05/11/2021No Comments

(other) People power

How to use marketing’s cheapest winning strategy.

Most people consider themselves independent thinkers, unmoved by the behaviours and decisions of others. We believe the choices we make are our own. Because we’re smart and in control.

Behavioural economics often proves the opposite. People are constantly buffeted by biases and subconscious influences that affect their choices in any moment.

To take a simple example, a hotel tested two alternative messages left in rooms to convince guests to reuse their towels. The first provided the environmental argument for reuse. The second just stated that most people reused their towels.

The second message improved towel reuse by 26% compared to the first.

Note that the second message didn’t say why people had reused their towels – just that they did. The only motivation for people to reuse was the perceived behaviour of others.

This is an example of social proof. Simply, that means people are positively influenced by the behaviour of the herd. It’s a non-rational instinct that when we see lots of other humans doing something, it’s likely a safe or profitable course of action. And it governs our actions more reliably than any logical thought process.

So, while you may be smart, you’re certainly not in control.

How to use social proof

Shout about yourself

If you’re able to show that people are choosing your brand or product, then it’s valuable to do so overtly. Decision-makers seek out what has been tried and tested. This then helps them define a range of options that feel less risky, as others are choosing them and (hopefully) not getting fired for it.

Never assume audiences already know about your market position or great customer successes – talk about it.

Consider the sales environment

In B2B, solutions are identified, considered, and bought by groups. There’s typically a single point of final sign off, but you expect people to discuss solutions with others.

Take a sales meeting. There might be one or two people there that you absolutely must convince of your offering. But there might be other people who, despite not having the same buying power, might be more receptive to what you’re selling. Perhaps you have an existing relationship with them, or they were the people who got you in the room in the first place.

Those advocates can be hugely valuable in helping to build consensus in the room for your product or service. Including and equipping anyone who may contribute in your favour can help to reduce scepticism in the people who will make the final decision.

Add a pinch of salience

Social proof isn’t an isolated effect. The extent to which people will be convinced by a message depends on many things, including other behavioural biases and contexts. But one way to give your message a guaranteed boost is to add points of salience.

Take a generalised message: “65% of small businesses use Dodo HR software every day”. Add in a salient piece of information about your target role: “65% of operations leaders use Dodo HR software every day”. The result is more relatable and human, but it’s also more targeted to the group you want the audience to emulate.

Convince a creative

It’s easy for writers to sneer at social proof. It’s too boastful and simplistic, too lazy. It’s boring to write headlines like “78% of customers chose Brand X”.

But like it or not, telling customers that you’re a popular pick with their peers works. It stirs their primitive impulse to follow the decisions of others who have tested the option and survived.

The simplicity of social proof needn’t be a temptation to produce mundane creative either. Stating a stat, like the example above, is only one basic expression of the concept. There are plenty of ways to communicate popularity that don’t rely on blaring facts.

A story

Case studies are great. They allow people to tell their own stories, making solutions and results more relatable. They also offer the opportunity to include plenty of contextual detail, which increases salience for particular audiences, improving effectiveness. Not to mention the variety of formats available to this tactic, whether filmed interviews, infographics or animated storytelling.

A free trial

Perhaps you have a brand new product, or your solution doesn’t yet have a market share to encourage widespread adoption. Offering the goods to people for free is a great way to make potential customers more receptive to seeing the best side of the offering. It also gives you a chance to create and share real-world examples of it working that don’t rely on decades of building your brand and customer base.

An advocate

Making a beeline for the primary decision-maker in your target organisation might feel like the most direct route to success. But take the time to find other people who can endorse your solution, or shout about what great work your business does. Consensus is critical, and hard to obtain.

Never think social proof is too boring or basic to use in your campaigns. Find ways to prove that what you’re doing for your customers works, and shout about it. Treat social proof models as a starting point for creative briefs, and set people the task of bringing this simple, basic tactic to life.

Everybody else is doing it, after all.


If you’d like to learn or share more about how we can influence behaviour to grow your business, get in touch at tomw@tmwunlimited.com

03/11/2021No Comments

What are you trying to prove?

Why you shouldn’t just throw a stat in.

B2B marketing likes its data. White papers, e-books, blogs… you name it, you’ll find stats in there propping the content up. At least, that’s what businesses think they do.

“95% of businesses agree that using stats in their marketing copy makes it more compelling.”

Okay, I made that up, but it’s probably true. And I mean it sounds good, doesn’t it? So, people are bound to find it relatable. And hell, I’m sure they grasp it. Right? Guys…? Anyone?

We see stats being used all the time by governments, charities, banks, beauty and cosmetics companies – to name a few. But unless they’re meaningful, they won’t take your message very far.

Here are three tips for using stats in your marketing content:

The Truth Factor

Above, that 95% I made up is probably close to the truth. After all, what company would disagree? But there’s a reason why businesses include disclaimers in their ads. You know the type – six out of eight saw instant results. Underneath, there’s that tiny writing that says something like ‘64 people took part in a survey and 48 agreed they saw an improvement very soon afterward.’

If only that many agreed to a similar sort of statement – is it really a truthful claim? And what exactly is it an improvement of? Slightly cleaner hair? Looking a bit less hungover in the morning?

I mean, it’s never worked for me but that’s not really the point. Empty statements or misrepresented ‘facts’ won’t do much to boost your offering. People will see it as a fake news alert. So, check the truth factor of your stat. Better yet, interrogate it. Especially for your more cynical readers. But before we get too stuck into empirical truths, let’s move on…

Avoid the Dub Effect

As the saying goes, ask an obvious question and you’ll get an obvious answer. And possibly a cringe. Here’s (another) one I made up earlier:

“80% of people said they preferred working for a company with clear pay increments.”

Well, duh. Who would look at that and think “gosh, that’s a surprise”? With stats like this, you’re not telling your audience something new. In fact, you’re kind of insulting their intelligence. You might think it sounds good, but it’s not really adding anything.

If you use a stat, it’s got to be meaningful. Stats shouldn’t be used for quick wins – they should add value to the subject of the piece and add weight to the argument. And if it doesn’t – get rid.

The Two R's: Readable & Relatable

Now, I know I’ve warned you against staying away from the ‘duh effect’. But it’s also important not to overcomplicate things. You’ve probably heard the quote, “if you can’t explain it to your grandmother, you don’t understand it.”

You might read a stat that confuses you. Especially if there are multiple ways to interpret it. Like, “85% of the people we asked about this thing in this way would rather not have it in this context.” WTF does that even mean?

Stats shouldn’t be so niche that they need dissecting to understand. Nor should they form a tenuous link back to what you’re telling your audience. So, choose each fact carefully. It should resonate with the reader. They should read it and think “yeah, I get that.”

And to be relatable, it needs to be readable. Make sure it’s concise, clear, and in plain English – wherever possible. The copy around it can do the job of elaboration.

Conclusion

To sum up, stats can be a powerful addition to marketing copy. And they have an impact. But only when they are truthful, meaningful, easy to understand, and relevant. So, if you have a killer stat that ticks all those boxes, you should – 100% – throw it in.


Want to talk about your marketing content and how best to sprinkle it with stats? Get in touch at lucyd@tmwunlimited.com

05/11/2020No Comments

Cool tools: 5 con-tech gems to boost your content creation

The art of content writing is as old as the marketing industry itself. For the modern content professional, the tools of the trade haven’t changed much over the years; an eye for a good story, a keen ear to explore and filter multiple sources and, of course, a dab hand to scribe it all in fluid prose.

What has changed, however, are the software tools a content writer has at their disposal to lighten the workload.

Leveraging the power and utility of these tools can bring massive improvements right across your content process flow – from ideation and research through to writing and quality control.

Here are some of the tools I use on a daily basis.


OtterAI

What is it?

Remember the days of transcription services? You had to record an interview, get a (sometimes eye-watering) quote, send the recording and await the transcript. Luckily, we’ve evolved from the analogue era and that entire process is now easier, faster and much cheaper.

With OtterAI, you simply press record at the start of your web conference call and let the software do the work. After a short processing period, you can access a full transcript of the call with the ability to scroll through the text and listen back to any words or sections you want.

How do I use it?

Personally, I use it for everything – team calls, client meetings, expert interviews (remember to let them know you’re recording!) It allows me to easily collect actions and insights. Far more reliable than trawling back through near-illegible scrawls of handwriting.

How much does it cost?

OtterAI offers a freemium service. Basic recording and transcribing is free, but for advanced capabilities it’s $9.99 per month (around £7.60).


Buzzsumo

What is it?

There’s a lot of content out there on the wild web. Type any industry buzzword or phrase into your search engine, and you’ll be greeted with a stream of links with varying degrees of relevance. Wouldn’t it be great if you could zero in on the content people are actually consuming? Well you can; Buzzsumo lets you conduct advanced content analysis to gain a comprehensive picture of the content that already exists in the niche you're researching (including what your competitors are putting out there). It also shows you what’s actually being shared by real people across digital and social channels.

How do I use it?

Finding out what content has been most widely shared is one valuable aspect, but Buzzsumo can do so much more. Building it into your content development processes will help you investigate topics and spot holes in the existing content on offer. So, you can keep your angles sharp and stop yourself from falling into the trap of ‘me too’ content.

How much does it cost?

The service has multiple packages based on your company’s level of usage. It's best to contact them directly to find out which option will suit you the most.


Grammarly

What is it?

Even seasoned content professionals make errors hear and their (😉). To save yourself from being redfaced when the client picks out a glaring typo in your headline, you can use Grammarly to keep you right.

How do I use it?

You can plug Grammarly into your web browser, desktop publishing tools and mobile device. So it'll be active wherever you are.

How much does it cost?

$29.95 per month (around £23), with savings for multi-month subscriptions.


Canva

What is it?

As a writer, it’s easy to feel intimidated by anything involving graphic design. Professional design platforms alone can be daunting and hard for a novice to navigate. Fortunately, Canva has abstracted the process so that us mere content-writing mortals can ascend to master the visual arts.

Whether seeking an image for a blog post, infographic or social media, Canva lets you create high-quality images without bothering your design team.

How do I use it?

It’s simple. Either select your basic image from the Canva library or else upload your own. From there you can add filters and text to match your needs and add some colour to your content.

How much does it cost?

$9.95 (around £7.65) per month when paid annually, or else $12.95 when paid monthly.


Trello

What is it?

No content writer is an island. Collaboration is a key part of the job and it’s not always easy to stay on the same page. Trello fixes this by creating a virtual post-it board where people can add tasks, mark the level of priority and update on the status.

How do I use it?

Create a board, get the members of your content team to register and start collaborating. The tool can be used as an editorial calendar to keep your content flowing.

How much does it cost?

The basic package is free. However, they also have enterprise packages for heavy users.


Have we missed any cool tools? Let us know your favourites in the comments below...