in the real world.
The smart thing is to take the M.I.T. of most of their buyers and use that as the lens through which their products and services are defined. If 80% of the customers care about, say, the wide range of designer color options, it makes marketing sense to keep a laser focus on that. Don’t worry too much about the 20% at the fringes who have other priorities – for example, that your device comes with adaptors for European electrical outlets.
How can we learn more about this approach?
Easy. Just pay attention to your own decision-making processes throughout the day.
As sellers, we tend to see a huge gulf between ourselves and those we objectify as ‘customers.’ But of course in the big picture, we have far more in common with them than we have differences. Smart marketers use own humanity to understand how to market to other humans.
Not sure what messages will have the greatest impact on your audience? Let’s talk it through in a Discovery session. You may be surprised what you learn. The first step is getting in touch.
About the Author: Tom Tortorici is an Atlanta copywriter and web content writer who helps companies make a genuine connection with their audience. His classes and conference presentations have focused on how writing, strategy and design can work together to grab attention and interest even among readers with short attention spans. In addition to working directly with businesses, Tom regularly partners with web designers and marketing agencies.
Tom Tortorici Inc. | Tom@TomTortorici.com | 770-934-7861 | 3101 Rockaway Rd | Atlanta GA 30341