Archive for the ‘Marketing Strategy’ Category

Creating the Mind that Buys

Wednesday, December 30th, 2009
© Nikolais | Dreamstime.com

© Nikolais | Dreamstime.com

You’re watching the Super Bowl when one of those unforgettable commercials comes on. You grab your sides with laughter. How do they come up with these things?

The next day everybody at work is talking about that great ad for…for…

What the heck WAS the product?

We’ve all seen those ads—so packed with distracting wall-to-wall cleverness and funny characters that there’s no room in your head to notice and remember the one thing those three million bucks were supposed to make you remember: the name of the product.

The same thing applies to the sales process. Who hasn’t seen a salesperson, fresh from a seminar on cross-selling, suddenly spread a dozen different account options like a Japanese fan in front of the poor customer? Her expression falls into a blank and frightened stare. Heck, I’ve BEEN that woman.

The mess of options throws her mind into a tailspin. And why shouldn’t it? She can’t process all of the variables at once, she knows the salesperson is working from a different set of motivations than she is, and she doesn’t want to make a decision she’ll regret—so she goes into defensive mode to keep from making a mistake. People want to spend their money wisely, and it’s harder to think clearly about one option when it’s in a forest of others. So she stammers something about needing to check with her husband, and out the door she goes—possibly for good.

Ford Saeks put it best when he said a confused mind never buys. Have your sales and marketing people tattoo that axiom on their brains. Choice is a lovely thing, but give people too many choices and they won’t make one at all.

Barry Schwartz drives this point home in The Paradox of Choice—Why More is Less. More couples form in speed dating events with six options than with twelve. More customers bought jam from a street market vendor with four choices than from a similar stall with eight choices. I remember when I had eight choices for the color of my computer desktop. Then it went to 256. Now it’s 11 million. Is this really helpful?

Even if a customer does manage to make a choice, they are likely to be less happy about the one they selected because they know about the advantages they turned down in the other options. People who were offered a plane ticket to Las Vegas valued the gift more highly when it was offered in isolation than they did if it was one of several choices.

You confuse ’em, you lose ’em. So keep it simple.

Keep marketing pieces to a single central message. Make one offer per pitch. In the sales process, add additional options slowly, allowing the customer’s understanding to keep up. In the process, you will have made purchasing your product or service as simple as possible for the customer.

Hard to think of a better definition of successful sales and marketing.

Repeat after Me: Repetition WORKS

Monday, December 21st, 2009
© Jbrizendine | Dreamstime.com

© Jbrizendine | Dreamstime.com

Traditional one-touch marketing has been on life support for a long time, but now it’s brain-dead, buried and gone.  The high profile one-hit wallop is largely a thing of the past.  Buying a full page ad in the New York Times might say something about your chutzpah or your impressive marketing budget, but casting one net won’t do much by itself to bring people in the door—especially a net that wide.

The reason is easy enough to figure out.  In his book Permission Marketing, Seth Godin notes that the average person is bombarded with over one thousand advertising messages per day, of which fewer than 1.5 percent register in memory at all.   Eliminate those that only register negatively—CLOSEOUT, CLOSEOUT, CLOSEOUT, EVERYTHING MUST GO!—and there’s not much left.

You don’t need to be loud.  In fact, obnoxious advertising can lead the consumer to unleash his deadliest weapon on you—neglect.  Better to (1) carefully identify your target market and (2) drop a lot of quiet but attractive little hooks in the water.

Research in this area is pretty conclusive:  It takes between five and nine touches before the average consumer responds to an advertiser’s message.  So it’s your job to find non-obnoxious ways to put your name and products in front of your prospects in as many low-key ways as possible.  Depending on your business and your prospects, this might include tightly-targeted ads (online or in print), sponsorship of a charity event, and (best of all) an excited buzz on the lips of your current happy clients.

Don’t think that every touch has to include your whole product line, mission statement, and driving directions.  Just encountering your name or logo several times builds awareness and curiosity to learn more, even if the prospect isn’t aware of the effect of that repeated exposure.

The subconscious effect of repetition was demonstrated powerfully in a famous experiment by Yale psychologist John Bargh.  Students in Bargh’s seminar were given ten sentences to unscramble.  They thought they were being tested on their ability to sort out the sentences—but no.  Seeded throughout the scrambled sentences were words related to old age, such as “lonely,” “gray,” “bingo,” “wrinkle,” and my personal favorite, “Florida.”  After unscrambling the sentences, students walked out of the testing room measurably slower than students who unscrambled words without those messages related to old age. 

No one shouted “YOU ARE FEELING OLD!” at the subjects.  If they had, it probably wouldn’t have worked.

In another phase of the experiment, students unscrambled sentences with words connoting impatience or aggressiveness or kindness and exhibited those qualities more often than the control groups.

Marketing is also an attempt to induce a certain attitude—specifically, a positive attitude toward your company and products.  And the most effective way to do this is by placing your name and “face” in front of your prospective clients in a positive way, and then doing it again.  And again.  And again.