Why should you let your customers imagine using your product?

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Well, because humans like things that are familiar to them. If you never tried squid, then it'll take much more to get you to eat it than someone who has already eaten it. It's the whole I'm-familiar-with-you-so-I-know-what-I'm-getting-myself-into principle, otherwise know as the IFWYSIKWIGMI principle. (Yeah, we made that acronym sucker up.) Psychologists Larry Gregory, Robert Cialdini, and Kathleen Carpenter studied the effects of imagination on customers:
They sought to experimentally test the power of consumers' imaginations with regard to subscription to a cable television service. They had research assistants go door to door, telling residents that they were doing a survey on the local television cable company. The research assistants informed each resident that they would be reading a snippet from the cable company's brochure and then ask for the resident's responses to the snippet. For half of the residents, the research assistant read a description of some of the features of the cable service. For the other half of the residents, however, the research assistant asked homeowners to imagine themselves utilizing the features of the cable service. Several weeks later, representatives from the cable company solicited the very same residents to offer cable service. Did the seemingly small change in the research assistant's interaction with the residents make a difference in subscription rate? Indeed it did. Whereas 19.5% of the residents who had simply heard the features of the product described several weeks earlier ultimately subscribed to the service, a whopping 47.4% of the residents who had been asked to imagine themselves enjoying the features of the cable service ultimately subscribed.
Crazy. But, it works. Give your customers some familiarity--and if you're telling the absolute truth, you'll build lifelong customers for a long time. Word.

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Posted on June 01

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