brand advocacy and loyalty

Marketing to influencers and advocates is all the rage, fueled in large part by social media.
But if you’ve ever developed a campaign with influencers and/or advocates, you know it can be filled with land mines.
Part of that is what inspires advocates and influencers is different.
In the my last post about Captivation Motivations, I shared with you the secret driver you’ve already heard of behind so many of our snap decisions and just BARELY touched on rewards and lures.
But they’re actually super closely related to what’s behind our fastest decisions to click, like, join, sign up or buy.
If you’ve played an app or computer game anytime in the last 7 years, you’ve probably noticed that these games are getting more and addictive (eh, em, Candy Crush anyone?).
It’s not just better graphics and faster speeds that are making these games addictive, it’s the deeper understanding of what really motivates people to continue playing and one of those is the power of rewards.

I’m going to get to the secret successful games use in a minute, but first, I want to share something else with you.
If you’re thinking of running a give away, a promotion or even thinking of starting an app, you want to keep reading.
If you’re using digital and social media to market your brand (and I know you are), you’ll want to keep reading.
What I’m about to share with you is particularly important and will ultimately, make or break your product or promotion and even marketing relationships with influencers and advocates.

 

You Scratch My Back…Carefully.

The last time someone bought you lunch, I bet your parting words were “It’s on me next time!”
You probably said it without asking where you might go or checking your bank account or even your calendar.
You just blurted it out.
The truth is, we’re hard wired to return favors.
Think about that for a minute.
We are deeply, sincerely uncomfortable when we think we need to return a favor. Next time you run a promotion on Facebook, do a test. Ask people to like the page BEFORE entering the contest and compare that to the results if you ask AFTER you’ve given them something, even if it’s just a chance to win.
Chances are you’ll find that if you ask AFTERwards, your conversion percentage goes way up AND those people remain engaged for longer.
This is because lures trigger our sense of reciprocity.

Want to hear an old school example of this?
Ever received mailing labels from a nonprofit that you didn’t ask for?
Did you know that sending mailing labels with a request for a donation has been shown to DOUBLE donations?
And guess what? The average donation is way, way more than the value of the labels.
Why? Because reciprocity is a compelling motivation and it comes with a quirk: what we give in exchange for what we received has very little to do with the financial value of either.
You give something, ANYTHING of some value without placing a value on it, the reciprocity trigger kicks in.
This is the idea behind successful content marketing.

 

Why You Should Never Pay Your Advocates

There’s a lot of discussion today about influencer and advocate marketing.
Lures and rewards are different.
Lures give without the expectation on the givers part of receiving anything in return. That triggers reciprocity by the receiver.
Rewards are given with the expectation of the receiver to get something in exchange, so no sense reciprocity is triggered.

Rewards (generally) kill reciprocity, but they can create habits if done correctly (like training your dog).
But it’s extremely difficult for marketers to get the consistency required to create a habit. Hell, it’s hard to get the consistency required to create a habit in dog, ask anyone who’s tried.
But marketers can more easily create reciprocity, which is an extremely powerful motivation that rewards do not trigger.
Here’s the rub though: reciprocity has some limitations too.
If you offered rewards to those who were already advocating for you to do the things they were already doing, you’d begin to see that their desire to support you moving forward would be slipping.
That’s because offering a reward on contingency (do this 3X/week and receive that reward) for something someone is ALREADY motivated to do, it decreases the desire.
And unless you understood this motivational fact, you’d probably be left scratching your head about what happened.
Tread lightly with your advocates because the way you show appreciation can actually decrease their motivation if you aren’t careful.

This isn’t to say rewards aren’t effective. They can be very effective.
“Share this and receive that…” you see it all the time. That’s a reward, not a lure.
Again, ask my dogs. They know if they do something, there’s a good chance there’s a treat in it for them. That’s a reward, they’ve been conditioned to expect it.
Rewards can be very powerful tools for increasing reach.
It creates increased reach by those who AREN’T your advocates and depending on your strategy, that can be very important.
Just don’t confuse people you give a reward to as an advocate.

Time: The Biggest Reciprocity Trigger

If you’re really interested in triggering reciprocity, then you should probably do two things:
1) get to know your customer really well
2) think beyond monetary lures (discounts, coupons, even product give-aways).

The reasons for this are two-fold:
Our 90% of the brain (the oldest, largest and most primitive part of our brain) inherently knows that time is more valuable than items.
We inherently value experiences (millennials especially) more than items, so although the default is often a coupon or discount, experiences are more highly valued.
Receiving an experience from a product or brand increases reciprocity. So if you use an experience as a reward, you can trigger reciprocity.
But to offer an experience that is highly valued, you really have to know your customer. What YOU think your customer values maybe completely different than what they actually value.
In the last post, we talked about information seeking as a dopamine trigger, but it can also be a reward. So can mastery – this is the essence of gamification. Becoming good at something is it’s own reward and the longer we spend on achieving that reward, the more we value it.
Again, what your customers value may be something else all together: inclusion in a tribe, recognition or status.
All these things can be valuable rewards AND lures for brands.

The other thing to understand is that placing a distinct financial value on a lure (or a reward) kinks up the perceived value.
Let me give you an example:
If I invited you to dinner at my house for a homemade dinner that was wonderful (of course it would be FABULOUS), but then I spent all night talking about how much I spent on buying the ingredients of the dinner, two things would happen. 1) you would view the dinner as a sum of parts rather than it’s whole value of time, effort and community and 2) you probably wouldn’t feel a sense of reciprocity at all, no matter how fabulous the dinner was.
Don’t force your influencers OR your advocates to view your rewards or lures as a sum of parts by involving money too heavily; it kills goodwill AND reciprocity.
If you’re going to use rewards or lures, remember, make it something the customer values and think about how to make more valuable than money.

Here’s the bottom line: use rewards for influencers and lures for advocates.

Can you think of a time when a marketing strategy with lures or rewards turned you off? Share them with me here or in social media, it’s a fascinating discussion I love hearing about.

 

 

About the Captivation Motivations:

The Captivation Motivations are all built around what I call our “other 90%” of our brain. The part of our brain that is the oldest and most developed part of our brain.

I didn’t make up the Captivation Motivations, I’ve simply been studying them and their effects for the last four years. I’ve been testing them in my strategies and tactics, reading and writing about them.
Simply put, these motivations are not some flash-in-the-pan-do-whats-trendy-now strategy, these are strategies which trigger reactions from the oldest part of our brain.  Over the last few years, more and more has been understood about these motivations. But one thing is clear: despite the fact that these motivations developed in the earliest days of humanity’s survival of the fittest experiences, these motivations are very much alive and well today. What triggers them in the modern world is just different than what triggered them in our earliest evolutionary days.

the secret to captivating owned content strategy

Captivation Motivations can significantly change your content strategy.


This is the second installment of a series on the seven Captivation Motivations. This installment is all about your owned media and creating a content strategy that meets your objectives while also thrilling and delighting your audience.

 

Did you know that we’re all ruled by a super-powerful hormone? It’s true.
This hormone dominates decision-making, especially split-second choices like the ones digital users are making every day.
Decisions like “click,” “like,” “retweet,” and more importantly, “buy” and “subscribe” are all significantly impacted by this hormone.
Savvy marketing strategists have been triggering this hormone for years, some knowingly, some stumbling upon it.

You’ve undoubtedly heard of this hormone.
You’ve heard about in the context of drugs, sex and even food.
But what does this hormone do for marketers?
I’ll get to that in a minute.

First, a little more about this hormone: dopamine.
See? I told you you’ve heard of it.
Dopamine is best known as the “pleasure hormone.”
It’s the hormone that creates the surge of euphoria that we feel after a particularly satisfying (insert pleasure here).
But, the surge of satisfaction is not actually the most powerful tool in a communicator’s arsenal.

The most powerful tool for the content communicator is anticipation.

And it turns out that dopamine is actually more aptly described as the “wanting and seeking” hormone.
Ah. Now you get it right?
It turns out that the “wanting and seeking” trigger is MORE powerful than the “satisfaction.”
This means we’re hard-wired to keep looking, keep seeking until we satisfy our wanting and seeking.
And then we’re hard-wired to do it all again.

Think for just a moment about the advantage to your content and overall marketing strategy if you can trigger this motivation.
Images can trigger our wanting and seeking. Ever seen a really great close-up shot of your favorite food and searched for how to have it delivered at lunch that.very.day?
Images of just about anything we want can trigger our “wanting and seeking” hormone.
This means you really need to think about the images you’re using in marketing and advertising, because images are incredibly key to the top of the funnel.
While we see food and sex all the time in marketing, it might be that those images aren’t appropriate for your brand.
Good news for you.
Because there’s more.

 

Guess what else fuels our anticipation?

Just guess.
This is super important because not all businesses and campaigns are suitable for triggering the food, sex and drug urges.
Curiosity.
The brain experiences dopamine rushes when we’re curious for more information.
Think about the last Google search you did. Ever been sucked down the rabbit hole of Google and found yourself coming out of the other side 45 minutes later?
That’s your insatiable, hormone-driven seeking and wanting trigger.
That’s your brain on the anticipation train.

Our quest for information is basically never-ending.
We’re hard-wired that way, and from an evolutionary standpoint, this is a splendid thing.
Now WHAT information triggers this is the key.
This is where we circle back around to audience identification and personalization.
We’re inundated with information, so we have to be very, very clear on our audience so we understand WHAT kind of information or curiosity triggers our target audience.
Motivational triggers work on all people, but what triggers the motivation is where your marketing research and strategy comes in.

Another thing that triggers our wanting and seeking hormone is unexpected prompts that are auditory or visual.
You know what does this exceptionally well?
Your phone. It beeps, or vibrates or a message pops up and you almost ALWAYS stop what you are doing to look at it don’t you?
If you don’t, it takes an active and conscious effort on your part.
This is why my most hated and dreaded marketing tactic, pop-up messaging is so powerful.
I personally drop right out of a page when I get a pop-up because I feel like it’s insensitive to the reader, but the truth is, it works on the vast majority of people because the surprise triggers the wanting and seeking.
Novelty and unpredictability also trigger our seeking behavior.
This is why “New and Improved” works.

The Counter Intuitive Path

You’ve probably heard over and over again to simplify. The message is too long. The funnel is to long.
Overall, this is good advice.
HOWEVER, once you really understand the “seeking and wanting” hormone, your path can actually be quite long, so long as it keeps triggering curiosity and gives information in small bits and pieces, if it gives anything until it offers the solution.
Ever seen an ugly landing page that was all text that you ended up reading despite yourself?
Really awesome copy writers understand how to use this tactic in writing to move you through the process.
Interestingly enough, the more time you spend on something, the more committed you are.
So long copy, long funnels, they have a purpose and in the right situation, the right circumstance, the right audience, they work.

In A Nutshell:

Here it is in a nutshell, for fast and motivational results: trigger the wanting and seeking hormone.
Make your audience curious.
Lead them down a path that satisfies in bits and pieces.
Experiment with what triggers curiosity in your audience, experiment with the strength of their curiosity with funnel length.
Triggering the “wanting and seeking” hormone is the very premise behind free information in content marketing and the internet in general.

The Pursuit of Pleasure Captivation Motivation is tied closely to how we internalize rewards as well. The next post in this series will be all about rewards, the kinds used in promotions, so stay tuned.

 

About the Captivation Motivations:

The Captivation Motivations are all built around what I call our “other 90%” of our brain. The part of our brain that is the oldest and most developed part of our brain.

I didn’t make up the Captivation Motivations, I’ve been studying them and their effects since 2009.  I’ve been testing them in my strategies and tactics, reading and writing about them.
Simply put, these motivations are not some flash-in-the-pan-do-what’s-trendy-now strategy, these are strategies which trigger reactions from the oldest part of our brain.  Over the last few years, more and more has been understood about these motivations. But one thing is clear: despite the fact that these motivations developed in the earliest days of humanity’s survival of the fittest experiences, these motivations are very much alive and well today. What triggers them in the modern world is just different than what triggered them in our earliest evolutionary days.

 

PS: If you’re really interested in this topic, I suggest you read some of the academic works by Kent Berridge; he’s done some really amazing research on the topic.

brand storytelling

Do you know why people respond (or don’t respond) to your brand storytelling?

The answer doesn’t lie in your typeface, your graphic design or even your social networks.
The answers lay in your strategy and customer clarity.

Let me put it another way: do you know what motivations your customers respond to most powerfully?

Several years ago, I launched a marketing incubator designed to help marketers connect the dots between personality types and motivations. What I learned when I did that was few marketers understood how to trigger basic motivations and even those who did, didn’t really understand why they worked. These were great and successful marketers who were committed to becoming even better. These weren’t lazy marketers, these were great people, good at what they do.

Before I go on, let me explain something: I did not make up these motivations. I am not even the first to write about them. They are ancient and hard-wired into the human experience, in fact, these motivations reside in the largest part of our brain, what I call “the other 90%.” Simply put, these motivations are not some flash-in-the-pan-do-whats-trendy-now strategy, these are strategies which trigger reactions from the oldest part of our brain.  Over the last few years, more and more has been understood about these motivations. But one thing is clear: despite the fact that these motivations developed in the earliest days of humanity’s survival of the fittest experiences, these motivations are very much alive and well today. What triggers them in the modern world is just different than what triggered them in our earliest evolutionary days.

So over the next weeks, I’m going to write a series about the seven Captivation Motivations all marketers should know. But not just marketers, product development, developers and anyone else who’s trying to trigger an immediate and memorable reaction.

The first Captivation Motivation I’m going to cover is so over-discussed and yet misunderstood, I wanted to get it out of the way: Storytelling

It’s important to understand WHY storytelling works and as importantly, what stories trigger us to buy.

If you take nothing else away from this blog post, understand this:

People buy for two reasons: it either reinforces how they see themselves or it reinforces how they want to be seen. (Tweet This)

In essence, every purchase we make is part of our story and we know this, deep, deep down.

What stories do we like to listen to?
Stories about us.
Stories that make us feel smarter, better, part of something.
Stories that reinforce how we see ourselves or reinforce how we want to be seen.

Why is this? It’s because the biggest part of our brain is focused on, you guessed it, us.
This is why brand stories have to be very carefully crafted.
As communicators, we want to tell the brand story, but the reader wants to read a story about them.
This disconnect is HUGE.
And yet, we see excellent examples of great brand storytelling all the time. Simplistic and elegant and purely captivating.
One of my favorite examples is Coca-Cola. They kicked off their brand storytelling years ago with “I’d like to teach the world to sing…” So celebrated and so ingrained in our culture, that it was the final episode of Mad Men and suggested as the career pinnacle of outrageously creative Don Draper.
Coca-Cola continues to tell its story through its consumers. Think about the soda bottles wrapped in names and now adjectives like “VIP” “Latino” “Super Star.” Each of these taps into how we see ourselves or how we WANT to see ourselves. You can even buy your own personalized bottle. When this first released and still today, it created a ton of user-generated content on social. People loved taking pictures of themselves with bottles that told their stories. Reinforced their place in the world.
You never once see Coca-Cola telling some long drawn out boring-as-all-hell story about what goes INTO the bottle, or who works in marketing at Coca-Cola, no. The story is always about the consumer and the story or movement they want to create. There is connection, not disconnect. You are Coca-Cola and Coca-Cola is you.
The reason Coca-Cola’s brand value is somewhere in the neighborhood of 45% of the company’s value is because the brand “gets”  the consumer, not the other way around. (Tweet This)
Apple is another great brand, although I feel they’ve lost their brand-way a bit. Still, the company is one of the most valuable brands in the world, regularly commanding a premium for technology that has been commoditized. Why? Because the brand had complete and total clarity from the beginning. It didn’t make computers; it designed products to enhance our lives. The keyword was design. Elegance, simplicity, easy integration into our lives. If Apple hadn’t insisted on these brand traits, it would just be another computer and laptop company. But again, these brand traits, they were customer-focused. They weren’t about Apple, they were about the user. And Apple has some crazy brand advocates who feel like owning Apple helps define who they are. Owning Apple helps them tell the world who they are. That is the pinnacle of advocacy and brand storytelling.

So when you start to integrate brand storytelling into your communications strategy, ask yourself three questions:

Who is the story REALLY about? (hint: be honest with yourself here)
How does it reinforce my customer’s image of themselves or the way they want the world to see them?
What emotion will they feel after finishing the story?

 

 

digital strategy branding and communications

Why do you need a digital strategy and what is it?

Since digital and social media are so accessible, it’s easy to think the results are just as accessible.
But the truth is, simply BEING on social media isn’t a strategy any more (if it ever was enough).
The digital world has brought us many, many advances, but it’s also brought a much more distracted and diluted market place.

The average person is exposed to over 5,000 messages a day.

Perhaps even more, especially if they are heavy social media users.
We used to tell brands that every person needed exposure to a message 7 times before it sunk in.
With today’s clutter and fast-paced media world, I put that number at closer to 12 today.

But having a digital marketing strategy saves you time and money and can even possibly reduce the number of exposures required.

A lot of people are reluctant to spend the time on a digital strategy thinking that the digital world is so fast moving that the minute you settle on a strategy, things will change.
Actually, it’s the opposite, the more thought out your marketing strategy, the more you’ll be able to roll with the punches.
Strategy allows you to be more fluid, not less.
And even if you DO change your strategy, at least you’ll do so with intent.

So what IS a digital strategy?
A good digital marketing strategy answers ALL you’re “Why’s”
If you can’t defend a piece of content, a post or an answer of how that benefits your company and it’s customers, then you don’t have a strategy.

A good digital strategy has three components:

Outstanding audience identification.

Start with the customer. Always.
Your digital audience may be a sub-segment of your larger audience or it may be your entire audience. It doesn’t matter, really.
What’s most important is that your extremely clear on your audience’s pain points, interests and emotional triggers
If you’re clear on who you’re speaking to, everything in your digital strategy will improve.
This will require some research, because no matter what you THINK you know about you’re customers, if you do some research on them, you’ll learn something about what resonates, what’s memorable and what matters to them.
The customer research will help you stay on message and consistent regardless of platform choices. You’ll know you’re on the right track because you have the research to back it up.

Product and Service Voice Clarity

How will you communicate with your community in the digital space?
Sometimes, the tone of voice in digital is different from the tone of voice in other mediums.
In fact, most of the time it is.
Once you know your audience, you can start to blend in their preferences with how they like to be communicated WITH along side the brand consistency you’re trying to accomplish. Voice consistency takes time and intention to develop and implement, but once you do it, you’ll be well on your way to executing a great digital strategy.

Digital Distinguishers

Chances are, you have some competition in the digital world.
Take a careful look at your competitors. What’s missing?
What can you do better than anyone else?
This takes brutal honesty, because you’ve got to be incredibly clear on who you are, who you want to be and how that meshes with how your community sees you and what you’re willing to do or not do.
The digital user is quick to point out the inauthentic, so be honest with yourself here, so you can be honest with your customers.
Your digital distinguishers should include your product and service differentiation while integrating with what makes your customers unique.
This is the place where it all comes together.

Once you’ve put all these pieces in place, a real digital marketing strategy can start to emerge.
Now you can start to identify content types, frequency, messaging and platforms that support your strategy.

With the inundation of messages today, the ONLY way to be in the digital space is to do so with a strategy, otherwise, you’re actually doing damage to your brand and you’re seriously missing out on opportunity, relationships and dollars.

customer focused communication strategy

The Communication Strategy Everyone Will Thank You For.

We’re inundated with messages every day. As communicators, it’s up to us to have  some empathy for our audience, whether that audience is the press, an employee, a customer, or an investor.

Yet, this single communications strategy I’m about to share with you is so simple, so basic, you’ll wonder why you’re not doing it already.

Before we go any further, let me ask you, which would you rather be:
A product or a movement?
A cause or a movement?
An idea or a movement?

If you don’t care, I’ll save you-you can stop reading right now.
If you want to be a movement, it’s time to re-frame your thinking.
If you’re going to have a movement that matters, you’re going to need people to get on your side.
PEOPLE.
Not Twitter accounts, not Instagram followers, not Facebook likes.
These are vanity metrics that provide little insight into the passion and interest people have in your brand, product, or personality.

Are You Really Ready?

If you’re ready, you’ll re-frame your thinking.
If you re-frame your thinking, it will change everything.

So get ready…
The world is crowded now with communicators, marketers, messengers, and “me, me, me.”
Some days it’s soul-sucking.
It’s why everyone who uses social networking says brands ruin everything.
And yet…people WANT to receive messages, they just want messages tailored to them.
One of the reasons digital marketing is so powerful is that it creates a give and take in the relationship.
It provides an opportunity for the customer, the reader to think about their favorite subject for a moment: them.
But here’s the rub:
It takes strategy, focus and creativity to create content that your consumer wants to see.

So, please.
As you review your communication goals and communication strategy, stop for one moment and think about the reader, whether they’re a customer, a client, an investor, or an internal employee.
Make it about them.
That single phrase is the one that thing so many brand communicators ignore.
Why? Because it takes serious work to “Make it about them.”
It means getting serious about audience identification.
It means getting serious about your brand, it’s voice and how it relates to the audience.
It means diving in on messaging and strategic choices in advertising.
It means actually creating a relationship and even (GASP) an in-person relationship with your customer or client.
It means, communication and branding for the long haul,  not some flash-in-the-pan-make-it-go-viral-I-need-some-vanity-numbers-now kind of campaign.

And while we’re thinking about it, let’s consider language and what it says about our strategy.
If you’re saying you’ll “use influencers,”  do you think you’re thinking about it from the “All About Them” standpoint?
If you’re talking about how you’ll “promote”  your message, event, or idea, does that sound like you’re getting ready to make it interesting to others?
If you’re talking to a PR agency, a strategist, or a social media consultant who is using words like “promote” and “use” you really must ask yourself if you’ll have an opportunity for a customer relationship.

I still see and hear this language every day on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, everywhere.
It’s gotten to where my eyes glaze over.
Guess what?  So does everyone else’s.

Let’s step it up, together.
We can do this.
We can make what you have to say interesting and relevant to the right people at the right time.

Now What?

Here’s my communication strategy challenge to you.
Go check your last 10 social posts.
See how many times you used the words “we, us, or I.”

How much of your content was about the consumer?
How much of your content was strategically shared to reinforce or create relationships?
Is there anything there that would make someone curious?
Is there anything at ALL that makes people feel ANYTHING?

How do YOU make people feel?
If you make them feel ANYTHING you’re miles ahead.
If you make them feel stronger, smarter, special, you’re really hitting on something.
If you made them terrified, scared, outraged, you’re really hitting on something.

People rarely forget how you made them feel.
But YOU’RE utterly forgettable when you make them feel nothing.
Digital branding and marketing is a long game, with peaks at appropriate times.
But always it surrounds emotion.

Regardless of the movement you’re trying to start, start with the idea that “you” are not necessarily interesting.
What’s interesting to people is what they do with “you.”
How you make them laugh or think.
How you make their lives easier, better or richer.

Here’s another reason to re-frame your thinking: it takes discipline and thought to create content that makes people pause.
That’s why so few marketers do it.
So while everyone else is “zigging” go ahead and “zag.” and watch how it changes the way people respond to your brand or product.

That is all.