Dr. Robert Cialdini – Kickoff Keynote – Pubcon NOLA 2014

Dr. Robert Cialdini kicked off Pubcon NOLA 2014 with a great presentation entitled “The Power of Persuasion Under Conditions of Uncertainty” which was an updated version of the opening kickoff keynote he gave at Pubcon Vegas 2014. Here are some notes I took during his talk …

Dr. Robert Cialdini addresses the audience during his Pubcon NOLA kickoff keynoteDr. Robert Cialdini kicked off Pubcon NOLA 2014 with a great presentation entitled “The Power of Persuasion Under Conditions of Uncertainty,” which was an updated version of the opening kickoff keynote he gave at Pubcon Vegas 2014. Here are some notes I took during his talk:

  • People freeze in uncertainty waiting for things to change before they move forward
  • Influencing them is important in this situation
  • While there are no hard, fast rules for persuasion, you can influence how others perceive you
  • 3 Consequences Of Decisional Uncertainty
    • Freezing – reluctance to act until the uncertainty is reduced before they will move forward
    • Loss Aversion – A tendency to prefer choices designed to prevent losses instead of those designed to obtain gains
    • Heuristic Choices – When choices are made, they are based on a single relevant factor rather than on the total set of relevant factors
  • “New” implies uncertainty – new, untested, untried
    • Don’t use “New” as a headline
    • Only around 5% of consumers are early adopters
  • 6 Universal Principles of Social Influence:
    • Reciprocation
      • In every human culture there is a rule – I am obligated to give back to you behavior that you showed me (return invites to parties, favor for favor, etc.) – This rule is taught to everyone from childhood
      • People say “yes” to those whom they “owe” something
      • We can get something by giving it first
      • People listen differently if you give first
      • Invest in those whom you want to invest in you
      • Give something personalized to the other person’s circumstances. That will really get their attention. Personalization to the target audience is very beneficial
      • Don’t expect value back if you don’t give it first
      • This is activated by going first
    • Liking
      • No surprise: people prefer to say “yes” to those they like
      • When pride gets in the way, concessions are not made and negotiations break down
      • Getting to know the other person and sharing information about yourself helps bridge barriers and can personalize talks
      • People like those who are like them. Finding commonalities can help in great ways
      • Learn about the other’s background, interests, hobbies, etc. to build rapport – Look on social media for clues of things you have in common with them
      • It also pays to be proactive about sharing information about yourself. Put some personal information in “About Us” pages. Personal information helps to build rapport from the connections they see in common interests
    • Commitment/Consistency
      • People want to be consistent in what they have committed themselves to in public
      • People don’t want to be seen as inconsistent
      • Before you ask people to take a step in a direction that’s big, ask them to take a smaller step. This builds the case for consistency
      • If you want to get people to follow through in a significant way, we need to get them to write it down. “People live up to what they write down.”
      • Don’t praise “progress” because progress often causes people to “let off the gas.” Congratulate on “commitment” to goals instead of “steps towards” or “progress” – different frame of reference. Progress is behind us, commitment is in front.
    • Scarcity
      • People want more of what they can have less of
      • “If I can’t have it, I want it”
      • Think iPhone or iPads on launch day or Black Friday specials
      • Scarcity is about loss
      • The tendency to avoid loss predominates decisional uncertainty
      • Talk about how much or what a person will lose if they don’t go with your product or service rather than what they will gain
      • You have the right to honestly tell what potential customers will forego or lose if they don’t go with you
      • Don’t do scare tactics … you don’t need to
      • Bose Wave Music System
        • Used “New” for headlines in their ads – only early adopters bought (“New” communicates uncertainty)
        • Changed “New” to “Hear what you’ve been missing” and the ad brought a 45% jump in sales
        • Scarcity of information is also important to remember.
          • “Exclusive” information tends to be more persuasive.
          • “I just got this today …”
          • It doesn’t have to be proprietary or “secret” – it can be something you just happened to hear first
          • The merits of the case and the information need to be true – no being dishonest is allowed
    • Authority
      • If experts say it, it must be true
      • One way you can reduce uncertainty is to honestly tell what authorities on the topic are saying
      • Credibility
        • Knowledge
          • Before you try to be influential, be honest about your background, experience and other credentials in the area you are trying to be influential
          • But – don’t do it yourself. Have another expert introduce you. Otherwise you come across as self-promotional. This is where introductions from a mutual 3rd party can be important
          • A letter of introduction before the first meeting can be used in place of a 3rd party introduction when the introduction isn’t possible
          • Trustworthiness
            • Letting others know you are being truthful in what you are telling them
            • This can be built up over time – a perception of you as a trustworthy source grows as you are honest and a straight-shooter with them
            • When establishing trustworthiness on a first meeting, lead with a potential weakness in your case before hitting them with the most compelling information. This is counterintuitive, but it helps build credibility early in an engagement
            • You don’t need to change the words of your argument, just the sequence in which they are presented
          • People want to know what the experts are saying about a topic – even if that’s you
    • Consensus
      • What are the people around me, or like me (peers) doing in this situation
      • Think about how many people check product reviews before buying – this is persuasion by consensus
      • Consider marking items that are “most popular” – even with no other changes sales will likely go up
      • This is entirely honest, and hardly ever employed
      • Amazon uses this very successfully
      • We follow the lead of
        • Many others
        • Similar others
      • Consensus is at the core of social media
      • Potential buyers are now able to access what “many others” and “similar others” are saying
      • Moms use social media like this 243% more than other groups

Advertising Gone Wrong

Several weeks ago, I noted a bicycle chained to a bike rack on a street corner in Downtown Austin, right across the street from the Austin Convention Center. On it, was an ad for a local business: Two identical signs attached so it could be read from either side. At first, I thought it was intended as a “poor man’s” vehicle wrap, and a clever idea. After seeing it parked there for quite a while, I came to realize it was a “Set It and Forget It” ad. The bike just sat there. Late last week, someone was offended by the ad on the bike and defaced it …

A bicycle with a printed ad attached after it was defaced. Found in Downtown Austin.Several weeks ago, I noted a bicycle chained to a bike rack on a street corner in Downtown Austin, right across the street from the Austin Convention Center. On it, was an ad for a local business: Two identical signs attached so they could be read from either side. At first, I thought it was intended as a “poor man’s” vehicle wrap, and a clever idea. After seeing it parked there for quite a while, I came to realize it was a “Set It and Forget It” ad. The bike just sat there.

Late last week, someone was offended by the ad on the bike and defaced it. I could have understood being upset about this bike taking up valuable bike rack space if there were a lot of people trying to use the space. But, in this area, there are hardly ever any bikes parked. Although the owner of this bike demonstrated a lack of class in leaving his bike there, it was certainly not inconveniencing anyone.
Bicycle with a not-too-nice criticism written on the backside of an ad. Found in Downtown Austin.

There’s a lesson to be learned here: When you do any type of advertising, don’t just “Set It and Forget It.” Whether it’s online, print, TV, radio or whatever, all advertising and marketing needs to be measured and checked to make sure it’s working and bringing in results that make it worth the money you’re paying.

In this case, the ad was fairly cheap. The cost to the company’s reputation from the ad being defaced, however, is another story.

What say you? What do you think about this advertising. What would you do if your ad was defaced like this? Perhaps you wouldn’t have done this in the first place. Feel free to share in the comments.

Update: The Monday after I wrote this piece, the bike disappeared. I don’t know if the owner reclaimed it or the city authorities took it away.

SEO Fundamentals – Algorithm Proofing – PubCon New Orleans 2013

SEO Fundamentals – Algorithm Proofing

This session was moderated by Scott Hendison

I kicked off this session with a presentation on building your web site on a strong foundation.

Michael Black rounded out this session with his presentation entitled SEO Fundamentals Algorithm Proofing

  • The Fundamentals
    • Keyword research
      • Client input
      • Analytics
      • Google Webmaster Tools
      • Google Adwords Keyword Tool
      • Soovle.com
        • Includes keyword suggest for several websites including Amazon
    • Onsite Search – your customers are telling you what they are looking for
    • Competitors
  • Titles & META optimization
    • This is your bread and butter – the call to action in the SERPs
  • Copywriting
  • HTML Validation
  • Browser testing
  • Site speed
    • Google said speed is an official ranking factor in April, 2010
    • Move your content around to different URLs
      • JavaScript
      • CSS
      • Images
      • If you’re running on a host, check what other sites are running on your server
  • Using Flash effectively
  • Google patents
  • SEO Tools
  • Anchor text profile
  • Copywriting
    • Incorporate keywords without being spammy
    • Write content that your customers are looking for
    • Check Google Webmaster Tools and gently skew. Don’t dump a lot of content on a subject at once
    • Spell Check!
    • Navigation Optimization
      • Navigation must not be image based!
      • Navigation must not be Flash
      • Test all the links on your sites for broken links
      • Use the shortest URL possible
      • Crawl your own website to see what’s going on behind the scenes
      • Canonical URL
        • Be very careful using canonical tags
        • It’s worth while to do it right
    • Validate your HTML: http://validator.w3.org
      • Also, test your site on different browsers and platforms
      • This is worth the time

In Marketing, Shouting Doesn’t Cut It Any More

Last week, I wrote “The Tale of Two Radio Shows” telling of my observations surrounding two Saturday morning radio programs. This week, I want to touch on a series of ads running throughout all the shows I listen to on my Saturday mornings behind the wheel. One of the traditional print phone book publications is doing a lot of advertising around its blended printed directory, website and social media packages. I’ve seen in the past how badly these things can be run, so I have to admit being skeptical of their claims right from the outset.

Last week, I wrote “The Tale of Two Radio Shows” telling of my observations surrounding two Saturday morning radio programs. This week, I want to touch on a series of ads running throughout all the shows I listen to on my Saturday mornings behind the wheel.

One of the traditional print phone book publications is doing a lot of advertising around its blended printed directory, website and social media packages. I’ve seen in the past how badly these things can be run, so I have to admit being skeptical of their claims right from the outset.

One of the stats they throw out there is that 75% of people who look up a business in a traditional phone book are ready to make a purchase. The question which immediately comes to my mind is: That’s not too hard to believe, but that’s 75% of how many people?

I haven’t used a phone book in a very long time. I haven’t kept one in my home for several years now. In fact, the two which were delivered to my door last week went immediately into the recycle bin. The only good thing I thought about them was that the publisher thoughtfully put them into a nice bag so they were easily transported across my home and into the bin.

With so much information at my fingertips via computers, tablets or smart phones, I’m more likely to google for a business, check Yelp listings and then make my purchase decision at that point rather than look up a business in the phone book where I get nothing more than a tag line, the address and phone number.

Survey Says …
Just for fun, I ran a quick poll on The Crossing’s Facebook page asking what people did with their phone books. The majority of those answering said they toss them immediately upon receipt. Only a small amount kept them for what they were intended for, while a couple of people offered up some useful ways the books can be employed – none of which had to do with opening them and doing research. Here are the results:

A chart showing the results of an informal survey I ran on Facebook asking how people use the phone books they receive.

You may be thinking that only my nerdy friends, who would be biased against phone books already, answered the poll. I am quite happy to see that many of my non-nerd friends and some total strangers offered their opinions. There might be a little bias, and certainly this is not a scientific study; but, I think it reveals some truth.

The Town Crier - from Nationaal ArchiefYou Just Have To Get Louder?
A quote from the ad series which really got me going was said by the owner of a local restaurant:

If you don’t shout loud enough, no one will hear you.

Talk about a throwback to another era! Seth Godin rightly pointed out earlier this week, it’s not the traditional-thinking folks who are winning any more, it’s those who are bold and take steps which were thought of as foolish not long ago. Note his reference to the “Mad Men” style of advertising in the first two paragraphs: Ridiculous is the new remarkable.

Ironically, one of the ads played depicts what’s supposed to be an old man who listens to the phone book guy’s pitch, and then changes into a younger man because he only sounds old when he believes in outdated marketing practices. This coming from an ad promoting what I believe to be an outdated marketing  practice – at least in part.

I’m sure most of you who read The Crossing are well aware that print phone books have been all but completely obsolescent for quite some time now. Still, those representing traditional advertising and marketing folks would have us believe that their blended printed directory/online programs are the best of both worlds. Please keep in mind: I don’t have anything against print, radio or TV ads. They can be very effective when done properly. But, phone books are well on their way out and I doubt I would advice any small or medium-sized business to spend more than the minimum amount on phone book placement. I firmly believe those dollars would be better invested in an excellent website and some paid placement ads online.

The Real Solution
These days, you have to go where your audience is. Ask questions of your customers and find out if they are print phone book users. If they are, then a placement in the publication might be a good option for you. If they aren’t, or if you’re trying to attract new customers, start looking online as your “field of dreams.” I reiterate some of what I advised my mechanic to do last February and add a couple more things:

  • Stake your claim online – set up your space in cyberspace and set up a website
  • Use that space to show your expertise – make a connection with your customers
  • Use your time wisely – watch the online spaces where people are talking about you and jump into the mix a bit. That could be Facebook, Yelp, or any number of other places
  • Consider investing some money you have spent on print book advertising on an online ad campaign.

Keep in mind, these things don’t work overnight. It takes time and patience to do this right.

What say you? Do you agree with me about phone books being on their way out? Do you disagree? Either way, please feel free to share in the comments.

 

Photo Credit:
Nationaal Archief via The Commons

 

A Tale of Two Radio Programs

Lately I find myself doing a lot of driving on Saturday mornings. This offers me the opportunity to listen in on the two talk stations in the Austin area. In many markets, Saturday morning talk radio is filled with informational shows on various topics which are often hosted by the sponsor of the program. Austin talk radio stations follow this trend. Some of these shows are better than others, and some of them are downright terrible. Here’s my take on two of them.

Lately I find myself doing a lot of driving on Saturday mornings. This offers me the opportunity to listen in on the two talk stations in the Austin area. In many markets, Saturday morning talk radio is filled with informational shows on various topics which are often hosted by the sponsor of the program. Austin talk radio stations follow this trend. Some of these shows are better than others, and some of them are downright terrible. Here’s my take on two  of them.

Man in a radio studio.Show The First: The Hour-Long Informercial
The first show I hear on my Saturday drive is sponsored and hosted by the person who runs the local branch of a national mortgage company. The first couple of times I listened, I found the information he presented about interest rates and the types of mortgages available interesting enough to keep me listening. After tuning in a few more times, though, I started noticing a pattern in that the show contained the same basic information every week:

  • Interest rates are at an all-time low
  • You can potentially save hundreds of thousands of dollars over the life of a mortgage if you refinance
  • You can skip up to two mortgage payments if you refinance
  • The only mortgage company worth going to is the one sponsoring the show because they are the only one endorsed by a nationally-known financial radio talk show host.

Now, I certainly don’t begrudge the person sponsoring the show talking about what he knows best and plugging his company. However, when the hour-long show is nothing more than repeating the same information over and over (only the interest rate numbers are changed), it gets real dull real fast. After several weeks, I now tune him out and listen to the gardening show on the other talk station or, perhaps, to the classic rock station on FM.

Show The Second: The Useful Content Show
The other show I often catch is one sponsored by the local branch of a financial and retirement planning group. This show’s hosting duties are carried out by a father and son team who are national leaders of this firm along with commentary from the president of the company. While they, too, plug their own company, most of the show’s time is spent talking about various topics related to investing and financial planning. They have interviews with mutual fund managers, talk about the tax implications of different kinds of investment strategies, and let people call in with questions about financial planning. The questions range from people asking for advice on when to start collecting social security to those wanting information about a specific mutual fund. These guys are interesting, engaging and the information they offer is useful.

I’m Not On The Radio, What’s In This For Me?
You may not be in the position to sponsor an hour-long radio program, but you are in the position to have a website. What kind of website do you have? Do you have an “informercial” site? If you do, you could be missing out on a tremendous opportunity.

Because the barrier to entry for radio is very high, the risks and rewards are very high. TV is much the same. (I’m talking about sponsoring hour-long blocks of content, not just running commercials.) The web is a bit of an anomaly in this: the barrier to entry is much lower, but the potential rewards for doing it right are just as high, if not higher, than running radio or TV. By using web technologies and just a little bit of investment, you can build a catalog of content which is interesting, engaging, and useful.

Unfortunately, because it’s easy and people get lazy or lack imagination, most websites are along the lines of the informercial rather than the useful content show. Think about it: What sites are you more interested in visiting? Which sites do you bookmark and visit over and over?

I wrote “Be That Expert” over two years ago and I still refer people to it on a regular basis. It’s a fantastic example of how a small business transformed their marketing through creating content that is interesting, engaging and useful. Many people to whom I relate that story look at me with the “deer in the headlights” look when I tell them they can do it, too. I wrote two other versions of that story, one for small businesses and one for non-profits. In each case, how best to make themselves out to be the expert in their field was really up to them to work out, but it wasn’t nearly as difficult as they thought it was.

The same goes for you. No matter what your business is, you know something others don’t. The key is to make it interesting, engaging and useful to your audience. Also, don’t think about it in terms of just getting customers. Go with the idea of building an audience. Once you get that going, customers will eventually start showing up.

What say you? Do you have an interesting experience in this area? Tell us your story in the comments.

Photo Credits:
Uberto via Creative Commons