If you’ve got something to sell, at some point you’re going to need to present an offer.
In other words, you’ll need to tell your prospective customer what you’ve got, what it’s going to do for them, and what you’re looking for in return.
Sounds simple, and it is. There’s just one problem.
Too often, we get caught up in how much our prospect should want what we’re feeding them. And then we get surprised when they respond like a toddler faced with a bowl full of broccoli ice cream.
When my little boy was a baby, I got a very good piece of advice about feeding kids.
As a parent, it’s your job to put something on the table that’s reasonably nutritious, that tastes good, and that’s appropriate to the context. (Your so-spicy-it-could-strip-paint vindaloo may be the best on the planet, but it might not be realistic to expect your two-year-old to go for it.)
It’s the kid’s job to eat it or not to eat it. They’re in charge of getting a forkful of the stuff in their mouth, chewing, and swallowing.
When you get your job and their job confused, you create a lot of problems.
How to make an appealing offer to your customers
When you’re asking for a sale from a potential customer, you’re working with the same equation.
It’s your job to create an attractive offer. It’s the prospect’s job to say yes or no.
Ever notice the language customers use when they’re feeling pressured to buy? They’ll often mention not wanting an offer “crammed down their throat.”
Sure, you could always try to sell people something they don’t want. But a) it will work miserably or not at all, b) you’ll get the results “barfed up” in the form of complaints and returns, and c) it’s a lot easier for prospects to run away than it is for toddlers.
Make it nutritious
The best offers are nutritious — in other words, beneficial to the customer.
Yes, you can definitely (maybe even easily) sell a product that doesn’t actually do the prospect much good. But you’ll get the most recurring business (and satisfaction) out of selling good stuff, not junk food.
When your customers are truly better off for buying what you offer, they’re a million times more likely to spread the word about how great you are. It’s hard to build a solid business on products that are all seductive promise but don’t really deliver anything of value.
Make it taste good
On the other hand, you try feeding my kid broccoli.
I think it’s fantastic stuff. I eat it every week. My kid considers it the culinary equivalent of waterboarding.
To me, broccoli is delicious. To my kid, it’s not. Different markets want different things.
It’s much easier to sell something people want than it is to sell something they need. We’re grudgingly pushed toward certain behaviors by our needs, but we’re pulled wildly by our wants.
Basically, you have two options. One, you can find a customer who adores broccoli. They’re certainly out there.
Two, you’ll sell something like a smoothie. It has the vitamins, minerals, and fiber of the broccoli, but it tastes more like a milkshake.
Offer what they want, when they want it
Strawberries taste good in summer. Hot chocolate tastes good in winter.
Make sure your offer lines up with what your prospect is looking for today, not tomorrow or yesterday. You’ll make selling much, much easier.
My kid thinks popsicles are nirvana, but even he won’t eat them when he’s playing outside in the middle of January.
Make sure it’s fresh
Even the tastiest dinner doesn’t look all that good after a couple of hours go by.
That means you’ve got to set a time when dinner gets pulled off the table. If you keep your offers fresh by limiting them in time (or by setting a limit on how many you’ll sell), you make them infinitely more attractive.
“Buy the blue widget for $47” may be a tasty, nutritious, and well-timed offer. “Buy the blue widget for $47 if you order by midnight this Friday” has all the same qualities, but it also keeps the offer fresh and interesting.
New and fresh is always more appealing than stale and boring.
Keep your roles straight
Remember, it’s your job to cook up fresh, tasty, nutritious offers and get them on the table. Obviously, you’ll use all the copywriting techniques at your disposal to make them as appealing as possible.
(You can consider a resource like Copyblogger as a cookbook that lets you make your offers as delicious as possible.)
Then, you observe. Did the market bite or not? If not, the two most likely culprits are that the timing was off (popsicles in January) or that the offer just didn’t look tasty (broccoli ice cream).
Try adding a spoonful of sugar, in the form of more value or an additional bonus for the same money. Make sure you’re not talking too much about all of the “good for you” aspects, and that you’re instead emphasizing the yummy factor first and foremost.
Either way, it’s not a rejection of you as a human being or a death sentence for your business. It’s just a dinner that didn’t turn out particularly well. Do a little work to figure out where your recipe went wrong, and try again tomorrow.
With practice and observation, you’ll be cooking up consistently delicious offers in no time.