When you walk into a car dealership and a sales person walks towards you, you can feel a change take place in your body.
There’s some kind of chemical adjustment happening in your brain. You feel a sudden tension in your muscles. Not relaxed at all.
You feel ready to fight. Or at least, to negotiate.
This is a little weird. It’s not like you’re walking down a dark alley at night, twitching at every sound, preparing to fight or run for your life.
But the symptoms are the same, even if not quite as elevated.
It’s because you don’t trust the sales person. You fear he or she is about to take advantage of you. They’re going to throw their best sales pitch at you, and you’re fearful that it might work.
Although something of a cliché, the relationship between the car salesman and his or her prospect serves to demonstrate the layer of mistrust that exists between almost any company and its customers.
We feel that same resistance when we see an ad that promises to help us lose 30 lbs in 30 days. Or master the art of investing and become wealthy. Or to find true love with a few clicks of the mouse.
Even when we are exposed to ads and promotions that take a more credible path, we still feel cautious.
And we always will feel that way for as long as advertising and copywriting take an adversarial position. Them against us.
Adversarial? Pretty much. That’s the default setting for most traditional, broadcast advertising. Particularly when you want people to do something.
If your ad is just about branding, that’s different. Happy people, cute puppies and ponies, blue skies and a beach or a smiling grandma will generally do the trick.
But if you are trying to drive a sale, offline or online, that’s different. That’s when it becomes adversarial.
It’s adversarial because it’s the advertiser against the prospect.
The prospect has her filters up, and is on full alert, not trusting the company at all. The company, knowing this, is using every trick in the book to break down the prospect’s defenses – to overcome her “objections” – and make her reach for her credit card.
Like I said, adversarial.
In the olden days, the days dominated by one-way, broadcast media, like TV, radio and bill boards, this approach worked OK. Hammer away for long enough and you’ll break down those defenses.
Online? Not so much.
Online is not a one-way medium. It’s a two-way medium. This means people get to talk back. They get to talk about your business as well. They can share with their friends when you do or say stuff they don’t like.
Companies have lost the “one-way medium advantage”.
This is why it’s time to retire the traditional, one-way and adversarial approach to selling.
It’s time to take the conversational approach. In other words, instead of selling “at” your prospects, get into conversation “with” them.
Do that and the defenses fall away. They are no loner needed.
Engage with your audience with openness and honesty and people will not only lower their defenses, but they grow to trust you.
And when they trust you, you can make that sale with the lightest of touches.
No more fight, flight and adversarial positions.
Just conversation, trust, loyalty and a powerful long-term relationship with every buyer.
That’s the power of conversational marketing and copywriting.
NOTE: I have an entire course devoted to the craft of Conversational Copywriting.
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