Archive for the 'Persuasion' Category

Why do you get out of bed in the morning?

I’m a big fan of the TED talks which I podcast regularly. In one recently, marketing guru Simon Sinek was talking about how great leaders inspire action. But the message can easily be applied to branding an organization — or yourself.

It all comes down to starting with the “why.”

Every single person knows what they do, Sinek says. Some know how they do it. But very people or organizations know why they do what they do. “By ‘why’ I mean: what’s your purpose? What’s your cause? What’s your belief? Why does your organization exist?”

“Why do you get out of bed in the morning?”

Turns out that leaders like Apple, Martin Luther King and the Wright Brothers understood that people don’t buy what you do; they buy why you do it.

“The way we think, the way we act, the way we communicate is from the outside in. It’s obvious. We go from the clearest thing to the fuzziest thing. But the inspired leaders and the inspired organizations … all think, act and communicate from the inside out,” he says. “The goal is not just to sell to people who need what you have; the goal is to sell to people who believe what you believe.”

He goes on to use one of our favorite companies as an example:

Here’s how Apple actually communicates: “Everything we do, we believe in challenging the status quo. We believe in thinking differently. The way we challenge the status quo is making our products beautifully designed, simple to use and user friendly. We just happen to make great computers. Want to buy one?”

“When we communicate from the outside in, yes, people can understand vast amounts of complicated information like features and benefits and facts and figures. It just doesn’t drive behavior,” he says. “We we communicate from the inside out, we’re talking directly to the part of the brain that controls behavior, and then we allow people to rationalize it with the tangible things we say and do. This is where gut decisions come from.”

For more, check out Simon Sinek’s website.

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Build a sense of urgency

More and more, my email inbox fills with offers for incredible deals. The catch? That great price may expire after one day, or when the limited supply is gone.

As a new cyclist, one of my favorite emails arrives daily from Chainlove, whose mission is pretty well laid out:

“Here’s how it goes down: We slap a primo piece of cycling gear on our site at a scandalous price. We sell it ’til it’s gone. You leave feeling like a smooth criminal. The gear arrives fast and you’re back in the saddle.”

I love that. Clear. Punchy. Hip. And to the point. Any questions?

Chainlove takes it even further with graphics on their website showing how much time remains with each offer, and the dwindling quantity of each product available.

Building a sense of urgency into your offer creates a more compelling call to action. It also helps your message stand apart. Further, delivering these offers through Instant Alerts, emails, tweets, Facebook updates, etc makes the urgent offer that much more relevant.

How can it work for your professional services? Perhaps a discounted rate for a specific service for the first 3 to respond, or a free consultation for clients who contact you by a deadline.

Whether you extend the rate or the deadline really isn’t the point, because you probably will. The idea is to build a sense of urgency into your offers that compels action and starts a dialogue between you and your client.

The problem with too much data

It’s easy to fall into the “don’t just take my word for it” trap and try to support our clients’ marketing claims with testimonials, case studies, research data, and other proof. But as Seth Godin points out in his latest blog entry, the piling on of data often is at the expense of not enough belief.

“In my experience, data crowds out faith,” Seth writes. “And without faith, it’s hard to believe in the data enough to make a big leap.”

I couldn’t agree more.

The skeptic who does not want to believe will never be persuaded by the abundance of data and proof you provide. And those with a more neutral attitude likely are interested in more compelling approaches that  attract their curiosity and engage their attention.

In the end, the targets of our branding and marketing efforts aren’t looking for an argument. They simply want to make an emotional connection.

Pain point? Wiggle your finger.

We always want to demonstrate that we understand our customers’  needs and their frustrations.

But once you identify these so-called “pain points,” it’s often effective to “wiggle your finger” in that wound a bit. Then, once they’ve experienced that emotional turmoil, you can then position your own products and services as the ideal solution to that challenge.

The pain subsides … and the healing begins!

It’s a tactic I picked up from my clients at Toshiba, where the crack sales reps in the Medical Systems division are asked to sell hugely expensive CT and MRI systems. They make sure they don’t rush in too early with technical data and white papers. Instead, they ask about the log jams and delays their customers experience in their hospitals’ imaging and radiology departments. They probe further, asking what it’s like to work under that pressure.

They inquire about the delayed response of current service reps once the systems go down, and what their life is like during those troublesome times. They wonder aloud about the frustrations of working with outdated systems with little flexibility and poorly designed interfaces.

In short, they identify the key pain points, and then wiggle their fingers in it. Then, finally — and to the relief of the prospect — they position their systems specifically to address that pain.

While this may be a proven sales technique, it certainly can be adapted to presentations, websites and other marketing media. Just make sure to explore that gap between the identification of needs and the positioning of solutions.

Buying decisions, after all, are often primarily emotional. To be persuasive, we need to help our customer experience those emotions.

Start emailing. Or the terrorists win.

Sometimes, apparently, it’s best to take a somewhat indirect route to asking for the business. Take this recent blog entry from our friends at email-marketing enabler Vertical Response.

“If you’re reading this blog you probably know the importance of a web presence and how email marketing helps your business grow. Why not help a friend who owns a small business or a non profit today?” they suggest. “Oh, and tell them to start using email marketing, it doesn’t matter what email service provider they use.”

“If anything is going to strengthen our economy and get us out of these tough times it’s small businesses growing,” the VR folks remind us.

See? It’s not all about Vertical Response. It’s about helping the economy. (The latest spin on “It’s for the kids” and “… or the terrorists win.”)

I like this approach. But you may want to align your services in support of something a bit more relevant and immediate.

More choices do not make happier customers

Despite some 87,000 drink combinations offered by Starbucks, more and more studies are showing that a wealth of options does not lead to happier customers. Most marketers, however, believe that more options mean we’re more likely to find the perfect product.

“Having to make too many decisions can leave people tired, mentally drained and more dissatisfied with their purchases,” a recent L.A. Times story says. “It also leads people to make poorer choices — sometimes at a time when the choice really matters.”

When faced with a complexity of decisions, people naturally look for ways to over-simplify the choosing process. And even when we choose well, we often can be less satisfied knowing that perhaps somewhere out there was something better.

In fact, studies show that you can overwhelm consumers with “decision fatigue” to the point where they make a default choice, or none at all. It’s something to keep in mind when marketing products that are only slightly different than the competition, or from the other choices in your client’s product line.

Four steps to persuasive branding

At a recent conference, Cheryl Heller of Heller Communication Design reminded her audience that a good brand expressed an identity – it communicates who we are and what we do. But GREAT branding should convey a promise.

Heller said that brand promise “indicates to your audience what they can expect to get from your company in exchange for their money and time — whether they are a customer, partner, investor or employee.”

It’s a smart point about including employees. Without their involvement, the promise cannot be delivered.

Heller’s tips on persuading your audience to behave in a certain way:

1. Be brief. Be clear. “Clarity and brevity do not come naturally to entrepreneurs with a mission,” Heller said.

2. Don’t clutter your brand promise with references to how you differentiate yourself.“Who you are and what you do is core to your brand promise,” Heller said. “How you do it, that changes as you grow.” 

3. Avoid common words used by other companies. Heller’s examples: strategy, core values, mission, vision, operational excellence, efficiency, value-added, character, integrity, positioning, sustainability, corporate citizen, cause.

4. Speak to all your constituents: customer, partner, investor, or employee.


Robert Hyndman

can be reached at his Laguna Beach studio, 949.497.3179, or by using the form on the Contact Me page.
November 2017
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