The Paralyzing Fear Your Prospects All Share

by Adam Kreitman

It’s so pervasive, most people never think about it.

We don’t think about how it affects our own actions. And, in business, we certainly don’t think about how it affects our prospects’ actions (or nonactions).

Yet it’s one of the key things your business must overcome to get customers to do business with you.

I’m talking about the Fear of the Unknown.

Here’s an example of how it affects our perceptions and decisions…

On Friday nights, to unwind from the week, my daughter and I like to cuddle up in front of the TV. And we usually end up watching Diner’s, Drive-Ins, and Dives on Food Network.

If you haven’t seen it, the show stars celebrity chef Guy Fieri driving his 1967 red Camaro convertible around the country visiting independent mom and pop type restaurants. At each stop, Guy watches the chef cook up a favorite dish or two, then he shoves it in his mouth and gives it a rating like…

  • “That’s money!”
  • “The bus has just pulled into Flavortown station.”
  • “This is Da Bomb!”

…usually as grease and/or sauce oozes down his bleached goatee.

During pretty much every episode I’m wishing we lived closer to the joints he visits so we could eat there. In fact, there was a pizza place he visited in San Antonio, with a brick oven imported from Italy and that made their mozzarella fresh on-site each day, that literally had me checking airfares!

Now, that pizza place aside, I probably pass by restaurants each day that are equally as impressive as the ones Guy Fieri visits on the show.

From the outside, however, I just don’t know anything about them.

On the show, I hear the stories about the chef learning to cook in her grandmother’s kitchen. I learn how they import specialty ingredients to give their dishes that extra special flavor. I see the pride they feel in making everything from scratch using only the freshest ingredients harvested from their local organic farm.

Maybe some of the restaurants I pass each day put the same care and thought into their food as the places on Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives.

Or maybe they just got served another health code violation and the chef’s in the back with a cigarette hanging out of his mouth with the ashes hanging precariously over the food.

I’ve got no idea.

And just looking at most restaurant’s websites usually doesn’t help much either. They all basically look the same…

Pretty pictures of food.  A menu. And some generic copy talking about how great their food is.

But it really doesn’t help me get to KNOW them.

So unless a restaurant is on a Food Network show, is featured in an article in a local paper or I get personal recommendations from people who’ve eaten there, I don’t know anything about the place and will likely stay away.

Why?

Because of the Fear of the Unknown.

It’s one of the main barriers that keep your prospects from doing business with you.

An article about Fear of the Unknown in Psychology Today puts it this way…

“We are quick to judge, fear and even hate the unknown. We may not admit it, but we are all plagued with xenophobic tendencies.”

These tendencies rear their heads in many ways on both a societal and personal level. But when it comes to small business, it basically means this…

When you’re an unknown entity, people have their guard WAY up. They’re afraid you’re gonna screw them over.

And they’re not judging you based on your merits, but on their own biases about and/or experiences with businesses like yours.

In order for them to do business with you, you have to overcome, at least to some degree, their Fear of the Unknown.

How To Overcome Your Prospects’ Fear of The Unknown

A few months ago I shared the 5 Essential Elements your website has to have to convert (a conversion being a specific action you want them to take such as downloading a free report, making a purchase, calling you, etc.).

One of the 5 Elements is Overwhelming Proof.

Overwhelming Proof is basically how you demonstrate your credibility. How do you back up the claims you make on your site so they’re believable and don’t come off as empty hype?

It’s really about overcoming the Fear of the Unknown. It’s getting people to know you and your company, seeing you as a credible option and, ultimately, someone they’d feel comfortable giving money to.

There’s no shortage of ways to do this. Here are some examples…

  • Feature videos of you on your website and/orYouTube going on a service call, having a sample consultation with a client, or giving people a “behind the scenes” peak at your operation. This is all about demonstrating your expertise and the care and pride you take in your work and helping your customers. (Think of it as starring in your own little reality show!).
  • Do a video interview of your programmer and have him describe some key challenges he had to overcome in building the software program you sell. This’ll be a great way to show people the detailed thought process and care behind your software.
  • Have someone interview you about your business, key problems your prospects face, how you got started, etc. Publish it on your website.
  • Write a book.
  • An autoresponder series.
  • Get featured in the local media and put the stories/videos on your site.
  • Get speaking engagements.
  • Blog on a regular basis.
  • Send out a monthly/weekly newsletter.

See the common thread here?

It’s all about getting people to KNOW you and your business. To see you as THE authority. As someone who cares. As someone they can trust.

And this is REALLY important…

These should not be superficial, boring pieces of content about technical issues related to what you do.

They need to contain some EMOTION. They need to demonstrate your expertise, care and credentials so that prospects start to feel a CONNECTION with you.

Doing this can make all the difference in the world to your prospects. Instead of being another unknown attorney, dentist, financial planner, plumber, florist, consultant…you become a KNOWN and respected authority figure.

That’s the position you want to be in. And that’s why it’s so important to get your prospects over their Fear of the Unknown.

The good news is it’s easier than ever to put yourself out there and get people to truly know you.

Things like…

  • Creating and editing videos
  • Self publishing a book
  • Starting a blog and/or newsletter

…are all pretty easy and inexpensive to do these days.

So take advantage of some, or all, of ‘em and let prospects get to know you!

Get the “Fieri Effect”

When a restaurant is featured on Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives it often gets what’s known as the “Fieri Effect”. After an episode airs, the restaurants featured get slammed with people. Some literally driving hours just to sample the food featured on the show.

The good news is you don’t have to be on Food Network to get that effect. You can start using some of the content strategies outlined above to get prospects to know you better and seek you out.

Now I’m not saying you can’t get new customers without overcoming their Fear of the Unknown. (You can do this…especially in situations and markets where a prospect’s neck is bleeding so badly that they’ll buy from the first option they find.)

But most businesses would be a lot more successful by doing a better job overcoming their prospects’ Fear of the Unknown.

Because when you do, it dramatically changes prospects’ perceptions about you and your company. In fact, if you do it right, it can alter the whole dynamic between you and your prospects…and essentially eliminate your competition.

Next month, I’ll share exactly how.

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