Do You Have a Good Rock?
I had a conversation earlier this week with a reader who sells a commodity service in a very competitive market.
Those who search for his top keyword are looking for the best price, nothing more.
And every time they click an ad, some poor merchant somewhere gets dinged upwards of $5.
How in the world do you succeed in a market like that?
To answer that question, I give you:
The Parable of the Tired Swimmer
Imagine you’re swimming in a bay, far from shore, and you realize you’re too tired to make it back to the beach. Glancing around, you notice several rocks jutting out above the waves. Which one do you go for?
Raise your hand if you said, "The closest one."
Closest = Cheapest
You choose the closest rock because it requires the least expenditure on your part. It’s the cheapest one to get to.
But is it the best one?
Suppose the tide is rising, and within 30 minutes all the rocks but one will be submerged. Knowing this, are you still going to choose the closest, cheapest rock?
Of course not. You choose the rock that will save your life, even if it’s the farthest one you can reach. Even if it’s *slightly* farther than you thought you could swim to. Because you understand the consequences of settling for a cheap, unsatisfactory rock.
You Decide if Your Business is a Commodity
Consumers make decisions based solely on price when they haven’t been educated to make finer distinctions.
When *you* haven’t educated them on the important differences in what looks to them like a sea of sameness.
I asked my reader if there was a reason to use his service as opposed to his competitors’. Did customers ever tell him horror stories about their experiences with other vendors?
"Oh, yes, all the time."
The other vendors lost stuff, made mistakes, missed deadlines, and much more.
If a prospect shopping solely for the best price online knew about these dangers – knew that the cheapest rock would not keep them above water – then price would no longer be a factor, let alone the only factor in their decision.
Highlight and Prove the Dramatic Difference
The job of your ad and landing page is to quickly and dramatically highlight the difference between you, the rock that juts above high tide, and all the other cheaper rocks.
Using testimonials, case studies, tag lines, and educational material, you must educate your prospect about the real consequences of choosing the discount provider.
And don’t just say, "We offer superior service." Yawn!
Give a specific and bold guarantee of what will and will not happen.
Explain why you are able to make this guarantee.
- A proprietary process?
- Your apprenticeship to the inventor of the technique?
- A lifelong obsession with solving this problem because of a childhood experience?
- Nightly seances with Eleanor Roosevelt?
Remember that "client" is a medieval word meaning, "One under your protection." You earn and keep clients by protecting them from their own ignorance about the consequences of a bad decision.
And may price never again come between you and someone you can truly help.
A Thanksgiving Digression
The video on this page blew me away. It’s the story of an advertising man turned social entrepreneur. He invented an ingenious and elegant solution to a global health and poverty problem.
I share it because it made me cry with joy, something I am profoundly grateful for.
Also because it’s inspiring to me as an entrepreneur – the elegance of this solution reminds me that I usually make things much harder in my business than they need to be.
To my US readers: Happy Thanksgiving.
To everyone else: Happy Vicarious Thanksgiving :)
This Week’s Product Offerings
1) Look Over My Shoulders – AdWords Success Video tutorials
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The quickest way to get going with AdWords – the most important skills and tactics, in short, easy-to-consume videos.
2) AdWords Ball TeleCourse – starts in 2 weeks!
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You’re not alone – and AdWords doesn’t have to be this hard.
Read more: http://AdWordsBall.com
BONUS BOP QUOTES (for reading this far)
A doctor can bury his mistakes but an architect can only advise his client to plant vines.
– Frank Lloyd Wright
A consultant is someone who saves his client almost enough to pay his fee.
– Arnold H. Glasgow
If one morning I walked on top of the water across the Potomac River, the headline that afternoon would read "President Can’t Swim."
– Lyndon B. Johnson
The cure for anything is salt water – sweat, tears, or the sea.
– Isak Dinesen
Ocean: A body of water occupying two-thirds of a world made for man – who has no gills.
– Ambrose Bierce
If one synchronized swimmer drowns, do all the rest have to drown too?
– Steven Wright