People are afraid of what they do not understand. Surprisingly, most would prefer to remain terrorised and uninformed than gain the knowledge to conquer their fears.
A drug dealer held a loaded gun to my head and threatened to pull the trigger. I’ve been lost, stranded and dehydrated in the middle of the Sahara Desert. I’ve watched loved ones take their final breath. I’ve stared down the throat of a great white shark.
I’ve opened the door to strange men who took the TV away while mummy and daddy did nothing. I’ve had the suicide hotline on speed-dial. I’ve seen my bank account go from zero to one million and back to zero.
I know what fear is. And I also know the market is full of it right now.
But fear – like any emotion – can be harnessed. With the right guidance, you can shine a light on the dark corners of your business and luminate a pathway to growth and prosperity.
Something In the air
Markets have emotions. You can smell it. You can almost touch it.
The core emotions of markets are optimism, pessimism and fear. I felt optimism leave the market about 18 months ago. Fewer people were making bold moves. The shouting from the rooftops turned into something more like a whisper. When optimism leaves, pessimism fills its place. Next to arrive is scepticism (this is where we are right now), and then fear will follow.
I work with several businesses as a consultant, and every week I speak with the smartest marketers and business advisors on the planet. I see what goes on behind the scenes. I’m tapped into a world that few experience.
It’s 2022, not 2018. Things are different. Trust is broken.
Recession and inflation seep into the gaps. There is more competition than ever. The business ecosystem as a whole is contracting, not expanding. “Screw it, let’s do it” has been replaced by “Let me think about it”.
I don’t need charts and graphs to tell you this. It’s all around you. At the petrol pumps. The supermarket shelves. The house that just won’t sell. The client who just won’t buy. The offer that just won’t click. The customers who just won’t walk through the door.
Of course, people will tell me I’m wrong. “We’re doing great!” they will exclaim.
Usually, however, they are selling dreams based on bygone optimism in the market. It’s like walking down Papamoa Beach trying to sell bikinis on a cold July morning: Economic winter is coming, and no BOGOF offer or glamorous advertising campaign can change the fact.
Something exists, however, that can calm the nerves and conquer the fears…
And that something…is you.
Feel the fear, and do it … differently
Yes, people are scared right now. But you have a choice: You can join them, or you can be the one to lead them out of the darkness.
If you can help your customers understand fear, then you help them conquer it. Fear happens when we encounter something – a situation, a person, a product, a headline – and our brain searches for a solution to validate what it is.
Imagine you’re in the sea, and something bumps against your leg. You start searching for a reference point. Something to validate the situation.
When you can’t find anything, the anxiety builds. Still can’t find anything? Anxiety turns to fear. Something bumps your leg again. Fear then turns to full-blown panic.
What is it you’re desperately searching for? The capability to deal with your situation. If you encounter something and you’re capable of dealing with it, then you’re not afraid.
Here is when the business gurus will tell you: “fear is just an emotion”.
Well that’s great, but try telling that to a customer who is too scared to open their wallet because they have a feeling they might be swimming with sharks.
But you can take the fear away.
The ‘Fear Less’ lifeboat
When everyone is scared and feeling out of their depth, how do you solve this problem?
You remove the fear, and replace it with the opposite of fear: Confidence.
If you can give your customers confidence, then they feel less fear. They are less fearful of the economy, inflation, house prices, fuel prices, or what their boss or partner might say.
It actually goes deeper than generic confidence, however. Because it’s about confidence in their capabilities.
For example, someone falls into deep water – if they’re confident in their capabilities (ie swimming), they understand the situation and they know how to overcome it, they’ll feel no fear.
So how do you give your customers capability?
Firstly, you give them the insight to understand the truth behind the situation they’re facing. This could be a brochure, report, presentation, article, etc.
Then, you arm them with the knowledge to take the fear away. Perhaps a product demonstration, training session or workshop.
Next, by giving the customer an opportunity to utilise or practice this new knowledge, you are building their competence.
Competence builds into confidence, which morphs into capability, which takes the fear away.
When you remove the fear for your customers and clients, you remove the shackles that were holding back their purchasing decisions.
The final twist
There is one small detail that makes the difference between a customer horror story and ‘happily ever after’.
Most people will read this article and believe it’s about giving a customer confidence in YOUR business.
But true mastery comes from the ability to give a customer confidence in THEMSELVES.
If your business can show the customer there is nothing to be afraid of, and give them the confidence to believe in their own capabilities … then you remove the fear. And they are eternally grateful.
Help your customers conquer their fears, and you become less vulnerable to the scary rollercoaster ride of 2022.
Then you realise: There was never anything to be afraid of.
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