Catharsis: the process of releasing, and thereby providing relief from, strong or repressed emotions. The notion of ‘release’ through drama derives from Aristotle’s Poetics.
~ Oxford Dictionary
The Starting Point: Pain
Your marketing should provide your prospects with a strong hope of the possibility of catharsis or relief from the pain.
This means that you start by helping your prospects grasp the magnitude of their pain.
You may have heard the story about the sales man sitting on a porch talking to a man about the new farm implement he was selling. There was a dog lying on the porch, and from time-to-time the dog would groan in pain.
Eventually the man said, “What’s wrong with your dog?”
“I guess he’s lying on a nail,” responded the farmer.
“Why doesn’t he move?”
“Well… I guess it doesn’t hurt enough for him to make the effort,” was the farmer’s reply.
You’re like that… And so are your prospects.
Action requires effort. So, if the pain isn’t really acute you can just ignore it most of the time. Maybe you’ll make a half-hearted effort to solve the problem, but until the pain gives the problem a sense of urgency you won’t put much effort into its solution.
You need to tap into your prospect’s pain, bring it to the surface, and make him feel the agonising impact of his problem in as many areas as possible.
The Next Step: Cost
Frequently, even once a prospect is aware of the pain they are experiencing as a result of the problem you solve, they’re still not quite motivated enough to take serious action.
This is especially true when that action demands effort, or costs a serious sum of money.
The question you need to ask yourself when presenting this is:
“What is the cost of NOT solving this NOW?”
FEAR is one of the largest factors in this angle. Fear of…
- Missing out on something important
- Losing something they already have and value
- Ending up in a deeper hole
These are just a few of the most effective motivators to action (not just in marketing, but also in relationships, health, and career). Actions that people will not take to gain something, they take willingly if it means they will avoid loss.
In response to the current global crisis, many countries instituted lockdowns. The primary means of enforcement involve inciting fear. In some countries that was a fear of physical consequences like beatings, in others it was the creation of emotional fear. In Victoria we heard messages like:
- “Stay home because you are afraid of infecting your loved ones (especially the sick and elderly).”
- “Stay home because you don’t want your children to grow up without grandparents.”
If you ask Victorians why they wear a mask (apart from unwillingness to pay the fine) the most common answers are:
- I am afraid of people judging me when I don’t wear one even though I have a medical exemption; and
- I am afraid of catching or spreading something inadvertently.
Fear is good for compliance and for motivation.
You can ask any doctor how much more responsive patients are to changing their exercise and diet habits when faced with the imminent threat of diabetes, stroke, or cancer than they were previously when it was ‘just’ a question of prevention.
So.. You need to stack the deck when it comes to the cost of letting the specific problem you solve slide. Fortunately, that’s pretty easy to do, because you have seen first hand the horror scenarios that you are called in to solve.
When you fan the fear that is already in your prospect or client’s mind and bring it bubbling to the surface so they can look at it in all it’s monstrous reality
THEN… And only then
… Will they be truly ready to accept a solution that releases them from that fear and promises the opportunity to move forward with confidence, free from the unacknowledged fear that has been keeping them stuck.
The Solution: Light at the End of the Tunnel
It’s not until your prospect is truly aware of the genuine pain the problem is causing, and the real cost of ignoring it, that you are in a position to offer the solution.
Start talking about your solution too soon, and you’ll lose their attention. Any successful sales person will you this, yet their sales letters often jump right to the solution without revisiting the pain and cost of a prospect’s present course of action.
Fail to suggest a solution and this approach is very cruel, just like waving a glass of water in front of a man who is dying of thirst and then pouring it out on the ground.
Offer a genuine solution…
And the ball is back in their court. It’s their job to weigh the cost and consequences of the problem against the cost and results of the solution.
The Result: Catharsis
Catharsis doesn’t come without action.
If you ignore or suppress a genuine problem then there can be no catharsis. The problem will just continue to build. In fact, it may even feel worse because now the pain and cost of ignoring the problem are bubbling away at the back of their mind.
That’s why follow up is so critical after your sales presentation. Now that they’re aware of the gravity of their problem, every interaction with you scrapes off the scab and makes it more likely that they will say, “Yes.”
The Key to Sales Success in Video & Sales Letters
I was talking to a master sales person a few days ago. This man has pretty close to a 100% closing rate with individuals, groups, and even auditoriums and his question was, “How do you take those skills and apply them to a video or sales letter?”
It’s a great question!
In-person sales meetings give you a chance to ask and answer questions, explore specific pain points, and read body language. Good speakers are experts at ‘reading a room’ and picking up on the little details that provide them with feedback so they can pass over, or elaborate on, various aspects.
In a sales letter or video you don’t have that luxury, so you need to call out their pain and the cost of ignoring the problem from as many angles as possible. If you succumb to the current trend for brevity in sales, then your video or letter will fail.
I find it fascinatingly contradictory that the same people who argue vociferously against cutting sales meetings or discovery calls down to a hard 30 minutes or less because they aware of the need for time to explore, reassure, and explain to their prospects are hell-bent on keeping sales letters and videos short.
Most people love hearing and talking about things that are relevant to them, so why cut short your elaboration of their problems, the cost of ignoring them, and that tantalising solution?
If you’re speaking their language, they’ll listen (and buy), and if you’re not, then what have you lost?