What comes after “No”?

What comes after No

As Seth Godin pointed out recently, “no” actually means all sorts of things. The flipside of a marketplace where branding encourages people to buy for emotive reasons is that brands also need to counter consumers’ rational and irrational reasons not to buy. Or listen. Or act. Or stop acting.

Some reasons are based on legacy. Some are convenient. Others stem from ignorance, bias, self-interest, loyalty, limitation, pride or tradition. Some are supported by fact. Many aren’t.

The problem for the person or brand making the offer is that none of that matters. The problem that matters is not your opinion of why your buyer won’t buy – it’s the fact that they have this opinion for whatever reason, and they have every reason to keep thinking it until shifted otherwise.

As Bruce Turkel pointed out in a telling post this week – “No” is also how some people have to get to “Yes”. And most people want to get there. He makes some great observations:

“Because of its incomparable ability to establish terms and boundaries, “no” might very well be the most powerful word in the English language. Thanks to the naked simplicity of just two letters —‘n’ and ‘o’ — the word “no” has a raw power that can’t be enhanced with more letters or syllables … Most of us want to be positive, helpful, agreeable, and we want to be liked … But unless we’re willing to draw our line in the sand and say “no,” then we can’t really achieve the outcome we want.”

And that’s the crux isn’t it – the outcome people want. If you’re a brand and you have people saying “no” to you, you have two options it seems to me. You can say “no” back – and move on … Or you can ask what they’re really saying “no” to, and seek to shift them closer to you by shifting them or shifting yourselves. Notice I said shifted, not convinced. Sometimes, the most effective way to deal with an irrational objection is to counter with a rivetting motive to reconsider, or to use their “no” to reconsider your own position. The onus is on you as a brand to find reasons and ways for the people you want as customers to be saying “Yes”.

Photo of “Beyond the wall”, taken by Giuseppe Bognanni, sourced from Flickr


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