When you or your company had a product or service to sell, you no doubt compiled a list of all of its benefits as well as its features. You probably also, based on research and focus groups, ranked both of those categories from highest to lowest interest. The top ones then became the primary focus of your marketing campaigns.
But are you stuck in a rut? Even though some of your customers have said "No" to what you think is the highest valued benefit or feature, do you still continue to promote only that one instead of trying any of the others on that list?
Below is my personal experience in one such situation, and how the company delayed and even risked losing the sale.
The Cavernous Store
I've been a member of one of those warehouse shopping clubs since they arrived in my area about 27 years ago. I also joined as a business member, meaning that I had access to the store before its regular 10:00 a.m. opening. I always look for ways to have things conform to my schedule and convenience.
A few years ago the company started promoting an enhanced level of membership, costing slightly more than double what I had been paying for my regular access. While there were a few benefits that came with this new program, the company seemed to focus on only one.
You would earn 2% back on everything you bought, with it coming back in $10 increments each time you made $500 in purchases.
It was easy to do the mental calculations to realize that I would not break even with the increased membership cost unless I made $2,500 in yearly purchases. And I knew I never came anywhere near that, nor was I willing to change from the brands I was already buying elsewhere to those carried in their stores.
And yet, every time I went through the checkout line, the clerk would first ask me if I was interested in upgrading my membership and telling me how much bonus money I could earn back. It wasn't their fault — management was requiring them to do this. I tried to save them as much effort as possible by raising my hand and saying "no thank you" as soon as the first words left their lips. They were like the old vinyl records that had scratches that caused the needle to skip and repeat, or parrots that had only learned one phrase.
I was able to get a little bit of relief when the chain replaced a significant number of cash register lanes with self-checkout kiosks. Then the company implemented its next trick.
You're Not Supposed To Be Here
About four months ago, I was happily scanning my items around 9:45 a.m. when one of the managers approached me. I guess their computers tattled on me and alerted his smartphone. He said that he would let me complete my transaction, but in the future, I needed to wait until 10 o'clock before checking out.
Confused, I showed him my business membership card, saying that it allowed me early shopping. Not anymore, he told me.
The company decided to change the rules, and business memberships were now considered the same as regular ones. In order to make use of the early shopping hours, I needed to upgrade to their enhanced membership.
This still wasn't enough to motivate me. Based on my schedule, I could easily make another stop first and then arrive at the warehouse club's checkout lines just a few minutes after the top of the hour. So far they used two of the supposed benefits, and still did not complete the sale and convert me.
But there was another benefit lurking. One just waiting for me to pounce on it.
How Much Does That Weigh?
The company probably didn't promote it too heavily because they, of course, wanted me to be a customer physically walking through their doors. (Because impulse buying is a key component of any brick and mortar operation.) I don't recall this benefit even being prominently featured in any of the materials and sales fliers they mailed me. But one day the situation came about to have me discover it.
There was something I wanted to purchase which I did on a regular basis. My local store had done a reset in that section and the item was nowhere to be found. I went to the Customer Service area and was told that they were not carrying it there anymore, but that I could purchase it online.
It was something I really wanted, so I reluctantly logged onto their website when I got home. I found it and wondered how much shipping was going to add to the final price.
Then I saw it. It said that members with the upgraded membership had free shipping.
That's nice for this item, I thought. But not everything listed could be free. So I decided to check out the worst case scenario based on my shopping list.
We have a few cats in our house, so I've always been getting cat litter in the largest size bags I could find. I'd been purchasing 52-pound bags of litter from this store for quite some time. I checked out the listing and . . . FREE SHIPPING!
Wait a minute. You're telling me that instead of finding one of those flatbed carts (usually with a noisy, defective wheel), pushing it back to the pet section, lifting the heavy bags onto cart, trying to push the cart with a few hundred pounds on it to the checkout, then pushing that same loaded, non-steering cart through the parking lot in often inclement weather to my truck where I have to toss the bags into the bed — (whew!) — that the big brown truck or the white truck will bring it right to my garage door FOR FREE?
Guess what? NOW you've sold me. You've pressed one of my hot buttons.
The membership upgrade costs me about an additional dollar per week, which is peanuts compared to what my time is worth previously spent walking the store as well as the gas expended to get there.
But Wait . . . There's More
There was also another hidden benefit that the company does not advertise, as it only pertains to a select group of people like me.
My local warehouse club is only about 15 miles from me. However, I live in another state. A state that has a 2% lower sales tax.
That means that for every $50 I purchase online from that company, the savings in sales tax pays for another week of my upgraded membership!
So now everyone is happy. The company got me to purchase their premium membership. I'm enjoying a benefit that specifically pertains to my lifestyle. And I am no longer being hounded to upgrade.
I just wonder if that company realizes that I would have upgraded sooner if they had only better marketed the membership.
Pay Attention To What Isn't Working
Remember, customers are always looking for solutions to their problems. If they haven't purchased from you so far, there is a good chance that what you're not doing correctly is the missing part of the equation.
Don't be like a parrot that keeps repeating the same benefit over and over that doesn't apply to their specific needs or situation.