The Key to Business Marketing: It All Comes Down to This

Why do we do what we do? Why do we seek what we seek? There’s a reason.

Why are we in the business we’ve chosen? Why do we surround ourselves with the friends we keep, the groups we adopt? What one thing colors our surroundings, influences our purchases and informs our opinions, our prejudices? There is one reason, one underlying human pursuit at the core of everything we do, every thought we have, every decision we make.

First, what it’s not: No, it’s not money, although that can be a part of it. Nor is it fame. It’s not love or harmony (although that comes pretty close). It’s not really about tranquility or peace on earth or doing the right things at all times for all people. (Who amongst us is that centered, that noble?) No, the singular pursuit that shades every decision in every moment is something that is, unfortunately, not even always in our best interest. But understanding its good and bad aspects can help us succeed, in business and in life.

Here’s what it is: Comfort. Simply put, we like being comfortable. Conversely, we dislike and tend to avoid or minimize those things that bring us discomfort. On the surface, then, life should be easy, right? Do that which makes you comfortable and all will be right with the world. Well, obviously, it’s not that simple.

Understanding the comfort zone, part 1. The first thing to understand about the concept of comfort is that what may be comfortable to one person might be excruciatingly uncomfortable to another. To be in a room full of people might energize Mary but terrify Frank. To be the center of attention gets Jimmy all jazzed up but makes Corrine cringe. We each have our comfort zones, even if their boundaries seem fuzzy or incomprehensible at times. Why, for example, does a person stay in a job they hate or a relationship that is toxic? Probably, at least in part, because making a change is stressful and stress causes discomfort. Thus, the pain in the “known” is more tolerable (i.e., more comfortable) than the uncertainty of the unknown. So yes, even uncomfortable situations can become comfort zones.

Understanding the comfort zone, part 2. The second thing to understand is that comfort zones are cocoons often made from in-the-moment decisions, and not long-term perspectives. We dwell in our comfort zones, and our comfort zones exist in the present. Thus, it’s easier — in the moment — to choose to do something that is clearly not in your long-term best interests or to postpone a decision that clearly IS in your long-term best interests.

The comfort zone challenge for the businessperson. As in other aspects of life, then, the best business decisions often lie outside our personal comfort zones. If you are trying to get someone to make a buying decision, for instance, the biggest challenge can be to move the target away from the status quo (their comfort zone) to a place that offers the uncertainty of the not-yet-experienced: the discomfort zone. You, as the seller, of course, know unequivocally that the prospect will be better off by making the purchase or entering into a professional service relationship with you. But your perspective doesn’t automatically change the prospect’s unconscious and unvoiced objection: “I’m more comfortable staying where I am instead of sticking my neck out and risking a mistake, especially if others might witness that mistake and judge me because of it.” Too bad, really, because the discomfort zone, frightening as it may be, is where growth occurs. It’s where challenges are faced, where confidence builds, where success happens. The wise person will be open to the discomfort and will stretch those boundaries. Success will come, and so will failure, of course. But the wise person learns and tries again and again, always stretching and enlarging the comfort zone.

Bottom Line:

How can you leverage the concept of comfort zones for business success? First, understand that people are prone to inaction and are generally content to dwell in their cocoons. That is the first step to overcoming this inertia. Next, sense their unstated objections and ease their fears so you can get them comfortable with you — or the product you represent — as a solution. If the prospect contacted you, they’ve already admitted that they need help. Thus, your opportunity is golden: ease their fears, comfort their discomfort, and give them confidence that you are the perfect choice to help them solve the problem at hand. How do you do that? 1) Listen with interest, 2) be authentic, and 3) share nuggets of your knowledge and expertise before expecting to get paid for it. These are the cornerstones of successful marketing today and there are many resources available to help you accomplish these goals.

Got questions? Step to the edge of your comfort zone and contact me. Chances are we’ll both learn and grow from the experience…and our comfort zones will get a little more, well, comfortable.

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~ by Bob Chenoweth on 05/15/2010.

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