designing ebooks and other fun things


What desperate buyers want to hear


Have you ever heard the term “desperate buyers”? You know, people who would give anything for a solution to a specific problem. A problem that has become so much of a frustration that the cost is not an issue, as long as it gets solved.


I was in a desperate buyer state yesterday.

My adorable, affectionate, tail-wagging constant companion had suddenly developed a very nasty skin infection, seemingly overnight. I won’t tell you about the sleepless night and all the worrying. I won’t tell you how my heart breaks when I look into those sad puppy eyes. I won’t tell you about the three hours I spent in the tiny, hot, crammed room (it was a busy day at the vet’s, with many emergencies much more serious than ours), refusing to leave his side during the treatment. I won’t even tell you how I almost needed a doctor myself after that ordeal.


That’s not the point.


The point is, the vet said that the cause was likely an allergic reaction. And that it’s likely it will come back. Only there is no way to tell what he is allergic to.


So of course, I instantly got on the internet and started browsing for a solution.


The first thing I came across that seemed promising from the description was a vet clinic specializing in allergy testing. Sounds like a perfect solution, doesn’t it? And even though I know that the results are not 100% accurate, I was more than willing to give it a try, to do something rather than risk unknowingly contributing to this mysterious allergy.


Yet when I clicked over, this is what I saw.

Pages and pages of not exactly easy on the eyes white on blue text that went into all the details on the tests they used, the ingredients, the statistics on accuracy and so on. Feature after feature, with some words nobody without medical training could possibly comprehend.


I can certainly see how all of that information would be extremely valuable for a veterinarian, who is looking for a clinic to recommend to his clients. Or another specialist in the field, studying existing allergy tests and trying to improve on them.


But what about the end client?
What about the desperate buyers?
What about me?


Can you guess what I would have wanted to hear instead?


It’s pretty simple, really. One paragraph would have had me jumping in the car and driving to the clinic – without even looking at the price first. Had they just told me that they would test my pup for all the allergies that they can test for and if the results were not very clear, they would suggest a diet and activity plan that would narrow it down, had they used a clear, compelling, reassuring way to present this information, I’d be at the clinic right now, instead of writing this post.


I’m not a specialist. I don’t give a damn about the techniques, ingredients and studies. I want you to hold my hand – and my pup’s paw – until we find a solution. Whatever it takes. If you can promise that, and keep your promise, you can ask whatever price you want. To me, it will be worth it.


That, right there, is a perfect description of a desperate buyer.


You might think that this only applies to certain situations, only to particularly troubling, or annoying problems, but that isn’t the case. It can apply to anything. Just because something isn’t all that important to me or to you, doesn’t mean that there isn’t someone out there that is looking for that same thing, because to him it’s the solution to a problem that has been nagging him for ages.


A cozy mountain chalet that offers non-romantic, activity-based packages on Valentine’s day might sound cute yet frivolous to you and me, yet it would be just the solution for a group of friends who have made it a tradition to spend this day as hiking or skiing, and would prefer not to be surrounded by the overly romantic couples.


An alarm clock that has different volume settings doesn’t sound all that special if you simply list this fact as a feature, but it would be the perfect solution for both the heavy sleepers who need something much louder than usual and the light sleepers who do not want to wake up the other family members.


There is someone out there, right now, that is desperately looking for your product or service.


I am not going to talk about their ability to find you, that’s a topic for a separate post. Let’s assume that they did find you, that they are looking at your website right now.


Are they going to find what they are looking for?


I know you have heard about features vs. benefits before, the concept isn’t new to you. And yet it’s oh so easy to fall into that expert trap, to ramble on and on about the exclusive system used to build your product or about the various additional functions it performs – when often, all you need is one simple, powerful message to convince your potential customer that yes, this will solve their problem.


Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to think about what emotional state your desperate buyers are in, what they are looking for, what you can tweak in your offer to make it a perfect fit, and how you can make it obvious that your product is the right solution for them.


Get some outside perspective if you find yourself stuck listing the features. You will be surprised how helpful that can be.

5 Comments on this Post.

  1. I think you just sold me yourself (as in, your product). I am ALWAYS too bogged down in the detail of my software product – I need help in cutting to the chase and telling people what they need to know – clearly – and this peice simply confirmed it.

    • Thanks Richard! Yes, it’s very easy to get caught up in all the technical details and forget that what our clients pay us for isn’t the techniques/stats/checkboxes, but the solution.
      Examples of specific situations can be a powerful tool when trying to focus. This very post demonstrates that. I could have simply given you a lecture on the importance of one clear message and cited some books and studies, but I don’t think it would have had as much impact.

      Thinking in terms of a specific situation or a problem that your potential client is dealing with will help you cut to the chase.

      Looking forward to talking more about this when you visit Rome! :)

  2. You are dead on with this one Lisa. Last year when I was babysitting my daughter’s dog, I became that “desperate buyer”. Our dog wolfed down some potentially dangerous garbage.

    This happened at 10 pm on Easter Sunday while we were staying at a ski resort. NOT a convenient time or place for an emergency! I immediately got on the internet.

    The ONLY thing I was interested in finding was an on-call vet saying I’m available, I know what to do and I can help you! Fortunately, it all worked out!

    • Oh I am SO glad it worked out, Anne! I think I went pale just reading that and picturing what I would do in that situation if I couldn’t find one who said they were available.

      And there are also so many times when this simple information we look for simply isn’t prominent enough… I just hope this never happens in an emergency.

      • It ended up with a $600 vet bill, but thinking about the alternative was terrifying. My daughter and son-in-law were on vacation in Italy at the time and I was imagining having to decide if the appropriate thing would be to call her and wreck her holiday or wait 2 weeks to tell her I had killed her dog!

        Thank heavens for the clearly messaged vet website! They were a God send!

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