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An easy yet powerful marketing lesson we can learn from Chinese restaurants

Copywriting blog.

If you have ever perused the food court of a mall, there is a good chance you have been lured into buying Chinese food. 

Whether you live in Indiana or California, the experience is often the same. 

You’re contemplating between a slice of pizza or a sandwich for lunch when suddenly a sweet innocent looking Chinese lady approaches you with a tray housing a bowl of sweet and sour chicken and a haystack of toothpicks. She forks a piece of chicken onto a toothpick and hands it to you with a big smile –– in which you would either have to be vegan or evil (or both) to turn down. 

After your taste buds begin to orgasm, you reach for your wallet and head to the back of the line. Sold. 

This sales technique is what marketers refer to as an involvement device or technique –– essentially something that involves the prospective customers in the buying process. 

Mall-based Chinese restaurants literally have this marketing magic down to a science. 

To use another example, in Joseph Sugarman’s book, “The Adweek Copywriting Handbook”, he describes a conversation he once had with a master salesman who worked at a TV and appliance store. 

“If they walked up to a TV set and started turning the knobs, I knew that I had a 50% chance of selling them. If they didn’t turn the knobs, I had a 10% chance of selling them…”

The wisdom this TV salesman shared with Sugarman is important to any marketer or business individual selling a product…

Half the battle of selling someone is getting them to believe in the product you are selling them… a good way to do that is by involving them in the buying process. 

When the individual looking at TV’s is turning the knobs, he or she has already subconsciously involved themselves in the buying process, making it that much more likely that they will make a purchase.

To use two more examples…

This is why car dealerships encourage visitors to test-drive their cars. 

2. This is why Apple stores encourage visitors to test-out their devices. 

When a prospective customer is involved in the buying process it allows them to feel in complete control of the purchasing decision (which they should be). They don’t feel as though they are being sold to… instead, they feel as though they are shopping. 

And yes, there is a very obvious difference. 

Now, you may be thinking… Well, that’s easy to do if you have a physical store front, but how do you do it with an online store?

Bright Cellars, a subscription wine service that sends wines directly to your home, is a great example of an online brand that does an exceptional job of using involvement devices. 

On their site, they have created something called a Wine Quiz, where customers can choose their favorite kinds of chocolate and alcoholic beverages to develop their very own customized wine pallet. 

Not only does this allows Bright Cellars to find the right wines for the right customers, but it also directly involves the customer in the buying process. 

This is just one way you can create an involvement device that requires no physical good. 

If your brand is struggling to push more products and services, the solution can be as easy as making a more cognizant effort to involve your customers in the purchase. 

Remember, people like shopping –– they don’t like being sold to. 

By Cole Schafer


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Cole Schafer