The concept at the heart of the field of marketing is matching a product and a message with a market of people who will be receptive to them. Too frequently though, companies and their marketing teams focus their effort on their side of the equation — the product and communications — and then just before the campaign launches they thoughtlessly pull together a demographic profile of their target customer. It’s like these companies think having slick design and catchy copy means it doesn’t really matter who they target with their marketing campaign, because everyone will love it.
This couldn’t be further from the truth.
You could actually argue that the opposite is true. If you choose the right audience, then it doesn’t matter if you have the best copy or the prettiest graphics. Because the product and the audience are a natural fit, the sale will come together seemingly by itself. This happens when the product fits the customer’s worldview. And while almost no amount of copy, persuasion, or negotiation will get someone to change their worldview, just matching up a prospect’s worldview with your product is all it takes to make your sales jump.
So what exactly is a worldview? Every consumer has a different set of biases, values, expectations, and assumptions that they use to interpret the experiences in their life. This interpretation is their worldview, and it becomes the lens they use to determine whether or not they’re going to buy into a story about your brand or product. This means the lens your consumers look through to evaluate your company shows them a different version of reality than the one that you or your colleagues have when you evaluate your marketing efforts.
And no matter how much you’d like to, it’s almost impossible to change someone’s worldview.
The problem is that once a person has made up his or her mind, the way our brains function actively works against anyone trying to change it. Because there is no way that our brains would be able to fully examine and analyze every moment, stimulus, and interaction we have each day, it has created a number of “mental shortcuts” that allow it focus its energy on what it believes are the most important events and ignore the rest. And the problem for you is that failing to match their worldview puts you on the fast track to getting placed in the “ignore the rest” group.
This means “don’t try to change a prospect’s worldview” is only strategy that is truly effective. Don’t try to use statistics and facts to support your product and to demand that your prospects change the lens they use to see the world. Even if you work for Google, you don’t have the time or money to make this kind of campaign profitable. Instead, identify a group of potential customers with a worldview that is open to your product, frame your company’s story to match that worldview, and watch your business grow.
This works because one question is at the center of every customer’s purchase decision: “Is this something a person like me would buy?” This self-identity is more important than the benefits, features, or price of your product. No matter how appealing a product or service is, if a prospect feels that it’s not aligned with the way they see themselves in the world — their worldview — they won’t purchase. You need to make your product look appealing when viewed through the lens that a specific group of consumers uses to see themselves and the world around them. You have to tell these prospects a story about your product or service that resonates with how they see the world and their place in it.
In order to succeed, this story has to be true. Not true because the facts have been proven, but true because it’s consistent and authentic. The facts don’t matter. In the short run, the only thing that matters is what the prospect believes. If you tell them a story that they believe in — even if it’s not factually accurate! — they will gladly purchase from you anyway.
Here is an example of this: A consumer given two glasses of the same wine, but told that one is more expensive, will say the more expensive wine tastes better. You may try to call this customer foolish, but for that customer the wine actually is better and they would pay more for it! Because their worldview equates higher prices with higher quality, they believe that the pricier bottle of wine is better. To them that is the truth, and it doesn’t matter if you know that the wine is the same, because that’s your worldview and it’s irrelevant. Whatever the customer believes is the truth becomes the truth.
Now this is not a license to try to manipulate and deceive your prospects into buying from you, because this is where the importance of consistency and authenticity come into play. As was mentioned above, a story is “true” if it is consistent and authentic. So if your product doesn’t live up to the story you use to sell someone on it, you will be breaking the consistency rule and that person won’t believe that your story is true any longer. And they won’t ever trust your company again.
Telling an authentic and consistent story about your brand and product to a group of consumers whose worldview is receptive to it is one of the easiest ways to ensure marketing success. Because they’re ready to believe in your message, your story will easily match their definition of the truth and they will gladly pay to support their view of the world. Instead of sinking exorbitant amounts of time and money into a persuasive marketing campaign that will be fighting the uphill battle of trying to changing consumer’s minds, match your message to the worldview of your target customers and watch your sales take off on their own.