Most of us don’t have the luxury of selling oceanfront property, the coolest laptop or Porsches. But in most cases, though our product might not be sexy to many, someone really wants it.

But how do you sell something that no one has any enthusiasm or interest in buying? Things like funeral services, trauma clean-up or bankruptcy law services.

Granted, when someone has lost a loved one, had a horrific accident in their home or can’t survive their financial crisis, they need to talk to you. But it’s not something they’re looking forward to doing.

When you sell something that people dread having to buy, the psychology of that dread is pretty straightforward. Something very bad has to happen before they would need to buy something from you. Odds are, it would have to happen to someone they love.

Focus on the emotion: 99 percent of the time, if people don’t want to buy what you sell, it is because of the emotions attached to the purchase. You are not a want. Sooner or later, you’re a necessity.

So in your marketing, paint me a picture of how you help your customers get over the very thing they’re afraid of.

This isn’t the time for being fuzzy with your message. Directly acknowledge that you understand their pain and fear, and show them how you’ve built your business to ease those emotions.

Go with a prevention message: One of the best ads for a funeral home I ever saw had an anti-drunk driving theme. The basic message was: Don’t drink and drive; we’re not that anxious to see you. It made the advertiser seem very human and caring.

If your product or service comes into play only when something bad has happened, one strong marketing tactic is to help people avoid that bad event.

Offer or sponsor a financial literacy class or promote a suicide hotline. But do something that actually helps people avoid you. Those who aren’t so lucky will remember your compassion.

Demonstrate on a small scale: Usually, part of what makes people dread buying from you is the enormity and finality of their situation when they get to your front door.

But you can show off your skills on a much less scary scale. If you clean up trauma scenes, think of the stains you have to remove. Blood, body emissions, etc.

Is there a way you can demonstrate those abilities on a less scary scale? Kick off a series of blog posts that talk about how to remove tough stains like blood. Show us you know your stuff – but slowly and in less dramatic applications.

Find your influencers: Oftentimes, people are a bit numb at the moment they need to buy these sorts of services. They are on autopilot due to the emotions they’re facing. So people such as attorneys, police officers, hospice center workers, etc. often are guiding them through the process.

Find out how to genuinely connect with these influencers. Give them information, materials, etc. to help them get a person or family through that moment in time. They’ll remember you.

You are meeting people in their worst nightmare. Help them with the mechanics of what you sell and, more important, walk through the nightmare with them. That’s noble work, and you should take great pride in it.

Drew McLellan is Top Dog at McLellan Marketing Group and blogs at He can be reached by email at © 2011 Drew McLellan