Don’t solve a problem? Here’s how to sell what you do.
Do you sell something that doesn't solve an obvious problem for your customers?
Y’know things like jewellery, luxury handbags, new jeans, makeup, books, photography, doughnuts, art, house plants or tickets to see a comedy show?
If so, advice such as "if you don't solve a problem, you don't have a business" might feel off-putting, and trying to 'speak to your customer's pain points' might have you stumped.
So, if you're not helping your customers to overcome their obstacles, what's the best way to persuasively sell your stuff?
Today, I’m going to give you a really simple hack that doesn’t require talking about pain or lowering your prices. And you can use it even if your product or service does solve a problem!
Highlighting the hidden value
In English? This just means instead of focusing on just the features of what you sell, you should be showing off the emotional and social value that comes along with it too.
You do this by asking ‘how will this purchase make my customers feel?’ And ‘will this purchase increase or decrease their social status?’
By highlighting the unseen value of your offer, it becomes harder to put a price on.
For example, let's say you're thinking of buying tickets to see a band play. Sure, you're paying to listen to music, but what's the hidden value? A fun night out? An opportunity to show your friends that you have great taste in music? A chance to relax or escape reality? Or reminisce about old times?
Of course, the hidden value will depend on the band and the audience, but there's more to sell than just the show ticket.
Does your offering allow your customers to—
- Be entertained
- Escape reality
- Feel attractive
- Feel joy or delight
- Feel nostalgic
- Feel generous
- Stand out
- Reward themselves or others
- Look at something beautiful
- Remember an important moment
- Be in the know
- Show they belong
- Show they have good taste
- Get compliments
- Give back to an important cause; or
- Be a leader or trendsetter in their group?
If so, you don’t need a pain point, because you’re selling a desire. A desire to feel good or elevate social status. In these scenarios, you need to paint a picture of what the world will look like with your product or service in it.
Does this mean you have to say things like "Do you want to be seen as a trendsetter?" or "Do you wish you looked more attractive?" God, no! You can use both words and imagery to sell the emotional and social value, without being cheesy or salesy. Need some inspiration? Check out some of these examples I found online.
Pottery Barn makes it easy to envision using their products by showing them set for a party in their photo. They’re selling an aspirational identity to their audience— someone who wants to be seen as ‘stylish’ and a great entertainer. And they don’t stop at the emotional value. The practical facts about the products (‘break resistant’ and ‘durable’) help customers justify why they need them.
Here, Brooklinen isn’t selling sheets, but ‘family time’ and ‘Sunday snuggles’. Paired with this cute family picture, it’s communicating the emotional value of a cosy, inviting bed.
Magnolia Bakery invites its customers to reward themselves at the end of a hard day with a key lime icebox bar. ‘You deserve…’ is always a great sentence opener when you want to tell people how things ought to be.
Hey Tiger uses their chocolate bar name and description to tap into the emotional connection between besties. Don’t get me wrong, the bar sounds incredible (check out those sensory words ‘crunchy’ and ‘smooth’) but it’s not all about the chocolate— it’s a good excuse to spend some quality time with your BFF. And that time is priceless.
HBO posts content on their IG that only their community would understand—reminding their fans of their favourite on-screen moments, teasing new content and creating nostalgia over old movies and tv shows. This generates excitement and belonging amongst fans which, in turn, keeps them renewing their subscription. They don't have to say much— it's the imagery that does a lot of the heavy lifting here.
So, there you go! You don't need to address customer pain points to sell your products or services. Instead, make your offer irresistible by highlighting the hidden value!
Do you tell your customers about the emotional and social value they’ll get from their purchase? I’d love to know if you’ll be adding in some of this ‘extra value’ to your website copy, imagery, product descriptions and social posts! Let me know in the comments. And if you know someone who might benefit from reading this article, don’t forget to share it.