The Mighty HIPPO

The Mighty HIPPO!

“Adver­tis­ing is the only busi­ness where the largest clients with the most amount of money can bully and demand the agency’s worst work…while the small­est clients with lit­tle or no money must meekly accept the agency’s best.”

I don’t think there’s an adver­tis­ing or mar­ket­ing pro­fes­sional work­ing in Amer­ica today who hasn’t had the chal­lenge of con­vinc­ing their boss or client to run what should have been an obvi­ously bril­liant ad cam­paign or mar­ket­ing idea.

The first solu­tion to this, of course, is to learn how to explain, defend, and sell your work and then hav­ing the sim­ple courage to do so.

Learn to Wres­tle — and Defeat! — The HIPPO

But even pro­fes­sion­als who are nor­mally great at sell­ing their work run into obsta­cles when faced with an obsti­nate, heavy-weight HIPPOHigh­est Paid Person’s Opin­ion.

And that’s when one has to use the magic words.

The Magic Words

The magic words are: Let’s Do An Exper­i­ment. Or per­haps, “Let’s Just Test It, First.”

No one wants to be seen (or to think of them­selves) as a don’t-confuse-me-with-the-facts dog­matic bully. And that makes it hard to refuse an exper­i­ment or a test, which then gives you some room to prove out your idea.

Unfor­tu­nately, you still have to con­vince the HIPPO of the valid­ity of your test, and this is where per­sonas come in.

The One Opin­ion to Rule Them All

With­out a per­sona, the ques­tion of whether this or that ad or ini­tia­tive is worth doing (or even worth test­ing) comes down to per­sonal opin­ion and gut feel. So nat­u­rally, the high­est paid person’s opin­ion wins out. Hence the power of the HIPPO.

But, when you have a 3-dimensional, fleshed-out Per­sona that rep­re­sents the customer’s use-case, buy­ing moti­va­tions, and descision-making style and cri­te­ria, you’re no longer forced to argue your opin­ion vs. the HIPPO. You can now resort to the persona’s opion. And since the per­sona rep­re­sents the cus­tomer (and there­fore sales), that becomes the one opi­o­nion capa­ble of trump­ing the HIPPO.

Com­bine the power of the Per­sona with the magic of lets do an exper­i­ment, and you’ve got the key to push your best work past the HIPPO. The per­sona lets you argue why your idea is mean­ing­ful to the cus­tomer, and the test gives your idea a fair chance at prov­ing itself with actual customers.

Build Your Own Per­sonas & Learn From The Best

2014-10-30_1027So now all you need to do is craft and get buy-in for your personas.

And for­tu­nately for you, THE experts in the field of persona-based mar­ket­ing have just cre­ated a short, how-to on doing just that in the form of an easy to read kin­dle book avail­able for just $2.99.

It’s called Buyer Leg­ends and if you buy it now, you can have a set of per­sonas fin­ished within a few hour’s work.

Need help sell­ing your ideas/ads/campaigns/strategies/initiatives?

Down­load your copy of Buyer Leg­ends now. Then use the magic words.

P.S. As a “side ben­e­fit,” per­sonas will not only help you sell your bril­liant ideas, they’ll also help you cre­ate more of them 

P.P.S. If you’re too cheap to pay $2.99 for the book, my Wiz­ard of Ads col­league (and all-around good guy), Tim Miles, is giv­ing copies away, no strings attached.

2014-10-17_1512A few weeks back I posted a list of 11 Mar­ket­ing Trig­gers I swiped from a Quora answer, and also promised to elob­o­rate on each item on the list, start­ing with the first, Ethos.

If you’re not famil­iar with the list, here are the 11 triggers:

1) Ethos (your per­ceived char­ac­ter) is the most impor­tant, as opposed to an appeal to pathos (emo­tions) or logos (logic).
2) Peo­ple make judg­ments by comparison/anchor­ing.
3) Peo­ple process infor­ma­tion best from sto­ries.
4) Peo­ple are fore­most inter­ested in things that affect them.
5) Break­ing pat­terns gets atten­tion.
6) Peo­ple look to other peo­ple’s deci­sions when mak­ing deci­sions.
7) Peo­ple will believe things more eas­ily that fit their pre-existent mind­set. The con­verse is also true.
8) Peo­ple han­dle one idea at a time best.
9) Peo­ple want more choices, but are hap­pier with fewer.
10) Peo­ple decide first, then ratio­nal­ize — If peo­ple are stuck with some­thing, they will like it more over time.
11) Expe­ri­ence is mem­ory, the last part of the expe­ri­ence is weighted heavily.

What’s a “Trigger”

First, “trig­ger” is prob­a­bly the wrong word for this list. “Prin­ci­ple” might be a bet­ter term. But for bet­ter or worse, trig­ger is what the author of the list used, so I’m stick­ing with it.

But what is a trigger?ElectricDrill

Ulti­mately, it’s a lever you can pull to give you access to stored energy. Think in terms of elec­tric drills or trim­mers or fire­hoses, and not just guns.

So a mar­ket­ing trig­ger is a com­mu­ni­ca­tional lever you can pull to tap into already present and stored up desires, emo­tions, or instincts for the pur­poses of empow­er­ing action on the part of the audi­ence. You want the peo­ple who see or hear your ad to take action: to buy the prod­uct or service.

And for your ad to cause (or at least influ­ence) action you’ll need to present your audi­ence with more than just infor­ma­tion and reason-why — you need to trig­ger emo­tions, desires, and instincts.

Let’s Talk About Ethos

I’ve writ­ten about Ethos before but let’s start with the ABC’s of the topic:

A)  Cus­tomers pre­fer to do busi­ness with peo­ple and com­pa­nies that they like and trust. If they nei­ther like nor trust you, chances are you won’t get their busi­ness if they have any other rea­son­able option open to them. Ethos deter­mines your lik­a­bil­ity for a given audience.

B) Peo­ple have expec­ta­tions around how a banker, bouncer, and surf instruc­tor should look and act, such that an invest­ment banker who shows up to a nine fig­ure deal in board­shorts prob­a­bly isn’t going to go over so well, and a not-so-muscled guy in a three piece suit prob­a­bly isn’t going to incur much respect try­ing to break up a fight in a biker bar. Meet­ing audi­ence expec­ta­tions through proper deco­rum, or strate­gi­caly vio­lat­ing those expec­ta­tions, is also an aspect of your ethos that should be inten­tion­ally planned out.

C) Given enough respect for another per­son, you’ll not only accept but act on their advice. Maybe that per­son is your grand­fa­ther. Or an old boss or com­mand­ing offi­cer. Maybe it’s a men­tor or coach or a per­sonal hero of yours. Who­ever it is, I’m sure you can imag­ine how their advice is acted on almost instantly while most advice you recieve gets taken with a grain of salt and/or a large dose of pro­cras­ti­na­tion. That’s what makes ethos a pow­er­ful mar­ket­ing trigger.

Dig­ging Deeper

In my arti­cle on Gen­e­sis Sto­ries, I talk about how Aris­to­tle breaks Ethos down into three com­po­nent attributes:

  1. Prac­ti­cal Wis­dom (aka domain exper­tise) — Do you trust this person’s sub­ject mat­ter expertise?
  2. Dis­in­ter­ested Good­will — Do you believe they have your best inter­ests at heart?
  3. Virtue (not just hon­esty and integrity, but over­all excel­lence) — Do you respect this per­son in general?

Or, in the terms of Jay Hein­richs, you could think of these three as: Craft, Car­ing, and Cause, respec­tively. Good adver­tis­ing should pos­i­tively posi­tion the brand / com­pany / owner in terms of their craft, car­ing, and cause. And, as men­tioned, one of the best ways to kick that off is with a strong gen­e­sis story.

But the thing to remem­ber about Ethos and adver­tis­ing is that there are mul­ti­ple aspects of ethos involved in persuasion:

  • How the audi­ence per­cieves you, the adver­tiser (in terms of car­ing, craft, and cause)
  • How the audi­ence per­cieves them­selves (in those same terms),
  • How they WISH or ASPIRE to be per­ceived (again in terms of car­ing, craft, and cause)

When using ethos as a mar­ket­ing trig­ger it’s best to focus on the gaps between these aspects of ethos:

  • What’s the dis­con­nect between how your audi­ence actu­ally see them­selves and how they WISH to see them­selves?  Is the dis­con­nect pri­mariy in terms of car­ing (they wish they cared more or were more pas­sion­ate or maybe more com­pas­sion­ate)? Of craft or skill (they wish they had greater abil­i­ties)? Or in mis­sion (they wish they were moti­vated by a larger cause and could con­sider them­selves a ded­i­cated mem­ber of a tribe)?
  • What’s the dis­con­nect between how they see you and how they see them­selves? Do they see you as more ded­i­cated? More skilled? More objec­tive? All three? Which one will have the biggest impact?  How can you cre­ate that perception?

If you can answer these ques­tions, you can use ethos as a per­sua­sive trigger.

In sit­u­a­tions where you have no real com­pet­i­tive advan­tage (and nei­ther do your com­peti­tors), you can build your ethos to get peo­ple to like and trust you more than your com­peti­tors. This will become the core of your adver­tis­ing strategy.

In sit­u­a­tions where you have a com­pet­i­tive advan­tage or a USP or a spe­cial sauce, you can relate the ben­e­fits deliv­ered by all that to the prospect’s self image. Or bet­ter yet, to bridg­ing the gap between their cur­rent and their aspi­ra­tional self image. How can your prod­uct help them move from who they are now to who they really want to be.

marlboroAnd if this sounds a bit too the­o­ret­i­cal and high-drift, just remem­ber that we’re really talk­ing about the essence of image-based brand­ing. The Marl­boro Man didn’t sell bil­lions of dol­lars of cig­a­rettes by engag­ing in reason-why adver­tis­ing copy. Marlboro’s cam­paign estab­lished an ethos for the brand that appealed to the audience’s aspi­ra­tional gap.

And that’s how it’s done.

Let’s say you raise chick­ens and farm eggs for a living.

And unlike big agribusi­ness, you’re try­ing to raise your chick­ens under humane con­di­tions, to fol­low the spirit and not just the let­ter of the law for “organic,” and that your chick­ens truly are “free range.”

How do you com­pete with all the aggribusi­ness jerks who cut cor­ners, spin words, play the loop­holes and then get to claim the same “organic” and “free range” titles as you?

When the aver­age shop­per looks down at all her options star­ing up at her in the Whole Foods aisle, most of her choices are all going to say the same things, over and over again: organic feed, free range/cage-free, omega 3s, yada yada yada.

How do you make your eggs stand out in a sea of sameness?

Answer: put a num­ber on your claim: 2014-09-13 12.23.41 The other eggs say “Cage Free” and leave it at that.

Alfreco Farms spec­i­fies “108 SQ FT Out­doors Per bird.”

They put a num­ber to the idea of “free range.” And that added cred­i­bil­ity was enough to win my sale.

But it’s the pic­ture they draw on their Web­site that really brings it home: 2014-09-14_2219 Now you know EXACTLY how much the other jerks are equiv­o­cat­ing when they call their hens “cage-free” or “free-range.”

And you not only know, but FEEL in your gut, just how big the dif­fer­ence is between Alfresco Farms’ pasture-raising and some mega-farm’s “organic” and “cage-free” practices.

So when you’re faced with a sim­i­lar chal­lenge, give this a try: Put a num­ber on it, then paint a picture.

P.S. Note that this com­pany also tries to use alter­na­tive labels and cer­ti­fi­ca­tions: “pasture-raised” vs. “free range” and “cer­ti­fied humane” over and above “cer­ti­fied organic.” All good things to do, but none of them have the power of putting a num­ber to the claim. 

I saw an Acura ad tonight that left me rivited.

Frankly, I’m not sure it’s all that great an ad in the big­ger pic­ture, but the edit­ing and sto­ry­telling was genius.

Some may think I’m over­stat­ing my case on this, but no less a genius than Stan­ley Kubric claimed that the very best film edit­ing was being done in com­mer­cials way back in a 1987 Rolling Stone inter­view. Check it out [ital­ics are inter­viewer, nor­mal font is Kubric, bold­ing is me]:

Books I’ve read on you seem to sug­gest that you con­sider edit­ing the most impor­tant aspect of the filmmaker’s art.

There are three equal things: the writ­ing, slog­ging through the actual shoot­ing and the editing.

You’ve quoted Pudovkin to the effect that edit­ing is the only orig­i­nal and unique art form in film.

I think so. Every­thing else comes from some­thing else. Writ­ing, of course, is writ­ing, act­ing comes from the the­ater, and cin­e­matog­ra­phy comes from pho­tog­ra­phy. Edit­ing is unique to film. You can see some­thing from dif­fer­ent points of view almost simu­lu­neously, and it cre­ates a new experience.

Pudovkin gives an exam­ple: You see a guy hang­ing a pic­ture on the wall. Sud­denly you see his feet slip; you see the chair move; you see his hand go down and the pic­ture fall off the wall. In that split sec­ond, a guy falls off a chair, and you see it in a way that you could not see it any other way except through editing.

TV com­mer­cials have fig­ured that out. Leave con­tent out of it, and some of the most spec­tac­u­lar exam­ples of film art are in the best TV commercials.

Give me an example.

The Mich­e­lob com­mer­cials. I’m a pro foot­ball fan, and I have video­tapes of the games sent over to me, com­mer­cials and all. Last year Mich­e­lob did a series, just impres­sions of peo­ple hav­ing a good time –

The big city at night –

And the edit­ing, the pho­tog­ra­phy, was some of the most bril­liant work I’ve ever seen. For­get what they’re doing — sell­ing beer — and it’s visual poetry. Incred­i­ble eight-frame cuts. And you real­ize that in thirty sec­onds they’ve cre­ated an impres­sion of some­thing rather com­plex. If you could ever tell a story, some­thing with some con­tent, using that kind of visual poetry, you could han­dle vastly more com­plex and sub­tle material.

Peo­ple spend mil­lions of dol­lars and months’ worth of work on those thirty seconds.

So it’s a bit imprac­ti­cal. And I sup­pose there’s really noth­ing that would sub­sti­tute for the great dra­matic moment, fully played out. Still…

After read­ing this I tracked down those Mich­e­lob com­mer­cials to see for myself, and of course Kubric was right:

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Kubric was right about the bil­liance of the edit­ing, but also in the lim­i­ta­tions of these com­mer­cials, as they are the epit­omy of style with­out sub­stance being used to sell style and fash­ion (i.e., prod­ucts with­out sub­stance). There is a hint of a sto­ry­line in these ads, but it’s left very inten­tion­ally vague, impres­sion­is­tic, and, well, fash­ion­able. And that’s OK for beer, I guess, but prob­a­bly not what you want for cars, though I don’t think those ads did any­thing for Mich­e­lob sales, either.

What you need for more sub­stan­tive prod­ucts like cars is a style that keeps the “visual poetry,” but har­nesses it to tell a “story with content.”

Which is pre­cisely what is so bril­liant about this Acura Ad:

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Same visual poetry, but now it’s in the form of a cohent nar­ra­tive that shows the pas­sion behind the sub­stan­tive efforts to make a sub­stan­tive prod­uct: a performance-oriented lux­ury car.

Will this ad sell some freak­ing cars? I don’t know. But it should at least gen­er­ate some inter­est. And maybe make you feel some­thing for Acura you might not have ever felt before.

And that’s no small thing.

But for­get about Acura, let’s talk about you!

Because I pre­dict we’re going to be see­ing more of this form of intense, rapid-fire visual poetry going for­ward. This Cirque Du Soleil-esque form of rapid distraction.

Sure, we’ll still pay atten­tion to the well done, dra­matic mono­logue. And some­times it’s bet­ter to zig when oth­ers zag, like Dodge did a few Superbowl’s back.

But intel­li­gently har­ness­ing the power of rapid-distraction sto­ry­telling is becom­ing more and more com­mon in main­stream adver­tis­ing. And it’s not lim­ited to just big national brands either. Frankly, I think the only thing stop­ping radio adver­ti­sis­ers from doing it is skill. Heck, it’s already been done once.

So what are you wait­ing for?

Do you know how to tell a story in rapdi-fire for­mat?

4

Jun

by Jeff

Came across this DBB ad recently and was struck by how true every­thing in it remains. In fact, by how much more true it is today than on the day it first ran. Read it and see for yourself:

DDB Do This Or Die

Seems like the world of adver­tis­ing — both in mass media and online — is in des­per­ate need of another Cre­ative Rev­o­lu­tion, just as this post and this cool video suggest.

And frankly, if you’re not part of the solu­tion, you’re part of the problem.

 

22

Apr

by Jeff

com.quora.androidHave you ever heard of Quora?

It’s a Q&A-style social media site. Peo­ple ask ques­tions and gen­uine no-kidding experts answer them. Then mem­bers vote the answers up or down. The Q&As you see in your news­feed depend on who you fol­low, the inter­ests you indi­cate, and (of course) the ques­tions you pose.

My addic­tion to Quora flows from the qual­ity of the answers: they’re almost always insight­ful, experienced-based, and often brilliant.

The List of Trig­gers I Snagged from Quora

At any rate, one of the first Q&As I read on Quara was this one on cog­ni­tive biases: “What are some good exam­ples of biases being exploited in mar­ket­ing?”

And this answer from Kevin William Lord Barry struck me as well worth read­ing, copy­ing, and (even­tu­ally) post­ing and riff­ing on as a (series of) blog post(s) [bold­ing is mine]:

I think exploita­tion is too strong a word. Humans com­mu­ni­ca­tion in gen­eral is an emo­tional thing. In any case, here’s my mas­ter list:

1) Ethos (your per­ceived char­ac­ter) is the most impor­tant, as opposed to an appeal to pathos (emo­tions) or logos (logic).

2) Peo­ple make judg­ments by comparison/anchor­ing.

3) Peo­ple process infor­ma­tion best from sto­ries.

4) Peo­ple are fore­most inter­ested in things that affect them.

5) Break­ing pat­terns gets attention.

6) Peo­ple look to other peo­ple’s deci­sions when mak­ing decisions.

7) Peo­ple will believe things more eas­ily that fit their pre-existent mind­set. The con­verse is also true.

8) Peo­ple han­dle one idea at a time best.

9) Peo­ple want more choices, but are hap­pier with fewer.

10) Peo­ple decide first, then ratio­nal­ize — If peo­ple are stuck with some­thing, they will like it more over time.

11) Expe­ri­ence is mem­ory, the last part of the expe­ri­ence is weighted heavily.”

I’ve got to admit, Kevin cre­ated a pretty good list — why esle would I have reprinted it here? — but…

  • One, it’s hardly exhaus­tive. I bet most of you could think of a few prin­ci­ples and biases well worth adding, and I invite you to do so in the comments,
  • and Two, there’s no com­men­tary, just the bare list, even though each item begs for some elaboration.

So in future posts, I’ll dis­cuss what I’d add to the list, and then move through Kevin’s list and offer a deep-dive on each item. But for now, I’m just kind of inter­ested in your thoughts.

What psy­cho­log­i­cal prin­ci­ples or levers would you read­ers add to or take away from this list?

P.S. I’m sure many of you Cial­dini fans will rec­og­nized item #6 as an expres­sion of Social Proof — which sort of begs one to add the other “Weapons of Influ­ence” to this list of cog­ni­tive exploits. And if you’re not famil­iar with Ciadlini, you can get an excel­lent quick and dirty intro to his 6 Prin­ci­ples of Influ­ence from this video that my col­league, Tim Miles, sent me:

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