I may very well come completely unglued the next time I see a Dare to Compare worksheet, advertisement, or point-of-purchase display.
Message to marketers: stop making the customers do your job!
Let me unpack that just a bit.
Many businesses mistakenly try to create value by outpacing their competition on a feature-by-feature basis using Dare to Compare. They pull out a figurative scale and ask customers to place features on each side. And, of course, the scale always tips in favor of their own product. (Surprise, surprise!)
Car sellers enjoy a long-held reputation for this, as do homebuilders, website developers, pest control companies and a host of others.
In one way or another, they all deliver a Dare to Compare approach in their sales and marketing efforts with messages something like this: “When you see how we stack up against our competition, your choice will be easy.”
But the choice is not easy. In fact, Dare to Compare places the value-assessment burden squarely on the shoulders of the customer. The buyer must pull out their pencil or their spreadsheet and undertake a fairly difficult assignment.
Oh, and by the way, they don’t do it. So, you’ve got that going for you…which is nice.
Let me share three fundamental flaws in the Dare to Compare approach:
Today’s buyers feel justifiably cynical when they enter the marketplace. They have seen all the tricks and techniques and sleight-of-hand before. A Dare to Compare worksheet, no matter how thorough it appears, means nothing to them. Worse yet, if your Dare to Compare information shows “all comparable value points, including those where our competitor has an advantage,” you will really lose them. People aren’t stupid. Customers always know that such information is incomplete at best and skewed at worst.
2) The Value of Value
A Dare to Compare worksheet builds on the mistaken notion that all customers perceive value equally. This is, of course, patently untrue. Customers do not make a purchase decision simply by counting up check marks. Customers analyze value points based on a personalized scale of how important they find each feature. In other words, the customer creates a scale within the scale. Dare to Compare worksheets do not provide value; they provide migraines.
3) Cognitive Strain
And that leads to point three: the Dare to Compare worksheet burdens the customer with cognitive strain. Customers prefer to make purchase decisions by taking small pieces of very important information and building a case for why to buy (or not buy) based on their own priorities and values. Feeling overwhelmed by reams of unimportant, non-essential information complicates matters and increases their stress. And when a customer feels stressed, it often feels easier to make no purchase decision at all.
So let me suggest a radically different and far more simple approach: Figure out what really matters to your customer and then sell them that solution. If they hear your presentation and still believe that your competitor offers a better value proposition, then the market has spoken.
Just stop making the buying decision so dang hard.