Before buying, a customer’s brain goes through seven systematic steps. Failing to address any one of them will short circuit the sale.
By auditing your communications – from Web site to brochure to presentation – for these seven steps, you can be sure you’ve taken a prospect through all of them, giving them the comfort they require to make a purchase, from a full remodel to a simple product replacement.
That is the premise of the book The Brain Audit: Why Customers Buy (And Why They Don’t) by Sean D’Souza. In my experience, kitchen and bath professionals do some of these steps very well, but often fumble or leave out others altogether. So let’s review them and suggest ways you can apply them to your business.
D’Souza’s seven steps are:
- The Problem
- The Solution
- The Target Profile
- The Objections
- The Testimonials
- The Risk Reversal
- The Uniqueness
PROBLEMS & SOLUTIONS
Too often we jump right over the prospect’s Problem and offer up solutions. But that’s ineffective, because problems activate the brain. If prospects aren’t aware of their problems, they won’t be interested in your solutions. Studies show the brain reacts most strongly to problems with an increase in cerebral cortex activity.
So take the time to think through the kitchen or bath problems your prospects might be facing.
Has a neighbor or family member just redone their kitchen or bath, so theirs isn’t as nice by comparison? Will the baby be walking soon, but the client can’t keep an eye on him from the kitchen? Do the clients love to entertain, but there’s no place for guests to sit in the kitchen?
Is the toilet slow to flush? A blockage could be building up. Is the faucet dripping? It could be ready to spring a leak.
But won’t talking about problems be negative and turn off the customer? “The problem exists, you aren’t making it up or being negative, you are educating your audience,” D’Souza explains. “Because people have a million things to worry about already, you have to elevate your problem so that you become a priority,” he adds.
What’s important is to isolate a single problem and focus on that. There can obviously be numerous problems associated with an outdated kitchen or bath: looks, function, etc. But you have to start by isolating only one and addressing it. This is the only way to connect with a prospect. Too many problems confuse. Connect first with one problem, then you can move on to others.
Phrase problems in ways like, “Are you sick and tired of having to bend over to bathe the kids, or cookies coming out burned on one side and raw on the other?” Or “Do you find you have trouble stepping over the tub into the shower, or reaching into the corners of your cabinets?”
The Solution comes after isolating the problem. And D’Souza says it should be a mirror image of the problem.
Cookies bake unevenly? Our convection ovens prevent unevenly baked cookies and cakes. Toilet clogging frequently? Our new toilets prevent clogs. Kitchen too small? We find creative ways to make it bigger.
“Solutions,” he points out, “are pain relievers.”
YOUR TARGET PROFILE
Step three is to define your Target Profile. This stumps a lot of kitchen and bath marketers. The Target Profile, D’Souza emphasizes, is not a target audience. Rather, “you choose one person and craft your message for that one person,” he explains.
The argument I hear all the time is, “but I have so many different customers!”
D’Souza’s response is: “Yes, you’ll have to exclude people. But the more niche you make your product/service seem, the more you’ll find people attracted to it.
“Every product will solve multiple problems,” he adds. “If you base your marketing on individual profiles, each message will be far more powerful.” And, in this digital age, you can create multiple landing pages for a Web site, multiple brochures, videos, audio files, etc. to address multiple Target Profiles.
Here’s an example of how that might work.
Start with a target demographic: say professional women, 42, married with two kids, 8 and 10, in suburban homes 25+ years old, who love to entertain.
Choose a real person from that demographic. Then speak to that person and find out their list of problems with their kitchen, in real life. For example, is their kitchen too small, with outdated cabinets, no convection oven and walled off from the rest of the house?
Choose one problem, then expand upon it.
Perhaps the one thing that’s top of mind is that the kitchen is separated from rest of the home.
Then get all of the details on that one criterion. Why does she want the kitchen to be open? Open to what? Family room? Dining room? How does she see it divided? Peninsula? Eating area? Island? Learn everything you can about that one criterion, using a real person to get feedback.
Once you have the Target Profile you can create the Trigger. D’Souza identifies the Trigger as the message that stands out, gets attention and gets the brain to respond with curiosity.
Target: Moms in 25-year-old suburban homes who like to entertain.
Problem: Closed off kitchens make it hard to entertain.
Solution: Open up the kitchen to make entertaining easier.
Trigger: “We create kitchens that make entertaining easier.”
Hoped for response: “How do you do that?”
Now you need to keep expanding on problems and solutions to keep the prospect interested. For example, from here you might say, “Having trouble doing a dinner party for 10 in your tiny kitchen? It’s not just opening up the kitchen that’s the solution. You need to do it cost efficiently, so we try to move just one wall.”
So now you’ve brought up another problem (cost efficiency) and a solution (just move one wall).
Objections, of course, are bound to happen. The key here is to be prepared by anticipating them and preparing answers in advance. Address the most common ones on your Web site.
For example, list as many objections as you can to “opening up the kitchen”
+ Won’t it be expensive?
+ Won’t it make a mess?
+ Will it ruin the adjoining walls?
+ Will people see my dirty dishes?
+ Will it be noisy?
+ Will the cooking smell go all through the house?
+ How can I tell what it will look like?
You can answer these objections, but it’s even better if your past customers do that through Testimonials. But not the interchangeable ones you read on so many sites. “Joe’s Kitchens did a fabulous job and their people were great.”
Instead, help craft testimonials that address common objections. Don’t just ask customers to write a recommendation. Instead, either speak to them personally or give them specific questions to address. D’Souza recommends ones like: “What was the obstacle that would have prevented you from buying a new kitchen or bath?” Or, “what do you like most about your new kitchen or bath?”
So you might end up with a testimonial like: “I wanted to open up my kitchen because I entertain a lot but I was concerned about the mess it would make, and how it would look. I love the new eating peninsula that divides the kitchen and family room because it’s a great place to serve appetizers, and it also hides the dirty dishes. And the crews covered the floors and cleaned up every night so it wasn’t as disruptive as I thought.” Notice how detailed and credible this type of testimonial sounds.
Other ideas might be:
+ “I was afraid my personal design ideas would be ignored, but…”
+ “I heard horror stories about bath projects going over budget, but…”
+ “I was afraid we’d go months without a finished bathroom, but…”
All of this sounds good, but customers will still have reservations. The next step in removing them, D’Souza notes, is Risk Reversal. The obvious risks customers perceive can often be calmed through warranties and guarantees on products and workmanship. But D’Souza advises going further and understanding the prospect’s unspoken, hidden risks such as, “What if I don’t like the design, cabinets, floor, etc.?” Or, “What if I can’t get you to come back and fix something after the job is done?”
Maybe you can offer additional guarantees such as the “Mind-Change Guarantee.” “If you change your mind about the plans x number of days after approval, we’ll revise them at no charge. If you change your mind x days before we order the faucet, we can change the order at no cost.” It may sound risky, but it’s more likely to pay off in additional business, D’Souza insists.
Now comes the final step, Uniqueness. D’Souza acknowledges the difficulty of defining your Uniqueness. So instead, he challenges you to ask yourself, “What do I want to do in my business that’s different from everybody else?”
What is your dream for your customers? Some answers might be:
+ I want every client to have a bath that is safe.
+ I want every client to have a kitchen that’s easy to cook in.
Now comes the hard part. Choose only one of these, and then spell out all the details. What does a “safe” bath mean? What are the components of a kitchen that is easy to cook in? Give your prospects specifics and they will understand why they should buy from you and not the guy down the street.
Focusing laser-like on one problem, one solution, one customer and one unique aspect of your business is not easy, but your communications will become much more effective when you do.