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How to sell to the most elusive of creatures

Tuesday, 12 November 2013 | By Taskmaster

Today, Old Taskmaster is going to tell you a tale about a mythical creature some people claim exists, despite extensive evidence to the contrary.


This mammalian being was lasted spotted roaming the bush alongside the Gippsland phantom cat, the Blue Mountains panther, the wild Tasmanian tiger and the bunyip. While there are no confirmed sightings of this creature and almost all photographs of it are blurry, the true believers remain nonetheless.


Economists in big companies swear, until their face starts turning purple, that this creature exists and was recently spotted in a supermarket carefully comparing the sodium content of different chicken noodle soup brands and comparing notes on the price per 100 grams of laundry detergent.


But on a different floor, these same companies’ sales teams call “hoax” on this wild conjecture. In their thousands of sales calls, they’ve never spotted such a creature in the wild. All of their customers buy on emotion.


That’s right kids, the mythical beast Old Taskmaster is talking about – the one economists swear exists – is called the completely rational consumer. And I bet you’ve never met one in your life.


Back in the good old days, marketing teams used to shill their wares on the assumption that these mythical beasts were common. Take a look, for example, at the amount of copy in this 1960s car ad:




By 2013, the equivalent of that car ad is a lot less wordy, while emotional appeals, visual cues and symbolism dominate. Here’s an example:




There’s a reason for this change. No one wanted to read the auto company’s spin – except for committed rev heads who had already decided to buy the car. And ever these car lovers probably did so more out of brand loyalty – an emotion – than as a result of completely rational and dispassionate research. Well, if emotion sells the car, why not maximise space for emotional appeals, rather than the guff that doesn’t sell?


Now, here’s a question for you: When you – or your staff – pitch a product at a potential customer, is your appeal aimed at their emotions?


Or do you feature bash them with a list of your products’ cylinders, amperes, megawatts per second, litres per fuel tank, megahertz, gigabytes, detailed pricing structure details or manufacturing process in the vain hope you’ve caught that perfectly rational consumer?


Well, your potential consumers aren’t robots. They aren’t going to be more likely to rationally arrive at the conclusion that your product is metrically superior to your competitors – if only you input enough data.


But they might choose to buy the green widget if their favourite colour is green.


Well, Old Taskmaster says this: When you try to sell a product, make it an emotional appeal rather than a rational feature bash. Unless, of course, you spot a big cat in the bush first.


Get it done – today!