3 Ways to Communicate and Market Effectively to the Brain

Here are 3 ways to communicate effectively to the brain:

1) You want the brain to remember your marketing message for as long as possible: in the short run, and the long term. You need to repeat your messages often for that to happen. Also, activate emotions and provoke the senses in the reader’s or viewer’s brain, so that you can register the message better.

2) Use pictures to back up your words.  Pictures speak a thousand words, remember? The brains remember things much better by pictures, and not through texts.

3) The brain can only focus effectively (I mean effectively, not half-heartedly) on one thing at a time. So focus your marketing message on just one key theme.  ONE theme.  ONE message.

Mind of the Consumer. Every marketer wants a piece.
Mind of the Consumer. Every marketer wants a piece of it.

Google is a Marketer’s Best Friend

I love Google as a marketer. Do you?
I love Google as a marketer. Do you?

Google is indeed a marketer’s best friend.  Since 10 years ago, Google has consistently risen in popularity among web users. Google is a classic example of how to cater your products or services to meet consumers’ needs and wants. With ever increasing quantity of websites online, Google is a boon when it comes to understanding what we are looking for when we search the web. So marketers should really leverage Google’s expertise and dominance on web searches.  Here are 3 reasons why:

1) Google has 83% market share of the global web search engines. It is dominant in almost every country, except in China and Russia, where Baidu and Yandex reign supremacy. Google also dominates web email with its Gmail. Gmail wins with its huge email space offered, where most users do not need to delete any past emails. If you have not realized by now, Gmail offers ads based on your email content. Seriously, with 83% of global market share in search engine, do you need to advertise in other search engines?

2) G00gle searches dominates as the most ‘intelligent’ so far, beating out others such as Yahoo or Bing. Google can fathom what the searcher is thinking about pretty quickly, giving them search results that are accurate. Similarly, Google is able to offer web users the most relevant ads for their searches, ensuring quality clicks for advertisers. Google is also strict about advertisers’ contents, giving favor to advertisers that best meet users’ needs. Advertisers can track their cost per click closely, giving very accurate ROI analysis.

3) The other secret weapon of Google is the ownership of Youtube. Youtube owns 44% market share of online videos watched, many times greater than the other competitors. Youtube now offers pre-video short ads, allowing advertisers to customize ads to their target demographics and most importantly, the advertisers can get assurance that their video ads will be watched by Youtubers. With the integration of Google Account among Gmail, Google+ and Youtube, advertisers can target their consumers pretty accurately.

4 Powerful Psychological Marketing Techniques

How many choices of ice tea do we really need?
How many choices of ice tea do we really need?

Throughout my years in branding and marketing, there are a few techniques that really get more positive responses from consumers. Quite consistently.  Here are four techniques:

1) Give away FREE things. You will see a stampede of consumers going after your free samples or freebies. Yes, you will also attract a significant percentage of people who are just interested in free products, and not really in your brand. However, these people will also try your products, or give them to their friends or family members. By giving away free things, you get more word of mouth and increased review buzz among consumers.

2) Up your prices. Whenever we see a category full of competitors, our first natural human instinct is to lower prices and hopefully attract more people to buy our products. This does not work well, as most competitors will think just like you. Instead, be brave and try for a higher price. A higher price denotes higher quality, or a superior product automatically, unless you deal with commodities. A recent new face wash brand priced itself at a ridiculous 10 times higher than competitors, but yet business was good for them!  Go figure!

3) If you do retail, ensure that your ambience is top notch. Research has shown that restaurants with superior ambience give their customers a positive expectation the moment they walk in the door. When they eat your food, the food will somehow taste better compared to a restaurant with a lesser ambience. Consumers will also be more forgiving of mistakes in service.

4) Restrict the options that you offer consumers. With the proliferation of line extensions, product offerings have exploded in recent years. I was shopping for some stationery yesterday, and the choices available for the ordinary pencil is staggering!  The category is sure more exciting today, but definitely made making choices harder and more laborious. Buck the trend and limit your product offerings to the least possible, showcasing just your very best products! Consumers will love you for enabling them to make choices easier and faster!

3 Qualities of A Good Marketer

Always look at the bright side of life.  The best marketers are always optimistic.
Always look at the bright side of life. The best marketers are always optimistic.

What are the qualities of a good marketer?  Even though marketing is a ubiquitous job, it is also a high pressure job.  You often have to meet goals and deadlines, which are at times challenging.  If you have a great brand that is growing healthily in a low competitive environment, good for you.  If you have a brand that has saturated growth, and competitors continue to nibble at your market shares, you need to tough it out.  A life as a marketer has its ups and downs, and you need the right qualities to weather them all.

The first quality you need is optimism.  Be happy when your business is growing healthily.  But when your business decline, do you get depressed, give up or get frustrated?  Yes, the environment may be tough, but a good marketer will always have the optimism to face the problem.  If the marketer gets negative or depressed, the energy will demoralize the team.  He will also lose energy that can be channeled towards solving the problem.  Optimism will help to channel all the positive energy to continue on, and to solve the problem at hand.

The second quality is discipline.  I have seen a lot of good marketers got swayed by new technologies or marketing fads.  Always, always go back to the fundamentals of marketing and sales, and incorporating them to your strategy and tactics for the long and short term.  Do not get desperate with unhealthy short term sales tactics that may affect the strength of your brands.

The third quality is focus.  Focus on a few key things that will grow your business.  Commit to doing them well.  Don’t get distracted by doing many things, and then at the end realized that you did not do your best in any of them.  Channel all your energy towards a few key strategies, and commit to do them well, better than all the competitors.  Even if you meet defeat, your conscience is clear, as you have put in your best.

Definition of Marketing

First task of marketing: Identify your Target Customers First
First task of marketing: Identify your Target Customers First

If you have worked as a marketer for many years, it is often good to re-visit the definition and purpose of marketing.  It helps to ground us in the important fundamentals of marketing.

Marketing has 3 components to it.

First, find out who your customers are, and their needs or wants.  This is marketing research.

Second, produce products or services that meet those needs or wants.  This is what your company produces.

Thirdly, do the second action above for a profit.  If you don’t produce a profit consistently, you will not be able to sustain the business for long.  Sales are important, but profits are far more important.  Would you rather make $5 from selling a $10 product, or make $2 from selling a $20 product?  Profit margins and net profit is far more important in business than the sales figure alone.

Marketing vs. Sales

After buying loads at 90% disccount, will you ever buy it again at full price?

Marketing and sales need to work hand in hand together to grow businesses.  However, sometimes marketing and sales have unnecessary conflicts on the strategies used.  Here are some areas of conflict:

1) Sales often want to sell the better product.  As in a really technically superior product that works better than competitors.  However, marketing wants a better brand story and perception for the product instead.  Marketing wants to improve the perception of the product in consumers’ minds.  Both areas are important, but each function needs to understand where the other party is coming from.

2) Sales people like line extensions, as it leverages on an existing brand strength to sell additional products.  It does increase sales in the short term, but in the long run you risk diluting the brand equity.  This is what marketing fears the most.  E.g. if your product is in top of mind for the ‘longest lasting pen’, you will risk diluting it with line extensions into other stationery products like rulers, pencils and erasers.  Ok to have line extensions, but beware of over extending.

3) Sales often like to run coupons and promotions such as discounts.  This again generates lots of short term sales, but could be damaging in the long run.  Lots of resources and money goes into running these promotions, which could be better used for branding efforts.  It may also attract customers who buy your products because they are cheaper, but not so later after the promotion has ended.

As I have said, both functions have good intentions.  Ultimately, the company need to have longer term views, and not pressure sales and marketing too much for short term performance at the detriment of long term success.

5 Tips for Great Word of Mouth Marketing

Most Credible Marketing Tool: Mouth to Mouth

Word of Mouth marketing is hotter than ever nowadays, as it saves you marketing money and allows for greater credibility in messages being delivered to your target audience.  Here’s 5 tips on how to have a great word of mouth marketing:

1) Give away freebies that has your brand name on it.  Not just any freebies, but giveaways that create conversations.  E.g. a really cute bobble-head that shakes its head for an anti-smoking campaign.  Or an ugly rag doll that promote ‘Inner Beauty’ for your shower cream.

2) Sponsor events where your products will most likely be used by the participants.  E.g. if you sell a hair gel, give loads of samples away to school kids before their prom, with instructions on how to create the top 5 hottest new looks.  If you sell a moisturizer that smooths out skin instantly, give it to the female counterpart, days before their prom.

3) On your website, create a ‘tell a friend’ form.  Make it simple, with inputs for names and email addresses.  Then your article or website can be passed from friend to friend.  Have content that are cool or useful for them to go viral.

4) Give bloggers free full size products for them to use.  Most of them will review it, as it generates content for their website, especially if the product is relevant to their content theme.  Beware of negative reviews, but that’s the risk you have to take in today’s open consumer discussions online.  Most important is to generate large quantity of reviews for the buzz effect, and proportionally much more positive reviews vs. the negative ones.  So, make sure your product can stand the test of reviews in the first place.

5) Finally, put links of ALL the positive reviews on your website.  Highlight the few detailed and really good ones.  Summarize the highlights of the reviews, and what the reviewers like about your product.

Facebook Marketing Optimization

Facebook was created for friends initially. Let your brand be a friend on facebook.

When I first started a facebook fan page for one of my brands, I had good initial success.  Then things start to stagnate.  The rate of fan increase start to slow down, and unsubscribed fans seem to increase.  I needed to do something fast to stem the loss in number of fans.  What was I doing wrong?

I realized I was doing too many posting about my products.  Imagine hearing sales pitches about your products every day!  That must have drove the fans crazy!  We need to be thoughtful and informative, not annoying to fans.  Imagine one of your facebook fans talking incessantly about himself all the time – that will drive you crazy too!  Talk to them like a normal friend will do.

Include useful information such as how to use your products or services will be more educational to your fans.

In the old days of email marketing, you may have collected a list of emails that you can use to do fan invites.  Send them an email and ask them if they are already a fan of your brand fan page.  Incentivize them if necessary.

Facebook ads can be optimized.  Do splits to see which geography, message or visual will give you better click through rates.  Test between buying for clicks vs. impressions, and see which gives you greater value for the investment put in.  You can also test between different landing pages when your facebook ad is clicked on.

In general, have a strong call for action in your ads, be specific about what your products can do, and use friendly, informal language to break the barrier.

You may use coupons, discounts and promotions to get more fans, but don’t do it too often.  It may damage the prestige of the brand.

How to Tell A Good Story

Spellbound your consumers with a good story.

The key to telling a good story is what the audience does after hearing it.  The audience hears your story, and they can choose to adopt it, or discard it.  When they adopt your story, they have become your advocates.

Every product or service that you market need to come with a great story.  That makes marketers story tellers.  We tell stories to certain kinds of audience that will bother to adopt our stories as their own.  These are the consumers that we can win with.

Frame your story according to how your target audience views the world.  Don’t change their world views, but rather build your story according to their world views.  If they think that mousetraps are better than rat poison, then design a better mousetrap.  Nobody wants to expend the energy to change their mind or worldviews.

If your competitors are already telling a good story, tell a different story.  Don’t tell consumers that the current story is wrong.  Remember consumers don’t like to be told that they are wrong.  Tell them a different story, and how it is more important than the current story.  Make the story stand out and unique.

Make it easy to spread to their friends and families.  The internet is a cost effective way today to spread your message quickly and effectively.

With growing affluence, most of today’s consumers have wants, not really needs.  They buy things that make them feel good.  Tell them how they can ease their lives with your products.  Or how your products can make them money, earn them status, and give them fun, miracles, safety, fun, pleasure or a sense of belonging to a group.

Consumers need more convincing if you have achieved awareness for your products already.  Give them testimonials and reviews, and let them convince themselves about your products’ efficacy.  They will then try it.  With a proven product, and an interesting story that can be spread easily, you will generate lots of word of mouth marketing for your products.  Success is then on its way to you.

Book Review: ‘Enchantment’ by Guy Kawasaki

Here are a list of useful things to apply to my life after reading the book by Guy Kawasaki. It is titled ‘Enchantment’. Just in case you think it is another marketing book about enchanting people with your products, it is, partially. A large part of it is how you enchant other people, such as your boss (and your wife!). It quotes a lot of other books, including Dale Carnegie’s classic ‘How to Influence People and Make Friends’, but it is fresh enough by giving you new angles to looking at classic advice and how to apply them.

Here’s my list of good things to apply to my life, personally and professionally:

  1. Smile by thinking of pleasant things. It makes smile less fake and artificial (when you need to smile at times when you are not exactly happy).
  2. Default to ‘yes’ to people’s requests to build rapport. Use this carefully though, if you have Jim Carrey’s show titled ‘Yes Man’.
  3. Give people the benefit of the doubt. Most people are good-natured at their core. And I mean ‘most’.
  4. Enlarge category rather than get market shares. Look at Cirque du Soleil that combined circus and theatre. No more fighting please. We want a peaceful world, and yet feed our family at the same time.
  5. Do a pre-mortem: find problems before they occur. When you have no more problems to solve, start thinking of potential new ones.
  6. Seed products even with non-celebrities. The little guys are the brand champions nowadays.
  7. Your label determines you. So affirm your self worth today. Your self worth is like the maximum temperature on your thermostat, it does not change with the weather.
  8. Instead of saying ‘you are welcome’, say ‘you would do the same for me’. This gets people thinking about reciprocating, not just to you, but to others.
  9. Don’t create viral videos, as most of them fail to be viral. It takes quite a bit of luck to be viral. Instead, focus your efforts on creating videos that are inspiring, entertaining, enlightening, educational. One of them may be lucky enough to go viral.
  10. Don’t ask employees to do what you would not do.
  11. Drop everything and what your boss/wife asks. Drop everything else and do it quick. Yes, everything else.
  12. Underpromise, overdeliver. Refrain from bragging.
  13. Make your boss win. If he wins, you win.
  14. Tell boss the bad news as it is, as honestly as possible. If you are the leader, you should shoulder the blame. Along with the problem, offer solution options. Don’t expect your boss to do all the thinking for you.
  15. Good decisions checklist: Make decisions that one year from now you will still approve of it. Read all independent reviews on the available solutions. Know the total cost of each solution. Do not harm people or environment. Totally legal. The solution sets good example for children. You will still approve of the solution even if no one or everyone sees you do it.
  16. Dress as well as the person you want to enchant.