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Saturday, October 17, 2009

THIS MIGHT HURT: Don't Conceptualize - Quantify and Comfort.

Written by Featured Author Douglas Castle for THE NATIONAL NETWORKER Newsletter. Get your free subscription at

Dear Readers (at least those who are not fully hypnotized by the eerie glowing logo at the top):

We are surrounded by people who are trying to influence us, or to even sell products, services and investments to us, based exclusively on "potential," "visions," "ideas," "scenarios," and "concepts." These are all wonderful things, as they each are necessary to the germination of innovation or action; however, in a society awash in "million-dollar ideas," "get-rich-quick schemes," and an incessant barrage of offers from less than credible parties, audiences are getting increasingly skeptical, and require better assurances and evidence before choosing to make purchase decisions. Selling anything is more difficult than ever before, with the possible exceptions of liquor and illegal narcotics.

Your prospective client, customer, co-venturer or investor also has less available money and more need to feel a sense of certainty than in many years. He or she hears of ideas, opportunities and concepts all day long. An ever-increasing number of pushy people is vying to capture your quarry's attention, business and scarce, precious dollars. Even professionals such as dentists are spending a greater percentage of their revenues than ever before on marketing campaigns, ads, publicity and on visit or patient referral incentives. Many services that were once considered ordinary and reasonable are now being considered optional and dispensible.

The impediment to marketing success is no longer merely inertia -- the elements of wariness and a tight-money environment have compounded your challenge.

Increasingly, your market is demanding that you clearly demonstrate:

1. Why they need your product or service;

2. How your product or service is superior than that of any competitors in its class;

3. How they will gain, and how much they will gain by using your product or service;

4. How much they will save, how they will save it and over what timeframe this will happen by using your product or service;

5. How much they stand to lose by failing to purchase your product or service;

6. How they can be assured that their investment in your product or service is safe, prudent and guaranteed; and

7. How they will be continually serviced by your company, and that they will not orphaned when your company decides (after accumulating a shipload of debt and payables) to pull up its tent stakes and flee the jurisdiction.

In the wake of the bust, the publicly-disclosed transgressions of many people in positions of public trust and power, and the failure of numerous iconic institutions (Merrill Lynch, Lehmann Brothers, Bank of America, do not expect to be trusted and invited in just because of your brand identity alone. You will be forced to make a case for the qualitative and quantitative benefits of your product or service.

You are no longer simply making now have to fight to WIN friends. You are cast in difficult the role of converting doubt to belief, and bargaining harder and smarter for a smaller cache of dollars. With every announcement, advertisement, news release and presentation you are like a doctoral candidate defending his or her thesis. Say goodbye to the yellow brick road and hello to the gauntlet and ordeal of fire. The market is abandoning unexamined renewals and traditional loyalties, and has become a much meaner beast than ever.

Sounds tough. Is it worth it? Absolutely.

You must now deal in statistics, numbers, facts, demonstrative examples, concrete illustrations, references and promises supported by viable guarantees or collateral. The task is daunting, but the market belongs to the QUANTIFIERS and the COMFORT-GIVERS. If you are an effective quantifier and comfort-giver, you now have an actual advantage (that's correct -- an advantage) in the new economy. Good News: Your new customers and clients will be harder to win, but they will tend to be more tenaciously loyal to you if you can make them feel confident and comfortable despite these difficult times.

Here are several things that you must be prepared to do:

1. Describe precisely what your product or service does, and how it is different from any marketplace alternatives;

2. Demonstrate (in a written format, with several compelling and supportable examples) the quantitative gain (or reduction of loss) which can be garnered by your customer or client if he or she wisely chooses to invest in your product or service;

3. Compare yourself with the competition -- not only philosophically but itemized differences and quantified benefits;

4. Frame the purchase or rental of your product or service in terms of a simple ROI (return on investment). ROIs are fascinating, easily related to (like interest rates or capital growth) and provide a highly time-honored basis of comparison...subject, of course to risk constraints. You may also frame the purchase, rental or investment in terms of how long it will take for the party being convinced to recouperate his or her investment in a complete payback, or through an exit strategy. Even the most sophisticated analytical minds lean toward the perception that "as soon as I have recovered my money, my risk is gone and I am getting benefits for free." Right or wrong, this is a very common perception and decisionmaking tool; and

5. Comfort your prospective customer, client, co-venturer or investor with a listing of the factors which guarantee this ROI. Show how every risk is mitigated. It sometimes helps to show an absolute worst case scenario and a medium case scenario (with graphs, tables, charts, and the like), and to mention that you a) do not think it necessary to present a best case scenario, and b) that you are first concerned about protecting the integrity of the investment, and secondarily about all of the "plusses" . Sounding a bit conservative and cautious will help the person opposite you shift closer to your side.

Concepts are the wonderful products of imagination and vision. But if you are serious about winning hearts, minds and budget allocations, you will have to quantify and comfort in order to convert listeners to signers.


Douglas Castle

p.s. Please feel free to contact me with any questions or comments regarding this article either by 1) leaving a comment where provided right below this article; 2) visiting and connecting with me through that page; or by 3) simply emailing me at or telephoning me (toll-free) at 888.317.6498 (Extension 3).

For more information, please visit Douglas' TNNW Bio.

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