What Customers Buy Instead of the Best Products and Services

December 17, 2018

“If you would win a man to your cause, first convince him that you are his sincere friend.” Abraham Lincoln

Have you ever had this happen? You offer a great service, but a friend or family member bought that service somewhere else?

When you ask them about it, they look kind of sheepish and say, “Oh, right.” Like they forgot. What just happened?!

Here’s the hard truth. As good as you are at what you do, consumers can buy your craftsmanship anywhere. Think about it. When you went to school to learn your profession, what were you taught?

Your profession or trade…and that’s it!

That’s half of what you need to succeed in business. Schools wear blinders. They don’t teach students anything about marketing, about succeeding in business.

So what happens?

You quickly learn that “If you build it, they will come,” only works for Kevin Costner. The rest of us have to figure it out the hard way. You take a look at what your competitors are doing for marketing and copy them.

And that means your message is essentially the same message everybody in your industry uses.

Even if you do offer a better service than your competitor, how would anyone know? Unless your message communicates that difference, it’s all the same to the prospect.

What Consumers are Really Buying

Customer making a decision to buy a retail product

The sad truth is people never buy the best product or services on the market. They never have and they never will. What people really buy is a clear, simple message they relate to.

I know a lodging establishment that has the tagline, “Planting serenity and harvesting memories.”

What does that even mean? It sounds like a line from the movie, Invasion of the Body Snatchers. Know why?  Trying to be clever doesn’t work.

I know it’s not as much fun, but a simple clear message builds trust. People don’t trust what they don’t understand.

Vague or ambiguous messages are confusing. And when you confuse people, you lose them. What’s more, when people are searching for your service, they aren’t typing in witty words to find you!

Looking to cut cholesterol? You’ll probably type in “how to lower cholesterol” or “foods to cut cholesterol.” You aren’t going to type in “Get fit or get fat.” Keyword searches favor clear, direct messaging.

So be clear!

Examples of Clear Marketing


Clear, direct marketing isn’t sexy. It gets to the point while taking the customer’s viewpoint. And, most importantly, it uses familiar language.

(Nobody ever says they want to “harvest memories.”) Take a look at these examples of a clearly defined message:

  • Our farm-to-table take out service saves you time and keeps you healthy.
  • We help your sales team close deals more quickly.
  • We worry about IT so your company doesn’t have to.
  • We sell top quality mulch for superior garden yields.

All of these examples use familiar language, NOT technical jargon or clever words. The result? They feel informal and friendly. You understand right away what the company offers; no further explanation is needed.

That’s why it doesn’t matter if you have the best product or service in the marketplace. If your competitor’s message is clearer and simpler than yours, they will always get the business because people gravitate towards clarity and away from confusion.

If your sales aren’t where you want them to be, re-examine your message. Then, do the unthinkable. Recite your tagline to people you don’t know. If they can’t tell you what you do, it’s time to make some changes!

Never stumble over how to tell people what you do. Download the elevator pitch template on my home page, "The Message Your Prospects are Starving to Hear." And get prospects asking YOU questions about your business!