Monday, April 20, 2009

Tough Times Marketing: 3 Things to Do Now

I ran across some notes from my interview with Martin Lindstrom, author of the fascinating book Buy*ology. Martin did some breakthrough work in studying how the brain reacts to marketing messages and how some messages bypass our filters and directly influence what we do, and what we believe. You can listen to the interview here.

I remember asking Martin what a marketer could do TODAY to get frugal buyers to let loose of their purse strings. Whether you’re a local supermarket, non profit shelter feeding the homeless, or a retail store in the mall, Martin’s advice applies.

Link to Something.

Our brains are desperate to make meaning out of the world. It’s hard to store independent information, and nearly everything our brain does has an emotional component to it. Thus, linking your message or marketing event to something already going on creates meaning to the recipient. The most common links are to holidays, anniversaries, or seasonal events. But you don’t have to be so obvious. The goal is to add a meaningful link to the marketing message, so while you’re being creative in your efforts, just keep in mind that obscure links won’t help.

Be provocative.

Let me be candid here. Way too much of what marketing produces is bland, vanilla, and wordsmithed so as not to offend anyone. If that describes you, then you’ve lost your ability to competitively position your product or service. Being provocative doesn’t mean you have to sell skin, sex, and the naughty – it does mean you have to take a stand and be willing to make a claim. In a study done by Doug Hall, he found that messages which were overt and obvious had a 75% increase in their success rate. So, what can you say or do that will make your message stand out (again, with meaning) and cause someone to undoubtedly know what your point is?

Create a semantic marker.

Linking the prior two items together, semantic markers indicate the relationship between statements. Think of it as a mental pivot point: in contrast, thus, because, however, as a result, and furthermore are all common examples of semantic markers. So, in your messaging semantic markers force you to not only make your statement, but think of the outcome or result. I like to think of this as asking what is the outcome of the outcome. Sure your product does X, but what does X get me? If your product saves time, then what can I do with that extra time? Just make sure your semantic markers are about me, not you or your product. I don’t care that your service is faster than the competition – I care about what your fast service means to me AND AS A RESULT what that outcome is.

Again, whether you’re for profit, non profit, B:B, B:C, or anywhere in between, these three simple steps are going to help you increase the power and potency of your messaging. For more information, be sure to listen to my free podcast interview with Martin.

-- David Kinard, PCM

(image credit: National Archives and Records Administration)

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