It’s true, many marketers are misinformed. At least that’s my opinion, I’ll tell you why and I hope you will share your comments after reading how I approach marketing.

Before I start my rant, let me point out that I’ve been in the business world of corporate jargon long enough to understand how basic strategies waffle into a world of gobbledygook no one understands, I HATE that. This post is a straightforward strategy that helps increase demand for any business or service.


The True Story About Mad Men

As much as we love Don Draper, he was a fictional character, but the advertising it depicts in the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s is in many ways true. During this time, there was few competitors, fewer choices, low technology, low product education, low resistance and limited access to information. In mid-century marketing, selling was simple and brands had the power.


The Era of Mad Men is Over

Thanks to this little thing called the internet the era of big brand “Mad Men” advertising is over. In the digital age, the buyer has the power and brands are at their mercy. This is a complete shift from the Don Draper style slogans and storyboards.

Today consumers have access to information, it’s called Google! They Google what to buy, where to buy it, even why they need to buy it. Combine this increased access to information with more choices and more competition and it leads to longer buying cycles from consumers and increased resistance to marketing messages. This is resulting in what I call the confidence gap. This is the buyer’s inability to distinguish whether any of the businesses, products or services are any better or any different than others.

Most of today’s marketing strategies play into the confidence gap, and that’s why your marketing isn’t working for today’s consumers. Here’s how you change it.


The Persuasion Equation

Let’s start by assuming everyone wants to make the best decision possible. In marketing terms this means they want to get a good deal.  Now when I say they want a good deal it doesn’t mean they want the lowest price, it’s been proven over and over that price is typically NOT the number one decision making criteria. If we agree on that, then I think we can also agree that it’s our job as marketers to get the buyer’s and show them how our company, product, or service is the best choice. To do this, we need to facilitate their decision making process, which means lowering the risk of taking the next step in the selling process. To do that, I use the Persuasion Equation.

Interrupt + Engage + Educate + Offer = RESULTS

As promised, it’s straight forward and it produces results.


Interrupt Your Prospect’s Brain

Anyone who knows me has heard me talk about the science of the brain and its Alpha and Beta modes. Now I’m going to keep a long story short here, but the brain has two fundamental states of awareness; Alpha = a state of auto pilot, and Beta = a state of alertness. The Reticular Activator (RA) controls what wakes up the brain and moves it from Alpha to Beta. The RA is constantly on the lookout for things that are familiar, problematic or unusual. When it observes anything of that nature, it will snap your brain from Alpha to Beta.

Your first job as a marketer is to understand what will snap your prospects brain from Alpha to Beta.  Basically take them out of their auto pilot stupor and put them into a state of alertness, so they will pay attention to you. You do this by having a keen sense of their emotional hot buttons and leveraging your headlines, subject lines and creative to tap into their emotional hot button.

Now don’t make the biggest mistake marketers make and stop there.  The next part of the equation is critical if you really want to communicate with your prospects.


Engage Your Prospect by Giving Them a Reason to Believe

You’ve likely all heard that we now have less attention span than a goldfish. It appears that our attention spans have shrunk from 12 seconds to 8 seconds while the seemingly lowly gold fish has an attention span of 9 seconds.  Wow, we humans were barely beating goldfish in the first place, but now we’re losing to them.

But do you see why this happens? Look at the onslaught of information that comes at you every single day.  Again there are many studies that talk about the amount of commercial media that is attacking all of us every day, whether the number is 500 or 5,000 it doesn’t matter, IT’S A LOT.

This brings us back to brain science. I would submit that advertisers are pretty good at flipping us from Alpha to Beta, but they are lousy at engagement. They are so worried about talking about their brand that they forget the number one tenant in marketing WIIFM: (What’s in it for ME).

The engage part of the Persuasion Equation simply lets the prospect know that you are going to give them something valuable for their time. It can, and should use the same constructs as your Interrupt by leveraging headlines and creative to engage the prospect to spend time with your marketing communication.


Educate Your Prospect to Buy What You Sell

Now that you have your prospects attention, it’s time to facilitate their decision making process. How do you do that? Should you start screaming about your product or service? Probably not.

The educate phase of the Persuasion Equation means you need to educate your prospect on how to buy what you’re selling.  You need to give them all of the relevant information that is necessary to make an informed decision. Of course you want to persuade them to buy your product or service, but always look at the situation through their lens first.

As we mentioned, consumers today are seeking information. Provide them with the information they’re seeking. Start by identifying their important issues and demonstrate how you fulfill their wants and needs. In other words, build a case for your business!

Now, I bet some of you are thinking “Wait, I sell a low consideration product, how do I educate my prospect on something as simple as a glass of beer?” Well, funny you should ask about beer because I kind of like beer. I’m going to tell you two quick stories.

First, I was recently on a trip and we were sitting around the table drinking beers. Two of my friends are in the beer distribution business and they started talking about Belgian Lace.  Belgian Lace is the way your beer suds grip the sides of the glass after you take a healthy pull. They went on to tell me a fascinating story about how you need to use a special beer glass detergent that does not leave residue on the glass, so that the beer suds cling to the glass and do a slow crawl back into the body of your beer (that is if you’re not slamming the darn thing).

Who knew? Well the bar owner knew because he was using the right detergent. So now imagine your deciding what bar to visit to quench your thirst? If that bar educated me on how they make sure their glasses are cleaned with the best detergent to create a Belgian Lace, guess where I might be more likely to visit?

One more education story and we’ll keep it on beer. Rather than tell you the story here I’m going to point you to a copywriter from 1923, Claud Hopkins and his scientific advertising beer story - check it out. 


Offer Your Prospect a Low Risk Way to Continue the Sales Process

You really have to understand your prospect and get a perspective of where they are in their buying process to have an effective offer.  Here’s the thing about buyers, they don’t want to be sold but they do want to buy.  This is why we need to persuade them to take the next step.

Often we have a knee jerk reaction to either provide a discount or have the prospect “contact us”.  Now I’m not saying those are bad ideas, they often are excellent offers.  What I am saying is think about where they are in the buying process and give them an offer that advances your chances of making the sale.  Maybe that’s additional educational information, maybe it’s a checklist, maybe it’s a guide on how to do what you do, maybe it is a promotion or a contact us.  The goal of this information is to allow prospects to feel in control of their decision making process.

One more thing, you need to use the same thinking in your offer copy as you do for your headlines and sub-headlines.  Don’t get them all the way to the offer and say something like “click here”.


Marketing as a well oiled machine

When you perform the Persuasion Equation correctly it gets what every marketers desires, measurable results.

The Persuasion Equation works when all components are present. That means, you must Interrupt + Engage + Educate + Offer in order to receive results. When all components come together, not only is it a thing of beauty, but you have greater success and business growth!

Remember my bold assumption. Consumers want to make the best decision possible. It’s our job to facilitate that decision making process. As long as you have each of the 4 components of the Persuasion Equation as part of your strategy, your ads and campaigns will be successful. And who knows, you just might become the next Don Draper.


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