While marketing is often seen as the vehicle that drives sales and spreads brand awareness, achieving these outcomes is never guaranteed. To connect with clients, you have to dig deeper…
Many times, when problems occur, they’re the result of a misunderstanding between what buyers want and the products or services that businesses provide.
So, what’s the key to closing this gap?
Here are 3 ways to use the mind’s natural desires to better connect with
clients and appeal to more buyers:
1. Admit Your Weaknesses
Logic says it’s best to keep faults about your product or service quiet. Science, however, suggests otherwise.
When researchers from the University of Michigan and Stanford University analyzed how companies handled negative events – such as exposed problems or mistakes – they discovered brands can actually benefit from admitting weaknesses.
In this case, the positive outcome was higher stock prices.
The study, Predicting Stock Prices From Organizational Attributions, detailed how companies (over a 21-year timespan) that made “self disserving” attributions saw higher stock prices within just one year.
According to the researchers, “Claiming personal responsibility for negative events made the organizations appear more in control, leading to more positive impressions.”
For a long time, Volkswagen has embraced its faults well. In the 1960s, the car company gained popularity in the United States through its “Think Small” and “Lemon” ads for the Beetle.
Rather than pushing the usual fanfare about quality, power, or safety (which the car lacked), VW emphasized the Beetle’s small size and strange shape – even calling it a “novelty.” The ads were so successful, AdAge ranked “Think Small” the best advertising campaign of the 20th century.
This unique take, of course, was helped them more deeply connect with clients.
It’s no surprise that VW used a similar strategy after their emissions scandal a few years back. Rather than blaming external factors, the company was quick to apologize and take responsibility.
VW’s ad campaign pushed a powerful message: “We’re working to make things right.”
No doubt, consumers are skeptical of the brand. However, you have to believe the backlash would have been much worse had VW not admitted their weaknesses.
2. Escape The Expected
Few actions stimulate our brains better than a surprise.
I dig deep into this concept in my book, Escape the Expected: The Secret Psychology of Selling to Today’s Skeptical Consumers.
The bottom line is, the brain isn’t big on waiting. It craves pleasure now – even if the “surprise” is small.
Psychologist Norbert Schwarz famously conducted a study where he randomly placed a coin (equivalent to a dime) on a copy machine. He then interviewed the people who found it.
Those who made the discovery were more happy and satisfied with their lives than those who didn’t see the dime.
Again, it was a mere 10 cents that the participants found.
“It’s not the value of what you find,” Schwarz noted. “It’s that something positive happened to you.”
Nielsen, the company that measures TV viewership, often gives customers unexpected cash. The company’s mailings regularly include $2-$5 as a way to surprise recipients and encourage them to fill out the enclosed surveys.
Money, of course, isn’t always necessary when surprising your prospects.
MailChimp, an email marketing company, has built their brand on sending customers unexpected gifts. Items range from T-shirts to toys to coloring books, and even monkey-themed knit hats for cats.
In a commoditized industry with many competitors, MailChimp is now a major force.
Mark DiCristina, the company’s marketing director, recently told Wired magazine:
“If we considered them (the gifts) primarily marketing expenses, we’d want to figure out how to minimize cost and maximize the brand effect – essentially, we’d be thinking about ourselves.
As gifts, we think first about the recipients and about how they’ll feel when they receive the gifts. So we go over the top to make people feel special.”
Giving gifts is yet another great way to connect with clients and stay top of mind.
3. Provide Instant Gratification.
How often do you buy something online, and feel that you have to wait too long to get it?
Business owners and entrepreneurs overlooked this problem for a long time, until Amazon made the issue a cornerstone of their marketing.
Numerous studies show – thanks to MRI scans – that our brains literally “light up” when we anticipate getting something right away. The longer we wait, the more anxious and stressed we feel.
To connect with clients, Amazon built an entire membership service around instant gratification. Their Amazon Prime service allows members to take advantage of faster shipping and instant downloads.
Microsoft’s Xbox uses the same immediacy principle – only they apply it to customer service. The company’s “Elite Tweet Fleet” (@XboxSupport on Twitter) is so committed to speed it holds the Guinness World Record for “Most Responsive Brand on Twitter.”
Their support team responded to more than 5,000 questions in an average time of 2 minute, 42 seconds.
Keep in mind, even using words such as “instantly” or “quick” in your marketing can help your prospects envision having their problems solved right away.
By Tom Trush