How Bad Do They Want You?

Maybe You’re Just Too Easy….

You know Noridctrack as a big-time home exercise equipment provider. They also have a big advertising budget including those 30-minute infomercials.

After one such video product that they had spent several hundred thousand dollars on, they were miffed at the poor response to the phone center that was awaiting the highly anticipated flurry of calls.

Of course there are a myriad of variables to test to figure out where the problem was.

And it didn’t take long to find the trick. They hired a copywriter and told her to change anything in the script she wanted. After studying every sentence at length, she concluded that she only needed to change a few words.

When Words Matter

Picture a room filled with telephone operators, perhaps one like you see on a telethon or live fundraising event. You know, the ones where operators look busy with their headsets on and the flurry of activity around them?

At the end of the Noridctrack infomercial, the voice said, “Call now…operators are waiting.”

With those words in mind, picture that room again. What do you see? I see a bunch of people twiddling their fingers, throwing paper wads at wastebaskets, looking at their watches and otherwise bored to tears.

The message? Nobody else wants the darn thing they were selling so why would you?

So the copywriter made a small change. The last few words of the infomercial became, “If lines are busy, try again.”

Now how do you envision that room full of operators? Slammed! Busy! Not even able to keep up with all the calls. Why, oh why, didn’t Nordictrack put in more lines because, galdangit, if everybody else wants one of those things, so do I!

Sales exploded.

Why? Because of one of the most powerful psychological motivators that we know of—social proof. If we can prove to prospective customers that others want to do business with us, they will be far more likely to want that, too.

Not Just Testimonials

Many designers try to add social proof through testimonials. But unlike the Nordictrack case study, those testimonials do not add any sense of urgency. They may confirm that somewhere in the past (possibly many years ago) people chose and liked you, but what about right now? How busy are you? If nobody else wants to do business with you, why should I?

I have long suggested that designers take a paper calendar book to preliminary meeting with prospective clients. As the form of a project takes shape, they can casually leaf through their chock-full calendar and ask powerful closing questions like, “Well, if we were to agree on moving forward, would you be ready to start in, let’s see…April is full, May is full…we could get started in June. Will that work for your schedule?”

Compare that to, “Oh dear lord yes…we could start anytime!” (Because we really don’t have anything else to do.)

Who, I ask, is more likely to land that client?

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