Posts Tagged 'advertising'

Organization’s Effects


If you take a group of people, a subgroup of the larger population, and expose them to focused messages again and again, you will start to change their point of view. If you augment those messages with exposure to other members of the group, the messages will begin to have ever more impact.

We generally tend to align ourselves with those we’re around. We don’t fully understand why. There is a lot of psychology we know, and then other stuff we can’t explain. Yawning, for instance, can be statistically shown to be contagious. It has been studied for years, yet we don’t know why it happens.

Once a group starts to become aligned, and starts acting like a tribe, the messages of the tribe will become self-reinforcing. When someone is born into that tribe, there is a very high probability she will never know the difference. It is simply her common sense about the way the world works.


The Marketing Drug


Every time I see my dentist he tries to sell me stuff. Various services they provide that will in some way (they claim) improve my life by addressing some shortcoming or concern taking place in my mouth. I never knew my mouth had so many problems!

I’m all for selling people on things that can help them take care, even if they are merely for pleasure or aesthetics (vanity), but like everything else, there can be a tipping point where we sometimes take it too far, or are too manipulative.

It reminds me of how food is marketed. The marketing has become so powerful that some of the people being hurt actually are eager for it to continue. This creates a cultural feedback loop, where some aspire to have these respected marketing jobs, to do more marketing of similar items. It creates a society where the owners and leaders of these companies are celebrated as risk-taking, brave businesspeople, not as the modern robber barons that they’ve become.

The cultural feedback loop can’t be denied. The NAACP, which represents a population that is disproportionately impacted by the health costs these products create is actually allied with marketers in the fight to sell ever more and bigger portions to its constituents.

The crime continues because the money taken by corporations that change our culture is used to fund campaigns that conflate the essential concept of ‘freedom’ with the not-clearly-articulated ‘right’ to respond to marketing and consume stuff in quantities that would have been considered literally insane just three generations ago. And we like it.

[I’ll write the previous paragraph’s point again here to be clear: we’ve decided that consumers ought to have the right be manipulated by marketers. So manipulated that we sacrifice our long-term health in the face of its power.]

We ban accounting that misleads, and we don’t let engineers build bridges that endanger travelers. We monitor effluent for chemicals that can kill us as well. There’s no reason in the world that market-share-fueled marketing ought to be celebrated merely because we enjoy the short-term effects it creates in the moment. Every profession we respect has limits created and enforced by society. These rules make it more likely we don’t race to the bottom as we cut those corners or maximize our profits.

The question is this: are you responsible for the power in your hands? If so, then we need to own the results of our work. If not, someone else needs to step in before it’s too late. No sustainable system can grant power without responsibility.

Just because marketing works doesn’t mean we have an obligation to do it. And if we’re too greedy to stop on our own, then yes, we should be stopped.

And don’t even get me started on the marketing of drugs. The pharmaceutical complex is as out of control as anything humanity has ever witnessed. It’s capitalism, and the battle is to win. At all costs.


Getting to the Change


One of the most difficult skills to master in life is helping people  (ourselves included) make changes that will benefit them in the long run – even if it means annoyance or sacrifice in the short term. That could mean anything from getting a child to clean his or her room to convincing a customer to switch from a competitor’s brand to yours.

We’re all selling something, but you can’t force anyone to buy it. Worse, if someone feels you are pushing it on them, emotions will take over and they will resist buying it even if it hurts them not to.

That’s why the best salespeople see themselves as trusted service providers and advisors, not product pushers. They understand that change isn’t easy, and that’s what makes them effective in creating strong relationships with customers. Regardless of the context or gravity of whatever the situation is, these basic questions apply:

  1. What does the person want to change?
  2. Why does the person want to change?
  3. What does the she really want? What is the ultimate goal?
  4. What is preventing someone from changing? Why has he or she not already changed?
  5. What motivates the him? What makes her tick?
  6. What is involved in making the change? What will it take?
  7. How will the person behave before, during, and after the change?

You can practice this almost anywhere you encounter people, even picking random ones out of a group at a restaurant or park. See what answers you can come up with: Why is this person here? Where does that person want to go in life?

To quote Dwight D. Eisenhower, “Leadership is the art of getting someone else to do something you want done because he wants to do it.” How many times a day do other people ask you to do something without going to the trouble of outlining how you’ll benefit from taking on the task? People need to feel ownership over change, even if the idea doesn’t come from them. Before you ask someone to take a step in a new direction, be sure to communicate your vision of a new and great experience.

90:10 is the new 80:20


For years we’ve been hearing about the 80:20 rule. It’s more true than many people realize. In fact, these days it tends to be more like 90:10. Anything that works is so much more targeted now. More refined. More specific. Almost customized down to the individual level in some cases.

The takeaway is the same as ever. You don’t need to obsess over satisfying the masses. Find your group, your tribe, your audience, and delight them. If you don’t — as you get distracted with the periphery — someone else will. People seek delight, and they will find it. Don’t miss out by playing it too safe.

Why You Need to Sell


Many people have the wrong idea about what it means to sell, and to be good at selling. They believe that a good sales person is born that way, and has a gift of persuasion, to the point of manipulation. They believe sales people aren’t to be trusted. The belief is reinforced through the actions of some sales people, especially when they do unethical things.

But the real pros, the ones who care about their craft and their reputations, have a clearly defined set of ethics they observe. All selling involves a little bit of what one might think of as minor manipulation. Heck, getting a date or a job can, too. But it’s the manipulation of emotions, not distortion of facts, and so long as ethical boundaries are observed it can be a good thing. The goal is to get people to do what they really want to (or should) do anyway. To get them to move off center. There is a real skill to this, which may be learned or innate.

Let’s say you’re a health care professional. Do you present the facts and hope your clients take the proper action, or do you motivate? Look around you. The facts are everywhere, as are unhealthy people. Clearly facts and information are not enough. If you can inspire them you will get better results, which will help them more, and help you be more successful as well. That little bit extra, the intangibles that tampering with the emotions of the client provides, can be the difference between merely doing a job and getting the job done, so long as care is taken.

If you’re an engineer, do your ideas get accepted easily, or are yours often overlooked? Surely good engineering ideas would stand on their own, right? Wrong. People evaluating ideas are as susceptible to good marketing as anyone else. Package your idea up and sell it. Do you offer something that makes their life easier, or better, or saves time, or costs less? Take the time to find out both who your customer is (boss? client?) and learn how to appeal to what she/they care about.

People who understand these things about sales get much further in their careers, especially careers other than sales. Time to change your attitude about what it means to sell and be sold.


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