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We’ve all been there: You’ve been dat­ing that spe­cial some­one for a few weeks or even months, and it’s time to have “the DTR talk.” That’s right, it’s time to “define the rela­tion­ship” and choose exclu­siv­ity, or com­mu­ni­cate the para­me­ters of your rela­tion­ship. These con­ver­sa­tions can be dif­fi­cult if you are unsure of what you want, or the other party is unable to express his or her feel­ings. How you feel about the other per­son will often out­weigh logic.

Emo­tional Deci­sion Making

Not unlike a DTR con­ver­sa­tion, a con­ver­sion deci­sion is reached after a vari­ety of emo­tion­ally charged fac­tors are taken into con­sid­er­a­tion: What does the prod­uct say about me as a con­sumer? How does the prod­uct appeal to me visu­ally, aes­thet­i­cally, and personally?

Much like phys­i­cal attrac­tion and mate selec­tion, we as con­sumers choose a prod­uct based on how it excites or appeals to us. Find­ing per­son­al­ized ways to pique our poten­tial clients’ inter­ests in not unlike craft­ing an online dat­ing pro­file. Tar­get­ing vis­i­tors’ spe­cific inter­ests, pref­er­ences, and val­ues is the next step in “defin­ing the rela­tion­ship” and achiev­ing a last­ing partnership.

Trust and Reputation

Rela­tion­ships are built on trust. If you’ve ever dated some­one with a “rep­u­ta­tion,” you know what I’m talk­ing about. Hav­ing infor­ma­tion about a person’s his­tory in pre­vi­ous rela­tion­ships can make or break our deci­sion about whether to invest in them rela­tion­ally or not. Like­wise, poten­tial cus­tomers’ atti­tudes toward our prod­uct will be influ­enced by what they know about us before we are able to speak for ourselves.

Some­times rep­u­ta­tions are shaped by ill-gotten infor­ma­tion; other times, rep­u­ta­tions lend voice to the pos­i­tive expe­ri­ences of other sat­is­fied cus­tomers. Our job is to find ways to artic­u­late our trust­wor­thi­ness through tes­ti­mo­ni­als, use­ful con­tent, per­son­al­ized sup­port, and value-packed products.

How do we build a trust­wor­thy rep­u­ta­tion? By har­ness­ing the word of mouth of our most sat­is­fied cus­tomers. In the infor­ma­tion age, where we’re bom­barded with ads and bound­less infor­ma­tion, aren’t we most likely to try a prod­uct based on a friend’s (or influencer’s) rec­om­men­da­tion? Back to the rela­tion­ship metaphor: If a friend knows some­thing impor­tant about a poten­tial date, we’ll take their opin­ion into con­sid­er­a­tion. If our exist­ing cus­tomers are talk­ing about us, new prospects will come knock­ing. Word of mouth is not just one of our most potent allies, it’s also free.

Ben­e­fits and Value

Now, if we think of a con­ver­sion deci­sion as if it were based on a series of “dates” (tar­geted ads, opti­mized land­ing pages, per­son­al­ized con­tent, a com­pelling check-out process, etc.), we need to imag­ine how much effort our cus­tomers are will­ing to expend before defin­ing the rela­tion­ship. Rather than includ­ing super­flu­ous or con­fus­ing infor­ma­tion, use pre­cise lan­guage high­light­ing the key points you assume your “date” is most inter­ested in. And don’t for­get to tar­get their emotions.

Con­sumers, like dates, are com­pelled to invest in us if we are clear about our objec­tives, our vision, and the long-term value we can offer.

That Spark

With the cur­rent shift from tra­di­tional ad spaces (bill­boards, tele­vi­sion spots, and print) to smart­phone and tablet tech­nol­ogy, we have less time and space to relay our mes­sage. With atten­tion spans shrink­ing every year, more and more con­sumers are mak­ing deci­sions based on momen­tary per­cep­tions. Back to that date: Sit­ting across the table from some­one, are we more inter­ested in com­pat­i­bil­ity or that “spark”? Most of us would agree the “spark” con­sis­tently trumps the less tan­ta­liz­ing ques­tions of compatibility.

Today, dig­i­tal mar­keters have tremen­dous oppor­tu­nity at their fin­ger­tips, a chance to inte­grate per­sonal data into emo­tion­ally stim­u­lat­ing con­tent. By build­ing trust through pos­i­tive user expe­ri­ences, clearly defin­ing your imme­di­ate and long-term value, and putting some “spark” in all our inter­ac­tions, vis­i­tors will be all the more likely to look for com­mit­ment when we reach the DTR conversation.

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