Sometimes, when people ask me what I do, I tell them I construct “gravity wells.”

Huh?

Yes, it’s kind of fun to provoke that response. It invites a follow up question in a way that “I’m a dentist” or “I sell life insurance” might not.

So what’s a gravity well?

Well…it’s the pull of gravity exerted in space by a massive body. The
larger the body, the more gravitational force it exerts.

While I have long embraced gravitational metaphors to describe my brand of thought leadership marketing, the term “gravity well” was brought to my attention by Roy H. Williams.

Williams, aka The Wizard of Ads, offered this concept as a way of explaining how we attract customers and win their confidence. Having frequently attended his seminars at The Wizard Academy in the scenic hill country just south of Austin, he has profoundly influenced my own thinking and work.

“What a business wants is a committed customer,” he writes in Magical Worlds of the Wizard of Ads. “But a customer is far more likely to make a small commitment, or to increase an existing commitment by a small degree, than to make a large commitment abruptly. Commitment is rarely an all-at-once thing.”

With this in mind, the smart marketer constructs a gravity well. Think of it as a funnel that draws someone in and encourages him or her to stay. The gravity well “softly pulls, entices, and seduces the customer into gradually deeper degrees of commitment…But at no time in the process is anyone asked to buy anything. That’s the elegance of the gravity well.”

At the edge of the well, the prospect is offered something compelling, yet limited in terms of commitment. You can offer a subscription to a free newsletter or white paper, for instance. You may go from there to an invitation to a webinar — again, free to the prospect, but with a greater commitment of time and perhaps, more information on a registration page.

You might go from there to a “strategic assessment” — one that provides you access to the firm’s key decision makers and influencers. It’s a still greater commitment on the prospect’s part, but you’ve earned that by providing valuable insights and guidance in your prior interactions.

The assessment then sets the stage for an initial trial or project if this is justified by the findings produced in the assessment. It’s up to the prospect at that point to determine if it makes sense to take the next step. Whether this particular project makes sense or not, you’ve built trust and credibility all along the way. You are now a trusted authority in the prospect’s eyes — with an open door to continue introducing new ideas, options and opportunities.

You’ve drawn them into your gravity well — and you never once had to push, prod or persuade. You simply enabled your prospects to persuade themselves.