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This article is from one of our affiliates, Jenika McDavitt, with Psychology for Photographers.
Let’s talk about cookies for a second.
I’ve been on a quest for the perfect sugar cookie recipe for years now. Recipes that differ only slightly can produce dramatically different results, so knowing which recipe to try next out of thousands is hard – especially since I don’t want to waste time or butter! (Especially not the butter.)
One day I had about ten browser tabs open, trying to choose the next candidate, when I ran across one food blogger who made me close everything else and run with her option. Why?
Because she started out her post by describing exactly what’s so frustrating about baking sugar cookies. Having to chill the dough for hours (seriously…who wants to wait?). Then wrestling with a chunk of cold dough to roll it flat. Then trying to re-roll floury cut scraps, which never taste as good.
I sat in my chair thinking YES! That’s exactly what happens! Tell me what to do next!
And I closed every other tab and followed her instructions.
Here’s something you need to know:
Something happens when you hear someone describe the exact problems you’re facing.
First, you feel validated that this problem isn’t some weird personal failure on your part; it’s a common consequence and totally solvable.
Second – and listen closely here – it takes a huge mental weight off of your shoulders.
We all come into any search – for a car, a shampoo, a recipe – with a specific set of problems we’re trying to solve and tradeoffs we’re trying to manage.
Usually it’s up to you, the reader or customer, to wade through all the tech specs to acquire info, and then weigh which item is likeliest to fit your set of needs. It gets exhausting – fast. Especially when you don’t know a lot about the subject.
Seth Godin once said “The minute it isn’t easy, lazy people will flee, and everyone is lazy sometimes.” Plenty of people reject awesome options for no other reason than it was too much work to figure out how great it was.
But when someone starts off describing exactly your situation or goals, and proposes a specific solution? They’re offering a massive shortcut that people are eager to take.
Imagine a pair of running pants, whose product description says:
Fabulous RunningWear Pants
- Four-way stretch
- High rise
- Reflective details
- ⅞ length
- Three-pocket waistband
It doesn’t matter how great the pants are, it matters how quickly someone can read that list and translate it in their head into whether it meets their specific situation. (And remember: Everyone is lazy sometimes.)
Compare that against the following:
Fabulous RunningWear Pants
You shouldn’t have to adjust your clothing mid-run, or hide your key in your shoe.
- Four-way stretch – moves with you, no riding or sliding
- High-rise – keeps you feeling secure
- Reflective details – be seen, even at dusk
- ⅞ length – stays off your shoes
- Three-pocket waistband – secures keys, cards, and your phone
See the difference?
Yes, you could look at the initial list and figure out what you need. But that takes effort. Eliminate that work by translating features into real-life benefits, and more people will stay and pay attention.
The Harvard Business Review reported an interesting finding: Customers don’t actually want to have their ‘expectations exceeded.’ They want companies to make it easy to have their exact needs met. Big difference. Expensive gifts and giveaways didn’t do nearly as much to retain customers as, say, making it faster to find a specific solution.
So what does this mean for you?
Your clients aren’t an expert at your business, but they’re an expert at their problem. If you take time to describe their problem and then how you meet it, your business will win every time.
Here are two big ways you can make sure your website does this.
1) When you describe what you do for people, add in the “Impossible X.”
Yes, your clients are coming to you for photos. But remember, someone’s not just looking for running pants, but running pants “that stay in place.” There’s always more to it; something else they’re hoping for. Someone wants photos from someone who can work with their loud kids, someone who is nonjudgmental, someone who can make everyone have a good time.
That latter detail is what I call the impossible ‘X’ – and all clients have one. It’s not actually impossible, but as they search it’s what feels impossible to discern from a site alone, and they feel like they have to guess whether this will do it or not. If you can name that X factor out loud, you’ll capture their attention immediately.
- You want crisp, bright family images, plus a session your toddler actually enjoys. Let me show you how we do it →
- You want current senior images that don’t look like everyone else’s, but still fit your yearbook requirements, right? Right this way.
You can use a sentence like this as a welcome line on your front page, an intro to an info paragraph, or anywhere you want to invite them to read further. It can really be as simple as fill-in-the-blank:
- You want X and Y, without Z – right?
- You want someone who can _______, but also ______.
- It would be great if you could get _____, but wouldn’t it be amazing if you could get it while ____?
2) Do the work for them: Translate specifics into your client’s real life.
Say you offer a 90-minute photo session.
If someone hasn’t hired a photographer recently, ‘90 minutes’ can be fairly meaningless. They might wonder – Is that a lot? A little? Standard? How fast does this photographer work? How many images does that translate into?
Or worse, they’ll simply ignore this altogether because it doesn’t help them make a decision.
Why not translate it and tell them how this helps?
Sessions last 90 minutes – more than enough time for an outfit change and unhurried family time in the park.
Newborn sessions last about 3 hours – enough time to get all the sweet poses you see in the images, with relaxed breaks for mom to nurse and settle baby.
90 minutes in a session, 2.5 liter engine in a car, double stitching on pants – this info only helps us if we know how that applies to real life. Giving the info to them in terms of their goals (relaxed time, engine that can climb up the mountains in ski season, pants you won’t replace in a year) helps them see how they’ll meet their goals faster.
Show you understand what your clients are really looking for and use familiar language to explain it – and you’re piling on the reasons for them to say yes!
The more you understand your ideal client, the more persuasive your website will be.
My award-winning class How To Build An Absolutely Irresistible Photography Website helps you gather key info about your dream clients and tailor your website to fit them like a glove. Go grab the free sample chapter now!