Thursday, July 22, 2010

Marketers Aren't Like Normal People

Morgan Stewart had a great post yesterday on the MediaPost Email Insider blog (Don't Confuse Your Personal Experience with Good Strategy). The biggest takeaway for me was the reminder that, for any communication I create, I need to think about what my target customers want and how they will react, not how I would.

If you ever need a reminder that marketers don't necessarily think like the rest of the world, check out the fantastic site Which Test Won, a rapidly growing repository of A/B and multivariate tests. Each test is presented in a fun quiz format. I find that I do quite well guessing which test won, but every once in a while I get one wrong (judging from the vote results, I'm not the only one!). I highly encourage you to check out the site. Not only is it a great way to spend your lunch hour--it can also serve as a warning of why testing is so important.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Irrational Consumers

Sometimes I want to weep for the human race. For example, take a peek at Christopher S. Penn's recent blog post "The sale is better because the sign is bigger." Chris is absolutely right that marketing can manipulate the mathematically challenged. And in his specific example, that is likely the correct analysis.

But what if we take a wider view? The field of behavioral economics has really taken off in recent years. It's best considered as a fusion of economics and psychology, and one of the more interesting veins of study involves irrational decision-making (see Predictably Irrational* by Dan Ariely for a great introduction). Classical economics has traditionally believed that people make decisions rationally (in other words, they choose the option that is objectively most advantageous for them); Ariely and others have shown that this is not the case. People encounter so many stimuli in everyday life that they have to take shortcuts when they made decisions. Otherwise, they'd be paralyzed by indecision. And those shortcuts mean that often the easy choice is not always the right choice.

There are many messages to take away from this. Here are a couple:
1. The human mind is truly amazing, with the myriad stimuli attended to and calculations made in a single day, often subconsciously. But it is also tremendously fallible and prone to manipulation.
2. When you are coming up with offers to incentivize customer action, it's important to test! Customers don't necessarily respond rationally. For instance, I am reminded of a company that did an email offer test of $50 off vs. 15% off. $50 was 15% of  the average order value ($350), so the offers were basically equivalent. The dollars-off offer pulled 170% more revenue than the percent-off offer, even though rationally a % off is better because the more you buy, the bigger the savings.

Think about it--what can you do to make your product/service the easy choice?

* affiliate link

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Love the LOFT

Pretty much anybody who works with me knows that I love the LOFT--about 85% of my work clothes come from the store. So naturally I became a fan (now liker, I guess?) of their Facebook page. If you're looking for a fantastic example of a company using Facebook to build brand loyalty and keep in close communication with their customers, make sure you check them out. Even Mashable agrees!

The Mashable post details LOFT's responsiveness after customers complained that a certain pair of pants would only look good on a model. So LOFT posted pics of 5 employees of varying heights/weights wearing the pants. They still didn't convince everybody to buy the pants, but they did earn major brownie points for listening!

And as a marketer, I love the fact that, unlike many other stores, they don't focus too much on coupons and discounting to attract people to their Facebook page. Exclusive fashion tips, heads-ups on new arrivals, and quick answers to customer questions and complaints are so much more powerful than coupons when it comes to building long-term loyalty. Now if they could just try that with their other marketing channels. I get so many coupons by email and postal mail that I couldn't possibly use them all...

What's a Few Years Between Friends?

Yeah, so I took a little hiatus from the blog thing, but I'm back! New posts coming soon...

Thursday, May 15, 2008

The Unexpected

One of my absolute favorite books that I've read in the past year is Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die by Chip and Dan Heath. It is fascinating and thought-provoking, with many great examples to illustrate the authors' points.

They offer six principles to make an idea memorable:
  • simplicity
  • unexpectedness
  • concreteness
  • credibility
  • emotions
  • stories

I came across a fun example of principle #2 (unexpectness) on a recent trip to visit my sister in Orlando. At several intersections near her house, signs were posted warning that motorists would be fined $183.50 if caught running a red light. I commented on how odd that amount is and my sister (she's so smart!) responded it's to make people talk about it. Duh! I'd read Made to Stick--why didn't I think of that? Anyways, on a later trip in the car, my husband (who wasn't there for the initial conversation) made the same comment I had. Almost a month later, I still remember the exact amount of the fine. What a simple way to make an impression!

If you haven't read Made to Stick, I highly recommend it. I had purchased the audiobook version through iTunes, and I loved it so much that I'm seriously considering buying the hardcover version for reference. If you're looking for more wisdom from the authors, you can check out their blog. They don't update it as often as I wish they would, but there's some great info there!

Monday, January 28, 2008

Great Tips for Bullet Point Copywriting

Another short one--I just read a great post on MarketingSherpa about effective bullet point copywriting.

I highly encourage you to give it a read. Even if you aren't involved in writing marketing copy, the tips could help with writing more effective business communications.

The two big takeaways:
  • Readers tend to look at the first, second, and last bullets (in that order), so you should rank your points to fall into that pattern.
  • You should put your most important words at the beginning of the bullet, and each starting word should look physically different from the others.

Hmm. Hopefully you read those bullets!

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Fascinating Brand Image

I just have to get this down before I forget it, because this is such a powerful image. I was listening to a podcast this morning (The Age of Conversation episode from The Engaging Brand) and host Anna Farmery recounted an absolutely fantastic--though brief--story from a speech by Michael Eisner. She couldn't remember the specific artist, but Eisner showed a painting to the audience (I imagine it was probably a pointillist painting). Eisner said that a brand is like this painting--when you stand back, you see a whole image (the brand). But that image is made up of myriad little points. Those points correspond to the various interactions a customer has with your brand--contact with customer service, perhaps marketing pieces they receive, the logo or packaging you use.

It's a simple thought, but so illustrative that I find it fascinating.