Revolutionary Basics: Neuro-Persuasion from the MN Search Summit

In July, I attended the MN Search Summit, a one-day conference covering aspects of SEO, SEM, content and more with Associate UX Designer Ann Marie Steib. It’s attended by search engine marketers in the Midwest and features amazing industry thought leaders like Rand Fishkin (The “Wizard of Moz”) and Larry Kim (Founder of WordStream).

My first (and favorite) breakout session of the day was Roger Dooley talking about Neuro-marketing/Neuro-persuasion. He spoke on some of the traditional psychological frameworks we use to guide marketing strategy, but urged that no single theory explains all consumer behavior. The bottom line? The importance of testing is paramount to marketing success.

As a major sucker for good problem-solving framework, I’m sharing with you Roger Dooley’s Persuasion Slide. This is broken into four elements that must work together to guide behavior change in your prospects:

Element 1: Gravity

The most basic element of using any slide, gravity, equates to working with your potential customers to help them accomplish what they want.

  • According to Dooley, “gravity is NOT ‘fill out this form, etc.’ but IS ‘we will help you accomplish what you want.’”
  • Takeaway: Always work in the direction of your customers’ gravity. Never try to work against gravity – it won’t end well.

Element 2: The Nudge

The push down the slide.

  • The nudge is how you get your potential customer’s attention. It’s what gets the customer thinking about your brand as a way to fulfill their need.
  • Examples include email, banner ad, video ad, etc. Below is an example of what Dooley uses as the nudge on his website:
Roger Dooley website popup
  • Takeaway: Make sure the nudge happens, and at the right time. In Dooley’s website example, he might wait to display the pop-up until a user has viewed three pages of content on his site, indicating a visitor that’s more engaged in reading his content.

Element 3:The Angle

The steeper the angle, the faster you slide. Thus, the more motivated the potential customer is, the faster conversion occurs.

  • Motivators increase your potential customer’s likelihood of conversion. Motivators can be conscious or non-conscious:
    • Conscious: features, benefits, price, discounts, etc.
    • Non-conscious: emotions, psychology, and “brain bugs”- things that we subconsciously choose that may not be logical. Font choice was an example of a non-conscious motivator. In Dooley’s example, customers were willing to pay much more for a product that featured a typeface with a luxury feel.
  • Conscious and non-conscious motivators work together. Much of consumer behavior is irrational, so appealing to emotion (through non-conscious motivators) is important, but so is making your user believes their decision was a rational one (by using conscious motivators like discounts).
  • Takeaway: Consider what motivators you can include in your messaging to increase your potential customer’s “angle”.

Element 4: Friction

Think about an old, rusty slide on a poorly-maintained playground. It’s going to hurt, and you might opt for the swings instead.

  • Friction on the slide is a difficulty the potential consumer faces that’s either real or perceived.
    • Real friction examples include long form fields and difficult website process or instructions.
    • Imaginary friction examples include hard-to-read fonts and visual design, and long blocks of text.
  • Dooley called fixing these mistakes the “cheapest way to increase conversions”.
  • Takeaway: Analyze your product/offering, and website and marketing materials for potential friction, then have your agency do the same. Fix everything that creates friction against potential conversion.

The Persuasion Slide framework is an insightful way to begin tackling marketing problems. I look forward to reading his book, Brainfluence. You can also watch Dooley present here.

If you have an interest in other brain-based behavior change frameworks, I recommend B.J. Fogg’s Behavior Model. I was lucky enough to catch a presentation by Fogg a few years ago, and he’s one of the best speakers I’ve seen to-date. His behavior model is easy to understand and easy to begin implementing right away.




Changing the Channel on Ad Avoidance

You rarely hear someone say, “man, I love ads.” That’s partly because liking ads is something that’s not socially acceptable to own up to, like enjoying the music of Nickelback or being a Chicago Bears fan. But it’s also because a lot of ads kind of suck, and people* will do everything in their power to avoid them.

It began after the golden age of marketing, when every family in the country gathered around the TV every night to watch the same program, that the glow of shiny advertisements began to dull. People realized ads were bad, ads kept them from content. Hearing the first few seconds of a well-known jingle sent fingers clicking to new stations. Eyes began to gloss over newspaper and magazine ads. DVR devices promised viewers they would never have to watch another ad again! The industry was aflutter with cries that TV advertising was dead. But it isn’t. It’s different, but not dead.

Now, the digital ad blocker has risen. According to PageFair and Adobe’s 2015 Ad Blocking Report, 16 percent of the U.S. population blocked ads during Q2 2015. This led to an estimated $10.7 billion in lost advertising revenues in 2015. Obviously, this is a big deal.

While it remains to be seen how the industry will officially address ad blocking, let’s take a look at the reasons people block digital ads, and who I think should buck up and deal with it:

  • Reason #1: Load times/data usage. Who wants to hit their mobile data limit 10 days before the end of the month, just because the page had to load one too many ads with expandable, in-banner video, five social media integrations and a map of the closest retailers?
    • Who should solve this? Advertisers. Make less-intrusive, faster-loading ads that are still interesting. If your product and messaging are intriguing, and you have quality creative, there’s no need for gimmicks. Just make better ads, guys.
  • Reason #2: Clutter. Scrolling through a post that stacks ad after ad is just a poor user experience.
    • Who should solve this? Publishers. Monetizing your site is important. But if you’re providing really good content, either users should be willing to pay for it, or advertisers should be willing to pay for it. Sometimes that extra ad money isn’t worth losing a frustrated reader.
  • Reason #3: “There are ads everywhere else I go! I’m bombarded every day, in every medium! Just let me control what I can.” Ads really are everywhere. I get it.
    • Who should solve this? You. I feel your pain, but the only way you’re going to fully avoid any advertising is by pulling a Walden. If you want to consume media, you have to pay for it in some way. There’s no such thing as a free lunch.

A lot will have to change to create a more pleasant web ecosystem for everyone. It’s important to consider the psychology behind why people avoid ads to ensure we’re creating the right solutions. Now, I’m going back to working on some ads that don’t suck.

*Here, and most other places, “people” are defined as anyone outside of the ad industry.



Millennials, Strategy and Segmentation: How to Get it Wrong

Finally, millennials are getting some good press. Although it’s easy to stereotype this group of young adults as technology-obsessed, financially-frivolous extroverts, a recent Carat survey (among other sources) state that only 42% of millennials are that KIND of millennial. The other 58% fall into different sub-groups, each with vastly distinctive goals, values, and outlooks. Millennial-loving marketers have come across a major “ah-ha” moment, and as a member of this demographic and an advertising practitioner, I say it’s about time. Some audience groups that are also commonly generalized in advertising include moms, the elderly, and the evolving family unit structure. The portrayals of these segments in advertising haven’t changed much in the last fifteen years, despite massive changes in culture and consumer behavior.

So what can this tell us about strategy? Understanding segmentation is key. The more you assume and generalize about a target audience, the greater chance there is for missed communication, unsuitable media placement, or a faulty tone. So dig deeper into target audience subsets and segments by conducting more in-depth research to understand them and their habits both on- and off-line. Incorrect generalizations can often come from only assessing the digital data. If a millennial visits a food blog four times in a month, does that make them a foodie? Or just a hungry guy killing time on their lunch hour? Examining digital data only goes so far, and it’s important to remember that even the “technology-obsessed” have lives off-screen.

Qualitative data digs deeper, leads to stronger insights, better targeting strategies, and more effective creative work. You’ll resonate with your audience on a deeper level. Living during an era when advertising is consumed more cautiously, authenticity and understanding make your communication more real to the target. Take a note from the continuously stereotyped millennials, moms, grandpas and blended families: shoot for understanding their habits both on the web and out in the everyday world to form a well-rounded strategy that truly resonates segment by segment.



How Putting Your Product in the Back Seat May Increase Profits

The old school of thought when it comes to web content is that it should look like your brand, focus around the benefits of your brand and be just disruptive enough to get people’s attention. There’s been a new kid in town with inbound marketing – it’s not about saying why YOU’RE the best, it’s about helping your customers be THEIR best.

Given the rate people consume online content, and the exponentially larger amount of data available online, it’s virtually impossible to get consumers’ eyes on your content – unless you’re giving them what they’re looking for. Odds are, consumers aren’t looking for your product by name unless you’re the top dog in your field. There’s a better chance they’re looking for information on how best to use your, or your competitors’, product or service.

A YouTube campaign called “Little Beasts” executed in October of 2014 by Ziploc educates users on alternative uses for their product, but the product itself is only ancillary to the videos’ storylines and branding is virtually non-existent.

By creating valuable minimally branded content that helps consumers identify their problem and then assist them with a solution, you’re creating value for the consumer. These helpful videos, blog posts, third-party hosted articles, and social media interactions are all part of an “inbound marketing” strategy.

It may be more cost effective to create positive associations with your brand by putting your customer in the driver’s seat by supplying them with helpful content, and letting your product or service take the back seat. By creating helpful content in the area where you are the expert, you’re able to prove yourself as a leader in the field and connect consumers’ perception of your brand with helpfulness and positive results. Over time, these interactions with your brand instill trust and positive associations in consumers which result in a greater propensity to buy and increased profits for you.



3 advertising tools to connect with customers in 2015

Entertainment has come to the forefront in new ways. And therefore, so too has advertising. Regardless of company size or budget, it’s important to stay on top of every tool in the advertising tool kit. How can you spread brand awareness? Tell stories. Listen. And join the conversation. Here are three advertising tactics to keep in mind during 2015.

Telling longer stories through video. In an age of bite-sized content through Vine, Instagram and Pinterest, some brands produce ads that fit faster and shorter media. But with the trend towards fast and short, longer-form ads still work. YouTube reported that its top ten ads of 2014 have an average length of three minutes. Taking minutes instead of seconds to develop a story around your product or brand can garner attention like nothing else. Last year, World Cup fans watched over one billion minutes of World Cup ads alone on YouTube. Beats by Dre packed a punch with its ad that chronicled “the game before the game,” exposing the human side of global sports figures. Thailand mobile operator True move-H has inspired millions globally with its powerful stories of giving unconditionally. Lesson learned? In this age of “instant” entertainment, consider an online video presence to tell longer stories and make deeper connections.

Keeping an ear to social media. Remember the iconic “Oreo moment” a couple years back, during the Super Bowl blackout of 2013? Real-time marketing is not new, but now it’s becoming a requirement for some brands today. Brand newsrooms – teams on-hand to instantly react – are becoming more popular to harness the “It’s happening now!” moments. Nationally- or globally-televised events are not the only opportunities either. Being always-on is time-consuming and difficult to do well. But it means you can foster good will among a customer base, like Citi Bike and JCrew did for a fallen biker. Social listening and reacting even in small ways, is customer service with incredible potential.

The new social media. Snapchat. Facebook’s Messenger and WhatsApp. Viber. Tango. Kik. Even Vine. They’re all at the forefront of messaging apps. If mobile is the new frontier, then messaging apps are the covered wagons bravely trekking ahead. BI Intelligence reports messaging apps as the fastest growing category within mobile apps. These apps highlight the divide between social networks for communicating with family, and more private options for communicating with friends on-the-go. The tough part is staying in the loop in terms of brand presence. These are new platforms, unsaturated with ads. But they’re not necessarily off-limits to brands. Virgin Mobile does a nice job with this by soliciting already Vine-famous users to “take over” their Vine channel for a period of time. These users create content that appeals to a captive audience, and Virgin Mobile spreads further awareness of its brand. First, you need to investigate your target audience’s presence on the platform. Ensure that social interactions on the network relate to your business goals. Then carefully strategize how you will interact with your target audience for your brand to join the conversation and spread brand awareness.

Staying up to date on the latest advertising options helps your brand stay authentic and relatable to your customer base. These days, that often means entertaining to remain memorable and valuable to your audience. Which outlets are right for 2015? Let your budget and your audience decide.


illustration of magician's hat and deceptive marketing practices

(Dis)honest Principles: Treating Users with Sincerity

Have you ever clicked a download button that resulted in an unexpected file? Has a site ever snuck an extra item into your cart? It doesn’t feel honest. Certain interfaces deceive people into taking actions they would not have taken otherwise. Deceived users will lose respect and take their business elsewhere. In short, deceitful interfaces are unfair.

These interfaces trick people into clicking ads and accepting hidden costs. Duped users answer trick questions and allow services to post on their behalf. Additionally, a popular tactic allows users to sign up for a service with ease, but proves difficult when users want out. Many of these deceptions classify as bait and switch or misdirection tactics. In other words, elements appear one way when a user scans a web page, but mean something else when read with more careful parsing. While I’m not against a magician’s deceptions, I believe it is unethical to gain profits from anyone fooled unaware.

Why do these practices exist? A small percentage of misled users do not notice until it’s too late, while others notice but are too busy to take action. Furthermore, certain workplaces rely on excessive metrics and conversion rates for decision-making. Viewing users as giant dollar signs can lead to exploitative, disrespectful, and unethical behavior.

I’d like to share a few simple ideas that help us at KW2 stay as sincere as possible:

  • Convey your information in the clearest possible manner.
  • Be the best example to your community and to those who look up to you.
  • Give users what they want instead of what you think they want.

If users feel as if a service is manipulating them, they will find another provider. While metrics may show beneficial short-term growth from these practices, users will catch on and abandon ship. Moreover, treating people with kindness and respect is reciprocal. People deserve honesty and clarification, not exploits and trickery. Above all, when providing any service, realize the users come first. Period. Also, don’t let David Blaine design your site.

What ideas do you have to stay honest with users?



Calling all burning digital questions

We’re on a quest to answer your web-related questions. Want to know how responsive design works? Need some help with email marketing? Want to know more about how Google AdWords can work for your business? Ask us a question in the comments section below or email us at hello@kw2ideas.com

Our team will post the most common and the best-of-the-best to get you the marketing help you need.


Berkshire Hathaway Travel Protection Announcement

KW2 Adds Berkshire Hathaway Travel Protection to Client Roster

Today we announce an addition to our client roster: Berkshire Hathaway Travel Protection (BHTP). Our strategy, planning, digital and creative teams aided the new brand, BHTP, in the launch of their revolutionary travel insurance product line with a comprehensive, strategic marketing and advertising rollout. The campaign launched on June 1.

“KW2 demonstrated exceptional experience and pulled together a dynamic team to help us launch our new brand,” said Brad Rutta, Director of Marketing for Berkshire Hathaway Travel Protection. “There was great chemistry between the two organizations from the beginning, and KW2 has managed to work under the difficult timelines necessary to execute our campaign.”

This is a revolutionary travel insurance offering. Consumer research confirms that there is confusion and distrust around travel insurance. People often indicate the insurance is too expensive for common trips, and that making claims is a complicated process. BHTP launched their entire campaign around one basic requirement: simplicity. The AirCare product costs only $25 and can be purchased up to one hour before a flight. The benefits are aimed entirely at flight protection and include: paying travelers $1,000 when they encounter travel problems like tarmac delays and lost baggage, $500 for missed connections and baggage delays, and $50 for a two-hour flight delay. Real-time trip tracking allows BHTP to see travel issues before they occur, and they can process payments directly to the traveler’s account.

KW2 assisted with the brand development, product naming, and website design (www.bhtp.com), and we created all creative assets for the digital campaign including online banner ads, mobile ads, digital audio, video and pre-roll commercials. The advertising campaign launched in conjunction with Hayworth Marketing and Media, targeted at consumers and travel professionals.

Andy Wallman, President of KW2, said, “We couldn’t be more excited to add BHTP to our client roster. We’re thrilled to help them revolutionize travel insurance with the innovative ways they’re putting the customer first. Berkshire Hathaway is one of the premier financial brands in the world, and we’re committed to helping them grow their brand in the specialty travel insurance business. Every member of the team here at KW2 is 100% committed to their success.”

For more information, go to kw2ideas.com and check out our Featured Work.



Experiential Marketing: Letting Your Customer Taste, Touch and Feel Your Brand

In my previous life, I managed a team of experiential marketers for Miller Lite to promote and sell featured products to consumers. In its basic form, these efforts involved playing games, giving out free marketing collateral and even free samples. In these few minutes of sampling, playing brand-themed iPad games and discussion, we were able to draw the consumer away from their current habits, immerse them in the brand and topic of discussion, and reinforce the benefits of our product. I’ll never forget one consumer I approached and he said, “I never really tried Miller Lite, until you and the Miller team gave me a free beer a few weeks back and talked with me about taste comparison to competitors. I’ve been drinking Miller since.”


What is experiential marketing? It is one of the fastest-growing and “hottest categories in the ad industry,” (Chicago Business Journal) which focuses on providing the ultimate consumer experience through events and activities that connect consumers with brands. The key to experiential marketing is immersing your target in all that your brand has to offer. This is where passive vs. active marketing really comes into play.


Here are a few famous examples:

-Gillette promoted their razors by setting up a barber event set in select cities. Male consumers were invited to get a free shave  with the Gillette products.

-Ikea furnished hotels with tables, sofas, beds, chairs and even utensils for guests to enjoy during their stay.

-Keeping with their campaign to spread happiness, Coca-Cola implemented a vending machine, dubbed the Hug Machine, at  the National University of Singapore that gave students a free can when students would physically hug the machine.

In each situation, these brands tapped into the features and benefits of their products and let consumers experience it. For a brief moment, the brand completely encapsulated the public’s mind and left a lasting impression with each participant, in a way that didn’t feel like advertising or relationship marketing, but actually was.


I once saw a presentation from a designer whose theory is to create the perfect design via multisensory experiences. Isn’t that fantastic? If you can create something that allows consumers to tap into sight, sound, smell, touch and taste, it creates emotions and memories. Isn’t that what we, as marketers, strive for? We want our brand to be the first thought when prompted by a particular topic, word or idea. How can you, in B2C, B2B or social marketing, create experiences that get you closer to your customer?


The Art of Listening

If you listen, they will talk – Hear what your customers have to say

We’ve heard the command since we were old enough to talk. “Listen up!” said our parents, teachers, coaches, and instructors. It’s easy to become numb to the idea of listening, or at least fall into the habit of listening poorly. However, the value of hearing what clients, and their customers, have to say can’t be overstated. That’s a key element of what we do here at KW2: we put our customers first.

Listening can help improve the efficiency of your business, streamline your practices, and bolster your relationships with customers, co-workers, and personal contacts. Here are 5 easy strategies to consider:

1.   Listen without distraction. Put down the phone. We’re all multitaskers in theory, but science tells us that we actually are just shifting focus between tasks momentarily and with great speed. That means you miss details if your attention is divided, even slightly.

2.   Actually listen. If you’re talking, you’re not hearing what is being spoken to you. There will be times where you need to speak up, but allowing your mind to absorb what is said helps YOU in turn develop better ideas and retain information.

3.   Ask clarifying questions. This helps avoid confusion and mistakes down the line since you’re ensuring you have complete and accurate information. It also helps the speaker feel that you value and understand what they say.

4.   Doodle. Yes, draw things while you listen. It engages the visual parts of your brain, and it helps you avoid other, more involved distractions. Fast Company’s article, “How to Turn Your Mindless Doodles into Productivity Enhancers” suggests what your doodles say about you and how you can turn them into productive tools.

5.   Don’t agree with everything, but be prepared to change your mind. Inspire true dialogue by challenging assumptions and the status quo. Take a moment to think. What were we trying to accomplish? What was said? What underlying meaning was there in the conversation we just had? Then DO. Innovate and explore as many ideas as possible to arrive at the best one.

Better listening leads to informed, more efficient decision-making. Engaging your customers, your staff, your peers by truly listening to them ensures that you miss the mark less. Ideas come from everywhere … are you willing to hear them?