‘Fear Factor’ Sells Advanced Home Technology
While it sounds counterintuitive, builders attending a convention seminar last month in Orlando, Fla. were told that emphasizing the negative is often the best way to convince consumers to incorporate advanced technology into their homes.
“We’re more afraid of losing than we are happy about gaining,” said Maureen McNulty, the information and outreach coordinator for the Partnership for Advancing Technology in Housing (PATH) program, a public-private partnership that works to speed the development and adoption of advanced building technologies.
“Do the right thing is a message that does not motivate people to act,” she added. “Loss messages are more powerful than gain messages in eliciting action.”
When pitching products, McNulty said that builders should utilize the “fear factor” and frame the argument by emphasizing to buyers what will happen if they don’t purchase these products.
For example, when selling energy-efficient upgrades, she said to stress that monthly energy bills will run significantly higher with lower-grade insulation and that these added costs will erode their quality of life by taking a bite out of the family budget.
“What will have to go? Dance lessons? The morning latte? Make the loss tangible,” she said.
Noting that many PATH-profiled technologies can mitigate wind and water damage, McNulty said the sales pitch should focus on the specter of major storm damage, or complete devastation.
“Invest now, or be sorry later,” she said.
Summing up this sales philosophy, McNulty said: “You’re not selling upgrades. You’re warning consumers about the risk of downgrading.”
Outscoring the Competition
In evaluating the decision-making process of consumers, Bill Asdal, president of Asdal Builders LLC based in Chester, N.J., said that the three main components involve criteria, weighting and scoring.
Criteria include such factors as cost, contractor pressure, social responsibility (the right thing to do) and peer pressure (keeping up with the Joneses).
Asdal developed spread sheets that reflect how consumers weigh individual criteria and assign an overall score to the process.
The idea, he said, is to create a “value proposition” that outscores the competition.
“If you can create value, you can probably close the deal,” said Asdal. “If they want it, I show them their return.”
In seeking to sell advanced technologies, McNulty said that earned media is a far more powerful tool than purchased advertising.
“Be newsworthy. Get stories of innovative projects in trade publications or published by PATH. Earned media is gold.”
Builders utilizing innovative products, techniques or practices were also encouraged to contact PATH to be featured in PATH case studies examining the latest advanced building trends and to also become a PATH partner.
For more information, visit www.pathnet.org, or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.