Stop Selling Your Product

I have unpredictable curly hair. Everyone tells me it’s very pretty, but for me I really just want it to do as I say when I say it. So when I go shopping for hair products, what I want to hear is the promise of a potentially good hair day — every day. Don’t sell me your curl smoothie, your leave-in, or your frizz control… sell me the concept of a good hair day and I am all in!

Disclaimer: I am not having a good hair day today. But let’s stay focused on why this matters to you.

People don’t buy products, they buy transformations! That’s just the way we are all wired. Emotionally driven beings are eternally on a quest for betterment, or at least contentment.

I hope you read that last line in an epic voice, with a Hollywood-manufactured cinematic scene as a backdrop.

This is excellent news for you because, in this email, I am going to walk you through how to sell transformations with brand strategy.

It’s not that your product is not great and all, or even that they don’t want to buy it — it’s that they’d rather you tell them how it’s going to change their life.

They want a Cinderella moment!

The part where she gets a magical makeover which leads her to marry the prince — not the in-between mayhem.

I have broken down the concept of selling a transformation into four parts. Think of it as a journey — a trial to triumph journey for your ideal target audience.

For the sake of clarity and practicality, we are going to use the example of a bakery shop for this journey.

1. First comes the problem…

Without acknowledgment of a problem, there is no need for a solution. If you cannot precisely describe their trial or their current situation, you will have a hard time convincing them that they need something from you.

In our bakery example, you’d think selling delicious, or even beautifully designed cakes should be enough to get customers lining up. They won’t care about the high-quality raspberries you use for your jellies without bringing them to realize that baking one’s own cake can create unpleasant outcomes.

Try these leading questions… Think blindspots, dilemmas, destructive cycles, a basic need or a vanity want…

YOU: Are you tired of being the ‘Pinterest fail’ example of your friend group? THEM: OMG yes! Last year I…

YOU: 8 out of 10 moms say they hate throwing their kid’s a birthday party because of all the stress — is that you? THEM: Yes, I’m one of those!

YOU: Do you agree that the least fun part of hosting an event is having to do it all by yourself so it’s done right? THEM: Absolutely! Everything has to be perfect!

2. Show them the cost of inaction.

Inaction is more costly than it is safe, unlike what we’d like to believe. It’s true that doing the same thing will for a while create the same outcome, but in the long run it deteriorates the value of the thing that leads to extension. Showing your target audience what that could look like might be unpleasant for them, but it is a necessary step to change… to transformation. It’s all about the emotional state they’d be in if nothing changed.

Never live that awkward moment again, when you bring out your intended ‘The Little Mermaid’ themed cake and it looks like a blue-shaped… thing.

File into avoidable: the infamous 30 minutes before the first guests arrive where you’re trying to frost the cake?

Party resentment is a real thing — You have too much to do, not enough time, and can’t trust others with your vision and you feel overwhelmed.

3. There is a better way!

Position yourself as the solution. Once they are aware or reminded of what their problem is and how it feels, they’re ready to hear the good news. You must come in as the epiphany, the relief, the ideal solution. Give them specific options (flavors and designs), share about your process (team, delivery methods), proof of trust (testimonials and portfolio), …

4. …Then the happy ending.

Steps 3 and 4 can be interchanged in the order of the journey depending on your strategy and your audience. You can be creative with those but they both must be present to complete the transformation process. As much as people need help identifying their pain points sometimes, they need help also visualizing what could be: bad with inaction, or good with the desired outcome. They need to be able to imagine as clearly as possible the triumph state, the outcome of this transformation, and the opportunities and possibilities it would bring. The way you achieve that is by creating a direct answer to their initial problem and placing yourself as the connection from State A to State Z.

NOW: Pinterest fail. THEN: Our cakes tend to get people talking… about how much they loved them and need the name of the baker. Can you see yourself as the go-to cake-maker recommender?

NOW: Stressed. THEN: Our birthday cakes are deliciously and beautifully designed for two reasons: kids jumping up and down when they see their dream cake and mom actually being relaxed and able to catch the moment with teary eyes.

NOW: Execution overwhelm. THEN: Call in the cavalry! We’ve been creating conceptual cakes for over a decade — trust us with your vision, we’ll deliver a cake that will wow your guests and complement every detail of our planning.

Selling a transformation comes down to that sweet mix of creativity and strategy, AKA storytelling. If you can clearly articulate the journey and tell a story that weaves a connection between their trial state and their triumph state with your product or service in the middle, then you’ve got yourself a powerful offer.

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