You see it online all the time.
If you work in marketing, your inbox is probably flooded with emails from coaches promoting their latest course launch, ebook, or affiliate program. And their marketing doesn’t shy away from making big claims about the products.
“Become an Expert at Facebook Ads in 30 Days or Less.”
“Double Your Income and Become a Six-Figure Consultant in 6 Weeks.”
But this strategy can backfire.
Using scarcity marketing in a sleazy way or making huge promises is a poor strategy overall. Overpromising only hurts your brand in the long run, because branding is all about trust, and under-delivering on your claim kills your credibility.
The marketers that sell these courses didn't build their business in a month.
It took years of hard work for them to find success. And if you're a frequent listener of the Everyone Hates Marketers podcast, you already know that I don't believe in shortcuts, best practices, or fucking growth hacks.
Because the truth is, everything you achieve is based on the work you put into it.
So why do so many coaches and marketers make claims that their offers produce life-changing results?
According to marketing strategist Sean D’Souza, it’s because people will buy it. Our human brains are literally wired this way. We instinctively want to achieve our goals with the least amount of output possible.
Basically, we’re hard-wired to be lazy.
But there’s a better way to market your products — it’s called The Brain Audit. Sean D’Souza developed the analogy to explain what’s going on in your customer’s head during the buying process.
I interviewed Sean on the podcast, and he explained his methodology for convincing people to buy your product without the pushy, hard sell.
In this blog post, we’re going to dig into The Brain Audit step-by-step.
But first, let’s talk about a very common mistake that marketers often think will be effective, but it actually repels customers.
Have you ever been under pressure to sell something, but you’re met with a wall of objections from customers?
Maybe you KNOW that what you’re selling is good for the customer, but they just don’t believe it.
What do you do?
It’s tempting to try to change their mind with facts and figures.
But in that case, there’s an invisible force working against you, a powerful psychological concoction of confirmation bias and reactance.
Basically, the more you try to convince someone they’re wrong and you’re right, the more they will defend their position, and you’ll actually repel them from buying.
So… what to do?
You can’t convince someone to buy.
But you CAN help them convince themselves to buy.
There are three types of people:
If they already believe what you believe, then getting them to buy won’t require much convincing. It’s a slam dunk.
If they straight-up disagree, it’s possible to get them to buy, but it’s a bit harder.
If they’re right in the middle — they don’t disagree with you, but they’re not ready to pull out their wallet either — then you can take steps to help them convince themselves.
Here are the 5 steps from Sean D’Souza.
If you've been working in the marketing field for any amount of time, you already understand target markets and why you must find your ideal audience before you try to sell to them.
For example, consider a company like Shopify. They’re one of the biggest web hosting platforms for ecommerce businesses… but they have two target markets. Shopify targets small businesses, with millions of new ecommerce brands hosting their stores on Shopify.
However, the platform also owns Shopify Plus, which targets ecommerce companies earning $1M-500M in revenue. Therefore, the marketing for each audience looks very different because they are two totally different markets.
A well-defined target market is the first step in any strategy.
But in order to convince your potential customer to buy, you must take things a step further and narrow your target market down to one person. Sean D’Souza calls this the target profile, and it is also known as a buyer persona.
Target profiles are not imaginary avatars, and they have very little to do with demographics.
After all, Prince Charles and Ozzy Osbourne have strikingly similar demographics, but you wouldn’t target them the same way, would you?
A target profile is of one real, non-imaginary person.
While this person’s demographics may not matter, they have a real problem that they need to solve (and they may or may not be aware of it).
Here’s the thing, customers don't pay attention to solutions. When it comes to our brain, we’re wired to focus on our problems. For instance, Sean D’Souza demonstrates this with the example that we don't pay attention to great weather… but we pay attention to a bad thunderstorm.
Does this sound familiar? You don't pay attention to the road when everything is fine. But you’ll pay attention when traffic is backed up on the freeway and you're stuck in the middle of a bumper-to-bumper traffic jam.
Good marketing addresses the problems your reader dwells on.
But perhaps the idea of targeting only one person scares you. For what it’s worth, I don’t blame you.
When it comes to target profiles, an objection I commonly hear from listeners is FOMO. We tend to worry about getting too specific with who we want to reach because we’re afraid that we’ll miss out on someone’s business.
But the truth is, only after you understand your target profile will you know what it takes to grab their attention. Sean D’Souza refers to this as The Bull’s Eye.
The next step is to figure out what your risk factors are.
Sean D’Souza defines risk factors as your target profile’s objections. And the thing about objections? They’re instinctive too.
It's hardwired in our brains to hesitate before we buy. As Sean D’Souza explains in The Brain Audit, the moment someone decides they want to engage with you or potentially buy from you, they actually take one step back.
They instantly try to convince themselves of every reason NOT to buy. We all have objections, no matter what we’re buying.
Bad marketing will try to look past these objections — but this is a mistake. You can't hide them. You have to address it because even if you don’t bring their hesitations up, your potential customer will still have them.
Likewise, your audience appreciates transparency.
On the other hand, you might be wondering how to explain this to your clients. In my experience, handling the topic of objections is tricky. Clients want their advertising to be all sunshine and rainbows.
They fear that if you bring up objections, you might create more anxiety about the product in your audience’s heads. But in reality, you have to demonstrate to your customer how they experience objections too.
I asked Sean how to handle this, and he advised you to teach your clients how objections work by using a real-life example. Ask your client about a product they recently bought and what made them hesitate about it before purchasing.
They’ll probably consider things another way.
The more expensive a product is, the more hesitations your potential customer will have. If you decide not to address these objections, but your competition does… the business will go to them.
Customers will even appreciate your transparency, as Sean D’Souza mentions:
“Usually, you have about five or six big objections… but if you bring those five or six, what you’re showing is a fair degree of transparency. And that is what clients appreciate.”
In order to get over these hurdles, you have to use risk-reversal, testimonials, and sell the uniqueness of your offer.
It sounds like a lot, right?
You bet, but it’s easier to accomplish than you might think. You simply go down the sales page and address each of these beliefs, one-by-one.
Keep reading to find out how.
Let’s talk about testimonials. Contrary to what you might think, just because someone claims your product is amazing in an online review doesn't make it an effective testimonial.
What makes a powerful testimonial? Well, a testimonial becomes compelling to your customer the minute it starts to mirror their objections.
What you really want is what Sean D’Souza calls a “reverse testimonial”.
Here’s how he explains it. Instead of trying to sell your product by saying it’s so amazing and wonderful...show the exact opposite. Start off with skepticism. The idea is you’re telling a story of this person’s life before and after they bought your product.
So how can you do this?
For starters, you identify all of your objections — list every single one out.
Then you find real-life customers who can answer those objections and offer you testimonials for those objections. When you’re interviewing them for a testimonial, make sure to ask questions that paint a picture of what their life was like before they bought your product.
What did they think when they first found out about you? What were they feeling? What problem were they trying to solve?
You might personally find this tactic too risky. This is likely because you’re used to seeing over-the-top testimonials that are overly nice and play it safe.
It might seem like displaying testimonials that bring up objections, first and foremost, jeopardize the chances of a sale. But the truth? Your customer is actually debunking each objection line by line.
7 questions to to ask for epic testimonials
In fact, after I first read The Brain Audit, I tried this technique a few times myself. The result? I was surprised to learn it works very well.
Go ahead and give it a shot.
Next, let’s take a look at how offering an iron-clad guarantee can help close the sale.
When you think of risk reversal, what’s the first thing that comes to mind?
It’s likely a money-back guarantee.
This is the most common type of risk reversal. And while it’s a good risk reversal, it's not THE ultimate risk reversal.
People don't just want their money back at the end of the day. What they really want is for you to deliver on your promise. They want you to understand what the real risk is for them.
Sean D’Souza uses online courses to demonstrate how he does risk reversal. He sells courses online that cost a minimum of $3,000.
And there are people that sign up in 20 minutes after the cart open email is sent.
How is this possible at this price point?
Truth be told, it has a lot to do with their unique guarantee. Because most digital marketers will offer you a money-back guarantee…
But what they don't offer you is a skill guarantee. In every one of Sean’s courses, they promise the skill. He doesn’t offer the money back. They guarantee the skill instead, and that’s because the money isn't the true cost here.
The actual risk is this:
People who join programs at this price don't want to do another program where they're just absorbing more information. They’re thinking, “I have enough information, I want the skill.”
Remarkably, it's not all about price when it comes to convincing people to click the “buy” button, and part with their money.
It all comes down to this:
What makes you unique? What differentiates you from your competitor?
Demonstrating your uniqueness is the toughest step in The Brain Audit, but you can’t skip this step. According to Sean D’Souza, it's crucial. And if you take every step in this process — except for identifying your uniqueness — your sales are in trouble.
In other words, there's a good chance you’ve set your customer up to go directly to your competitor.
What is your unique selling point?
And some business owners think there will always be someone competing on price. They believe wholeheartedly that there’s always someone who wants to pay less. But here’s something really interesting…
You're only competing on price when you haven’t described what makes you unique.
So what can you do about it?
Become a detective, and find your uniqueness. You start off by creating a list of all of the things that you do. Then you pick the one trait that you believe is the most important thing. That’s your Unique Selling Point.
There’s only one problem — no one will remember it.
You think that everyone will remember your uniqueness, but nobody does. Sean uses the example of the pizza company, Domino’s. At one point, their famous USP was that your pizza would be delivered in 30 minutes or less — or it was free.
They said it over and over and over again. Even when they had been around for a decade, they still repeated their USP on every commercial and every pizza box.
You have to say it again and again.
You have to repeat your uniqueness to people.
And you’ll find that after a while, your USP is the only thing they’ve heard.
That’s how you convince people to buy your product… without being pushy.
Confirmation bias is when you try to prove yourself right rather than get to the truth of the matter, and it’s a very common thing we humans do. In practice, if customers think buying your product/service isn’t worth it, they’ll seek out any information to confirm their belief, and they’ll be less likely to accept any disconfirming argument or evidence. Check out my podcast episode with behavioral psychologist, Richard Shotton to learn more about confirmation bias and customer behavior.
Sure thing. Take a look at this reverse testimonial from Sandro Meyer who was in cohort 1 of Stand The F*ck Out:
“Is it going to be one of those courses that tells me I need to write a story around my brand?"
There are a lot of these storytelling courses where they all say “You need to find the unique positioning, and you need to tell a story about your brand.” And that was my biggest objection.
I didn't want it to be another one of those courses that you just buy.
And luckily it was not.
I had a bit of confusion around the services that we provided
I needed to get clarity on how to position our agency in conjunction with our content that we send out every week.
And how all of these fit together. This was really not clear to me.
That’s why I signed up.
It was exhausting to have all these options open
I was reading all those books, like Blue Ocean Strategy and all that, but it never clicked for me. It made me maybe feel tired and lose motivation a little bit.
It might seem like a luxury problem, but it isn't really. It's just tiresome to constantly every single time to send out a newsletter or record a podcast and ask yourself, “What is it that you're trying to do?”
I now have a story that I use in sales calls
I just didn't have that before. I have a story that connects with people and that I now use in sales calls.
I had a sales call with a lead last week and I could just immediately connect with her on the fact that I know how it feels to be a new marketing leader.
I think we’ve got the contract because of it.
I was not expecting…
...to learn a step-by-step repeatable process of how to narrow down my target audience and craft a unique positioning for my segment or niche that I can actually own.
It just makes me feel like very relieved because I don't have to think about how I'm going to do this every single time for the rest of my life.
It ultimately gave me the clarity that I needed.
You’ll notice the top of the testimonial are Sandro’s objections, and then the rest of the testimonial talks about how those objections were alleviated and the results he got.
If a prospective customer identifies with Sandro and his objections, it should be a compelling testimonial for them to read and to alleviate their own objections.
If you’d like more examples, I’ve put together a lot of reverse testimonials for my program, Stand The F*ck Out.
Definitely. There are three ingredients that must be in place for any purchase to happen: dreams/pains, constraints, and buying triggers.
The “pain” is what keeps customers awake at night.
The “constraints” are the things making it difficult for them to solve their pain.
The “buying trigger” is a thing that happens that makes them want to buy now, not yesterday, and not tomorrow.
Once you understand what those three ingredients are, you can put together a plan to trigger more purchases.
You can read more about it here.
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Just click on that big fat red button, answer a couple of questions, and learn to stand the f*ck out in a no-bull, super-practical way:
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