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!

Truth, Love and Power in Marketing

The Ultimate Goal of All Brands
The Ultimate Goal of All Brands

I was just reading Steve Pavlina’s website on the pinnacle of human development through Truth, Love and Power.  Steve claims that personal growth will have to start with these three fundamental elements.

In marketing, it is also through truth, love and power that we grow our businesses.  It is through truth of what our products can do that establishes trust with our consumers.  With the truth about how our products can make consumers healthier or make their lives better, consumers will be willing to form a stable, long lasting relationship with us.  If we resort to marketing gimmickry and falsehood, we can get customers to come once, and then never again.

Through love, consumers want to have deeper relationships with their friends and loved ones.  If we can help them to make this easier, consumers will love us to bits too.  There are various kinds of relationship enhancements that a product or service can do.  One is to make the consumer more attractive.  Another is giving gift options for them to share their love.  Also, if you help them to save time, they will have more time for their loved ones.  Gradually, your brand will be included in their circle of loved ones.

Finally, power.  Achievement has always been what keeps us all motivated in pursuing our goals.  Men, especially wants to display their achievements through status symbols of an expensive watch, or the latest Mercedes series.  Women too are not to be left behind.  Women are getting more educated, and are increasingly found in the upper echelon of the corporate ladder.  If you can help them to reach their achievements earlier, or allow them to show their success through your products, your brand will achieve success too.

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.

Understanding Culture for Better Marketing

I just finished reading the book ‘The Culture Code’ by Clotaire Rapaille. A very interesting look at how our subconscious and social programming determine how we perceive things and events in life, and how whole cultures are shaped by these perceptions.

According to Clotaire, emotions are key to learning, and the keys to imprinting interpretations into our minds. We may not notice it, but a lot of our interpretations were shaped when we were young, on how our parents perceive certain matters, and how the society you live in shape your social programming.

In focus groups, there have been much controversy on whether consumers are really speaking the real truth, or do they answer based on what is expected of them. Do they even know why they like or dislike certain things and can articulate their opinions accurately?

According to the book, it’s not the content of what respondents say, it’s the relationship between respondents and the products. What role does the products play in their lives, and what is the relationship between the users and the products? How do the products make them feel, and how do the products affect their sense of identity?

Here are some findings that the author has discovered in the country of America. He found that sex = violence, health = movement/activities, doctors = hero, nurses = mothers, youth = mask (such as with lifting, botox, and anti-aging creams), money = proof of winning, shopping = reconnecting with life (material and social aspects), luxury = military stripes = money.

One brand that has made use of this finding is Pantene. As Pantene’s brand equity is ‘Giving You Healthy Hair’, it always depicts moving hair to denote hair health and wellness.

Marketing that Sells

Creative image advertising is the trend nowadays, and more importantly, response advertising needs to take over. Let your ad have a call for action mechanism such as an offer or sample. With this, you can measure the number of responses and how well your ad performs. This is the sales part. You can also collect consumer information for future direct marketing.

You should target your competitors’ customers. Ask them to send in a competitor pack for a trial pack.

Ask for referrals. If a person refers 3 other friends to the brand, give her 20% discount.

Giving free samples in direct mail works very well. Try it. Also try coupons and see it it increases purchases for your brand.

Say you give samples online. Ask the consumer where she saw the ad for the sample redemption. This way you know which media channel gives you the best bang for the buck.

Testing your ad for sales impact in the market is much more effective than focus group interviews.

If your product is unique, high involvement, intangible and expensive, use more logic to persuade. If your product is low cost, tangible, low involvement and almost commoditized, use more of emotions to persuade.

Use price offs as last resorts. Frequent price offs erode your brand equity. The danger of coupons is that they are used more by your regular users, up to 60% of them. Only about 10% comes from true non or competitive users. The remaining 30% are apparently cheats.

Don’t be afraid to write long copy ads. Resist your colleagues and friends who tell you that nobody reads long copy anymore. Interested consumers will want to know more about your product. Direct marketing tests by the likes of Ogilvy, Claudes and Caples have proven that long copy sells more. Do you trust actual results, or opinions?

When you do sampling, pls include product information in booklets and letters.

If you give gift premiums, ensure that the gift aligns with your brand’s image or benefit. Focus the marketing mainly on yr brand, not yr premiums! A good premium will also attract the right consumers for your brand, not one off consumers who are only interested in the premium.

Marketing & Promotion Ideas

People like their moments of fame and glory in this world. You can choose to honor someone publicly for their work, or you can shoot a TV commercial using people who have won a certain talent contest. He or she will be eligible to join the contest only if your products are bought, perhaps in a certain minimum quantity.

Help your key customers. If you want them to buy extra loads of your goods, then help them to run a coupon deal or promotion to sell off those stocks fast. Make it exclusive to them.

Be sincere in your CRM efforts. Don’t just sponsor a small concert. Go the extra mile, such as giving larger aids to society or education. Or be concerned for the environment, with 100% of your products using recyclable materials.

We have too many cards today, and too little benefits on them, such as discounts only on your merchandise. Partner with other organizations for more rewards to your card holders, such as resorts, airlines, theaters, sports equipment and so on.

If you run a contest, involve non contestants to increase your reach impact. E.g. you can engage them by allowing them to vote for the contestants.

If your brand is strong, offer your brand’s merchandise such as T-shirts, soft toys, bags, dolls and magazines. Your customers will help you advertise your brand when they sport your merchandise!

Don’t bore customers and retailers with run of the mill discounts, promotions and price offs. Do something sensational, such as breaking a world record. Have games and contests that go nationwide. The Subaru challenge in Asia is a good example. The contestant who can last the longest with his hand on the car wins a car, and this gets national radio and PR coverage yearly.

Tell, don’t sell. Advertise to get them curious and interested, then tell them about the wonders of your products, and how they are relevant to your customers.