Let’s talk about Donald Trump, the 2016 presidential election, the border wall, and running a moving company. No, seriously.
I never mix business and politics, so this isn’t that. I’m not here on this blog to talk about my political opinions or anything like that. So while this article does discuss Donald Trump, the election, and immigration, it’s not a political article and I’m not discussing any of my political views. Instead, we’re talking about these things in a business context.
And what is business, if not persuasion? Business is persuading other people to voluntarily give you their money in exchange for your product or service. And over the last year I’ve been reading a lot about persuasion.
I’ve been obsessed with persuasion since I read Influence by Robert Cialdini. And recently I finished Win Bigly by Scott Adams. I strongly recommend both books to all fellow business owners. Adams has a great article on his blog where he uses the immigration and border wall issue to highlight President Trump’s persuasion skills. Adams explains several of the most common and effective persuasion tactics in the article. And it is a fascinating and concise read.
Persuasion In The Moving Business
Several of the persuasion tactics that Trump uses are directly relatable to the moving industry. As Scott Adams says, Donald Trump is a Master Persuader, and if Donald Trump ran a moving company, I believe he would use the following persuasion tactics. And if you want more sales, moves, and revenue, you should too.
Visual persuasion is the most effective form of influence. Trump didn’t talk about statistics, border security, or a multifaceted policy approach, instead he talked about the wall.
Use descriptive, visual language in your website copy, ad copy, social media, during in-person estimates, and when you’re on the phone with potential moving customers. The goal is to paint the picture of your professional, reliable moving company in there heads. Talk about things that can be visualized. Instead of saying we are “professional” movers (which isn’t visual and means nothing), talk about your moving uniforms, your moving trucks, your strong employees. ABC stands for Always Be Closing. ABV stands for Always Be Visual. Talk in a visual way with your potential customers.
Simplicity is a key persuasion tactic. Simple beats complex every time. Thing about how Trump talks and communicates with voters. He doesn’t breakdown complex, comprehensive immigration tactics that will make up overall border security, instead, he says build the wall. When it comes to terrorism, he doesn’t talk about troop levels, timelines, or use terms like counter insurgency, instead he says bomb the shit out of ISIS. When it comes to trade strategy, he doesn’t usually talk about exact tariff percentages and domestic joint venture requirements, instead he says we’re being ripped off. People can argue the merits of his policy positions all day long, but the fact is that the way he communicates to his voters is simple, highly memorable, and persuasive.
You should be simple in your marketing. Instead of talking about how complex the logistics of the moving business are, and how your company uses mobile app technology to track your trucks and movers and to be on time on almost every move, you should just say on time, every time or on time or you get $100 off your move. Instead of giving detailed breakdowns of all the moves you perform and what kind of work goes into the moves, you should just say no move is too big or too small. Instead of talking about your customer service standards and solid reputation, just say over 1,000 5-star reviews (assuming you have them). Simple is memorable, and memorable is persuasive. Be simple with your advertising and messaging.
Think Past The Sale
Trump got everyone thinking past the sale on the border issue. Instead of both sides debating if we even needed more border security in the first place, we all jumped straight into debating the merits of the wall, whether it should be called a wall or fencing, and how much budget to allocate to a border structure. Trump talked past the sale of the country deciding it wanted more border security, and everyone on both sides went right along with him.
To translate this to the moving business, get the customer talking and thinking as if they’ve already hired you. Instead of saying would you like to hire us or what do you think, say what day would you like to schedule your move for or what time should our movers show up. The sale is getting the customer to hire you, so assume the sale, and get the customer to think past the sale. We’re no longer considering whether or not the customer should hire you, we’ve all moved on to what time your movers should show up, or how many trucks you’ll provide, or what day to schedule the move. Think past the sale, and your prospective customers will too.
Trading Imaginary Assets for Real Ones
In the DACA for the wall grand deal that Trump wants to make with Democrats, Trump is trading protecting Dreamers in exchange for the wall. Protecting dreamers is an imaginary asset. As Adams points out, there’s no political will for Dreamers to be rounded up and sent back to countries they last saw as little children. Democrats and most Republicans don’t want that to happen, so it’s not going to happen. So Trump “giving that up” is him giving up an imaginary asset in exchange for a real one… getting the wall.
This is classic moving company sales day one stuff. Give up something that doesn’t matter to you, in exchange for winning the customer’s business. If you go ahead and schedule today we’ll knock off 15% from your move (that we’re already quoting 15% higher than we expect to get most times). Or we’ll throw in free boxes and packing tape when you hire us to pack and move you (we couldn’t care less about the cost of tape and boxes, we want the real win of you hiring us for a massive, high-revenue packing and moving job). Or we provide all of our customers with a “welcome to your new home” $25 Home Depot gift card ($25 is nothing to us, we want the $600 average profit we make on every move, so we want the overall move and would be happy to pay an extra $25 for every additional move we get).
Pacing and Leading
Trump paced and led his base. He understood their frustration about illegal immigration and let them know he “got them” by talking about large amounts of deportations and other hard-line but probably not feasible positions on immigration. This told his base that he understood them, and he earned their trust. Then, when it’s time to make deals and let Dreamers stay in exchange for the wall, his base trusted him and was open to a deal since their guy was the one making the deal.
As Adams writes, pacing refers to matching someone physically, verbally, or in terms of philosophy, and I would also include emotionally. And when people are paced and think you are just like them, they are more malleable and open to being persuaded. When they’re paced, they can be melted like butter.
In the moving business, pace how your customers think and talk about the process of moving and dealing with moving companies. In your advertising, website copy, and conversations with customers, say things like we know how stressful moving can be, this is one of the biggest events in your life, most moving companies are unreliable and unprofessional, it’s hard to find a good mover, moving prices can be deceptive and hard to understand.
Pace with your moving customers and show them you understand them, show them you understand how stressful and difficult moving can be, and how hard it is to find a good moving company. And then once you pace with them, lead them. We take the stress out of moving day, no move is easy but we make it as smooth as possible, honest up-front pricing, we’re always on time, all of our movers are certified and a team captain with at least 5 years of moving experience is on every job, etc. Match their stresses and frustrations about moving and working with moving companies, and then lead them and persuade them that you’ll take that stress away and you’re the most reliable, trustworthy, and skilled moving company that they’ll ever find.
High Ground Maneuver
The high ground maneuver is taking arguing parties out of the details and out of the weeds and getting them to agree to your high-level principle. Trump does this with diplomacy all the time. Whenever he wants to go negotiate and talk with a dictator, the media, Democrats, and some Republicans will start talking about how evil those dictators are, they’ll discuss in detail the bad things those dictators have done, and they’ll be upset that Trump is talking to them. But then Trump will come back with messaging like talking to everyone is a good thing, diplomacy is a good thing, and it’s better to talk with these countries than to be at war with them. Trump takes the argument to the high ground that everyone agrees on… diplomacy is a good thing, and yes, talking with people is always better than being at war. And once we’re at the high ground, it’s hard to go back down and argue about the details of what each dictator has done and how we shouldn’t be talking to them.
Use the high ground maneuver with your customers when it comes to pricing. Pricing is a big challenge for real, solid moving companies because of the lack of barriers to entry. All anyone needs to start a “moving business” is a few guys and a truck, so new companies are entering the business all the time. They come into the market, charge a low, non-sustainable rate to attract new business, and it depresses prices for real, solid actual moving companies that deserve to charge premium prices. One way to deal with customers’ objections to your prices that are probably higher than they’re being quoted by those small, basically not-real companies, is to use the high ground maneuver.
Talk about all the things that go into a move, packing, organizing, logistics, disassembly and assembly, transportation, payment security, etc. and get them to agree that moving is a really big deal. Get them to agree to the high level concept that moving is a big deal, you get what you pay for, and securing a move with a reputable, high-performing moving company is worth the cost, given how important a move is and all of the things that can go wrong. Once they meet you at the high ground, your prices will seem not only more reasonable, but also assuring, comforting, and required.
The Moving Business Is The Persuasion Business
You’re competing with a lot of moving companies in your city. From the flies on the wall, to the biggest franchises in town, there’s competition everywhere you look. You can compete on price, you can compete on service, you can compete on brand, and those strategies will always work for some time, but everyone else can compete on those factors as well, and eventually they will catch up. The smarter way to do it, is to become a Master Persuader, rise above your competition, and play the game on an entirely different level.