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Secrets that the most successful marketing companies don’t want you to know… Part 1

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Do you want an effective website that really sells?  All it takes is average skills in intelligence, creativity and imagination, and a little know-how.

By far, the most common mistake that an owner of an E-commerce website makes is a lack of effective planning. First, they should clearly define what the objectives are and then do an objective reality check to ensure that they are achievable. 

By a reality check I mean ensure, for example, that what you are selling matches the price you are asking for it. That your sales projections are realistic, and most importantly that you align your opinion of what you are offering with the clients’ perception of what they are buying.

You may have heard of Joe Karbo? He wrote a best-selling book titled ‘The Lazy Man’s Guide to Riches’.  His model of how to make a fortune from mail-order is often held up by Internet companies who sell marketing models, etc.  However, what they fail to tell you is that in excess of 40% of his customers returned the book for their money back, and very few of the remainder ever bought anything from him again.  Never promise what you cannot deliver.

Next, start writing your copy.  Make a list of your unique selling points, and place them into an order of importance to your client.  The golden rule for writing effective copy is simple – ensure that you are writing to meet the clients’ needs and expectations, not yours!   To understand this, grab a few adverting leaflets or newspaper adverts and count the platitudes (pointless, unoriginal, or empty comments or statements made as though they were significant or helpful). Some examples – ‘safe hands’, ‘the professionals’, ‘120 years of reliable service’, ‘unbeatable’, ‘we take you seriously’.

Remember, you are writing to generate and facilitate the buying response.  This means getting your prospect past the front page.  If you fail here, all you are doing is helping your competition.

How do you ensure that the majority of visitors move past your front page?  That’s easy – get their attention, engage them, and promise to enlighten them.  If you have anything else on your front page, get rid of it.  They don’t need to know, for now. Contrary to popular opinion, your company name and logo is not a buying signal – so keep it discrete.  Website counters, the time, the weather, etc, are not helpful either – unless you are selling watches and barometers.

A little knowledge of psychology will help you here.  I will keep it brief and talk in metaphors.  The exact science is not important – only the general principles. 

Through the long and convoluted history of evolution man has developed a very powerful brain.  But it is not one brain, its three brains.  The brain that we use for thinking with is the outer shell, and the brain that controls our emotions is the middle shell, and the inner shell controls body functions required for sustaining life.  (Yes, they have a lot more functions – but I am trying to focus on what we need to know for now)

Look at the outer shell as the unit that we make decisions with – our conscious, and the other two shells as our unconscious - the seat of our feelings.  A very important function of the outer shell is the processing of our vision.  Imagine the nerves running from our eyes to our visual processing unit becoming severely damaged through disease – we would be sightless, totally blind, yes?  It appears not!  Recent studies, involving people who had become blind through damaged optic nerves were shown a number of drawings of human faces, each depicting strong emotional expressions.  They were asked to guess if the face showed fear or a smile.  Remarkably, a statistically significant number of them guessed more correctly than could have been by chance.  How could this be?  The scientists discovered a discrete neural pathway from the eyes to the midbrain, direct to the emotional centre.  It may be that we are hard-wired to recognise at an emotional level a basic input – before the signal is processed to produce vision, A primitive warning system, perhaps? Therefore, it may be reasonable to assume that what  people see is being processed emotionally, before cognitively. That being the case, we will have an advantage if we write to appeal to the emotional aspect of the brain as well as the cognitive.

Remember, get their attention, engage them, and promise to enlighten them.  How?  Clue:  ‘Secrets that the most successful marketing companies don’t want you to know .. ‘

I am sure you can write at least 12 powerful statements that are unique for you?  Try it, while I write some more secrets for part 2.

Ian Jay
 

13 Responses

  1. Citation Please

    "Recent studies, involving people who had become blind through damaged optic nerves were shown a number of drawings of human faces, each depicting strong emotional expressions.  They were asked to guess if the face showed fear or a smile.  Remarkably, a statistically significant number of them guessed more correctly than could have been by chance.  How could this be?  The scientists discovered a discrete neural pathway from the eyes to the midbrain, direct to the emotional centre.  It may be that we are hard-wired to recognise at an emotional level a basic input – before the signal is processed to produce vision, A primitive warning system, perhaps?"

    Hello Ian, could you provide citations for the studies and research which you have alluded to above? I would be interested in learning more about this research and the claims that have stemmed from it and also read more about the  ‘discrete neural pathways’ the scientist discovered and you have referenced.

    Thank you.

     

  2. Good question, but …..

    Hi Gary

    OK, will do – but I wrote the article as a general paper, not a scientific one.  Not that I object to your or any other question or challenge, for without curiosity or disputation we would not move forward.   Let me browse my 9, 567 papers and books on Psychology …..  I have it somewhere!

  3. More …

    Hi
    I cannot find my original source (yet), but this article should assist you meanwhile.

    "Scientists have long known that the brain digests what comes through the eyes using two sets of circuits. Cells in the retina project not only to the visual cortex — the destroyed regions in this man — but also to subcortical areas, which in T. N. were intact. These include the superior colliculus, which is crucial in eye movements and may have other sensory functions; and, probably, circuits running through the amygdala, which registers emotion.

    In an earlier experiment, one of the authors of the new paper, Dr. Alan Pegna of Geneva University Hospitals, found that the same African doctor had emotional blindsight. When presented with images of fearful faces, he cringed subconsciously in the same way that almost everyone does, even though he could not consciously see the faces. The subcortical, primitive visual system apparently registers not only solid objects but also strong social signals."

    http://www.nytimes.com/2008/12/23/health/23blin.html?_r=1

     …………………………. 

    Later, found a better source:

    " ……This led Dr Alan Pegna, of the University of Wales, Bangor’s School of Psychology, with research colleagues at Bangor and Geneva University Hospital, to establish that emotion displayed on a human face is registered in an area other than the visual cortex. The area involved was identified as the right amygdala, an almond-shape structure situated deep within the brain’s temporal lobe.

    What the better than random results of ‘Patient X’s apparent ‘guessing’ showed was that, although not able to ‘see’ in the conventional sense, ‘Patient x’ was able to process this information, as the processing occurs elsewhere in the brain. Although not aware of ‘seeing’ the faces, he was able to react to unconscious processing in his brain of the images placed in front of him.

    “This discovery is also interesting for behavioural scientists as the right amygdala has been associated with subliminal processing of emotional stimuli in clinically ‘healthy’ individuals. What ‘Patient x’ has assisted us in establishing is that this area undoubtedly processes visual facial signals connected with all types of emotional facial expressions,” explains Pegna."

    http://www.innovations-report.com/html/reports/medicine_health/report-37719.html

    I hope this answers your question?

     

     

  4. Masked Presentations of Emotional Facial Expressions

     I managed to locate a copy of the actual report you PM’d me.

     The details are here:
     
     
    Having gone through this document I am not certain the conclusions these scientist have drawn about the role of the amygdale and the order of processing can necessary lead to the assumptions you have made or construed from this work.
  5. Fair enough …

    Science is nothing but assumptions of course, there are no absolutes, no truths.  As the blog unfolds I hope to clarify the role of emotions in the sales and communication process.  Can we agree that emotions rise in the ‘subconscious’ and do have an effect on our conscious  decision making process?

    EDIT: I have just noticed that the paper you refer to and kindly provided the link to is not Alan Pegna’s study. Which was the work I alluded to.  Will try to find it …..

    Have an abstract ..

    2005Pegna Alan J; Khateb Asaid; Lazeyras Francois; Seghier Mohamed L
    Discriminating emotional faces without primary visual cortices involves the right amygdala.
    Nature neuroscience 2005;8(1):24-5.

    Destruction of the brain’s primary visual areas leads to blindness of cortical origin. Here we report on a subject who, after bilateral destruction of his visual cortices and ensuing cortical blindness, could nevertheless correctly guess the type of emotional facial expression being displayed, but could not guess other types of emotional or non-emotional stimuli. Functional magnetic resonance imaging showed activation of the right amygdala during the unconscious processing of emotionally expressive faces.
  6. Citation

    “EDIT: I have just noticed that the paper you refer to and kindly provided the link to is not Alan Pegna’s study. Which was the work I alluded to.  Will try to find it …..”

    Yes you did Ian, this is what you said in your PM to me:

     “I did not want to bloat my blog further, but I found my references:

    Whalen, P.J., Rauch, S.L., Etcoff, N.L., cInerney, S.C., Lee, M.B., & Jenike, M.A.
    (1998). Masked presentations of emotional facial expressions modulate amygdala activity without explicit knowledge.
    Journal of Neuroscience, 18(1), 411–418

    And Penga’s study was in:

    Evolve Your Brain (2007)
    Joe Dispenza
    ISBN 13: 978 0 7573 0480 4
    Health Communications Inc”

     

  7. Essex or Ethics

    Garry

    In future, you may wish to consider what the ‘P’ in ‘PM’ stands for. I thought that you had a genuine interest in this work, and I replied to you, in private,  with that in mind. Should you have a problem, or question about our private communication, then good manners and etiquette should prevail.  That is to say – keep it private.

    Now, consider yourself ‘bollocked’ and keep with the programme!

    If you have a problem with this, take it to the Editor.

  8. Citation

    The issues Ian for me are that making claims based on research has to be substantiated or at least explored, by everyone. In your previous message you stated that I had posted a citation that you had not referenced, when in fact you had. As your ‘private message’ contained the reference I have no hesitation publishing the appropriate section on the open forum as there is no rational reason for not doing it, the PM containing nothing ‘private’ or ‘personal’ in nature.

     

     

     

  9. Et in Arcadia

    Garry

    I thought I had made it clear here and in my private email to you that the work I based my premise on was that of Alan Pegna. It appears that you have misinterpreted my purpose in mentioning an earlier paper in my PM.  This was only to assist you in that you said, "I would be interested in learning more about this research …".  I assumed, perhaps wrongly, that you had a general interest in the subject, not a specific interest in my premise.  And it should go without saying that wether you agree or not with my conclusions is not an issue, certainly not to me.

    Please read carefully what I wrote in the blog:

    "Therefore, it may be reasonable to assume that what people see is being processed emotionally, before cognitively. That being the case, we will have an advantage if we write to appeal to the emotional aspect of the brain as well as the cognitive."

    The base of the premis is that what people see is being processed emotionally, before cognitively. Later, I did respond to your question with – "Can we agree that emotions rise in the ‘subconscious’ and do have an effect on our conscious decision making process?"  You failed to reply. Should your question be seated in a genuine search for enlightenment and knowledge, may I suggest that you adhere to some constant and logical way of moving forward.

    Also, if you fail to recognise that the publication on a public forum of private email is considered bad form (regardless of content), then I can only assume that you are new to communicating on Internet forums.  Most, if not all of the many forums to which I belong to would threaten a ban for reoffending. It appears that they don’t run such a tight ship here?

    Further, the publication of a highly edited part of my private communication, in some apparent weak support of your action in quoting the wrong paper is not playing the game.  I really don’t have the time for a "I said" – "You said" tournament.

    In conclusion, for I am not going to spend much more time on this specific thread, and you may care to consider my statement within my PM to you, "I did not want to bloat my blog further …".  Clearly, this site or forum is not designed for indepth scientific discussion.  As I mentioned to the Editor as I started this blog, the challenge is getting the balance right, in writing for the non-scientist reader.  The challenge remains.

    Et in Arcadia
     

    Ian

  10. Citation

    Thank you for such a detailed response – I will reply here to some of the specific issues you have raised.
     
    Yes, I was interested in the research you mentioned to explore whether the studies you referenced of Pegna, Whalen et al could be reasonably applied to the context of web site design and copy writing. I question whether it can, but as you state that is neither here nor there. Regardless, it is both legitimate and a function of this forum for ideas to be challenged and questioned.
     
    You go on to state: ‘"Can we agree that emotions rise in the ‘subconscious’ and do have an effect on our conscious decision making process?"  You failed to reply.’ Here then is my response:  Not entirely, I think it’s a simplification too far, but as you have already stated; what I think as far as you are concerned has little relevance. However, what was in question for me was whether the research you referenced provided supporting evidence for the claims made, and as I stated that’s why I wanted to read them in greater depth.
     
    As you can also imagine I also disagree that when told I referenced a report you did not cite which was categorically untrue, quoting the reference from your PM seems in balance and appropriate, it did then and it does now and your expressed indignation seems probably more driven by the exposure of this fact than anything else.
     
    The final Latin quote: ‘Et in Arcadia’ is I presume a contraction of the Latin phrase Et in Arcadia ego:   Even in Arcadia I exist?   Really?
     
  11. Et in Google

    Garry

    I am honoured to talk to a man who has translated Virgil with such confidence, and not relied on Google!

    Please, to ensure myself and our audience that your wisdom is sound and secure – can you supply a  translation in English and in your own words  the paragraph around this quote in the Eclogues?    In your own time, of course.

    Meanwhile, may we keep on topic?  Obfuscation can become so tiresome, after a while.

    —————————

    Can we brighten this up a bit?

    BTW, For all our readers – what’s the relationship between the quote, Felicity Kendal, Mr Lom, and myself?

    In case of a tie-breaker, where and when  did  Ranulph Fiennes and I work together?

    Just add your answers to the blog ….

    NB: Multiple entries will not be accepted, nor answers from relatives of Gerry, the Editor, Ranulph, or heirs to the throne of England.

     

     

     

     

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