Direct Marketing Article
Occam's Razor Solves Marketing Misinformation
By Jerry Bader
Many years ago I had a professor whose favorite saying was, "It's the simple
things that elude people." It's not a new idea of course, but it is an
important one, often associated with 14th century English logician William
of Ockham. Occam's razor as it is commonly referred to states that "entities
must not be multiplied beyond necessity" which in pop culture terms has been
interpreted as meaning 'the simplest solution is most often the best.' It is
also pretty clear that old Ockham would have been a big believer in what we
now call the 'Paradox of Choice' as coined by Barry Schwartz in his book by
the same name. The Paradox of Choice basically describes how customers
intent on buying from you, don't, because they are confused with too many
options; to paraphrase Ockham, features or options must not be multiplied
beyond what it takes to get an order.' In fact, it is pretty well understood
by those of us who actually study how to communicate a marketing message
that a focus on an emotional benefit is what works, not another new feature.
The implications of this seemingly simple insight into decision-making are
quite significant for marketing executives: features are out; emotional and
psychological benefits are in. Ah, but what emotional benefit, there's the
rub. I will assume that if you are reading this you are interested in
improving your business and that you are open to new ways of doing things,
and that starts with new ways of thinking about things.
Finding Your Emotional Benefit
Finding your emotional benefit is really not that hard if you know where to
look. The extended version of Abraham Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs is the
place to start. Every product or service needs to fit into at least one
level of the psychological hierarchy from basic survival, to 'be all you can
be' self-actualization. Every successful brand has its place on the
The Web was recently all abuzz with the success of the Old Spice commercials
featuring Isaiah Mustafa. Many analysts chalked its success up to the social
networking aspect of the campaign but as much as that may have helped
initially, it also over-exposed it, shortening its effective run. There were
lots of things the Old Spice campaign got right, it was kind of a
perfect-creative-marketing-storm, but the one thing that actually drove its
success was the emotional value proposition - Old Spice will make you more
attractive to women, and sex is one of Maslow's basic needs.
The Key Component To Marketing Is Establishing Want
How do you improve your business, how do you increase your sales, how do you
sell more stuff? And how do you simplify the process so you narrow your
focus down to a manageable marketing communication concept - a brand.
Following our pal Ockham's advice, the answer is simple, concentrate on why
people should buy from you.
What customers want is the key component in today's materialistic consumer
environment, especially in a marketplace that breeds competitive brand
alternatives like rabbits breed bunnies.
Why people should buy from you is not the same as why they should buy your
product or service. If you are a monopoly then the answer is easy, people
have two choices, to buy from you or not at all. But most companies aren't
so lucky. Most companies have competition either selling the exact same
products and services or substitute products and services.
What customers' think they need is only one criteria of the decision-making
process; in fact, want invariably plays a large role in establishing what
people think they need. For most products and services, need plays only a
superficial role in what people actually buy. What your audience wants is
really the decision-clincher, a fact that should be at the center of all
How To Sell Anybody Anything On The Web
According to management consultant David Fields of Ascendant Consulting
there are six basic sales criteria.
Know: A potential client must know you exist if you want to make a
sale, that's pretty obvious. This aspect of the sales process has led to an
obsession with search engine optimization and social networking. What needs
to be remembered is that knowing of your existence, as important as it is,
is only one of the six sales criteria.
Like: Your intended audience may know who you are, and what you do,
but that doesn't mean they care, or that you have any chance of getting an
order: for example, you may be able to name a half-a-dozen different kinds
of apples but when you go to the supermarket, you don't buy just any apple,
you buy the one you like best.
If you don't like a company you will find somebody else to buy from. Just
because you're good at what you do or sell the best product on the market
doesn't mean a thing if people don't like your company. How often have you
sworn-off a company because the person on the telephone was uncooperative.
That company may have thousands of employees and a customer service manual
three inches thick, but if the minimum wage call center person is a jerk,
you'll find yourself someone else.
Need: Every client has needs but in the final analysis those needs
are a highly over-rated motivating factor when it comes to buying a specific
product or service from a specific supplier. You may need an accountant but
you have many options from which to hire. You may need drywall to complete a
project but you can buy it from a dozen different local building supply
dealers. There are very few products or services for which you can't find an
alternative or that can't be purchased from multiple vendors.
Want: Of all the sales criteria listed the most important one is
want, what you want ultimately overrides all other considerations, even
trust and affordability. I once had a teacher who road the bus to work every
day for twenty years until he saved enough money to buy a Mercedes - granted
he was crazy but you get my point. You may need a mobile phone but you want
an iPhone; you may need a new suit but you want a Boss suit; you want your
audience to want your company.
Trust: People are leery of companies they don't trust. Trust is an
important factor in building a long-term business relationship. Companies
that engage in unethical practices or who cross the ethical marketing line
may get one order, but they will never build a long-term business
relationship or customer loyalty.
Afford: And then there is money, there is always an issue when it
comes to what things cost but surprisingly it's not even close to the
deciding factor in many purchases. Often companies think that cutting prices
is the surefire method of attracting more business, but depending on the
company, brand, category, and target audience, cutting prices may have the
opposite affect. Every company has budgets, and no one would suggest that
companies buy things they can't afford, but sometimes it is better to wait
until you can afford the optimum solution instead of making-do, and ending
up with a second rate or mediocre result.
A Final Thought
As complicated as Web marketing has become with the myriad of digital
advertising options available, the only real way you can move forward is to
break things down to a series of simple decisions based on the fundamental
aspects of human nature. People need to feel connected and they need to feel
good about your company. We all inherently know this but for some reason
find it more comforting to put our faith in technological solutions that you
may, or may not really understand, and that often make no real-world
People are people and they are all motivated by the same natural hard-wired
instincts. Your job is to find the one motivating factor that will get your
audience to salivate over your brand, and present it in a way that will make
your company the one company everyone wants to do business with.
About the Author:
Jerry Bader is Senior Partner at MRPwebmedia, a website design and marketing
firm that specializes in Web-video Marketing Campaigns and Video Websites.
http://www.sonicpersonality.com. Contact at
firstname.lastname@example.org or telephone (905) 764-1246.