Now by no means is this piece meant to denigrate the important work undertaken by legal practitioners who, quite rightly, are seeking to minimise risk of future claims. But how can the need for Ts & Cs be balanced with the objectives of the marketing communication?
Let's first walk through the purchase process so that we can understand what happens when Ts & Cs are introduced.
Imagine an iceberg.
|The Behavioural iceberg|
|Throughout the purchase process we use conscious & unconscious processes|
So marketing has done its job. Your customer is ready to purchase. But before they do, "just read these for me and initial that you have read and understood the terms and conditions". Agghhh. Brakes on. Suddenly the momentum you had with the customer has been interrupted and you are in a perilous situation. How can you get them over the line? Do you rush them through the Ts and Cs? Do you try to distract them with banter? Do you deliberately write them so as to dull the customer into submission?
What's happened here? In simple terms, by introducing the Ts and Cs into the situation, you have jolted the customer from state of unconscious processing to Executive brain function. You've elevated the sale to the Rider when the Elephant was happily trotting in your direction. And the impact? Once the Executive brain starts to question, it starts to question everything. Do I really need this? Is this how I should best spend my money? How will I justify this to my boss? I should probably see what the competition has to offer.
Now, Ts and Cs are an important, and often mandatory part of the transaction. They mean that both seller and buyer are clear on the terms of exchange. But how can you minimise the disruptive impact of Ts and Cs on your sales momentum? Three ways
- Integration - Have the customer understand and agree to concepts within the Ts and Cs throughout the sales process so they don't come as a surprise in the transaction stage. Meaning? Why not use Ts and Cs as part of the feature set you are using to sell your product. For instance, "Our Customers receive a monthly offers catalogue from us so that they get first dibs on priority deals" might be less of a shock than "By signing this contract you agree to receive promotional offers".
- Language - Modify the language so that your legal messages are not inconsistent with your brand. Why not a statement that helps them understand the impacts of their behaviour such as "We know you'll want to wear these earphones all the time, but promise you won't drop them in the toilet or sink or wear them in the shower because you'll be warran-teed off when we can't replace them" rather than a dull warranty statement?
- Congruence - Customers are looking for congruence between the proposition and the terms of sale. Consistency will see the Elephant and Rider happily complete the transaction. Inconsistency will see a tumultuous tussle between them and will leave you in a situation of hope for the sale rather than assurance. How does this play out? A relationship based on trust will be undone by onerous and explicit Ts & Cs. A relationship based on customer service will be undone by ill written and unintelligible Ts & Cs. A product which promises happiness and simplicity will be undone by Ts and Cs that are dull and complicated.