This post isn’t about how the education system is broken, or that students are bored stiff, or how it doesn’t respond to varying intellectual needs. This post is about why you need to use clear, tangible, emotional benefits to get your consumer to buy, join in, sign up or attend.
Because if you can’t present people with good reason to do what you want them to do, they simply won’t.
And so, the story begins.
You may be aware that I have two daughters, one of whom has just turned 17. (The other one is 5.) My teen is graduating high school in June, and she’ll be attending CEGEP (the sort-of-not-really-but-close-enough Quebec equivalent of college) in the fall to study business translation (German, Chinese, Spanish, French and English).
You may not be aware that my teen rarely attends class. She barely goes to school. She’s missed 58 classes in the past 90-day term.
There’s nothing wrong with her. She’s not sick or disabled or challenged or injured or handicapped or diseased. She doesn’t drink, doesn’t do drugs, doesn’t stay out late, doesn’t party, and doesn’t have a boyfriend. She’s clean, neat, polite, well mannered and well dressed. Oh, and smart.
Which is the reason, actually, that my teen doesn’t go to school.
“Why should I?” She points to her report card. ” 85s. I’m not failing anything. My marks are well above average on almost every class. I’m graduating. And I’m not even in school. Besides, it’s stupid. It’s so boring. I mean, come on.” She rolls her eyes. “I don’t even go to school and I’m still passing. When someone can give me a good reason why I should go, then I’ll go.”
Of course, nobody can. “Because you’re supposed to,” sounds useless, empty, and moralistic. The school administration and guidance counsellors have tried everything. They’ve begged, pleaded, punished, rewarded, argued… They simply can’t find a good argument to convince my teen to drag herself out of bed early in the morning to catch a bus and spend the day in a boring place that she doesn’t like for no particular benefits she can see.
And not going to school is giving her more benefits than actually attending.
This is marketing gone all wrong.
The situation with my teen is a perfect analogy on what not to do when you’re in business. She’s a consumer. Class is the product. The school is the business trying to sell the product to the consumer. And there are no clear, tangible benefits present to sell that product effectively.
That means if anyone want sales (in that my teen decides to buy into going to school), the consumer needs to be convinced with clear benefits presented in a compelling way that hits right where it counts, in a way that shows what’s in it for that person, and why the consumer should buy in.
So what does a compelling, clear benefit look like? Let’s use my teen as an example and see what we can come up with.
First, the given: If my teen attends class, she’ll increase her knowledge. Boring. That’s just a false benefit. It’s not really a benefit at all. You have to move past this hollow benefit and figure out why this matters. To do so, ask yourself, “So what?”
So what if my teen increases her knowledge? Well, she’ll have better chances of college acceptance, more employment potential, and probably better wages than others.
But even those aren’t really strong benefits. They’re not compelling. They’re kind of a given. They don’t stir anyone emotionally to get them leaping out of bed. Look at my teen: She knows that she’ll have better chances, jobs and pay rates, but she still isn’t convinced high school is worth bothering with.
You have to look for real benefits, the ones that pique someone’s attention. A benefit could be that if my teen goes to class, she’ll not only get accepted at CEGEP, but she might even gain entry to the elite private college offering top-of-the-line education and job opportunities around the globe.
Now we’re getting somewhere.
And let’s say that if she does get accepted at that elite facility, they practically guaranteed a high-level job position on graduation, and in any country my teen feels like living in. Nice. That means my teen could pretty much live in the lap of luxury every single day of her life. Just because she went to class in high school.
More compelling already, n’est pas?
Real benefits could be something much more simple – but no less desirable. When you start tapping into desires and emotions, moods and feelings, you can find all kinds of ways to motivate people to buy. For example, a benefit for my teen attending class every day could be that she gets a summer job paying $15 an hour versus those her friends get at just $10 an hour and because of that, she looks like a rockstar when she takes her gang out for a pizza celebration at the end of the summer.
That rockstar feeling? That’s one hell of an emotional benefit. Allow me to demonstrate in a fictitious piece of sales copy targeting my teen:
“Dearest daughter of mine,
Imagine it’s the end of summer and the last day of work. You and your friends wanted to have one kick-ass celebration before you all parted ways for CEGEP this fall, but they’ve just called up and can’t afford to go out. They’re broke. They didn’t get the great job you did this summer, and they had to put every penny they earned towards saving for the coming school year.
And they’re way disappointed. It was their last chance to be together, their last summer celebration, and they’d really wanted to end it with a bang.
But they can’t. They’re strapped for cash.
Imagine their reaction when you say, “Come on, let’s hit up Roxy’s Pizza – my treat.”
It’ll be amazing. You’ll be the hero! They’ll cheer, and Donovan will grab you in one of those great big hugs you love, and Sarah will squeal and say you’re the best friend ever, and then you’ll all pile into Dave’s Jeep and ride out together to enjoy the most fantastic night of the summer.
All because of you.
You went to class, and someone found out what a great student you were. How concientious you were about showing up every day. How reliable and dependable you could be. You got the best job that summer, the one that paid more than any other.
And because you did that, because you bought into going to class, you get to be the one that makes everyone’s dream party come true.
P.S. As an added bonus incentive, if you attend every class until school ends, I’ll pitch in $100 just to make your celebration truly epic – they’ll never forget it. Or you.
Hugs and kisses,
Your doting parent”
My teen would be pretty hard pressed not to want that. Are you kidding me? That’s one emotionally-packed offer right there, with clear benefits – attention, affection, praise, bonus cash, Donovan’s arm around her… My teen wouldn’t be able to think of arguments to knock that down.
Nor would she want to.