Ernest Dichter determined that most people perceive at least five dimensions of downside risk every time they engage in a purchase experience:
- Economic -- will this waste my money?
- Functional -- will this work reliably well?
- Social -- will others think less of me?
- Physical -- will this be painful in any way?
- Mental -- will I think poorly of myself?
Most business owners wonder -- how can I make what I offer stand out to gain more customers? The answer -- and opportunity -- is based upon closing the gap between the promises you make with your product and service and those you keep.
Let's pick on each of the questions with some thought starters.
(1.) Will this waste my money?
While value is subjective, the quality of your product and service is something you can address. If you're building your reputation with a new service or product, consistency can shore up the lack of proof on quality.
In the absence of a relationship that can give us information about reliability and experience, your product or service will be compared to that of others. How do you stack up based on price? How about quality?
Do you address the
perceptual difference with customers reviews and recommendations? Do you offer money back guarantees and free trials?
(2.) Will this work reliably well?
Design an experience around your product and service. In both cases, functionality depends on what individuals choose to do with it. Do they use it often? Do they rely on your service for things that are critical to their success?
Integrating social media and networks into the purchasing and service experience supports adding third party product use cases and testimonials that can help new customers get oriented by people like them.
Appreciating the functionality of a product or service is easier with the aid of a community.
(3.) Will others think less of me?
Social proofing is very important. This is another place where design of experience can help. On one side you have the aesthetics of the product itself -- while these are subjective, there are some universal principles that govern beauty.
For example, we may not know we respond to it, an oval face is considered by and large more attractive.
We respond to it instinctively. The fashion industry is built upon our need to be accepted and liked. Many brands appeal to social conventions. You sense of self-identity is engaged here as well. Would you rather be seen driving a Ferrari or a Honda hybrid? Who are you trying to attract?
(4.) Will this be painful in any way?
Quality and consistency help us feel safe physically as well.
We have a need to feel safe, it's the lower regions of the brain that dictate that. Painful is a difficult customer service transaction, for example. If you operate in an industry that has a very poor track record, standing out for superb customer service could be a major differentiating point for your brand.
Are you asking for customer collaboration for crowd-sourcing and then making them jump through hoops?
(5.) Will I think poorly of myself?
The three main reasons why people buy are fear, love, and hope. We have internal barometers and follow our own instinct on each of these. When we buy out of fear, we tend to despise the brand a little, or treat it as commodity -- can we get that same thing at a cheaper price?
What can you do to be in the hope and love categories? Delivering on your promises is critical. It allows you to make better promises in the future. Creating a smashing experience with a service or a product will help you stand out and make your offer irresistible.
Your customers have many options and rely on embedded psychological cues in the absence of recommendations from friends, still the number one source of referrals, and/or direct past experience with your product and service.
Keep your promises and you help address the five dimensions of risk your customers face.
[updated from archives]
Valeria is an experienced listener. She is also frequent speaker at conferences and companies on a variety of topics. To book her for a speaking engagement click here.