What Are You REALLY Selling? Bet You Don’t Know!

Funny enough, few know the real answer to this question – but before you laugh, do you? I can if you do just by looking at your ads. For example does your marketing look like this…

“Computers & Printers For Sale”

“House Hold Goods Available”

“Plumber For Hire”

Adverts like this indicate that you’re clueless about why people actually buy your product and what makes them part with money for it. Why? Because you’re appealing to the head, instead of the heart.

People VERY rarely buy from a logical stand point, including me. Even the most rational consumers don’t. That’s just not how the human brain works to make buying decisions. The fact is, we all buy with our emotions…and then use our logic to justify what we have decided we want with our feelings. Motivation is a feeling, not an equation.

In other words you’re not selling cosmetics,

You’re selling the hope to become irresistible to men!

You’re not selling a holiday in Kariba,

You’re selling the promise of escape from boredom or frustration at the office, a family occasion we’ll never forget.

You’re not selling carpets

You’re selling an impression I want to make to my visitors, the proud home owner feeling, finally feeling safer when my two year old son dives off the couch)

Are you starting to get the idea?

Understanding this difference is what separates irresistible adverts from the kind your market doesn’t pay attention to.

You must study your market and find out what motivates them to buy what you’re selling. Whatever that is… focus on it. Assure them that this is in fact the very thing your product provides.

Simply focusing on a your product is like assuming people buy Mercedes for transport. If all He wanted was transport from point A – B, he’d look for the cheapest car available. No he wants to feel something about himself, create a certain impression… guarantee that feeling with your product and you’re in!

Yours for smarter business


17 Replies to “What Are You REALLY Selling? Bet You Don’t Know!”

  1. Hey Max, wow. 7 years in business and i still didn’t know what i was really selling! Thanks for the food for thought!

  2. Nice one Max. One question though. If I am a plumber and I am posting a classified ad, should I not get people’s attention first- by saying “Plumber for Hire” (or something of the sort), before telling them about what I’m REALLY selling.

    If I have a burst water pipe, and am looking through the classifieds, I want to see “PLUMBER” not “Escape from water woes. Live a leak free life.” That can come later, but my primary preoccupation is to get a plumber…

  3. Hi Fungai

    Good question. You could do “Plumber for Sale” and it might work, but probably not very optimally. The problem is that kind of headline makes a few dangerous assumptions

    1) It assumes you’re the only plumber in the paper. If you’re in an industry where this is likely, then that’s ok – but most people are not. If you’re one of 100 (look at the computer/ real estate/ cell phone etc sections of the classifieds) then differentiation is vital.

    2) It also assumes that your audience perceives your product/service as the best solution. This is false in many cases (ie i could be looking for a set of tools to fix it myself, or i may not fully understand my problem so i’m just be looking for a general handy man to fix it for me – etc In a case like this, “‘Plumber” would not jump out at me.

    I could go on, but i’m sure you see what i mean. ALSO, generally speaking with classifieds, You’re ALREADY in the plumber section, so you can be a little more flexible with what you call yourself and how you describe your service and the problem you’re solving.

    There are minor exceptions, but all of them are discovered from REALLY getting to kow your market and how they define and describe the problem they need solved.

    Hope that helps

  4. Hi Max, very interesting. I also have a question. What about in the case of selling a very common item. I am involved in a business with very many competitors. How do i make myself different and how do i know what feeling to target in my adverts?


  5. Hi Tau,

    1) There are lots of ways to differentiate yourself.
    a) Innovate your product/ service
    b) differentiate your message (branding)
    c) differentiate your medium
    d) Differentiate your offer (structure, style, components, terms etc)

    Those are just a few ways to get you thinking.

    2) Knowing which emotion to target comes through
    1) Testing
    2) The right kind of market feedback

    If you’re new in your biz, you may not have had the time to do these. Try studying successful campaigns used by your competition and businesses that sell complementary or similar things to you.

  6. @Max

    Thanks for the clarification. It does light a few bulbs.

    So I am not a website developer. What am I? (I have a few ideas but I’d like to hear your take on it.)

  7. Max, your blog is outstanding. Thank you so much for everything. I liked the article you wrote on the Christmas advantage last year (just read it). Please provide some tips for marketing Christmas this year. Also why don’t you provide a picture of yourself on this site? We’re curious!

    Miss Hesen

  8. @Fungai. You first bru! In the mean time, my latest post might help you clarify your ideas and turn them into a marketing pitch that works for you. Follow the link

    @ Miss Helen.Thank you, and it’s a pleasure. I love helping entrepreneurs leverage their marketing results. Look out for a few Christmas marketing tips in a week or two. About the pic…You’re not the first to ask…one of these days you’ll visit a bammm, it’s will be up there (probably in the about max section)!

  9. @Fungai – would you say you are an ENTREPRENEURIAL WEB DEVELOPER? combining entrepreneurial ideas with web developer skills? I don’t know…just a guess!

  10. @Max Thank you for the article – you are clearly very good at what you do. I have been an employee for 11 years now. I’ve never had the guts to step out and start my own business (my job is also quite comfortable). How do you take the first step? How to make it less risky to begin one’s entrepreneurial journey?

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