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The Secrets of Successful Business, Part Four: Conversion - What It Is and What To Do About

You will have read a lot about ‘conversion’. Conversion is normally seen as the change from viewer or reader or prospect to customer - that is, the process by which a person becomes committed to you and what you have to offer. It’s worth noting exactly how this process works, as well as why you should place just the right amount of attention on it, neither too little nor too much.

In the same way that a reader is pulled along by a story, so is a prospect almost physically pulled into action on a moment-by-moment basis. What creates this motion?


Need creates emptiness; emptiness drives us.

But this emptiness is of two kinds:

• the prospect’s own, the absence of solutions to personal concerns or things that he or she wants or needs to have in the context of the situation ('prospect-driven')


• emptiness created by your business which then impinges upon the prospect ('business-driven').

If you want more customers, find or create emptinesses.

As we see in the worlds of fiction, the reason that a journey or quest motif is so common, especially in fiction for younger readers, is that a journey or a quest is based on a simple need: the hero needs to get somewhere where he or she isn’t at the beginning; or to find something which he or she doesn’t have at the beginning. The same principle applies in the world of commerce.

The gap between the existing state of affairs and achieving the target is the need that pulls the prospect along - and which eventually creates a ‘customer’.

Obviously, there is great skill involved in this. Using judgement and establishing agreement with the prospect, marketing campaigns create forward motion. Prospects’ needs draw them out of their initial environments into the environment of your business. This applies whether you are selling insurance or gardening or pizza or cars.

All prospects have vacuums - missing things, losses, damage, needs. That’s what makes them prospects. And then your business has to have vacuums - missing things, losses, spaces - which move things forward. We will examine the four main types of these things soon.

But for now the thing to remember is that the closer you can get prospect vacuums to coincide with vacuums created by your business, the better your business will do because the more prospects it will convert into customers.

Less commonly, the conversion of a prospect to a customer is entirely driven by your business - this could only happen when a business has convinced a prospect that he or she has a need when one didn’t really exist. More usually, the prospect’s own needs or desires drive things forward. But you have to convince a prospect that his or her needs are matched by what your business provides, which means that you have to demonstrate an understanding of the prospect’s emptiness.

Either way, the driving force is something missing. If the vacuum is made real enough, and is strong enough, the prospect will swing round and align his or her actions with yours and you will have a customer.

Growing Vacuums

Prospects develop into customers along particular lines. At first, a person may have no awareness of anything missing in his or her life; then there may be a vague awareness, followed by a larger or growing need, leading to a desperate desire.

Motivating a prospect so that he or she becomes a customer is the art of locating the need which has sufficient pulling power to produce the needed action.

The stage of desperate need occurs when you have obtained enough commitment from a prospect and you simply have to point him or her in the right direction and remove barriers between him or her and what you deliver.

This has to do with, and defines, conversion.

If this is the case, then, why do so many businesses fail?

What is going on that these apparently simple principles don’t get applied and prospects are soon lost even if they are initially acquired?

If everything above is known and obvious, then surely it’s too easy and anyone could be a successful business person?

Something seems to go wrong right at the heart of many attempted businesses which causes the above simplicities to be obscured and everything to become so much more hard work and struggle than it needs to be.

The answer is that, apart from not knowing enough about prospect needs and how to build them, marketers also often fail to build on them enough.

Conversion doesn’t end with engaging the prospect.

Surely engaging the prospect is the entire point and purpose of marketing? Yes, obtaining engagement from prospects is a major part of what you are trying to do - but it’s not the whole picture. Conversion doesn’t actually end with getting someone’s attention: you can actually go on and on using this approach to get commitment after commitment after commitment - which is the key to escalating engagement - as long as you focus on producing fulfilment for customers.

In other words, if your whole attention is on obtaining engagement or a purchase as a final product, then your business will end up eventually losing customers in the longer term. You have to become an experienced practitioner at creating vacuums and then filling them - and then creating even more vacuums and filling them.

Together, vacuum building and getting customers are, once you grasp these principles, becoming a science, like physics. And if you learn that science and apply it, you’ll get dependable results every time. But like any science that is trying to be a technology, it has to do something.

Coming next: Different Types of Prospect Need


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