Don't Stop With Ketchup: Give Your Marketing Plan The Works

Sometimes, ketchup just isn't enough.

Imagine you've got a burger. It's thick, rich, and juicy. It's made of the most premium, gourmet meats — and it's sandwiched between a warm, freshly baked, sesame seed bun that's been lightly toasted and slathered with butter.

As you think of what to add to it, what condiments are in the running?

If you're like most of us you want the works: grilled onions, butter lettuce, fresh tomatoes, and a slice of bubbling melted cheese.

You wouldn't stop at ketchup. You'd seek more ingredients to make your burger the best it could be.

Your marketing plan is the same. It may be as good as gold but if you want to take it to the next level, add the works by using one of these persuasive techniques.

Fear appeals

"We will fight threats, but only if we're told how to defeat them."

Fear appeals are persuasive messages that scare prospective customers. Their intent is to motivate people to act immediately to protect themselves from the threat.

This technique should be used carefully most people don't like threats and tend to deny their existence. They also use other defense mechanisms when threatened to protect themselves.

There are different variables that influence the effectiveness of fear appeals. Some of them being: perceived severity, individual characteristics, and susceptibility.

Another factor is the intensity of the fear. Weak fear appeals may not get enough attention and strong fear appeals may cause a person to set up his defense mechanisms and completely ignore or avoid your message.

One example is with smoking. You've seen ads, and heard messages about the negative effects of smoking on the body. But people still do it. You can apply the same logic to eating too much, drinking or overindulging in other ways -- people know they shouldn't, but when faced with the choice to partake, they rarely turn it down.

Fear appeals are not persuasive enough on their own to motivate behavior. They must be combined with perceived efficacy. This is a combination of self efficacy (Can I avert the threat myself?) and response efficacy ("will the action recommend avert the threat?").

Online persuasion tips:

  • Use personally relevant threats that aren't too big or too small.

  • Boost your customers' efficacy by offering your solution as easy and effective.

  • Put a clear, compelling call to action after or next to your fear evoking message.

  • Ensure customers who respond that they've taken a step towards a better life.

Reflection effect

"We're risk averse when we have something to gain, but risk seeking when we've got something to lose."

The reflection effect says that we've got different 'risk preferences' for uncertain choices based on whether the outcome is a gain or a loss.

When we stand to lose something, we're willing to take risks to mitigate the loss. We also display risk seeking behavior.

This reminds me of the scene from Home Alone 2 when the main character, Kevin was lost in New York at night. When the mom arrived she immediately went looking for him. She ignored the fact that she was alone in a dangerous city -- all her thoughts were on finding her son.

Online persuasion tips:

  • Test phrasing your USP as a gain when you want customers to make a risk averse choice (such as continuing with your service).

  • Phrase your USP as a loss when you want customers to make a risk seeking choice (like leaving your competition and switching over to you).

Gaze cueing

"We automatically focus our orientation to look at the same object that others are looking at."

When we see faces, the first thing we notice is the person's eyes. We can't help but to intensively process the eyes because they're known to reveal secret and complex emotions. They also display intentions, beliefs and desires.

Our eyes also possess the power to direct our attention. When you visit a website, for example, and you notice the people's eyes focused in one direction, you're inclined to look there too.

Online persuasion tips:

  • When using faces on your website, direct their look toward the most critical components of the page.

  • Place important elements like your CTA on the right side and have faces looking in that direction.

  • Put negative elements outside of the perceived gaze direction.

Former effect

"We most easily identify with vague, mostly positive, and general personality descriptions."

The former effect is our tendency to rate our personality traits as tailored and specific to us. We think they're unique but in fact, they're vague, mostly positive traits that can be applied to large groups of people.

Have you ever completed a personality test? Those quiz-like questions are based on the same premise. They make you feel like you're getting custom results when you're actually receiving the same message that's been sent over and over to countless others.

Online persuasion tips:

  • Refer to vague and general personality traits ( Are you the kind of person who enjoys sharing what you learn?).

  • List positive traits of your products and your brand.

  • Mention that your solution is perfect for 'these kinds of people.'

Cognitive dissonance