Don’t Sell the Future, Sell the Here and Now

Don’t Sell the Future, Sell the Here and Now

You see it everywhere, companies selling a glowing, perfect future for their customers. 

A company that sells personal finance services will often talk about a rich retirement and passing wealth down to children. A fitness company will often talk about a healthy, fit, energy-packed future self. Colleges will sell a vibrant career with endless opportunities and fulfillment.

It seems logical to paint a picture of what life could be like if a customer said yes. And when you run a company, it’s easy to see the future value of the work you provide. The problem with this approach is that customers have busy minds. And, the farther something is in the future, the more variables will affect it. Customers know that a rich retirement account is dependent on many things, they have to be diligent about setting aside money and they have to make sacrifices in order to ever get that cushy future. 

Someone looking to get a college degree knows that there are about a thousand steps in between where they are today and having their dream career. They know the process is complex and time-consuming. When they see that beautiful future, their mind immediately conjures a list of all the things that could go wrong. So, these kinds of marketing messages don’t pack the kind of punch that marketers imagine they will. Customers don’t immediately say yes to this beautiful, glowing future. Instead, they hesitate, overthink, and put off the decision.

Instead of selling a bright, shining future, shift the marketing messages to the here and now. Customers don’t feel comfortable buying a potential future scenario, they’re far more comfortable saying yes to something that delivers value today. The future involves an investment which includes time, effort, money, emotion, and energy. They aren't just agreeing to a purchase, they also have to agree to that vague investment of their resources. And, large investments in a glowing future involve risk and the potential of disappointment.

Instead of dealing in the future, speak about your work in terms of what can be done now. What can they pay for and receive immediately? How can you create an easy and significant first step? Of course the future could be bright and wonderful, but what will they walk away with today? It's much easier to make a decision about a straightforward purchase today than it is to make a big decision about the future.

So, instead of selling a fitness program by talking about a healthy, glowing future self, a brand could talk about a done-for-you meal plan that a customer could use right away to plan meals for this week, starting with dinner tonight. 

Or, maybe instead of a fat retirement account 20 years in the future, an investment firm could talk about an automated, easy investing plan, something simple that a customer could set up in just 30 minutes. 

The future is hard to sell because it’s hard to see with any degree of clarity. At best, it’s an estimation. It’s not concrete, it’s a fantasy. The more immediate and tangible you can make your work, the more comfortable customers will be in buying today.

Find ways to bring the future into the present moment and sell from there. This way, you bypass all of the mental noise that goes along with the distant future. The mind can argue with a potential scenario, but it’s harder to raise objections to a purchase in-hand today.

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