Breaking Through the Shields. (Russian Brides, SPAM and Value)

In the last article we talked about how people have developed a defense mechanism to fend off the constant bombardment of marketing messages as a simple survival strategy.

To get through your buyer’s defense shield you must be invited in. The only way to be invited in is to answer the question “What’s in it for me?” (“me” being your potential customer).

There are only two ways to motivate someone to act. One is by force. The other is by demonstrating to them that the action you desire is in their best interest – that it fulfills a need or provides clear benefit to the customer. In marketing speak, we call call this “value”.

Read the first article in this series here

Let’s take a moment to break down the concept of “value”.

amygdalaLike many words related to marketing (like “marketing”) the word “value” has been so abused that it has become meaningless. We need to understand the basic nature of value from a human perspective if we are to drive our message home with potential buyers.

“Value” means that our brain perceives something to be highly relevant to its immediate needs. It is not to be confused with pricing or the monetary value of an offering. It’s a judgment call that is different with each person. In his book “How to Pitch Anything”, Oren Klaff insists that we must understand how the brain processes information if we are to effectively motivate someone to buy.

Our brains have evolved in a fairly orderly process. At first we developed what is called the reptile brain or the Amygdala. The Amygdala is the first structure at the base of the brain that is the first filter of information. It’s a simple creature that makes snap decisions based on three basic questions:

  1. Should I eat it?
  2. Should I mate with it?
  3. Should I run from it?

This is where the defense shield is created. If your message can’t get past the the reptile brain, it’s going to get ignored. At this stage, “value” is relevance.

To put it another way, let’s say you are lost in the desert and have not had any water in two days. Your mouth is dry and your lips are cracking as you struggle to keep moving over the dunes. Suddenly a woman appears with an ice cold bottle of spring water as she asks “Would you like a drink?”

Do you:

a. Ask “how much?”
b. Say, “No thank you. I’m just passing through…”
c. Focus 100% of your being on getting that water

At that moment in time, the only thing relevant to you is that water. Your reptile brain opened the gate and you invited the opportunity into higher centers of your brain so you can make a decision.

People will invite you inside their shields if you deliver value from the very first contact. If this first contact is a traditional sales pitch our reptile brain gatekeeper ignores it because it has no immediate personal value.  Other things with zero value include:

  • Product information
  • Brochures proclaiming how great your service is
  • A discount on something they would never buy
  • Stopping by to “See how things are going”
  • Follow up calls to “check in”
  • A pen with your company’s name on it

Instead, share your knowledge of your business to create a more educated client. Be an active contributor to making their job easier, faster and more informed. Be the “go to person” for your specialty. That knowledge in your head is a gold mine. Parcel it out (sort of like what I’m doing here) and give people real value from the first contact.

Hit the comments below. I welcome your thoughts, questions and input.


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