Of Finding and Choosing: The Head and the Heart

November 24, 2020

Like so many others spending more time at home amid the virus, we got a new puppy this summer. Finding one was hard; high demand has led to a shortage of dogs plus, there were family differences about breed and gender, and whether we should pursue a rescue or a purebred. Choosing was even harder, yet so much fun. 

This got me thinking about how your buyers find and choose your products or services, and how you can make sure your communications map to both the logical and emotional aspects of decision making.

The Buyer’s Dance

When any of us sets out to buy any product or service — a dog, a car, a college education, an enterprise-wide CRM, or an architect to design a new building — we all go through the same two-step dance. We created this oversimplified table below to illustrate the point.

Let’s say a hospital board is looking for an architecture firm to design a new building. Finding candidates is an intellectual exercise, with questions like: 

  • Is the firm a known player in our field? 
  • Do they have an office near us? 
  • Have they designed buildings we admire? 
  • Do they have case studies we can read, or an impressive portfolio on their website? 
  • Did they come up in search engines? 
  • Is their work covered in the architectural or design press? 
  • Have they written position papers on sustainable buildings? 
  • Does their reputation precede them on social and traditional media?
  • Is their pricing within reach? 

Even after getting the answers to questions like these, the buyer makes a list and checks it twice. It’s logical.

The Seller Steps In

Let’s say you run marketing for your architecture firm, which has a stellar reputation, great referral sources, conference speaking engagements and so on, but is not always considered for every job the firm would like. 

The marketer’s responsibility is to be sure that outreach checks all the boxes for the hospital search committee’s needs, so the firm shows up on their radar. This process is often powered by data, personas, insights and marketing automation, and fueled by content — all great tools. 

However, smart left-brain campaigning has its limits; it can help you get found, but it does not close the sale. That leads us to choosing.

 

The Tango Toward the Choice

Congratulations. You’ve been discovered; the field has been narrowed. Four top architecture firms have been selected to bid on the new hospital building, and you sense your firm may be favored. The communication responsibility now shifts from reason to emotion. 

Here, chemistry matters. Relationships matter. Personal connections matter. Trust matters. Style of communications matters. 

Did you show you understand what’s really important to the buyer? Were you easy to interact with? Did you go the extra mile in your pitch? 

Too often, we see marketers or sales professionals continue to focus on features in this stage, rather than things that make a buyer comfortable — which is often a critical mistake when buyers are looking for comfort.

The Head and the Heart at Every Step

You might say that there is a blurred line between the logical and emotional aspects of finding and choosing. We get it, and we agree. Our biggest takeaway for marketers is to be sure you have the right mix of messages that appeal to both the head and the heart. 

Back to our architecture firm example: A real firm we know that does great work in the health care sector has a brand promise that spans the head and the heart: “You’ll love how we’ll work together.” It speaks not only to collaboration with clients, but also to the integration of talent at the firm across architecture, planning, engineering, and other disciplines.

Remember, finding may be logic-driven, but you have a creative responsibility to deliver a sense of comfort that you are the right match for a buyer’s needs throughout the process. All features (logic) and no benefits (emotion) are often interpreted by buyers as more about you than them. Isn’t the best marketing about the market? 

Oh, one last thing. Our new dog’s name is Stevie. We found her online at a rescue shelter.

 

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