What can professional service providers and consultants learn from crime families when it comes to business to business marketing? – Is it debt collection? – Cash flow? – Flexibility? – Confidentiality? It’s none of the above. It is EXCLUSIVITY. Exclusivity with a marketing referral program like no other! Television shows that delve into the depth of the underworld such as Sopranos and Sons of Anarchy, illustrate how hard it is to join these outlaws. And of course it is even harder to leave! The marketing strategy lesson is to increase your barriers to entry not just barriers to exit.
Of course traditional thinking sees most marketing consultants recommend making it as easy as possible to “try before you buy”, or to experience a product at the lowest possible cost in hope of then building a long term and loyal relationship. And undoubtedly this works across most product and service categories. However there are cases when marketing consultants and their clients can use one of the 6 Laws of Persuasion – The Law of Scarcity (in other words Exclusivity).
Of course it is not exclusivity alone that is the drawcard, whether it be joining an exclusive golf club or an organised crime syndicate. It is the benefits; from the feeling of safety and belonging to the power and the financial windfalls, whether through networking at a golf club or profiting from the illicit trade, there are substantial benefits, that keep the “member” engaged!
For marketers the challenge is knowing when and how to use exclusivity to your advantage.
Consultants in any profession who work with:
– Anyone (no defined target audience)
– do Anything (no defined area of expertise)
– Anywhere (no defined geographic area)
– at Any price (no defined value) are simply DESPERATE and get “crappy clients”
Whereas those that work with:
– THESE people
– doing THESE things
– throughout THESE LOCATIONS
– at THIS PRICE are FOCUSSED and have “cream clients”.
We’d love to hear how you have managed to find your CREAM, and if you are still looking then maybe we can help!
1. Animated videos that explain products and services increase conversion rates by 20%. [source: Unbounce]
2. 36% of online consumers trust video ads. [source: Nielsen Wire]
3. 87% of online marketers use video content. [source: Outbrain]
4. 76% of marketers plan to increase their use of YouTube and video marketing, making it the top area marketers will invest in for 2012. [source: Social Media Examiner]
5. 49% of the top 20% of B2B marketers in generating leads through social media integrate online video with social media, compared to the industry average of 32%. [source: Aberdeen]
6. Video ads make up 35% of total online ad spending, up from 27% in 2011. [source: Break Media]
7. 49% of U.S. marketers plan to boost video ad spending in 2012, and 65% have larger mobile ad budgets. [source: eMarketer]
8. Enjoyment of video ads increases purchase intent by 97%, and brand association by 139%. [source: Unruly]
9. 75% of executives watch work-related videos on business websites at least once a week and 59% would rather watch videos than read. 65% of those who view videos click through to visit the website of the brand behind the video, while 45% actually contact the company. [source: Forbes]
10. 64% of Website Visitors are more likely to buy a product on an online retail site after watching a video and those who view videos stay on average 2 min longer. [source: comScore]
11. 96% of consumers click links after watching online marketing videos and 90% of consumers make decisions after watching online videos. Amazingly 80% of consumers remember where they watched online videos. [source: Forrester]
12. Melbourne Real Estate Group Jellis Craig found that listings with video received 4 times more enquiries than those without. [source: http://www.business2.com.au]
13. An introductory email with video increased Click Through Rates (CTR) to the marketers website by 96%. [source: Implix]
14. When marketers included a video in an email that explained their product or service, CTR increased by 200% to 300%. [source: Forrester]
15. Video in an introductory email reduced the number of opt-outs by 75% [source: Eloqua]
Internet marketing consultants, social media consultants, blog writers and every marketing agency, are all talking about the importance of content marketing in today’s knowledge economy and irreversible shift to inbound marketing.
“Content marketing – creating and distributing relevant and valuable content to attract, acquire, and engage a clearly defined and understood target audience – with the objective of driving profitable customer action.” 
Content marketing is engaging customers and prospects without selling. It is attraction or inbound marketing rather than the old fashioned push or outbound marketing.
Here’s a great infographic that illustrates that Content Marketing is not new and has been around since the late 1800’s.
Content marketing, which has been called by a number of different names, with my preference being “branded content”, is based on the premise that an educated prospect is a more profitable and loyal one and since most service based business are competing online by giving away much of their so called IP you may as well be your IP that is in front of them rather than their competitors!
Unique and valuable content is what keeps prospects on “your online property”, it’s what engages them, and it is what ultimately makes them comfortable in buying from you.
Content helps you get found in Search Engines (SEO) and is the reason prospects come to your website an/or social media profile.
Itchy. I’m itchy. Not just a little itchy, but really itchy. And guess what, you may be feeling a little itchy too. That’s the power of thought; I may think or say something and you will be influenced to think of the same thing as me. You see, there’s a disease going around, one that’s so contagious it spreads without contact, and that’s “thought disease.” Marketing tactics that use the “Law of Social Proof” are capitalising on the fact people tend to follow the pack, as it is the “socially correct” thing to do. This will include thoughts, beliefs, values, actions, etc.
Why is it that Apple is one of the most successful companies today, and competitors struggle to compete? Whilst players like Samsung, HTC and Blackberry have released their own versions of the tablet, Apple still holds the majority of the market share for tablet computers. You will notice that every time a new Apple product will launch, Apple advocates would talk about it everywhere – in person, on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, blogs, on TV, etc. When you hear that everyone is buying a product or service, you may feel you are missing out.
The Sixth Face to Persuasion is the Law of Social Proof
Marketing consultants understand that most people are imitators; we look at others as guidance on how to speak or act, and to determine what is right or wrong. People are more willing to behave in a certain way if there is evidence that everyone else is doing it, however this generally works in two conditions:
Like the Law of Liking, we’re most susceptible to being influenced when the persuader is similar to us. Testimonies from everyday, satisfied customers or clients are strong as we can identify with these people who are just like us. Comparably, teenagers commonly take up drinking or smoking, as they see other teens doing it.
When we’re unsure with a decision, we are more likely to go with the crowd, as it will seem the safe thing to do – this comes as an evolved survival instinct. As we also learnt from the Law of Scarcity, people are driven by a fear of losing on an opportunity and may purchase a product or service when they see others doing it.
However, sometimes the Law of Social Proof may work the opposite way. There will always be people that do not follow the crowd. We will always have the Blackberries yelling “Wake Up” to the crowds, who strive to be independent against the mass of Apples.
Nonetheless, the law can still be used to persuade others in negotiations. For example, you may convince co-workers that your suggestions should be considered, as staff in other departments are already following similar proposals to you. People like to feel that they are part of an established community that knows where it is going (Greer 2006). Marketing tactics will employ this insight within their communication; they can exhibit pictures of excited people similar to you using the product or service, display figures of how many customers/clients they already have, or cite mentions in respected media.
“Thought disease” is incredibly powerful, influencing people to catch the same thoughts as everyone else. If others are using the Law of Social Proof, why shouldn’t you?
Are you with me?
Greer, E 2006, ‘How To Use the Six Laws of Persuasion during a Negotiation’, Global Knowledge, Cary, North Carolina, viewed 13 September 2012 <http://www.globalknowledge.com/training/whitepaperdetail.asp?pageid=502&wpid=181&country=United+States>.
The doorbell rings at night and you look through the peephole to see two police officers. Do you open the door? Now how about the doorbell rings and you see two strangers in street clothes outside. Would you be just as likely to open the door? Most likely not. You would have probably judged the police officers by their uniform, guns and badges and see them as credible, whereas the strangers would lack any clothing or proof of authority.
We grow up to respond to authority figures, from our parents to the characters on the TV. We know to obey our parents, otherwise we may be punished, or that teachers are people to look up to for knowledge. That’s why marketing tactics involve brand building with authority, which leads to credibility, and thus helps influence others in the art of persuasion.
The Fifth Face to Persuasion is the Law of Authority
When marketing communications quote vague authorities, that “experts say this is their preferred brand,” you may wonder who these experts are. What credentials do they have? Why will you trust them? Do they have a vested interest? Simply having authority may not be enough, but you will have to establish credibility.
There’s a reason why more definite and distinct celebrity endorsements or expert testimonials work. When building your brand identity, you should select people that are most suitable for your product or service. Do they have relevant knowledge or qualifications? Are they trustworthy, or do people regard them as trustworthy? Even physical attractiveness may come across as someone of credibility. When you see a person on the screen, whether they are a celebrity, policeman, lawyer, politician, doctor or guru, if a product or service is good enough for them, then it must be good enough for you.
What ways can you express yourself or your brand identity and authority?
Lavelle, J 2010, ‘6 Laws of Influence’, Psychology Today, no.2, viewed 12 November 2012, <http://www.blueiceconsulting.co.uk/documents/6_Laws_of_Influence_-_Part2_-_JonLavelle_000.pdf>.
Anyone who has studied or has a brief understanding of Economics 101 will recognise the marketing tactics used in the fourth face to the cube of persuasion very quickly. Since you were born, it has been affecting you throughout your life. When you were told you couldn’t have that box of chocolates, when you saw that kid playing with a brand new Rubik’s Cube, or seeing a Ferrari speed past, things you didn’t have or couldn’t have instantly became desirable. The fourth face to the cube of persuasion, the “Law of Scarcity,” is about supply and demand. When there is high demand, or less supply for something, the more rare and valuable it can be. Basic marketing tactics and sales training deals with this idea of scarcity for the potential of influence, which primarily is about creating desire for purchase.
It is no wonder that even at the birth of creation, Adam and Eve couldn’t stay away from the forbidden fruit, despite having the rest of the Garden of Eden to take from. Scarcity drives us crazy. Things are always more valuable and enticing when they are hard to obtain, or the last one on the shelf. By being prohibited from a product, we feel that our freedom is restricted and will experience psychological resistance and fight to restore that freedom.
One great example in history was a time when potatoes were made to be as valuable as gold. During the late 1700s, potatoes were regarded with suspicion, distaste and fear. The French believed they caused leprosy, the Germans used it as animal fodder, whereas the Russians presumed them to be poisonous. Catherine the Great, ruler of Russia, saw there was a great famine, and had high fences erected around her potato fields with guards stationed around to fend off thieves. Of course, the peasants of the town would watch and wonder why the wealthy were keeping the potatoes to themselves. Such an exclusivity of the potato created their desire, that eventually turned potatoes into a staple of the Russian diet (Pratkanis & Aronson 2001).
Catherine the Great’s campaign to transform the potato from something that was barely fit for a dog to eat, to a solution to the Russian famine, is the epitome of branding strategy and marketing tactics in play. By taking advantage of the human psyche in the persuasion process, you can increase the attractiveness of an object, simply by shifting the perception of its scarcity.
The Fourth Face to Persuasion is the Law of Scarcity
Brand and marketing consultants recognise that scarcity sells. We are all aware of the ads that scream: “for a limited time only,” “only available in this store,” or “sale ending soon.” And they work. Some marketing tactics include even deliberately limiting stock. Since the introduction of the Barbie doll in 1959, there has always been a toy that becomes the central, scarce item each year. We’ve seen the fads of G.I. Joe action figures, Magna-doodles, Furbies, Robot Poo-chi and Meow-chis, Pokemon cards and Tamagotchis. Due to the rarity of such popular toys, they were frequently out-of-stock. Through brand building and marketing tactics, it has been shown that the threat of potentially losing the opportunity to purchase an item will influence on the decision-making process. This mental trigger can cause tension and unrest and even such great anxiety in people that they will act to prevent this potential loss – even if they weren’t initially interested in the product in the first place!
Think of Romeo and Juliet. If the ancient feud between the Capulets and Montagues did not exist, do you believe Romeo would have been as committed to elope with her? We have been led to believe that love was an uncontrollable process, that these chemical reactions within us were unexplainable – but the impossible truth is that this can be controlled! Playing hard to get is one common relationship dynamic, based off the Rule of Scarcity. If your availability seems limited, you may seem that you are “in demand” or “one-of-a-kind,” increasing the perceived value of yourself. Whilst frustrating to the other party, we know that we must work for love, in order to play the game.
So what can this mean for business? Can you say “limited supply” in your communication? People tend to stay away from empty restaurants and popular clubs will have long lines outside, even if it may be empty inside! It’s about creating the perception of scarcity through artificial queues.
The challenge is to make your brand that forbidden fruit.
Pratkanis, AR & Aronson, E 2001, Age of Propaganda: The Everyday Use and Abuse of Persuasion, rev. edn., Holt Paperbacks, New York, ch. 30.
Westside Toastmasters n.d., ‘The Rule of Scarcity: Get Anyone to Take Immediate Action’ in The Rules of Persuasion, ch. 7, viewed 7 November 2012, <http://westsidetoastmasters.com/resources/laws_persuasion/chap7.html>.
Robert Cialdini’s marketing tactics in “Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion” tells us you are more likely to say “yes” to someone you like. Yes, that’s common sense. It doesn’t take a marketing consultant or someone with years of sales training to tell you that. But what many haven’t mastered yet is how to have someone like you. That’s why you’ll see many people curling on a coach, watching a movie for one, or those who found their special someone may find themselves spending time trying to avoid arguments, rather than sharing a gelato masked in some fancy Italian name. It’s no wonder that How To Win Friends and Influence People became a number one on the best seller list and remained on the list for ten years straight, even outselling the bible!
The Third Face to Persuasion is the Law of Liking
We’re strongly influenced by people who we like; liking someone builds trust and you tend to believe them more often. The simple math is that we like to do business with people we enjoy being around, or feel are “just like us.” It’s about establishing rapport, which means an employee-employer relationship is more important than ever, if you want to achieve goals in the workplace. This means developing a social network within your work environment.
How likeable are you to your team and co-workers? Are you approachable, optimistic, trustworthy and a person of integrity? Psychological tactics applied by successful salespeople include mirroring – from finding common backgrounds and interests down to speech and body language. Salespeople using these tactics can build rapport to a much deeper level, improve and accelerate the sales process. We all get along with someone whose values, beliefs and assumptions match up with us (Perhaps you might even pretend to root for the boss’s footy team around grand final, but secretly hang your team’s colours around your neck and cheer for your team by a television in the basement!).
When it comes to brand building and marketing tactics, customer insight is the key to reaching this rapport. If you’re targeting teenagers, you can use the same language or jargon as them – but without looking like you’re trying too hard! Likewise, finding information on a target market can tap into a prospect or customer’s deepest hopes or fears. When it comes to choosing brands, just like we do with people, we choose those we feel most connected to, those we like more and those brands that reflect to us our beliefs and values.
Of course, another dimension is that people like others that make them feel good. The easiest and most overlooked way to do this is to compliment people. We’re all suckers for flattery so compliment when you can, but make sure you are authentic in your praise. Complimenting fulfils two of our most important needs – the need to be recognised and the need to feel loved. Praising people for their efforts will also means that you will be more appreciated and respected in the workplace, or within personal relations. Of course, this links back to the Law of Reciprocity where people are more likely to “return the favour” in the future.
What people don’t realise is that complimenting others will enhance your own well-being as well. By focusing on other people’s needs and desires, rather than on yourself, you can improve your self-esteem by perceiving yourself as a thoughtful and kind person. Likewise, complimenting will naturally lift others’ self-esteem and in turn, boost productivity.
As the need to be liked goes down to the core of the coveted feeling of belonging, it is no wonder that Dale Carnegie’s “How To Win Friends and Influence People” is still as applicable today as it was 80 years ago.
As we discussed in the previous blog, one face to the cube of persuasion is the Law of Reciprocity; we like to repay what another person has provided for us. As each face is equally as important and required to box up a sale, the second face to marketing tactics and branding strategy is looking at people’s behaviour patterns or tendencies. You can deliberately shift attitudes and subsequent actions to persuade others to achieve your ends. Or simply recognise when others are using these common sales and marketing techniques on you.
Like a cube, there are six faces to persuasion, each equally important and all equally needed to box up a sale. In psychologist, Robert Cialdini’s book, “Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion,” he discusses the Six Laws of Persuasion. By understanding these laws, you can control how much people influence you, as well as how to use them to your benefit during negotiations – both in the workplace, as well as in personal life.
The First Face to Persuasion is the Law of Reciprocity
Naturally, when human beings are given something, they feel obliged to give something back. We all feel it is right to return favours when they are given to us. Similarly, when Mr. and Mrs. Johnson brought a salad when they are invited over to your last gathering, you may feel the need to arrive at theirs with at least a bottle of wine in hand.
When sponsors give out free drinks at festivals, when you go out for a test drive for a new car, or when a charity gives you a flower, no matter how small a gift may be, these marketing tactics and branding strategy make people feel the need to “return the favour.”
There’s no wonder we hear sayings like “Do unto others as you would have them do to you” or “What goes around, comes around.” It’s about fairness and equality. Give a little to a prospect, and you may end up with a customer.
Although I disagree with the author that training for LinkedIn, Facebook, Google+ is not required, it is, his point is absolutely spot on! When was the last time you took training to operate an iPhone?
I know of some complete technophobes who are over 60 who took to an iPhone faster than being able to operate an old Nokia!
Usability and user experience are critical. Here’s one example: My (free) invoicing software is about to close operations and wants all “customers” to switch to a $40/month paid version! But it’s not the price that put me off, it was the opportunity cost – the time it was going to take to learn the software.
So I began my search for replacement software, at first free, then paid. 4 days later, spending around 2 hours at a time, having tried to set up my account and to generate just a few invoices, I progressed from free software to paid versions. Yet after trialling 12 different software packages both download and cloud versions, I was still frustrated as none of them met my somewhat simplistic requirements. And you have to remember I wasn’t looking for an accounting package just a simple invoicing solution.
By absolute chance I came across Wave Accounting – a free cloud solution that immediately struck a chord with me, from the simplicity of the home page to ease of the sign up. What was even better was the simplicity of setting up the account and generating invoices. Having a complete accounting solution that even a dummy like myself could use was an absolute bonus! And that’s the Zero Overhead Principle – no down time, no learning, no training, just use it!
Now all of the time we are going to save not learning how to use software, we need in our daily business lives, we can spend on re-engineering our own brands to make them as sticky as some of these leaders or just spend it on being glued to our screens being anti-social in the physical world by being social in the virtual one.