Wednesday, 26 February 2014

How's your Halo Effect?

'First impressions count'. We might all more or less agree with that. One reason why big brands or successful websites are so much ahead of others, sits in their awareness of just how much they count, to what extent they make or break the potential and how decisive they are. Much of this is due to the 'Halo Effect'. 

In psychology, this effect is one of the cognitive biases - a bias that is not cultural, social or an outcome of upbringing, but a bias we all share. It's deeply ingrained in our human programming. So, you, me, the platform you are on, we all suffer from that 'halo effect'. 

First coined in 1920, by American psychologist Edward Thorndike, we could translate it into human language as: 

One action or trait can cover the complete person or product under your blanket of benevolence.

Examples of the Halo Effect in your life:

A new acquaintance pays you the right compliment at exactly the right time.
Now you think the world of that person.
His arrogance becomes a sign of strength, his lisp charming, his unreasonable anger 'he always lacked a mother', and his car that is falling apart fashionable.

In one second you have decided he's got quality - and now you see everything he does or says in that light.

(The opposite is also true: someone who rubs you the wrong way, might become the devil in disguise. He did not only say something that offended you, he's an arrogant, lisping thug in a stupid car).

The Halo Effect in marketing

From the split second your website opens, you and the visitor start off on the right foot. You want to generate benevolence within the first seconds.

For that 'aura' will now lay as a beautiful, warm blanket over all your other web pages, everything you show and say. If the first impression was an astonishing one, you are being forgiven every broken link and spelling mistake.

If the fonts are too small, the visitor thinks: 'this must be trendy now'. 

If your products are at the basis of slavery in Asia or mass destruction of forests in Africa, the visitor thinks: 'ok, you can't make an omelette without breaking eggs'.

It's not different than us buying a gorgeously packaged shampoo instead of a, say, a good one. 'Better packaging must mean it's a better shampoo'. 

Or why we do buy from the shop assistant who is in awe for how that suit or dress fits us.  We know it's a sales trick, we know that he does so with every customer and every dress - but it's too late... 

... we're under the spell of the Halo Effect. 

PS: If you hate this article, you will also hate 'Split Second Persuasion Now'

Thursday, 6 February 2014

One web page that will change your world

And you will be the copywriter of it and it will turn your business around: You will write about the biggest secret of your company.

That thing you have never ever wanted to tell, out of fear for the competition.

Why oh why would you do that??

FIRSTLY, amidst 2 trillion web pages a visitor will actually find something worth the while, new and interesting.
This hardly ever happens. Visiting Facebook, YouTube and the website of your bank aside, surfing online is equal to a bored clicking. We all KNOW that we should surprise and fascinate online visitors, and almost never act on it.
Consequently, that one website that does so, jumps completely out of the stack and will be remembered.  
SECONDLY, it enhances your standing as a serious player.  For only the strong can do such a thing. It will increase the credibility of your brand, as well as the aura of success. (And we know: people go to where people are, we go for a drink at the successful bar, not the one without people in it).

Credibility and memorability: the 2 biggest obstacles of websites of small companies.

You will be triggering a sigh of relief: finally, amidst the 2 trillion web pages forever repeating and copy/pasting exactly the same information, here is someone who actually teaches me something.  

Sure, your website first needs to have a basis of credibility. Nobody is interested in the secret of your company if that company has no success in the first place.

Why are we always so afraid to share our 'business secrets'? 

You'd think we are sitting on Coca-Cola's 'secret recipe'.

Blind tests show that people prefer the taste of Pepsi over Coca-Cola. Always. Everywhere. Without exception. I performed that test myself. With friends.   With clients. With family. With acquaintances who are Coca-Cola die hards

So much for 'the secret recipe'. You would not want to have it. If you'd had it, it wouldn't help you. It's only part of the mythology and thus Brand, and that's where it stops. Secrets are not the issue. 

My own secret?
You know that my specialty is SEO. I rank very high for 'SEO Advisor'. For 'web designer Malaga'. Just to name a few. I have been testing SEO unlike anyone else. For years on end. 

And my secret is that SEO has the lowest ROI of all marketing strategies: it are credibility and memorability that make companies successful online. Branding. A SEO specialist is only valuable when your company is already working. 

Only when this dawned on me and started to test this route, I moved from a struggling free-lancer into the business professional I wanted to be. 

'Va pensiero, sull'ali dorati'. 
Verdi: 'Go, thought, on wings of gold'.

You definitely know what your target market would definitely be interested in. What tone you need to use. Slice through the millions of competing web pages, most of them a matter of copy/paste or providing 'interesting' (yawn) information.

Stop going for satisfied customers or satisfied readers. You want them to rave about you. See you and trust you to be THE authority.

Mediocrity will always struggle.