Thursday, December 8, 2011

Phrases that Sellers Think Sell

  • It's no secret that...
  • The results are in-
  • Forget everything you've heard about...
  • Believe it or not...
  • If you're like most people, you probably...
  • It's never too early/late to...
  • Let's be honest...
  • Let's face it...
  • It's not every day that...
Do these work? Any more you can think of?

Monday, November 7, 2011

Social Brands and the Seven Deadly Sins

Companies establishing a social media presence may make some missteps. Some of the brands known for their social presence, including Best Buy and Starbucks, can point to mistakes made along the way and to what the brand learned from it.

It’s understandable. Social marketing requires a company to shift from broadcasting an anonymous, singular brand voice to engaging directly with customers as individuals that are indirectly reinforcing the brand. It’s not as simple as flipping a switch.

While some mistakes can actually increase a brand’s credibility if handled correctly, the following tips can help brands avoid the “seven deadly sins” of social media: Envy, Sloth, Gluttony, Wrath, Pride, Lust and Greed.

EnvyEnvy: Being envious of brands like Zappos, Jet Blue or even a direct competitor is understandable. But chasing their success, even trying to mimic their programs, isn’t beneficial. Brands that truly understand what makes them unique, and use social media to bring these points of differentiation to life, are the ones that will get results.

SlothSloth: Every brand wants fans and followers. But too many brands don’t want to earn them. Earning an audience can involve everything from engaging content and cause marketing to promotions and, yes Virginia, even paid media. Brands must be prepared to keep an audience’s attention. Without an engagement strategy to support audience acquisition, it’s as if the brand is dialing the phone, setting it down and walking away.

GluttonyGluttony: It might seem like more is better when it comes to social media – set up a presence on as many sites as we can map on a conversation prism — or at least the most popular ones. But the brands that succeed don’t have the same level of activity across a large number of sites. Focusing on just the spots where customers spend their time is key. A business may want to spend more time on Yelp, less time on Facebook and ignore Twitter completely. It all depends on where customers discuss the brand online.

WrathWrath: We’ve all tapped into the more expressive tendencies of social media. Snark is a guilty pleasure of the web…reality TV 2.0. It’s understandable but it’s something brands should avoid. And brands should be prepared to be on the receiving end of wrath. There are trolls online who live to get a brand to make a misstep. Step away from the keyboard. This is another reason for a social media policy and rules of engagement.

PridePride: A brand’s first inclination is to use social media as another broadcast channel. Taking the same content and merely pushing it out over social sites won’t have an impact for long — if at all. It’s the equivalent of someone showing up to a party and talking about themselves the whole time. One of the easiest ways to engage customers is to identify which ones are talking about the brand and then thanking them for doing so. Overall a well-rounded mix of conversation, promotion and content based on fan feedback will work best.

LustLust: So a brand is well-established on Twitter or Facebook. They’re tweeting, posting, sharing and along comes Ms. Shiny New. She’s a 2.0 and Mashable’s latest centerfold. Don’t go all geo-loco and have a premature Quor-gasm. Brands must consider if the new site appeals to its audience. Asking its most loyal fans is the easiest way to figure this out. Brand X may want to take Ms. Shiny New out for a date. It shouldn’t happen at the expense of the established program.

GreedGreed: If a specific marketing program finds success, should a brand punish other efforts by pulling support and moving all of the spend into one effort? Of course not. A brand shouldn’t necessarily pull support from the winner to help the lagging programs either. Revisiting marketing spend based on results is key. But don’t be Draconian. Allocate according to business goals. Consider complementary marketing efforts and remember that social media can manifest itself as earned, owned and paid media.

Social Media Semantics
OK, maybe these social media sins aren’t deadly. But I prefer considering the above sins instead of rules. Rules imply there’s a single way to do things. It may seem like semantics, but I prefer guidelines over rules. Regardless of the hair splitting, the above are important considerations for any brand building a social media program.


by Kevin Dugan

Do You Make This Mistake With Your Headlines Or Titles?

Titles or headlines are a lot like promises, which you make to your readers. If you deliver on the promise of your headline, your readers will thank you. If you don’t, you will leave readers feeling ripped-off and cheated. Getting your balance right is what this brief post is all about.

Headlines have amazing influence

Your headlines are the most important part of your blog posts, (marketing emails, articles or newsletters etc.) That’s because no matter how wonderful your content is, or how amazing your special offer may be, people won’t even read it, unless the headline has grabbed their attention!

With headlines playing such an important role in content marketing and Internet marketing, it’s little wonder the Internet is packed with information on how to write great headlines. As a result, there are some amazing sounding links being shared on social networks and showing up in your feedreader. However, when you then click those links, land on their site and read what they have to say, it is often a major disappointment.

In the race to get as many people as possible to click links or open emails, something extremely important is often forgotten: The need to deliver on the promise you made with your headline!

Headlines must deliver

A great headline will get people to click your links, but unless the content they find delivers what you have told them to expect, they will leave just as quickly as they arrived. A headline is important, but it can’t do everything. It’s job is to capture people’s attention and get them to take the next step, which is to read the first line of your actual content.

For example, if you write a headline, which says; “6 ways to double your subscriber list”, the content needs to deliver on that promise. It needs to show your readers 6 ways to increase their subscriber count by 100%. If it just gives people a boring, generic list that clearly won’t double their numbers, you will simply piss people off.

Of course, when people land on a page or open a marketing email, only to find the headline suckered them, you will also have eroded their trust; at least to a degree. This will stop people returning to your site or opening future communications from you, because they are less likely to believe your headline promise the next time. This will seriously damage your repeat traffic numbers and can cause people to stop sharing your content on social networks.

Headlines and content: The right balance

The most successful marketing and the most successful websites / blogs, always do their best to deliver on their headline’s promise. As a result, we trust them to come up with the goods, so when they capture our attention, we are massively more inclined to click their links and start reading. That’s the balance we all need to aim for.

To focus on getting traffic to a site or emails opened, without converting that interest in some way, is a complete waste of time!


by Jim Connolly

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Which Brain Is Your Website Selling To?

Most people would like to believe that they make decisions based on the careful, deliberate processing of information. But the truth is, for all its complexity, the human brain seems to have a distinct pecking order: when opportunity knocks, it's the old "reptilian" brain that calls the shots, while "logic" and "emotion" barely get a vote.

Think about this in the context of your website. Assuming you are trying to get visitors to make some sort of decision on your site (sign up, buy, download, etc.), you have to understand that there's a huge disconnect between how the human brain takes in and processes data, and how most websites are organized. To create a truly effective landing page, you need to know how the human brain operates. When it comes to making a purchase, the real decision maker is the reptilian brain, and you'll be hard pressed to ever trigger a buying decision if you don't deliver your message in a way that the reptilian brain understands.

Your Brain, Times Three

Back in the 1960s, a neuroscientist named Paul MacLean developed a model of the brain based on its evolutionary development. His model identified three distinct layers in the brain - the reptilian brain, the limbic system, and the neocortex - each of which evolved to help solve adaptive challenges. Although each layer dominates separate brain functions, the three layers also interact in significant ways. MacLean said that the three brains operate like "three interconnected biological computers, [each] with its own special intelligence, its own subjectivity, its own sense of time and space and its own memory."

The Reptilian Brain

The first to evolve was the reptilian brain, so-named because it represents the high point of development among lizards, snakes, and other reptiles. The reptilian brain's primary concern is physical survival and well-being. It is self-centered, assesses situations in black-and-white terms, and is quick to act, triggering the fight-or-flight response most people are familiar with. The reptilian brain seeks visual familiarity, is strongly triggered by emotions, and until the other layers developed, really couldn't be bothered with complex reasoning. Despite its aversion to details, its specialty is making decisions.

The Limbic System

The second brain to evolve was the limbic system (also called the mid-brain). The limbic system is the seat of emotion, attention, and affective (emotion-charged) memories. The limbic system makes value judgments, deciding whether you like something or are repelled by it. Because of this, it tends to dominate behaviors that involve the avoidance of pain and the repetition of pleasurable activities. It also determines the amount of attention that you give to something, and is largely responsible for spontaneous and creative behavior.

Because it links emotions and behavior, the limbic system often inhibits or overrides the reptilian brain's habitual and unchanging responses. Similarly, the more complex emotions of bonding, attachment, and protective loving feelings connect it to the neocortex. According to MacLean, the limbic system decides how it feels about something, and the neocortex is reduced to simply rationalizing that value judgment decision.

The Neocortex

The most recent brain to evolve is the neocortex (also called the cerebrum, cerebral cortex, or rational brain). It is composed of the two large hemispheres and exists only in primates.

The neocortex contains specialized areas for controlling voluntary movement and processing sensory information. The left hemisphere is more linear, verbal, and rational, while the right hemisphere is more spatial, artistic, musical, and abstract. Higher cognitive functions are all centered in this brain (including language, speech, and writing). The neocortex supports logical thinking and allows you to see ahead and plan for the future.

Being sophisticated, developed creatures, most humans are convinced that this "thinking" brain is where we make our decisions. But as it turns out, how people "think" they will react is hardly ever consistent with how they "really" react. Have you ever made product changes based on the results of a survey or focus group, just to find that your intended improvements actually hurt sales? It's not that people lied; it's just that their neocortex didn't have a clue about what their reptilian brain wanted.

Designing for Three Brains

If a pecking order of sorts does exist in the brain, it seems logical to assume that the neocortex, being the most recent to evolve, would dominate the lower levels. But this is not necessarily true. The limbic system often asserts its influence over higher mental functions, and the instinctual reptilian brain can exert a powerful influence over both emotion and logic. In fact, if there's one thing you can be sure of: in a three-way battle of the brains, the reptilian will always win.

So what does this mean for websites and landing pages seeking to sell a product or service? Here are some key takeaways:

  • Your customers don't care about all the intellectual reasons why they should buy from you. The reptilian brain is driven by emotions, and the more senses you can trigger and associate with your product or service, the more effective you'll be in influencing your visitors' buying behavior.
  • People react more strongly to the fear of loss than the potential for gain. Understand your customers' pain points and help them envision life without that pain.
  • The reptilian brain responds rapidly to visual cues. First impressions are always based on appearances, not information, and in the buying process, words are secondary to visual cues.
  • When people read words, their reptilian brain tries to turn the words into a picture. Read your web copy. Now try to picture what things like "revolutionary innovation" or "best-in-class" look like. You can't. Neither can your visitors.
  • Fear of the unknown is powerful. Your visitors will avoid uncertainty. If your buttons, navigation, and overall purchase process are not crystal clear, chances are your visitors will leave and find someplace safer and more predictable.

Marketers can learn a lot from the field of neuroscience, and this post barely scratches the surface when it comes to understanding what makes people buy online. But even these basic tips can help you make huge improvements in how you communicate - and sell - through your website. Take a look at your key landing pages. Are you selling to the intellectual neocortex with detailed explanations about the value of your product or service? You might as well be speaking in tongues. Your customers are not as rationale as they think. Appeal to their reptilian brain and your message will sail right past the mental gatekeeper, directly to the seat of the real decision maker.

by Tim Ash

Clickz: Marketing News


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