Business

“Made To Stick” – Make messages that connect

Advertising is more often than not, about interrupting people. A lot of it is imitating what someone else has done and what other ads look like for that same type of product or service. There’s a straight and narrow path and plenty of people that would prefer to walk down it. For them, it’s not about connecting with people, it’s about being safe.

For these scared few, their creedo can be summed up simply:  CYA BAE, or “Cover your ass, before anything else.”

Making meaningful, original, honest work that aims to connect the brand/team with the client isn’t high on that list of motivations. If asked, they’d answer that they’d love to connect with people, and many may believe that their benign work is doing just that.

I’m in the business of housing college students, so being relate-able scores major points with our customers. In addition, our students have grown up with the internet since birth – and having ads thrown at them through every medium their entire lives is a constant. Originality goes a long way towards breaking through their defenses. Honesty has immense value.

I saw the following two flyers on ebaumsworld.com and immediately fell in love.

Set Rations to "Meager" and Pace to "Grueling"

Set Rations to “Meager” and Pace to “Grueling”

If you’re anything like me, you LOVED Oregon Trail as a kid. There’s an immediate emotional connection, coupled with the unexpected and the humorous. I’m hooked. I’m connected. Granted, it’s not advertising anything, but imagine a little logo in the corner and this posted at your property’s crosswalk across from campus? It’s enough to highlight the sense of you humor of your team, and to show that you’re human.

The next is a little rougher around the edges as far as language is concerned, so if you’re easily offended by light cursing, might I suggest skipping this one.

Caroline, please edit this blog for $15 an hour.

Caroline, please edit this blog for $15 an hour.

Probably without realizing it, Caroline totally nails the bulk of the Six principles of Dan & Chip Heath’s best seller, “Made to Stickwhich I wrote about in the past.

Six Principles of Sticky Ideas

Six Principles of Sticky Ideas

To wit:

1. Simple: She’s got a simple message! “I fix your paper so it doesn’t suck!”

2. Unexpected: You didn’t expect this, and certainly not with the cat picture.

3. Concrete: Caroline. Edits. Papers. Got it?

4. Credible: There’s a decent sample of her writing, so you could argue she’s credible, though her target customer wouldn’t know that for sure.

5. Emotional: She’s funny! By stating bluntly what she’s thinking she makes an emotional connection to her audience – especially  the type that’s likely to purchase her services.

6. Stories: She tells one for sure. She even gives example of exchanges she’s likely to have with you.

Essentially, the Heath brothers analyzed all kinds of messages to find out which ones stuck with people and which didn’t – and what qualities they possessed. You don’t need all six apparently for a compelling message, but the more the better. Caroline is almost perfect here. If asked weeks later, you could tell that; Caroline edits papers, won’t do so after 9pm because her meds wear off then, and that it’ll run you $15 and hour.

That’s a sticky message.

What would you have told Caroline if she’d made these for you and wanted to place them around campus, but YOU owned the editing service? Would you have said it’s too risky? That you’d prefer something a little safer? Maybe just straightforward – “editing services, $15/hour, call Caroline.” You could have, but then you wouldn’t have nearly 2.5 million views on imgur.

Understood, this doesn’t work everywhere and for everything. We’re not going to run the same style ad here, but the lesson is important – take away the reasons why it works and apply to your own marketing and advertising. Resist the urge to play it too safe next time. Aim to make a connection and get your message to stick!

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The Connection Economy in Action: Rand Fishkin Gets It

I’m a fan of Rand Fishkin. Mostly because I glommed on to his company’s social media work a few years back when I was really learning the game myself. When you don’t know much about a thing and you’re casting your intellectual line into the waters of the interwebs, sometimes you catch whales, sometimes old boots. Moz was a whale.

Rand does a great job here summing up the beauty of the connection-economy: that people you connect with are better than people that you buy, or beat over the head with ads.

There’s a fun thought experiment I’d heard years ago: Imagine if you could, growing up without any sense of religion in any capacity, and then when you turned 25 you were suddenly exposed to all the major organized religions of the world. Like a job fair, but for your soul.

Now imagine that you’re walking through this expo-hall and talking to the reps from all of the majors about their beliefs and weighing them against each other equally. Would you wind up choosing the religion that you currently belong to? Or, without prejudice of social pressure and indoctrination, would you choose another faith? I know, it’s a tough question, but that’s what makes it interesting.

I bring it up because the same thing essentially happened to me, but with marketing. I’d had no prior indoctrination before 2011, at least in regards to the social media space. I was searching through the different schools of thought that were emerging and I had choices to make. Was it best to focus on pure SEO, or Adwords ads, or Content Marketing? Was simply being on Facebook, Twitter, etc… enough to turn into dollars? What exactly was “Content Marketing” and what was the point?

And of course, the holy grail question: “What’s the ROI of social media?”

After months of TED talks, blog posts, youtube videos, white papers, forums, etc… it became clear to me that Seth Godin’s “The Connection Economy” was probably the closest match to my conclusions as to the best approach.

connection

Rand and Moz belong to the same overall school as Godin, Sinek, Vaynerchuck, et al. I count myself as a firm believer in this school. I’m constantly looking at what marketing moves me, and those around me, and the answers are the same: Social connection.

When I believe what a company believes I want to see them win. A few great examples that I’m nuts about: Alamo DraftHouse, Purple, Rock, Scissors, PackageLog, and  Radiolab. Each of these groups are doing amazing things to connect with people and I feel a part of what they’re doing.

Trust is rare, so it matters. “Real” is rare, so it has value. Because we’re bombarded with a constant cacophony of ads our defenses are up and we trust no one. As marketers (and if you work for a company that sells anything, you’re a marketer) it’s our job to connect people and create value. Ads for the sake of ads are a black hole and a waste of opportunity and treasure.

Let’s be people. Let’s do what people do best and connect with one another. The rest will take care of itself.

There are no cats in America?

Our futures are like this – devoid of risk or threat, far sunnier than our ravaged pasts. We can place our hopes there, safely, for we know that in the future all will be right.

The sad fact is that there are cats in America, and in our futures. All the singing in the world won’t get rid of them or change the fact that tough challenges lay ahead, wherever we are going.

This isn’t to say we shouldn’t go there because of the cats – we should. But probably with both eyes open, and a little wary of the streets actually being paved with cheese.

What are your cats? Where are you going? What’s the plan? What are you overlooking through overly optimistic eyes?

The 4-types of people you’ll work with

The 4-types of people you'll work with

George Lois sums it up nicely here in his book “Damn Good Advice (For people with talent)” – God knows I’ve come across all four of these and the only one that scares me is the fourth. We’ve all worked with plenty of people who don’t much and don’t want to do much – easy enough, they’ll just sit there. No worries. But the ignorant and industrious? God help us all.
If you can’t educate the #4, then attempt to re-purpose them. If that doesn’t work, get rid of them. If you work for them, and none of those have worked, find a new gig!

Always Be Closing – How?

If you’ve ever had anything to do with sales, then you’re likely familiar with Alec Baldwin’s famous scene from the film, “Glen Gary, Glen Ross.” If you’re not familiar, and you haven’t seen it, just stop right now and watch it. Easily one of the best uses of seven minutes you’ll ever have in your life. Just click here. You’re welcome. 

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In the scene, our dapper and dashing hero (who’s with us from Mitch & Murray) excoriates the all-star cast, extolling the virtues of ABC and AIDA. ABC, of course, is short hand for “Always Be Closing.” Closing, also being a salesman’s ultimate goal.

Because only one thing counts in this life: Get them to sign on the line which is dotted

Always be closing means: Everything you do, every handshake, door opening, please & thank you, sales pitch, head nod of understanding, all of it, is done for one purpose: TO CLOSE THEM. Get them to sign. Car salesmen understand this better than most and they have a secret expression they teach to new recruits: “The feel of the wheel, will seal the deal.” Part of the reason they’re always trying to start out with a test drive as quickly as possible is because they know emotion will take over. “I look so good behind the wheel, oh wow, feel how she handles? This is WAY better than my car.” 

A lot of lip service is paid to closing. Every single manager I’ve come across in the past 15 years has used the word and the majority have done so incorrectly – or at least incompletely. Everyone knows it’s important and thus can’t be avoided – but few spend their time or resources teaching how to do it better or studying their technique. And for one important reason…

Because Closing is where winning and losing happen. Closing is the final arbitrator: you either got the sale or you didn’t. You’ve gone all-in and the cards are turned up – did you make your flush? 

Most people avoid losing. Certainly more than they pursue winning. Given the choice, better to not really push it to a decision, right? I mean, if it’s going to happen, it’ll happen on its own, right? That’s garbage thinking.

Everything we do speaks, as my illustrious co-worker told me recently. Everything we do should be in the service of doing our jobs, whatever they be, as well as we can. My job is chiefly focused on sales (55%) and more importantly, the success of the 15 sales people that report up to me. How do I help them execute like a black-hooded-hatchet-man? 

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Closing means asking questions. It means caring enough about the client to want to solve their problem, even if the solution isn’t your product or service. It means valuing your clients’ time, attention, and trust. Closing is vowing to maximize each interaction, using every word and gesture to build a rapport so you can solve the mystery of what they need and how you can help them find it. If it happens to be your product/service, great! If not, that’s fine too! They’ve ostensibly come to you because you’re an expert and they’re in need of your knowledge – that’s a sacred trust and should be respected. 

These are the things we need to breakdown for our teams. We need to get to the “WHY” of what we do. We need to make plain and clear that we’re here to solve problems, to solve mysteries, and to create relationships. Any person or team who can deliver those three things will find no shortage of success. 

Get in where you fit in!

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Don’t fight to be where you don’t fit in. You can force the peg into the hole (hammer and all) but that’s a truly poor place to find oneself. 

Do you know who you are and what you like? What you’re good at? Passionate about? Where are you of most value to those around you? Do you know where you’d be the most comfortable? The most effective? Then why not try to go there and forget about all the holes you shouldn’t be trying to squeeze into. 

It’s not “keeping your options open.” It’s being scared of knowing yourself and your worth enough to actively partake in the crafting of your future. If you don’t do it – don’t actually make decisions about what you will and won’t do, others will and I can’t guarantee you’re going to like the outcome. 

Get in where you fit in. Don’t take an ill-fitting job just to have a job. Don’t wait around forever for the perfect one to come around either – get up and search for the environment you’d thrive in and do everything you can to steer your ship in that direction. 

 

 

It’s where the future is going with Social Media

It’s where the future is going with Social Media

Mastercard HQ social media conversation monitors - very cool.

Mastercard HQ social media conversation monitors – very cool.

You can’t influence the conversation if you didn’t attend the party. Social media is ONLY a conversation among a ton of people and anyone is free to join. A brand can’t shout from the corner of the room, or outside the house where the conversation is taking place, about how great they are. Imagine if a person did that. They have to discuss and engage and be witty and charming and admit mistakes and you know, be a decent human being. That’s what a brand is these days, a person – but the question is, are they a person we like? Do we trust them? Do we believe them?

I defend Verizon like my best friend. I’ve been with them for 16 years (since PrimeCo!) and no matter what wrong someone (rarely) may claim they did to them, I don’t care in the least. I’ve had too many great (not just good, but GREAT) experiences with them that, short of slapping me in the face during their be-speckled mascot’s, in-progress robbery of my home, I’m going to have their back.  Can you hear me now?