Breaking Down the Barriers to Buying

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You know you have a good product. You're sure the price is right. You're testing the best lists. And you have a solid offer and good creative. Still, you just aren't getting the response you expected. So if you're doing things right, what's going wrong?


It's likely that you've run into one or more of the barriers to buying. These barriers include everything - physical, emotional, intellectual and financial - that may stand between you and your prospect. Your goal is to ask yourself questions about your promotion to identify and remove every conceivable barrier so that nothing stops the sale. Here are a few questions to get you started:


The identification barrier. Does your presentation make your prospect think, "Yes. A person like me would buy this" or "I want to be like people who would buy this, so I'll buy it, too"? Does your copy clearly target your prospect? Do your headlines and pictures get the attention of the right kind of person? Is your message interesting to your prospect? Does your creative approach have a personality your ideal prospect can relate to?


The clarity barrier. Do you focus on the offer? Is your offer absolutely clear? Are all the product details clear? Is the graphic treatment of your copy legible? Is your copy written to encourage reading? Is your piece easy to understand at a glance? Is it simple, straightforward and to the point? Is the reply form easy and intuitive?


The product identity barrier. Do you relay a big idea for your product? Can your prospect instantly grasp your unique selling proposition? Have you proven your superiority? Have you turned all your features into benefits that are meaningful to your prospect? Could your prospect explain your product in 10 seconds?


The involvement barrier. Have you given your prospect a simple choice to make? Do you encourage involvement with a quiz or checklist? Do you ask for something to be completed to accept your offer? Do you capitalize on your prospect's inborn sense of play with tokens, stickers, coupons or other devices? Do you involve your prospect with personalization in the letter and other pieces? Have you offered something of true personal value?


The credibility barrier. Do you provide testimonials from people your prospect will believe? Do you list the states or countries in which you do business, the industries you serve, the percentage of Fortune 500 companies you work with or the types of professionals who trust you? Do you show pictures of people using your product or service? Do you share success stories? Do you mention how long your company has been in business? Do you tout the number of products you've sold or customers you've served? Do you show a seal of approval? Do you share favorable reviews?


The immediacy barrier. Have you expressed in words and graphics why it's so important to respond now rather than later? Does your copy make your offer sound urgent? Does the graphic treatment make your offer look urgent? Do you tell your prospects what you want them to do? Have you painted a word picture of how your prospect will immediately benefit by responding? Do you have a deadline? Have you emphasized the limited quantity of your product?


The acceptability barrier. Have you made an appeal to your prospect's emotional needs? Is your product, offer and overall presentation likable? Does the idea of responding make your prospect feel good? Have you made an effort to show how desirable your offer is? Does your offer allow your prospect to feel that responding is consistent with past ideas and actions? Do you give your prospect the logical justification he or she needs to make a purchase?


The accessibility barrier. Is your toll-free number easy to see? Have you offered other response avenues, such as mail, fax and e-mail? Is there enough room on your order form for your prospect to write? Does the order form fit into the BRE? Do you accept orders 24 hours a day, 7 days a week? What can a prospect do if there's a question about your offer?


Call it Zen selling. Call it a problem/solution approach. Call it a new selling paradigm if you prefer a more academic term. Whatever you call it, adopting a barrier-removal mindset may be the most practical way to find what's wrong when you think you've done everything right.


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