Wednesday, 27 November 2013

Psychology in Marketing

The ratio between our conscient and subconscient behaviour? 

Research puts that at 10/90. 

Especially over the last decade neuro-psychologists claim to have proven that the free will does not even exist - all our thoughts and actions would be governed by social and cultural determination. 

Let's not get into this debate though - it's still a highly controversial one that generates very much resistance. 

150 years after Darwin we can more or less generally accept that we are an animal among animals: considering we do not even have a free will is still a bridge too far and might take another century to digest. 

It is clear though why marketing has always fully focussed on the subconsciousness.

Targeting ratio would be a miss in 9 times out of 10 and thus no professional marketer can get away with that. 

It's the reason why top psychologists (neuro or not) are the heart at the marketing labs of multinationals.  

Or why 85% of all active websites fail: no knowledge of or access to important information, no budget to invest in quality (the very first thing picked up by the radar of our subconciousness/instinct) or simply forever trying to sell to the ratio and not to the iceberg under it. 

Sure!! We humans do wish to think that we made a rational decision. So your website has to provide the content that would back up a rational decision - it can't be 100% about emotion and feel. 

For 90% though : YES.

Hence why TV commercials are what they are: 

Selling the freedom, not the car.
Selling the social status, not the tablet.
Selling the possibility of sex, not the perfume.

Sell the feel, never the product.


Sunday, 10 November 2013

Open your eyes before branding closes them

Even I, working in Branding and loving it to bits, breathing it and eating it - am aware that every coin comes with two sides. And then I want to pull the wool over my eyes and just let it go.

So, for once, only once, let's talk for once about this pitch black side of the moon.

Only once. And then I'll go on about all the wonders of it.

Google glasses are on the market and publicity can now be burned straight onto our eyeballs. 

Touch screens will slowly give way to tablets that can simply track the movement of your eyes. 

We jump to every new invention, and do not realize just how many signals we give away telling multinationals: here are the tools to enslave us. 

Google already knows you're gay long before your mother does. Before YOU know. Whether you can develop a tendency to subversive behaviour, are a feminist, an anarchist, a non-voter, what kind of voter... it doesn't matter what: the behavioural patterns of billions can be studied now.

We already have masses that are far more addicted to Facebook, than they ever were to any drug. Masses that are more enthused about Apple or Herbalife - than they ever were about any religion. 

There are people, and more than you think, who actually think that drinking Coca-Cola makes you happy. Not consciously, but instantly etched onto the reptilian brain.

Brands are the new Roman Emperor, the new Louis XIV, the new aristocracy. 

If you think we're free, forget about it. Neuro-scientists already concluded 15 years ago that humans have no free will: they are fully managed by social pressure, tribe rules, era- and cultural determination. It are on these latter domains that the big brands play.

We think we're free. Don't we go to the voting boot every 4 years? Don't we then have the delicious choice between either this candidate or that one?

We do not realise that every visit to a supermarket, every purchase is a vote. Pro or contra child labour, pro or contra slavery, pro or contra an oil based economy and thus wars in the Middle East, pro or contra materials digged up in Africa and thus pro or contra dictatorships or social injustice. Here we all pool the wool over our eyes - but, hey, in 2 years from now we can go vote again.

We work for the brands, AND buy their products, forever faster, AND while doing so destroy our own liberty and the planet at the same time. We are hooked.

It will be impossible to get out of that.
Whatever we do, be it flash mobs, be it mass demonstrations for change - Brands take over that banner and we march behind them. Thinking they are the solution rather than the problem.
History teaches us that history doesn't teach us anything. For the emperor will always wear new clothes.

But hush, lovely reader, don't you despair. For after every new emperor there is a new revolution. Not because you or me want it, just because it's inevitable. We live on a turning planet in a turning universe, lives that forever turn.

And you can start Branding too.
You do not need trillion dollar eye-tracking laboratories to do so. 
Sometimes all it takes is to refine your radar.

Just as it can have a dark side, it can shine as the inside of a diamond.


Friday, 8 November 2013

Split second persuasion. Now.

You've got one tenth of a second. To make a first impression. 

How benevolent we humans are, to still organize a flicker of being non-judgemental. When seeing or meeting someone new, we are fully free from and protected against prejudices - for a full 0.1 second. 

When it comes to opening a website, that's even a long, luxurious, amazing 7 seconds. 70 times more! That big is the difference in suspension of disbelief. 

Playing the piano (poorly) I know: you either capture a listener from the first notes, or not at all.

As any friendship, also a business relationship is a type of 'being in love'. Unless you're locked in together for a long time, it's love at first sight or nothing at all.

As a web designer I know: website visitors quickly scan the overall look, glance here and there - and then they're either intrigued or leave and never come back. 

In all situations, marketing or real life alike,  it's very difficult to fight yourself back into the ear or eye. Exhausting, really. It has become a battle. Whereas there was this brief moment that you were awarded with genuine and open attention. 

Instead of seeing that as a problem, we can be thankful for it and see it as a great opportunity: humans still 'hang out' with websites they wouldn't exchange one single word with were it to be a person in a bar!

For sure that too will change: the future forever evolves towards the virtual world, until we will have identical reactions online and offline. 

It's something all great brands and very successful websites have in common: you believe them from the word go. They do not have to mention: "We are so professional and reliable and have a long track record" etc. You see that in the blink of an eye. 

Why are we humans such highly sensitive radars? 

It's obviously for reasons of survival and self-protection. We capture far more information in much less time than a search engine robot can. Our instant scan is an all-encompassing one: 

The words, the prononciation, the eyes, the expression, the attitude, the clothes, the situation - all that is instantly picked up by our instinct and senses, and cross-referenced with our knowledge, history of experiences, cognitive biases: all layers of our brain. 

We can instantly detect if 'something does not click': this person is wearing Versace but cheap shoes... what she is saying does not correspond with her expression, etc. 

And once that first impression is established, it's very hard to correct it: you might need many repeat encounters, long conversations, a visit to her or his family.

It's a luxury your website does not have: once the first impression is a negative one, visitors will not return. It will end up in an exhausting cycle of social networking and paid advertising to put your website again in front of that visitor, forever trying to correct that first impression. The good news obviously is: we've got 7 seconds! 

At least, that has been the convention for years. That it takes 7 seconds for a website visitor to make his or her emotional decision, whether or not to see your website as a possible contender. To bookmark it or remember it. Personally I think this time frame is forever getting shorter too - until we are in that truly virtual world, in which an online interaction will be identical to a real life experience - and impressions are made within one tenth of a second too.

To put it bluntly: 

If your website / business card does not convince in a split second, it was a waste of energy, money and paper.

More: it will cost you very much. While at the same time makes you lose out on all the potential you could have had. 

Our whole brain is trained in throwing things in the recycle bin AND deleting all items there.

On average we have got 120 Facebook friends. Who forever ask our attention for some 10.000 interesting links, messages, quotes, photos, videos. And this is just the input you get via Facebook. Not even mentioning the perfect storm of all triggers out there.

Our brain is there to make us survive. And in order to survive mentally, it choses to ignore 99.9% of all the background noise in this complete jungle of messages.

You hit home now, or you never will.

You hand over your business card. It triggers a tiny flicker of interest, one split second in which you, the card and situation are being scanned. At that very moment the mind has already been made up, whether your message is forgettable or not. 

If it is, you end up in the situation of that person who forever has to blog, Facebook,Twitter, network, print cards, distribute flyers - without ever converting a contact into a client. 

All the conversations at all the network events are useless. 


Monday, 4 November 2013

The Art of the Business Card

If I could turn back the clock, I would forget about Website Improvement and study Business Card Optimization instead (the first has taught me it will be a 5 year plan, so let's keep that for another life). 

Marketing combines the 3 loves of my life: psychology, craft and art. You have to be clever and ahead of others in all 3 of them. And nowhere is this so difficult as in the Business Card. It is the Haiku of marketing tools. 

Nowhere is there so much competition, nowhere do you need to squeeze so much information in such a small space. You only have a few square inches to convey it all. 

It is the summary of your Business Plan. 

For it tells who you are, how you see yourself, how serious you are about your business, what market you target and the quality that people can expect of you. More than anything else, it has to be in full unison with the person handing it over. 

A first impression is made within one tenth of a second, and very hard to correct or alter. (The human instinct is such that no glossy card can circomvent the situation or atmosphere in which it was first shown). 

The numerous pitfalls of the business card

It seems to be quite an impossible task:  

  • How to make your card memorable?
  • While also strengthening the overall memorability of your brand?
  • While still conveying professionalism over creativity? 
  • While transmitting the message that you are a true authority in your domain?
  • And preferably THE authority? 
  • Making the contact details easy 
  • And triggering people to contact you?

    You have to tackle all those questions, because you want your card to be among those very few that are actually
    saved by the receiver. And remembered. And convert the receiver into a client.
Stand out in a matter of seconds

Studies show that website visitors make their emotional decision within 7 seconds. That's the time in which they decide whether or not to take a website into consideration. Whether they will visit a second page, bookmark the site or remember it for later.

That's the time a webmaster has got, to attract any business at all.

In case of the Business Card that time is even shorter. Just as with a website: people do not read it. They scan

There are way too many impulses in life, there is way too much information coming from all sides and we are wired for split second decisions: fight or flight.  So how, oh how, can you tackle all issues so quickly?

The subliminal message

In marketing all messages are subliminal.

True, in your website or blog you still have a lot of space to TELL how professional you are, how reliable, punctual, trustworthy, etc. 

Also here that isn't ideal if you do not SHOW it - in the Business Card though you do not even have that option. 

It needs to show, sublimely so and instantly so. 

From the moment you hand over your card, the emotional decision has already been made. 

Not based on what you tell on the card, but on one quick overall scan of you, the situation, and the look and feel of your card. 

What's the message of your card?

Pick up your Business Card. Do so as though it's not your own. You received it from someone else. What is your split second decision? What do you think is its subliminal message? 

"I'm a card of someone who started a business. I'm not too sure though, I'm just testing the waters a bit, so I didn't want to invest too much thought or money. Let's see how it goes. Or whether I'll try my luck with something else and in another country. But contact me, maybe I'm still around".

"My business is booming. OK, so this card was a cheap and quick one, not really matching my overall image, but if you go to my website and read it, you'll see I'm really reliable and good at what I do".

"I'm an authority in my domain. I will stay put. You see how I invested in this card. Please save it".

"I am THE authority. At one point, you too will need me". 

Start a business? Start with the business card

I always advise clients who are just starting a business, to start their marketing with the Business Card. 

For 2 important reasons:

It's the Business Plan. Working on the business card helps to crystallize the Business Plan into its purest shape. It's the guideline and reminder for any next marketing tool.

Brilliance in 1 thing. Is far better than mediocrity in 10 marketing tools. We are all in a constant rush forever updating our website, Facebook page, Blog, Twitter, YouTube account, Google Adwords, Google+, brochures, networking and advertising. And none of it helps, for it is all mediocre. Just as anyone elses.

Be brilliant in one thing. So at least there you are being taken seriously. You will be remembered, and convert your very first contact into a client. Only then you start with the next marketing tool, where, it goes without saying, you also aim at brilliance.

Good luck!

(Well, luck has got nothing to do with it. All good marketing is psychology, craft and art. Just as anything else, it is 1% inspiration, and 99% work).


Friday, 1 November 2013

The profitability of the business card

We all get them. All the time. Everywhere. We're snowed under. We've become immune to them. Half of them are immediately chucked away, and the other half ends up in a corner of a drawer. Where they are left to be forgotten. 

Only a select few ever make it to that 'nirwana': the business card holder of the relevant business contact. 

It's that ideal location every business card is targeting. It's the traditional equivalent to a top ranking in the Search Engines. 

For such a holder or map is used all the time, and every single time the owner flips through it, he or she is reminded of your existence.

(Imagine the CPC budget needed to achieve the same, with this added advantage that the prospect has actually met you. Little miracle that 'business card optimization' has become a craft and profession in itself).

It might not be a 'one million dollar question', but a 'few thousand dollar question' it is: how to turn your business card into a profitable marketing tool?

1. Professionalism

How to ensure that your business card does what it was designed for: to deliver business? First, such a card only ever makes it to that top spot, if you or your business is seen as a peer.  

Your card says: we are a serious business. 

Its subliminal message is: "I am at your level. With this card I prove to deliver services of very high standard. It is safe for you to pass it around or to recommend me. I will not let you down". 

2. Originality

If your product, service or market permits it: stand out. The key phrase here is: if your market permits it. Usually it doesn't. 

Yes, if you are an Interior Designer, work in photography or are otherwise expected to be creative, you can get away with it. If you are not: cards in metal, wood, plastic, 3D… we've seen it all and it's good for a smile. It can also quickly come across as student-esque

The example here on the left is brilliant though. They bake cookies, so what is more logic than have a cookie-card? 

It caters to expectations. 

And, more: you do not have to actually pick up the card or read it to know what the business is about. 

This card even comes with a third advantage: food being one of the 3 strongest conversion impulses, this card actually whets your appetite to get into contact. 

Three advantages in one. This is for sure a card that will be remembered and kept. 

3. Added Value

One way to optimize the chances is by providing added value. Why would anyone save your business card, if it only takes a few clicks to find someone who delivers just the same service as you? 

Why not put a special message on the flip side: 'One hour free advice'. Or: 'This card gives you the right to a free beverage'. 

People love things that are for free. Remember that 'free' is still one of the 3 most used and strongest messages in marketing. It's a powerful word that flies straight to the eye ball. 

Such a card might be saved and remembered. And the receiver will come to your bar for that beverage, or will email you for that free advice. And then the 'conversion process' has started. 

Also here applies: if your business card does not radiate professionalism, the 'free advice' will not have worth. 

Here, as in web design, it is all about the subliminal message. 

If you pick up your card, what does it say? 

"This is a free online template that does not completely match the rest of my branding materials, but it was cheap, and this is the state of my business"? 

Or: "The quality of this card is what you can expect when you work with me." 

Personally, there's no craftsman for who I've such respect as the one who masters the art of the business card.