Your customers want to buy X. Stop trying to sell them Y. (Use this fill-in-the-blank formula instead!)

Your customers want to buy X. Stop trying to sell them Y. (Use this fill-in-the-blank formula instead!)

When was the last time you bought something?

Like actually pulled out your wallet and handed cash to someone else in exchange for a product or service?

For me, it was this very cup of iced tea.

iced tea

It cost $2.21, which I paid for in exact change. (Yes, I’m that guy.)

The funny thing is, I didn’t want the iced tea. I’m overly full from lunch, actually. I found it physically difficult (but not impossible) to cram another 12 fluid ounces into my stomach.

So why did I buy it?

Because the sun is shining, and this coffee shop has an outdoor patio they’ve thoughtfully surrounded with palm plants and potted hibiscus. After 36 hours of non-stop rain and a fairly unhappy morning, I longed for the chance to get out of the house and into a sunbath.

So here I am. Sipping iced tea I don’t really want, inhaling the cool equinox air and watching the back of my hands turn pink. IT’S DELIGHTFUL.

Fact is, I came here and bought a product I didn’t need…to have an experience I desperately wanted.

This is the heart of the sales adage “Sell them what they want, give them what they need.”

So what is this coffee shop selling, really?

  • A dose of sunlight on Tuesday afternoon.
  • The sound of newborn autumn wind ruffling palm fronds.
  • A chance for extroverts-trapped-in-introvert jobs to escape the house and connect with the world.

The coffee? That’s an afterthought.

(For this caffeinated customer, at least.)

Like the owners of this coffee shop, you may THINK you sell products…but really, you sell so much more.

That’s why, if you position your products correctly and pay attention to how you communicate, you’ll NEVER need to push your goods onto anybody.

(Thank God, right? Nobody wants to be the pushy salesperson.)

Once you understand what you’re really selling, you realize your products are WAY more valuable than you’ve given yourself credit for.

If you can help customers see that additional value, and you can claim your spot as a premium brand experience.

Because seriously? This experience is worth waaaaay more than $2.21. (You can bet I’ll be back tomorrow.)

So let’s talk about what you’re really selling…and how you can capture it in your copy.

(You can do this whether you sell intangible services like coaching or consulting or concrete, grasp-in-your-hand goods.)

Here are some examples:

You sell a group coaching program designed for weight loss…
But your customers buy self-love and social acceptance.

You sell the vision of a Pinterest dream body that motivates someone out of bed in the pre-dawn darkness and the flood of enviable neurochemicals that rewards them after weight lifting.

You sell handmade astrology journals…
But your customers buy self-awareness and mystical connection.

You’re really selling an immersion in intellectual and magical creativity. You sell a much-needed assurance of global community and acceptance (because the idea that we’re each on a solo journey, born to live on a spinning rock in the middle of space and then blink out forever, is just a tad disheartening for some people).

In short, every time you sell a product or service, you actually sell TWO things:
1) the THING itself, and
2) the PROMISE of your client’s dream result.

They’re two sides of the same coin, really. One side is your product seen from your perspective. The other side is your product seen from your customers’ perspective.

When you bridge this perspective gap, you make it easy for clients to crave what you’re selling. You help them see what’s in it for them.

In fact, customers won’t buy one without the other.

A THING without a promise of longed-for results? Nobody knows why they need it—or why they need YOUR brand, specifically. Can’t I get it somewhere else cheaper?

A promise of longed-for results without a thing to anchor them? Nobody believes you can deliver that promise because they have no idea what you actually sell. Nothing kills credibility faster than a slew of smooshy abstract language with no recognizable concepts or images.

The next time you’re writing an email or describing WHAT your new product or service is, you need to hit both points.

That means you need a combine a concrete description of what you sell PLUS why your customers actually want it.

To get the balance right, try this simple formula:

I created [your concrete product] so you can [the experience you REALLY sell].

For example, if you sell group weight loss coaching, you can say:

I created this group coaching program so you can show up at your 15-year high school reunion in a smokin’ hot bandage dress and REJECT your ex-boyfriend when he falls all over himself asking to buy you a drink.

How MUCH do you want that weight loss program now??

Quite a bit, actually. That iced tea put me over the edge.

It’s a fairly easy mindset shift, but one that will put you LIGHTYEARS ahead of most nose-to-the-grindstone business owners.

So now it’s your turn. Take a stab at filling out the 2-part formula for yourself.

Ask yourself: What am I REALLY selling? Put yourself in your customers’ shoes and really imagine the complete experience of your product or service through their eyes.

Next time I’ll show you how to elaborate on your answers to create LOTS of ultra-specific benefits, so you can pepper all your product info with juicy details buyers crave.

I’ll also include the simple system I use to generate these ideas for my own clients. (Hint: it’s a favorite among behavioral psychologists!)

In the meantime, I’d love to know: What are YOU really selling?

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