Daddy's little Kryptonite

Holiday toy advertising is brutal for a father. One dad loves watching TV with his daughter. What he didn’t like were the predatory toy ads specifically engineered to influence children. They worked too, because after every single ad, his daughter jumped up and pulled on his sleeve and asked, “Daddy daddy can I have that?”

Eventually, he got fed up and said to her, “The next time you ask me for something after seeing an ad, that is what you’re NOT getting for Christmas.”

A few days later, an ad for a makeup kit came on. It was her favorite. She even hummed the jingle. As the ad unfolded, through the corner of his eye, he saw her lean over the edge of her seat, press her lips together and watched as her eyes got wider and wider. She followed every scene of the ad; the music was perfect. He expected her to cave at any second. Despite what he told her earlier, he saw how much she wanted it— and proud of her self-restraint —he almost decided to get it for her right then and there.

Unexpectedly, toward the end of the ad, she remained poised and composed. She calmly turned to him. (He had a good feeling what the question would be.) But what she said next surprised him:

“Daddy, would you like me to have that for Christmas?”

Could you say no to that question?

Unwittingly, this little girl revealed the sneaky secret to getting anything you want.

Did you catch it?

Here’s what she did: Instead of making it about herself and asking her dad to get her something she wanted, she changed the question ever so subtly: she re-framed the question from her dad’s point of view…

It was no longer about being selfish or the toy she wanted. She made it about what her dad wanted.

And what dad doesn’t want his daughter to be happy?

The difference is subtle, but huge. In this new frame of reference, the “product” being sold shifted from a $49.95 plastic toy, to a dad’s desire to make his daughter happy. It transformed from something tangible, to something intangible. From something with a price tag, to something priceless. When framed against something priceless like a father’s love for his daughter, a $49.95 anything is insignificant by comparison.

In your business, you’re probably used to selling some… thing. You might be used to telling people about how great your company and product are, or how fantastic your service is. If you’re shining the spotlight on yourself, you’re pointing that spotlight in the wrong direction.

Instead, frame everything you offer in their world. Like the girl, instead of making it about her or the toy, she made it about her dad’s desire to make her happy. It was no longer about the toy. The toy becomes irrelevant.

The secret to getting anything you want, is by giving people what they want: Find out what your ideal customers truly care about. Then, design an interaction where you can get what you want by giving them exactly what they want.

So stop listing features or benefits of your company, product or service. Instead, deeply understand what your people want. Then show them how to get it — satisfy their deepest desire and cure their most painful problem.

Next: you’re not selling what you think you’re selling.