Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Does Your Brand Have ESP?
By Jeanette McMurtry August 4, 2015

Remember when personalization was the coolest thing in direct marketing, and we couldn’t wait to cash in on the increased ROI from writing customers’ names in the clouds and detailing their transaction history in letters, PURLs and email copy?

And then personalization became commoditized and we all tried to find the next big rush to higher ROI. For many that is retargeting, or monitoring individuals’ Web activities and placing ads about recent interests on random pages.

Even with privacy concerns, behavior tracking seems to be working wonders. We consumers seem okay to see ads on our Facebook page about products we just abandoned in a shopping cart or on a Google search page moments later. Consumers of all ages seem unfazed by such monitoring and retargeting activities that Baby Boomers might call Big Brother and Millennials call Big Data!
Regardless of whether your customers are in the Big Brother or Big Data generation, personalization through retargeting is the most effective way to build sales today. Right? Or maybe not so much?

According to Andrew Shebbeare in an article published on AdExchanger, retargeting is not the end-all answer to incremental sales. In fact, retargeting might be more of a waste than a bonus as most predictive analytics tools recommend products the shopper is likely to buy at some point, anyway. So marketers could be spending big money to get sales they’re poised to get anyway.

Thankfully, we still have transactional data that drives incremental sales by restating specific aspects of a customers’ relationship with our brand in our marketing communications. That’s still working, right? Or could it be traditional data systems based on transactional or browsing histories miss a key driver in consumers’ decision processes?

To me, that missing key driver is ESP, and I’m not talking that sixth sense or psychic ability to detect paranormal behavior. I’m talking about another ESP — emotional selling propositions — or messaging about the emotional vs. functional value of a product, which have helped me achieve anything but “normal” results, including triple-digit increases in revenue and response rates. However, the trick is finding technology that truly gives you that sixth sense about which emotions drive behavior, and then enables you to personalize messages accordingly during the actual purchase process.

Finally, we’ve arrived. New technology can track individuals’ specific interests and emotions while they are shopping, enabling us deliver personalized messages that are relevant to both their conscious and unconscious minds in real-time, while they are shopping — not just thinking about it. This alone is taking ROI to a whole new dimension.

According to Ari Ginsberg, co-founder and CMO of Cognilyze, an e-commerce personalization system, when marketers use data to trigger the likes, wants and needs of the unconscious mind, they can get sales they would not have otherwise. By appealing to psychological thought processes that occur in our subconscious, marketers can create interest in products completely unrelated to those currently being browsed and considered, and thus get true incremental, or unplanned sales.

“By taking a very different approach to big data and sales, we can show consumers products they did not even know they wanted or needed, and generate sales retailers would have otherwise have missed out on,” says Ginsberg. “We do this by assigning an emotional value to a product, not a person.”
Huh? Emotional attributes for products? Instead of showing products like socks to buy with new running shoes which has become expected, Cognilyze’s system analyzes the emotional values of the products a given shopper is browsing. It then quickly identifies products with like values that have been assigned by Cognilyze’s research team, and shows the shopper these products, as well. It could be as counterintuitive as showing a consumer shopping for a couch a car seat for a baby. Not at all related in terms of function or style, but very much related to the emotional values of creating a safe and comfortable setting for a family. As Ginsberg says, this approach is so effective at generating valid incremental sales it could be disruptive to the entire big data industry.

Cognilyze tested its approach to assigning emotions to products vs. shoppers among a group of Sears’ "Shop Your Way" customers. They gave participants a list of recommended products across a category. The top 10 recommended products were then matched to the online shoppers’ responses about products they liked, needed, and already had. Many of the top 10 recommendations triggered by Cognilyze’s emotional/psychological model ended up in shoppers’ list of desired products.
Explains Ginsberg, “When you consider we were blind to any statistical correlation or categorical affiliation, its pretty telling just how powerful it is to tap the unconscious values associated with purchases than just the conscious ones obvious from past transactions.”

Another group that is disrupting the way marketers use data to understand and influence behavior is BehaviorMatrix, creators of real-time marketing software that monitors consumers’ attitudes and feelings through another form of ESPs – their patented Emotional Signal Processing technology and a contextual Natural Language Processing Engine. By monitoring conversations on social media channels, they can determine consumers’ emotions about an issue, brand or product, on a minute-by-minute basis. Marketers can then deliver content and offers that are relevant to a consumer’s current state of emotions, not just their shopping interest at a given moment.

BehaviorMatrix goes one step further to assure accurate interpretation of the data collected. Instead of just monitoring social conversations on various public channels, they monitor the context of the stimulus, or how it was presented in a specific situation. In other words, they can filter out sarcasm, and identify anomalies in attitudes that might not reflect a consumers’ true attitude. I'm not sure you can get a much more precise look inside the minds of your consumers to see what is moving them at any given moment.
Imagine the implications. Your customers are feeling euphoric about a new technology that you happen to offer, and you deliver a message to them with an offer at the very moment of heightened interest. Or you discover many of your customers are engaged in social media conversations about environmental issues that are associated with your brand, and they support the opposing viewpoints. Time for an educational campaign you didn’t know you needed to execute.

Take ESP to the second power — emotional selling propositions with emotional signal processors, and the results can be out of this world.

According to Bill Thompson, co-founder, chairman and CEO of BehaviorMatrix, emotional-tracking technology is not just game-changing for brands, its disruptive to the entire direct marketing industry. With 90 percent of our thoughts driven by our emotions, per many neuromarketing studies, he could be on to something really revolutionary.

“Transactional data models deliver standard results for direct marketers, which are typically around 1 to 3 percent response rates,” says Thompson. “Our technology has consistently delivered double-digit open rates and conversions, giving marketers a much higher ROI.”

Its just not the ability to communicate emotionally in real time that drives sales in today’s digital markets, it's also a brand’s ability to tap who and what influences consumers’ behavior. This is what puts BehaviorMatrix at the forefront of what could be the next revolutionary change in direct marketing. And this vision actually came to Thompson when he was having his own kind of “blue ocean” experience.

“When scuba diving, I was intrigued to find that groups of fish reacted to my presence differently, yet they were all fish,” recalls Thompson. “I concluded that, of course, we as consumers are like animals. Groups of consumers may look alike, but could be programmed to interpret stimuli and act very differently.”

Thompson asked his team of mathematicians to create algorithms that can technologically observe human behavior and identify reactive patterns into which most people fall, and to find ways to identify the influencers for each of those groups.

“We discovered four crowd types in which most people fall,” continues Thompson. “When we can identify the influencers of those crowds and their emotional values, we can predict behavior within groups with a very high-level of precision and that, in turn, enables organizations of all kinds to influence behavior and achieve ROIs not reachable before.”

Again, think of the implications of being able to influence your customers’ influencers in real-time and with high emotional relevance? This kind of personalization and ROI was unthinkable just a few years ago.

Wayin, a social media intelligence firm, recently surveyed 200 marketing executives engaged in real-time marketing. Of respondents, 98 percent claim they are achieving a positive ROI and 89 percent say they can fully tie real-time marketing results to measureable business goals. Results like this validate that real-time personalization is mission-critical for just about any business today.


  • Marketers in all industries need to build their brand’s ESP powers:
  • Utilize emotional sensory processers to monitor consumers’ actual emotions about your category and brand.
  • Define your brands ESP messaging, or emotional selling proposition, that presents the hidden emotional fulfillment of your products or services.
  • Assign corresponding emotional attributes to your products so you can personalize recommendations that make sense to unconscious and conscious drivers.
  • The results are something any of us can get emotional about!

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Change Colors, Change Behaviors

Change Colors, Change Behavior
By Jeanette McMurtry July 7, 2015

For years, psychologists have studied the impact of color on how we behave. Does it make us eat more? Does it make us more productive? And most importantly for businesses, does it make us buy more?

Research conducted by the Institute for Color Research, a division of Color Communications Inc, (CCI), and the University of Winnipeg shows that within 90 seconds, most consumers make an unconscious judgment about something’s worth to us, its trustworthiness, and so on. And that 62 to 90 percent of that judgment is based upon color. (opens as a PDF)

But just exactly what that judgment is is up for discussion. There seems to be some inconsistency in what psychologists say is the business effect of certain colors. One expert, M. Farouk Radwan, MSc., author for 2knowmyself.com claims that blue colors in a restaurant can result in a loss of appetite because subconsciously, many people associate blues with toxins. Another report on Psych2Go.net which references studies form the Color Association of the U.S. says that blue is a good color to calm people and make them stay longer and hopefully buy more when dining out. So what is a marketer to believe?

Various studies from various groups also show conflicting ideas about the use of red in restaurants. Some color theorists and psychologists say red triggers appetites and others saying that it creates too much energy, and increases your heart rate to the point that people lose their appetite, leave sooner due to increased energy levels, and thus eat less. Regardless, many fast food restaurants, rightfully so or wrongfully so, use accents of red to stimulate energy and trigger appetites in the hope of getting people in to eat, then out soon to make room for others.

The importance of color and its impact on brands and business goes far beyond the physiological effect on appetite and food consumptions. The big question is how does color impact attitudes toward brands and shopping behavior? And in the case of red and blue as dominant brand colors – logo, retail environment and online shopping presence – does it really matter?

Rajesh Bagchi, an associate professor of marketing in the Pamplin College of Business at Virginia Tech conducted a study to compare the sales influence of blue vs. red. Bagchi and associate, Amar Cheema from the University of Virginia, studied sales on red websites vs. those on predominantly blue websites, as well as sales within predominantly blue and red retail environments. Very interestingly, their research found that the likelihood of a purchase is lower with red backgrounds than blue ones. When you compare sales of Walmart, a blue brand, with Target, a very red brand, you have to wonder:

Walmart revenue in 2014: $467.30 billion
Target revenue in 2014: $71.28 billion

Could it be that too much red in a retail setting makes us energetic and thus anxious to leave — like it supposedly does in restaurants, while blue, as suggested by one restaurant study, makes us relax and linger longer? I know which of these two big box powerhouses I linger in longer and purchase more from. And what’s most interesting is that consciously I prefer the one I linger in the least!

Beyond influencing food consumption and shopping behavior, colors play other important roles in other business settings. To start, colors are thought to influence how we perceive a brand’s attributes and values; which, in turn influence our interest in learning more about a brand or a product, and considering trial or purchase. For example, blue is solid in banking, as it’s the color of trust and intelligence. Green also does well in the financial services industry as, in our country, it represents wealth, money, stability and balance. However, in other countries and cultures, color meanings and influences can change.

Needless to say, choosing which colors are most likely to attract your core consumers, inspire them to engage with your message and hopefully impact shopping behavior among your customers can be nothing short of confusing.
Faber Birren, a pioneer in color research and author of “Color Psychology and Color Therapy,” helps minimize the chaos with a survey that reveals what people themselves say of the values and attributes they associate with various colors. Following is a summary of the colors respondents most associated with particular words:
Trust: Blue
Security: Blue
Speed: Red
Cheapness: Orange, with yellow as a close second
High Quality: Black
High Tech: Black with a small margin over blue and gray tied for second
Reliability: Blue
Courage: Purple and red
Fear/Terror: Red
Fun: Orange, with yellow as a close second

In some cases, these responses duplicate what color psychology experts tell us and in others not. For example, most charts showing moods associated with colors show orange as creativity, playful, innovative and fun; and yellow as logic, personal power and humor. Yet in our culture, it also represents caution, or represents the scene of a crime or dangerous event.

While it is fun to study the impact and influence of colors on how we eat, how we sleep (supposedly we sleep better in blue rooms), and our productivity levels, all that really matters is if and how color impacts how people perceive our brand and if that perception translates into sales.

Regardless of what color theory and research you go by when defining colors to present your brand’s attributes and values, the key is to acknowledge that color does indeed influence attitudes and behavior. And instead of choosing colors you like or that are trendy at the moment, take some time to study what colors really mean to consumers’ conscious and unconscious minds and choose those that reflect the personality you want to project to today’s consumers, and one that will last the test of trends and time to continue to appeal to like customers in the future.


  • Spend some time with your marketing team to identify the values, attributes and even personality traits with which you want your brand to be associated.
  • Choose traits that reflect the lifestyle, values and interests of your core consumer.
  • Google color wheel meanings. Study the many color mood charts and psychology reports on color and behavior to guide the choices you make for all things associated with your brand.
The right colors not only help influence attitudes, interest and shopping, but they can also influence engagement with your content on your website, social media and other branding materials. Even the best branding content can fall short of readership and conversion goals if it’s embraced by colors that create a different story than the content.

Friday, June 12, 2015

Mindset of the New Millennial

Mindset of the New Millennial
Originally published on Targetmarketingmag.com

With close to 75 million people and a projected spending power of $1.4 trillion by 2020, understanding the mindset of the Millennial generation is more than important for brands today - it's mission-critical. Yet getting through to this generation of independent, critical thinkers is not so simple. Yes, there is a lot of information about how much time they spend on the Internet, and how fixated this generation of 18- to 34-year-olds is with its mobile devices and all the ways to self-express and stay connected via technology.
But beyond knowing how they spend their time and communicate with friends, marketers need to understand the most important aspect of this group of consumers: How they think!
When we understand how this increasingly powerful generation thinks about themselves, their world and their relationships with brands, we can create equally powerful brand experiences and customer relationship programs to capture their immediate attention and secure lifetime value.
Some insights:
  • Open-minded: 81 percent
  • Intelligent: 80 percent
  • Responsible: 73 percent
  • Thoughtful: 73 percent
  • Rebellious
  • Arrogant and Self-Centered
  • Funny, Humorous
  • Hip and Snarky
  • Risk-taking but Lazy
Put those traits together (sans lazy) with entrepreneurialism and you can see why 160,000 businesses started up in just one year were founded by Millennials.
Other research from various groups such as Edelman and Neilsen shows us that Millennials align with organizations and brands that reflect their values.
And those values according to BCG, Neilsen, Edelman and just about any other research firm include:
  • Charity and community
  • Fitness
  • Optimism
  • Excitement
  • Status and Professional Success
  • Adventure
  • Self-expression
  • Connectedness to others
Because for years, consumer research has shown that we consumers most trust people who seem to be just like us when it comes to guiding our choices and purchasing decisions, we marketers have the difficult challenge of trying to incorporate all of the above into one persona and marketing appeal. But it can be done.
With so many diverse attitudes and values among this economically powerful generation, the task of drawing them to our brands, engaging them in meaningful ways per their values and expectations, and of course keeping their business and sparking referrals, is nothing short of highly complex.
First, we need to link Millennials’ values to our brand. For example, one of their top values is supporting charity and community causes. Brands thus need to show they, too, care about social causes through actions, not just words. By doing this, they not only appear to be “just like me” brands, they also stand to gain sales and loyalty. Cone Research shows that more than 80 percent of consumers, Millennials and older, are more likely to purchase from and stay loyal to brands that quantifiably show their impact vs. those that just say they care.
Other key values we must take on to build our brands are intellectualism, open-mindedness and achievement. Brands can cater to these emotional drivers through the visuals and messages and personas they associate with their marketing campaigns, and also through the dialogue they generate on social media. Present your thoughts, vision, hopes and goals on current social issues associated with your product category and give your customers a chance to share their voices, expertise and experiences. Be authentic and respectful, and you might just make “Friends” with this really important group of consumers.
Another hot social issue among Millennials today is minimalism – how to live a full life on minimal resources, and with less stuff, less stress and space. Link your brand to responsibility and personal fulfillment beyond “stuff” associated with your products, and continue to prove your price:value ratio rocks your industry. From what research by PriceWaterhouseCoopers and other firms cited by FutureCast in its recent Millennial marketing report shows us, minimalism is likely to have more than a minimal impact on our economy in the near and not-so-distant future.
Knowing the values that get the attention of Millennial shoppers and many GenX shoppers, for that matter, puts us on the right path. But the journey doesn’t stop there. We need to know how linking to these values helps us became the kind of brand that Millennials want to associate with today and actually purchase from.
What we learn from BCG’s perspectives report on its Millennial consumer sentiment survey is Millennials have definite expectations from brands and their ongoing relationships with them. Here are just a few of them:
  • Be available to help me and serve me 24/7
  • Support causes and show me the impact you’ve had
  • Provide me an experience not just something to buy
  • Be smart and authentic
  • Surprise me, entertain me with a brand personality I can relate to
Yep. I added another list of traits and attributes to try to blend in to your appeal to Millennials. Seems daunting, but clearly it's doable, as there are many brands today successfully appealing to and most importantly selling to Millennials who actually like them and talk about them in both the real and digital worlds. BCG’s survey also revealed that more Millennials than any other generation of consumers say the brands they chose say something about who they are; their values and where they fit in. They also admit more people ask them about their knowledge and opinion of brands and that they are likely to take positive actions on behalf of brands they like. When it comes to sharing brand preferences or experiences on social media and other online sites, they are substantially more likely than any other generation to do so – showing 57 percent are likely to share experiences online, compared to 43 percent for Gen X and 31 percent for Baby Boomers.
What brands are doing all of the above effectively? Here’s a list of the Top 10 “Most Beloved “ Brands in 2015 as rated by Millennial consumers, according to a report / survey done by Moosylvania, a digital agency studying the Millennial generation.
  • Nike
  • Apple
  • Samsung
  • Sony
  • Walmart
  • Target
  • Microsoft
  • Coca Cola
  • Jordan
  • Pepsi
These brands cater to the some of the top values I mentioned earlier: fitness, technology for connectedness and self-expression, and minimalism/price sensitivity. Below is a list of traits from associated with the above brands that are part of what matters most to Millennials, and thus got them Top 15 rankings:
  • High-quality products (matters most to 75 percent)
  • Fits personality (matters most to 61 percent)
  • Engages in social responsibility (matters most to 53 percent)
  • Shares similar interests (matters most to 39 percent)
  • Says important things (matters most to 31 percent)
Scroll back up and its clear to see that these “Matters Most” traits are right in line with the values and attributes research tells us matter most. When it comes to personality attributes, it's not hard to see how many of these Top 10 brands are coming out with energetic, fast-paced and inspiring social media, digital and even TV (the old-fashioned method) advertising campaigns.
Takeaway: Pay attention to the needs of your younger consumers and don’t stop. Stay engaged with them to find out what inspires them, drives them, and what makes them smile, laugh and get out of bed in the morning. What do they value socially, politically, environmentally and so on. Then spark meaningful dialogue, integrate appropriate themes in your marketing materials, customer experiences and put your actions behind your words. Support causes, communities and customers in ways that don’t just get attention, but speak to your Millennial customers that yes, you are “Just like Me.”

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Scarcity and Its Pull Toward Purchasing

Read Now Before Time Runs Out!

Share this article:
The value of scarcity isn't a come-and-go tactic.
You've read, perhaps even written, marketing copy like this: Time is running out!  Read this important information now. It could forever change your marketing ROI and business profitability. 
Since the beginning of time, the race has been on for valuable but scarce resources.  In ancient days, blood was shed over rights to fertile hunting grounds. Today, outrageous amounts of money are spent on “things” that no one else can get.  For instance, five months after Michael Jackson's death, the prince of pop's iconic glove sold at auction for $350,000. Likewise, Elvis Presley's blue suede shoes were auctioned off at $80,000 in 2013. Why so much?  Beyond the celebrity factor is a key psychological driver called scarcity. No one else can have these one-of-a-kind items that are likely to sit on a shelf or in a safe. But because they may never be available again, they're in high demand and have obscenely high price tags.
The psychological influence of scarcity applies far beyond nostalgic celebrity tokens. RememberTwinkies? One of America's most popular snacks since the 1930s, Twinkies is a brilliant lesson for the powerful affect that scarcity has on humans.  As consumers became more nutritionally conscious and health minded, sales of sugary boxed pastries such as Twinkies declined.  At the end of 2011, with sales down nearly 2%, Hostess, the manufacturer of Twinkies, announced the end of this iconic American snack.  Suddenly, millions of adults who had long written off Twinkies had to have one before the opportunity was gone forever.  There was a nationwide run for Twinkies, and the American bygone became the top-selling snack item nationwide nearly overnight.
Note the news bulletin from AP News:
November 12, 2012:  AP News
Twinkies sales jumped over 31,000% on the etailer's "Movers & Shakers" sales ranking. On Friday, Hostess products accounted for 10 of the top 11 bestsellers in the grocery and gourmet food category. The 10-count box of Twinkies is No. 1.
What do we learn from this? Consumers crave what they fear they can't have, whether they need it or not. This suggests that the best way to jumpstart sales for a flailing product is to discontinue it.
In 1975 behavioral researchers, Stephen Worchel, Jerry Lee, and Akanbi Adewole conducted a study among 200 females to see if the perceived value of a product changed with the perceived abundance of it. To determine whether there was a correlation between value and scarcity, they put the same cookies in identical glass jars and asked participants to rate which cookies they were most attracted to and valued most. One jar had 10 cookies; the other jar had two. The cookies in scarce supply were rated as far more attractive and valuable than those in abundance supply. Results held true when the quantity of cookies in each jar were switched. The scarce cookies always held more perceived value despite being the very same product. 
This scarcity principle applies to all business categories. When you offer products in limited supply, sales are likely to go up—even if they're priced above market value. For instance, if you're a consultant who takes on a few select clients versus anyone who calls you, chances are you'll be in higher demand than others in your field. 
Experiment with this concept and see for yourself just how powerful the law of scarcity is for getting attention and closing sales. Do a direct marketing test with one piece promoting the function of the product, and another promoting a deadline for the product available only for a limited time. You'll be surprised.
Jeanette McMurtry, principal of e4marketing, is an authority on psychology-based marketing, speaking at business events worldwide. She is a Back by Popular Demand trainer, speaker, and course instructor for the DMA.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Getting Religious About Customer Psychology

Share this article:
Does your brand have a devoted following?
Getting Religious About Customer Psychology
Getting Religious About Customer Psychology
One of the largest, global businesses is one we don't price compare, tax, or even classify as a business: religion. 
On average Americans tithe 2.38% of their annual incomes to churches, according to a study by empty tomb inc., a Christian research and service organization that has been tracking tithing trends since 1968. That percentage equals about $93 billion a year across all religions for households tithing on a $40,000 income. To put it into perspective, the worldwide video game market—including mobile gaming and video game console and software sales—was projected to reach $93 billion in 2013, according to Gartner. 
Consider the following: The Catholic Church spent $170 billion in 2010 in the U.S. alone, according to a March 2013 MSN Money article. About $5 billion of that went to aid the poor. Compare that $170 billion spend in 2010 with Apple's 2013 gross sales of about $217 billion (Dazinfo 2013). Similarly, the fastest growing religion in U.S. history, Mormonism, generates $7 billion a year from just tithing in North America alone. The the Mormon Church also has real estate and for-profit assets well over $35 billion, according to Reuters. Since 1985 the Church has donated $1.4 billion to disaster relief; that's roughly $51 million a year out of a multibillion-dollar annual income. 
When you consider that religions don't pay taxes on multibillion-dollar incomes or have charitable requirements to meet, religion adds up to big business. Despite supplementing tithing income with gains from investments and for-profit holdings, it's essential for religious organizations to maintain a high-level of tithing obedience among faithful members and regularly convert new tithe payers. 
Psychologically humans are programmed to be faithful followers of religions. With 2.1 billion Christians, 1.3 billion Islam followers, 851 million Hindus, and 375 million Buddhists, the numbers speak for themselves. Whether part of a concerted missionary effort or not, religions offer us key elements to a rewarding human existence.  According to Steven Reiss, author of Who Am I? 16 Basic Desires That Motivate Our Actions and Define Our Personalities, religious affiliation can be associated with more than half of the strongest human motivators. See for yourself in the list below.
1.      Power
2.      Independence
3.      Curiosity
4.      Acceptance
5.      Order
6.      Saving
7.      Honor
8.      Idealism
9.      Social connections
10.  Family
11.  Status
12.  Vengeance
13.  Romance
14.  Eating
15.  Physical Activity
16.  Tranquility
Does your brand have a devoted following?
Getting Religious About Customer Psychology
Getting Religious About Customer Psychology
Martin Lindstrom, author of Buyology, outlines 10 pillars of religion that influence faithful followers:
1.    Sense of belonging
2.    Clear vision
3.    Power over enemies
4.    Sensory appeal
5.    Storytelling
6.    Grandeur
7.    Evangelism
8.    Symbols
9.    Mystery
10. Rituals
The brands that successfully convert new followers and keep members faithful for years are those that tap into these basic human needs and pillars. Consider, for example, American Express. For 50 years the financial services organization has referred to its patrons as “members” rather than “customers.” It's also built an iconic brand by offering distinctive privileges, experiences, and services based on members' brand loyalty and participation. The goal is to make them feel privileged, superior, and part of an exclusive way of life for the chosen few. It works. Its membership rewards program grew exponentially within weeks of its initial launch and continues to be among the most successful loyalty programs today.
Apple is another “brand” religion. In fact, with a Q1 2014 record quarter of $57 billion in gross revenue, it's fair to say that has Apple has become one of the great religions of the consumer world. Like religion Apple has created symbols of belonging with its white ear buds, sleek iPads, and laptops with its radiant star-like Apple symbol. The brand presents a clear vision of how its products align with many of life's desires: freedom, power, connections, status, individualism.
Evangelism comes naturally among millions of Apple users. Just ask MacBook Pro or iPhone owners what they think of their product. Chances are, you'll find yourself in a long, enthusiastic conversation praising Apple and how it makes life better. Apple has also created unique rituals for its religion, such as its Genius Bar, its casual, personal style of selling, and its lack of cash registers and counters that would create barriers between customers and the preachers (i.e. sales staff). 
Building your brand's religion is simpler than it might seem. The first step is to move beyond orthodox marketing activities and towards those that connect with customers' souls—mainly, by tapping those strong psychological needs that validate our existence and promises of joy.
Consider the following:
  • How can you create a divine unity among your members?
  • What symbols and rituals set your brand apart from competing faiths in your space? 
  • What are your promises that keep customers' faithful for years and inspire them to bring lost sheep into your fold?
Although you can't offer eternal life or lasting joy with much credibility, you can offer promises aligned with the unconscious and conscious desires that drive most behavior. How religiously you do this is what will set your brand up for success in your life and your hereafter.
Jeanette McMurtry, principal of e4marketing, is an authority on psychology-based marketing, speaking at business events worldwide. She is a Back by Popular Demand trainer, speaker, and course instructor for the DMA.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Building Sales With Authority

Share this article:
Building Sales With Authority
Building Sales With Authority
From the beginning of time, we've been wired to believe and follow people in positions of authority. Be it a prophet, scientist, politician, teacher, parent, police officer, and so on, we're taught, directly and indirectly, to follow those who lead. We tend to follow even when “authorities” take us in the wrong direction, or encourage us to do things with which we're not comfortable.
A great example is the Milgram Study on authority and obedience. In 1963 Stanley Milgram, a Yale University psychologist, conducted an experiment to see how the presence of authorities impacted people's level of obedience, even if that obedience contradicted their moral beliefs. What he found was astounding and telling in terms of how marketers can use “authority” in branding, promotional, and engagement strategies.   
In short, Milgram rounded up 40 male volunteers and assigned each one to be a “teacher” in his experiment. Their role was to sit in a room with an experimenter, a person in a lab coat, and send an electric shock to a “learner,” a person in the next room, every time the learner answered a question incorrectly. The learner was actually part of the study and answered most questions incorrectly to receive shocks. The shocks got stronger with every delivery, starting at 15 volts and going to 450 volts. The teacher could hear the learner scream out in pain as these shocks were delivered. 
If the teacher hesitated or refused to deliver a shock, the experimenter in the lab coat ordered him to continue, even being told it was absolutely essential or that they had no other choice. 
Remarkably, despite showing anguish and dismay at hurting another individual, all participants continued to deliver shocks up to 300 volts. In fact, 65% went on to deliver the maximum pain of 450 volts! Why? Because they were told to by a person of authority (who was really an actor wearing a lab coat).
For marketers, the implications are significant. 
People look to “authorities” to help them make decisions. The chewing gum market is a good example. Since the 1970s Trident has been one of the top selling brands of chewing gum claiming that four of five dentists surveyed recommend sugarless gum for their patients that chew gum.
According to an article in (the authority) The New York Times, “authority” marketing worked then and still does.  For instance, the inclusion of the American Dental Association's seal on sugarless gum packages with claims such as chewing gum after eating helps reduce cavities, whitens teeth, or kills germs that can cause bad breath has bumped up sales significantly.  In one year sales for sugarless gum rose 6%. Sugarless gum—according to Information Resources Inc., another authority—makes  up 80% of all gum sold, up from 48%in 1998. 
If aligning with a credible authority can help the sugarless gum market secure 80% of total industry sales, chances are “authority” can help your brand, as well. And you don't have to organize a panel of “five” experts to recommend your product. 
Here are some simple ways to tap into the power of authority for marketing:
Cite the research: There's an abundance of research, articles, and opinions from experts on the Web about any given product or topic. If there are 3,980,000 results on Google for “lifecycle of an ant,” I suspect that there are at least a few results for any product or service being sold in a legitimate market today.
Endorsements by association: It's true that we're judged by the company we keep. Promote your client list as an authoritative statement that “others” who know your field of business find your expertise or products best in class. This tactic taps into social proof and authority, further increasing your emotional relevance.
DIY polls: With all the survey tools available today, you can easily and inexpensively poll consumers about your business category, brand preferences, price points, loyalty trends, and more. In just days you can get scientifically valid results. You can share the results of these polls that back up your position or product and cite the most credible authority for consumers today: other consumers.   
No matter what you're selling, any reference to an “authority” is likely to boost credibility for your claims and position. And now you can cite Direct Marketing News to prove it!

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Its enjoying the little things in life that makes us happy, according to a new study by Time Magazine.  (Time, April 13, 2014, Eric Barker).  Here are some no-cost to low-cost ideas that work from Waldorf Astoria Park City from my recent article in DM News:


Give Consumers a Reason to Feel

Share this article:
Photo Source: Waldorf Astoria Park City
Photo Source: Waldorf Astoria Park City
There's a reason that luxury hotels come with more than luxurious price tags. The comfy beds, jaw-dropping lobbies, exquisite room details, and “jump-to-it” service can make anyone feel like king for a day. But at some point, the pampered experience feels the same across chains—unless you're staying at Waldorf Astoria Park City in Utah. Under the leadership of award-winning hotel manager Kerry Hing, the Waldorf Astoria Park City has turned into one of the fastest-growing hotels in the company in just two years.
What sets Waldorf Astoria Park City apart from other luxury hotels isn't its 300-year-old fireplace from an Italian castle or the lobby's Baccarat Fine Crystal chandeliers. It's what Hing describes as “the power of observation” followed by the “power of surprise.”
Whether you're a luxury hotel or a fast food franchise, the survival of any business depends onmaking customers feel special and appreciated. We expect to be called by name, served quickly, and rewarded for our business. What we don't expect are highly individualized experiences based on what someone “observes” about us that have nothing to do with our recent transactions.
Case in point: HingKerry Hing's top priority is to walk the floors of his boutique-like hotel at Park City's Canyons Ski Resort to observe how guests feel while relaxing in his impeccable lobby or his Green Bamboo–scented spa. On one occasion, he encountered a disheveled guest in ski attire sighing about needing a beer after a tough day on the slopes. Hing quickly looked for clues, like the initials on his rental skis, to help his front desk attendants identify the guest. Once identified, Hing sent a complimentary, chilled six-pack of beer to the guest's room and a note cheering him on for a better day.
On another occasion, a guest was peering in the hotel gift shop well after it had closed. After observing the guest's disappointment that the shop was closed, a front desk agent on duty surprised the hotel guest by escorting her  to the shop for a private shopping spree.
This kind of service goes well beyond what customers expect at any five-star resort. It goes beyond that feeling of being pampered, for which many of us are willing to pay. It creates a feeling of dignity, individual worth, pride, recognition, and even a sense of chivalry from eras past when ladies were treated like princesses and gentlemen like knights. This type of experience also satisfies our survival instinct. Having our needs met makes us feel privileged and protected. It also gives us a sense of status and achievement that defines much of our individual psyche.
While our generation doesn't necessarily want to go back to a time as formal and class-oriented as the early 1900s, unconsciously, we do want to feel like “princesses and knights.” And when we do, we reciprocate with loyalty, something many global brands are losing rapidly.
Reports from the Consumer Council and other groups show that high customer loyalty has slipped dramatically for many consumer brands in recent years, in some cases by 50% or more. Yet, when we feel privileged, or that our time and needs matter, we still assign loyalty—sometimes quite fiercely.
Consider Mac versus PC owners. When is the last time you met someone that switched from a Mac computer to a PC? Personally, I'm the only person I know who did this, and I immediately switched back. While my PC worked fine for my basic needs, I missed the level of service at Apple's Genius Bar. With the Genius Bar, I always got much more than 15 minutes with an expert, and I often walked away with surprises like a free $200 battery or software programs. I missed talking with people giddy to show me technologies to simplify my life and make me “feel” cool. I missed feeling like I was part of a forward-thinking environment.
That type of engagement is what Hing's approach creates, as well. Observation and surprise are the foundations of the training that all of Hing's staff members receive at Waldorf Astoria Park City. These two elements create experiences that have generated a high repeat-customer rate and have earned Hing coveted industry awards at every place he's managed.
What do you do to delight your customers? Good customer service simply doesn't cut it. Moments that surprise customers and make them feel like they matter do.
Regardless of your product or service, you can find affordable ways to observe and surprise and make your brand five-star in any industry. I suspect that the six-pack of beer was more than paid for by referrals and repeat visits from an over-the-top happy guest. Point made.
Jeanette McMurtry, principal of e4marketing, is an authority on psychology-based marketing, speaking at business events worldwide. She is a Back by Popular Demand trainer, speaker, and course instructor for the DMA.