There is no doubt in my mind that polarising your prospects is something you need to do if you want to get outrageous results from your marketing activities.

The big mistake everyone makes is that they try to aim their marketing at everyone equally, expecting the average Joe to take them up on the offer.

This strategy is weak because no one wants to feel that they are average. And, more importantly, average does not have the resources to pay premium prices.

I was flying to Glasgow on an evening flight, I had an overnight bag and therefore, to the sales rep, I fitted the demographic. I could see her eyeing me up as I approached and she reached out to give me the sample. I shook my head, declining the offer and focused my attention on something in the distance.

“Excuse me sir, do you mind if I ask you just one question?” she said as I drew level.

That was clever, one question. Ok, I thought, I can spare time for one question, I’m not running for my plane. I paused and turned towards her. Then she hit me with it.

‘Is it because I’m ugly?!!’

Wow, I smiled, shaking and walked on.

As I walked away, I thought about her comment more seriously and smiled. It was a good strategy; I had already declined her offer, so I was, in effect, a lost customer. She could just have left it at that, but I guess she gets paid on results.

She was shorter than average; blonde hair, a slight European accent, well dressed, but by no means ugly by any stretch of the imagination.

That standard response, as I came to observe was a good one. The average prospect was slightly embarrassed and, stalling in resolve, paused, at which point the sample was re-offered and accepted.

Ok, I’m not the average guy, so I shook my head as I walked on.

What I found interesting was my own behaviour for 15 minutes while I wandered around the airport waiting for my gate to be displayed.

I’m a marketing guy, I love the game; it’s like chess to me, a game of complex strategies and moves. So, I kept thinking about the strategy and its effect.

Was it a good one?

The objective was to hand out as many samples of a small soap bar as she could.

After the offer had been declined, she needed to hit her audience with a polarising statement that would have a reaction, a way to re-engage after the first refusal.

In her case, she was not a stunner, so the question was not one of vanity, and I’m sure some would have said she was average, not ugly or beautiful, but not to be rejected.

The statement and strategy was not used on women as it would not work, so her target audience was segregated and I expect a different message or hook was used.

I would have loved to have found a place to sit and observe the strategy over a period of time; my guess is that she had a higher success rate than most of her colleagues…

The clincher came as I walked past her on the way to my gate and she presented the sample again.

Strategy complete, objective accomplished!

Market to them until they buy, die or tell me to stop

You see, positioned where she was, half of the prospects passing her the first time would have to pass again on the way to the gate, and the second time round they would be warm prospects, a thought provoking, polarising, marketing strategy already working its magic.

Smiling, I accepted the sample; a small bar of beauty soap. It came in useful as the hotel I was staying at had soap that was hard and didn’t lather.

There was however a mistake in the overall strategy; I got a bar of soap, I had an experience, it was a good one but there was no way for me to follow up. The package having been delivered opened and experienced, left the door shut.

There should have been an offer of some kind to allow me to re-engage. Big mistake on the part of the marketing department.

It was and is an interesting lesson for several reasons:

  1. What are you doing to re-engage with a prospect after they decline your offer?
  2. What are you doing that will polarise your audience and make them think you are not average?
  3. How will you position yourself to present the offer a second time?
  4. What offer do you have in place to allow re-engagement?

Most people and businesses don’t try again and, if they do, it may be once only. Most businesses have one contact, maybe 2, with a prospect.

Most businesses would never try to polarise the prospect.

In my business, I have a simple but complex strategy: polarise them as quickly as possible. From, ‘not enough money’ maybe I can move them to become a ‘big spender’. I’m openly blunt about it, “I would love to help you, but if I don’t have anything to sell you at your price point, we’d just end up wasting each other’s time”.

I then put them into a marketing strategy over a 100- day period to educate them about why spending more money is a good idea. Then when we reach out again, their expectations are the same as mine and we can close a sale.

Yes, you did read that right, 100 days of emails, including at least 3 calls plus a postal mail sequence of 3 letters.

MY STRATEGY – ‘Market to them until they buy, die or tell me, to stop’

Are you too worried that if you asked the question, ‘is it because I’m too ugly?’ they would say yes and they would walk away?

What you fail to realise is that if they say yes now, at least you know where you stand and you can stop wasting time and move on to a more suitable prospect.