As I progress in my studies (both academic and personal reading), I am becoming more intrigued with the how’s and why’s regarding our decision-making processes. The more I learn about emotions and the psyche, the better I understand just how powerful the manipulation of one’s mind can be.
In the fitness industry, as well as others, there’s some mad cash to be made. Take a look at any fitness magazine and the contents are flooded with advertisements. Most, but not all fitness websites have some form of advertising in place or a product to generate revenue.
Go to any commercial gym and I can guarantee you there are people whose job is solely to generate revenue by initiating and closing sales of personal training packages and gym contracts/memberships.
It’s hard to say this for certain, but my hunch tells me gone are the days in which a personal trainer does nothing but train clients all day. Given the economy, if they aren’t learning to market and sell their services, their business is likely drying up.
Since my dear friend Ryan Zielonka unofficially tagged me as the Fitness Consumers Advocate, I wanted to cover a few things I’m fairly passionate about. Those things are the following: people, emotions, and the power of persuasion.
Before I get into it all, I guess I’ll give a brief background.
Throughout my entire life, I’ve always been able to build rapport with just about anyone I’ve met. It doesn’t matter if it’s over the phone, in person, or in the written word. Even though I am far from being a great writer or speaker, I know how to convey a message. I know how to connect.
Along with this ability, I’ve also become more aware about the power of persuasion, how I’ve subconsciously used it in the past and I how I continually use it today. Up until the present date, I’ve been fairly consistent with getting others to open up, spill the beans about (insert topic of conversation), see my point of view and eventually come over to my side of the fence (or at least consider doing so).
So, in a sense, you can call me a salesman. But I’m not the type of salesman you’re probably imagining. No, you won’t find me in the blue suit with a red tie. And you won’t see me across the desk, in a heated room, cramming features and benefits down your throat any time soon.
You’re likely to find me having a random exchange with a girl I just met in the line at Starbucks or with the person sitting next to me on a long flight (hey Candice). By the end of the conversation, we’ve both sold each other on something.
My point is this. The world of marketing and sales is nothing more than an exchange or a conversation on a grand scale. Every time you meet someone new, you’re selling yourself, and your ideas, whether you like it or not.
And in closing to that, it’s time we discuss a few ideas related to this whole marketing and sales process, especially within the fitness realm.
Tangibles Versus Intangibles
It’s probably up for debate as to what sells best because every scenario can be unique in the fact that people differ, as do products, atmospheres, etc. There are always a ton of variables present.
But in my opinion, intangibles are what pierce the heart. Sure, it’s easy for me to sit across from you, present a new fitness gadget, and drill you about what it does. But that’s boring.
I could take it even further and tell you what it can do for you once you begin to use it. While we’re starting to get somewhere, you’re probably not going to buy from me.
Now I can take it a step further and get you involved. I’d have you begin using it. I would demonstrate how easy it is to configure, and then reveal how it complements your goals perfectly.
And here is where the magic happens.
Now if the process has been going as it should, I’d already taken the time to learn more about your needs and wants. During the demonstration, my number one goal at this point is to build a connection and bridge the gap between what I have to offer and your needs.
All the while this is going on, my focus is on the intangibles (things we cannot see or touch but imagine, feel and become emotional about). I would explain how this gadget is going to help you get down to a size 4 again or how it’s going to help you shed those 100lbs as fast as possible. I’d paint pictures of the drastic transformation you’re about to experience and how glad you’re going to be.
This is why the beauty lies within selling intangibles.
For most of the fitness crowd who are seeking quick-fixes, weight loss pills or muscle-building solutions, selling the intangibles always takes precedence.
Feelings and Emotions Make Us Do Some Crazy Stuff
Just about everything we do is to feel good or better. Think about it. If you’re tired, in order to feel better, you rest. If you’re hungry, the only way to relieve the discomfort is to eat something.
If you’re afraid of doing something because you know it will hurt or hinder you, your brain does everything in its power to keep you from these feelings and emotions associated with such pain.
In this case, our minds are working for, not against us.
But what about when our emotions are manipulated to a point that we act on them despite knowing better? What about when they trump all logic, reasoning and previously acquired knowledge?
Many decisions are made in the emotional state as opposed to a logical state. Our emotions can work for or against us – it just depends on the situation and our mental clarity.
We all differ in temperaments and decision-making abilities but we all share a common trait: we are human beings who will, at some point, let our emotions get the best of us.
Without stereotyping too much it’s safe to say men are more cognitive-minded (“I think”) while women are more emotionally-minded (“I feel”) according to The Battle Between Thoughts and Emotions in Persuasion.
However, it’s not always this cut and dry. Many men make decisions based on emotions as many women focus more so on logic. But as I mentioned earlier, we are human. Thusly, we’re susceptible to making decisions based purely on emotion alone.
In the heat of the moment, you really can never predict how you might act.
Buyers’ Remorse and Cognitive Dissonance
Ah ha – those dreaded, negative thoughts and feelings that we’ve all experienced at one time or another following our decision to purchase.
It’s a common feeling, especially when we look back at our decision and see we used no logic or factual reasoning whatsoever.
“Did I really need to buy that $200 pair of Nikes when a similar model for a third of the price would have sufficed?”
“Did I really need to eat the entire pie during Thanksgiving dinner?”
“Was that Hovetrekke home exerbike really worth the price? Was it really what I needed?”
The answer to those questions is no, yet we still make a decision to buy regardless. And in hindsight, if you could remove all emotion from the purchase and focus solely on reasoning and logic, we’d have never made the purchase in the first place.
Now Give Me Your Money
Allow me to display some examples we often see on the long sales pages, in magazines and sometimes on television.
Drastically Transform Your Physique in only 19 Days! Experience Permanent
Fat Loss With Minimal Time Investment.
Hi, I’m JC and within the next 5 minutes, I’m going to reveal to you the Most Powerful Techniques Ever Developed that will turn your body into a Fat Burning Machine!
And here’s the cool thing – this technique has always been around but only available to the elite athletes and physique competitors we’re all familiar with.
When you combine this secret technique with my detailed diet plan, you can triple your fat loss efforts. It’s been proven over and over again to Increase Your Metabolism by 327%!
So yes, in just 3 short weeks, you can be on the fast track to the Body of Your Dreams – yes, the technique is that Effective.
What I’m doing here is building a belief that I have something no one else does. If you’re like most people who want results, you want them yesterday. If I were to continue going with this type of sales technique, I’d slowly dig into how my knowledge, product, or whatever is going to fulfill your need.
And it’s really not too hard because most people in this niche want to lose fat, build muscle or improve performance. So, in this case, we’d write some sales copy that caters to the individual need, offer a solution and create an emotionally-based reason to buy.
And the reason to buy comes from selling the intangibles we discussed earlier on.
Here’s another example:
But you need to act soon. I’m only allowing 1000 applicants into my new program. Out of that 1000, I will extend a qualification questionnaire to 500 individuals.
Out of the 500, I will only select 254 participants from that group to participate in my Fat Loss Breakthrough Course. This offer is only open until the 1000 applications are in. Once the 1000th person signs up, I will close the door for 6 months. Next time though, the price will likely double. Well, that’s just assuming I even run this promotion ever again…
What I’m doing here is creating a sense of urgency; a competitive environment causing you to feel like you’re missing out on something if you don’t act immediately. In this case, the fear of loss will cause you to act out of emotion as opposed to logic because you’re afraid someone else will get it before you do.
If you were thinking logically, you would know that anyone with the chance to make way more than 254 sales would be stupid to cut it off for 6 months at a time (no one is really going to do this unless it’s a very special circumstance).
You’d also realize (especially if you’ve been reading here or anything Alan Aragon, Lyle McDonald, Martin Berkhan or Matt Perryman have written) that no one owns any real secrets. There’s nothing new under the sun and 9 times out of 10, really awesome content is not going to be found through cheesy sales pages or over-priced ebooks (although there are exceptions).
And here’s a targeted example:
Lose ALL of the Baby Weight in WEEKS not MONTHS
Imagine getting your pre-baby body back within a few short weeks, not months! With a few simple movements, and only 2 workouts per week, you can be back to your original weight in no time.
Gone are the days or dieting or excessive working out to get the body of your dreams.
No need to feel deprived or hungry. You’ll actually be eating more while you turn your body into a fat-melting furnace.
Here, our focus is to manipulate the new mother who’s desperately searching to revisit her pre-pregnancy shape. And guess what? She’ll likely buy if we push the right emotional buttons and give her a reason to believe we have the answer.
Too bad she doesn’t realize it’s going to take much longer than a few weeks and that she’ll have to watch her intake closely as well.
So How Do We Make Better Decisions?
I admit – it’s hard to disseminate between facts and utter BS sometimes. Some people simply have a gift with words and their copywriting is flawless.
It’s really hard when you add a visual to the copy, which is providing (false) proof that whatever they’re saying actually works. Ever seen an ad in a magazine for a creatine product and the model holding it is clearly on a weekly gram of testosterone and other pharmaceuticals?
Even though you may (or may not) understand he’s on the sauce, you might struggle with the fact that the creatine is not what made him into a behemoth.
That’s the power of advertising and marketing. We love to believe what we see and what our emotions tell us, despite all logic and rationale.
Here’s my recipe for not being a sucker if you’re prone to letting your emotions ruin all ability to think logically. And yea, a lot of people (marketers) are probably going to hate me for this. But such is life.
- Take a Step Back – Fo real, yo. Just take a step back. If you’ve got your hand on the credit card and you’re about to flesh out some mad cash for a product that you’re pretty excited about after reading a 10,000 word sales page, it might be a good idea to let it stew for a few days. If and only if, you’re as (or more) excited as you once were, then go ahead and make the exchange. Chances are, the excitement will die down and you’ll come to your senses.
- Seek Advice – Talk to a friend or mentor – someone who can be objective about the purchase decision. Ask them what they think about it. Hell, email me if you want to.
- Think Logically (very hard at times when emotions are involved) – Think about WHY you’re feeling a certain way and why you want to make a decision so quickly. What is the basis behind your decision? Is it logical?
So now that you’re well on your way to being a more conscious fitness consumer – share some stories in the comments about previous emotional buying experiences if you have any! If you’re embarrassed, use an alias – I won’t tell.