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“Think you can, think you can’t; either way you’ll be right”
Allegedly said by Henry Ford but who really knows? Aren’t all witty quotations attributed to Mark Twain or Oscar Wilde, and the business axioms to Henry Ford or Ray Kroc?
I like to think one day they just got the great thinkers and do-ers together, put all the sayings in a hat and divvied them out, promising to stick to the attributions. “Oscar, this one’s yours… Shakespeare, well you were smart enough to publish yours so here you go… who wants “Just Do It?” Can’t see it catching on myself but okay Mr. Knight, you can take that one…”*
But I do like that opening quotation because what you think and believe, shapes the decisions you make and the actions you take.
And if you’re trying to persuade someone after a negative belief has set in but you don’t tackle it, you’re probably going to miss the mark.
Because beliefs can be so firmly held that they stop people doing something that would actually be to their benefit.
Last night I cut Malc’s hair with scissors and a comb after watching a quick YouTube tutorial. I firmly believed I had the requisite tools and knowledge to do an excellent job. Malc believed it would end badly. I wore him down with persuasion (I was really excited to be a hairdresser) and won the battle of wills.**
So, you have to know how to unpick these beliefs in your customers so that they don’t stop themselves from enjoying the benefits of your offer. And in my experience, there are 3 beliefs that can make people doubt your ability
as a hairdresser to solve their problem.
1. They don’t believe in you.
Rude I know, but some people have either been burned in the past, or they have preconceived ideas about your industry. Mechanics are cocky, non-profits are frivolous with donations, marketing agencies won’t take the time to understand your business.
I love the story of the plumbing firm who years ago took out an advert in the phone book with the headline:
“We’ll turn up on time, smelling nice”
That’s a business that understands preconceived beliefs.
2. They don’t believe the solution works or even exists
For all those people who have been disappointed with a kitchen device invented for that perennial problem (crying over onions perhaps?), or the parents who still haven’t discovered the benefits of Zoom, Spotify, or shopping online, there are people out there who would love what you do but just don’t believe that what you promise is possible.
To overcome this belief you need to tell a story of something ‘new’. A reason why your product is different to options they may have tried in the past. Or by showing them the limitations of whatever method they are currently using to try and solve their problem.
3. They don’t believe the solution will work for THEM
In this situation, customers look longingly at what you promise them, but convince themselves it couldn’t work for them. We are very good at telling ourselves we’re not smart, fit, strong enough to have the things we want. Where possible you want to eliminate this friction and show customers that they don’t need special attributes to do well with what you have. (This has to be true of course. If they do need a doctorate in astro-physics to get results from your kitchen device, let them know).
These are the beliefs you should kill, but which ones should you keep?
The ones that tell you things are possible. You can establish that brand, get those great clients, you can make those sales. Keep trying, keep studying, keep taking action, and keep believing.
Till next time,
* I know Phil Knight didn’t come up with this advertising slogan, but the backstory was not as pithy as the saying.
** The results were actually okay and I thought I did a pretty good job. I talked to him about football (which he doesn’t like), asked the inevitable “red or blue mate?” (a question that bugs him because everyone asks him as soon as they hear his accent), and encouraged him to moan about his ‘missus’ during this lockdown. I was an excellent barber for those 15 minutes.