Aim for the Heart Not the Head

Aim for the Heart Not the Head

Have you ever tried to get someone to change their opinion by presenting a rational argument? How did that work out for you? Outside of scientific arenas, I do not think this works very well at all.

Professional marketers and psychologists know people make decisions emotionally and then use reason to rationalize them.

Daniel Goleman, author of “Emotional Intelligence”, puts it this way,

“Our emotional mind will harness the rational mind to its purposes, for our feelings and reactions– rationalizations– justifying them in terms of the present moment, without realizing the influence of our emotional memory.”

As decision makers and consumers we are at a disadvantage, the influence of our emotions, once we’ve come up with our rationalizations, fades from our recollection.

This is why most people when they learn about this phenomenon respond in protest, “That’s not me. I make decisions based on the Facts.” No one does. That’s not how our brain works.

It’s why science has been developed as a discipline.

It’s an external framework that forces humans to arrive at conclusions based on evidence – not something we do naturally.

However as marketers this works to our advantage if we recognize it and use it.

Evoke emotion first, then give reasons to support the feelings.

This isn’t really manipulation – though at first it can sound like it. It is just good communication. It’s communicating in a way that is natural for humans. Feelings matter.

In fact when we are forced to accept a point of view that upsets us, based only on overwhelming reason, we feel resentful.

And in truth, after the age of four or five, our sense of will is so strong we will likely never submit ourselves to accepting any position that is forced upon us by reason alone, especially when it clashes with our sense of the world.

Why Marketers Should Smile at Pain

Why Marketers Should Smile at Pain

You know what you SHOULD be doing.

Better diet, better exercise, more discipline, better organization, take on more responsibility, contribute more to charity, etc.

There are even things not at the forefront of your mind that well meaning friends, family and acquaintances remind you of… Are you drinking too much coffee… diet soda… alcohol?… Are you contributing the maximum to your IRA or 401k?…

There is an endless list of positive things you should be doing.

If you’re lucky you’ve changed some of your behaviors and adopted good, new habits.

But how many good habits lay unused in your big brain?

It’s normal. Everybody has some limit on their capacity to change behavior. The best of us, do our best.

Now, think about how fast you’ve changed when there were bad things heading right for you… or when you had already been hit by them.

I bet you hustled!

You made things happen. You have moved mountains to solve those painful problems. In fact, I bet you were willing to pay cash money to help alleviate some of those problems.

This is why marketers should “Sell Painkillers not Vitamins!”

This saying is very popular in sales and marketing circles, and for good reason.

It’s a fundamental principle of marketing and one of my favorites.

It has nothing to do with pills or products and everything to do with positioning or framing our messages.

It’s far easier to motivate someone to take an action to alleviate their present pain than to prevent a future one.

You have to position your offer as the cure to the prospect’s current pain. The bigger the pain the better.

It doesn’t matter the source of the pain. Physical, psychological and emotional pain are all equally valid.

Even complete luxuries can be positioned as painkillers. They alleviate real psychological pains. It’s the pain in not keeping up with one’s peers or losing social status.

A series of experiments conducted by Eisenberger and Lieberman at UCLA resulted in Social Pain Overlap Theory (or SPOT.)

They showed that losing social connections activates the same parts of the brain as actual physical pain. Hence most folks will do almost anything to prevent it.

Another example of psychological pain is found in people who are collectors. Some people feel discomfort when they have an incomplete collection. They need to complete the collection to alleviate their discomfort… to scratch that itch.

Once you’ve identified the pain your offer cures, you agitate the problem. Maybe they are only mildly aware of their problem.As marketers we’re going describe the problem and it’s consequences with such vivid detail they can’t ignore it.

This video does a great job of describing the pain:

Next you’ll educate the prospect on how they came to have this pain… you’ll describe the mechanism that caused their pain.

Then in the terms of this new mechanism, show them how your offer disrupts or short circuits the mechanism, thereby alleviating the pain.

This video does a great job of describing the mechanism of addiction:

Imagine if you are marketing a recovery center with these types of solutions.

Now describe the promised land… This is what life will be like after the pain has ended. The description of this state should be equally vivid as the description of the pain.

dastardly villainThis is a powerful tool that can be used for good or evil, so don’t let me catch any of you twisting your mustache (proverbial or otherwise) at the possibilities.


Did you like this? Did you learn something? If so, please show some love by sharing it on your favorite social media channel… Look down there! There are those conveniently places buttons again. 🙂

5 Steps to Cool Social Branding

5 Steps to Cool Social Branding

Now I’m not referring to the same thing Ron Slater is referring to in the movie Dazed and Confused.

What I’m referring to is the indefinable quality of character called cool.

I’m going to make two bold statements and then show that they’re true:

1) To maximize the effect of social media marketing, you must be “cool”… at least to some part of your market.

2) Regardless of the niche any brand can genuinely earn the reputation of being “cool.”

Before I begin, we have to define what we’re talking about when we say, “cool.”

I remember when I was a teenager complaining to a particularly smart aunt of mine, that I wasn’t “cool.”

She responded, that the word cool was stupid and didn’t mean anything. To this day, in my heart of hearts, I think she was right.

But how could this be when I’ve decided to write an entire post about it and make the claim that being cool is fundamental to successful social media campaigns? (And if you’re friends with me on Social Media, why my most common comment is “Cool!”?)

It all depends on the definition you use.

When Slater asks Mitch, “Are you cool, man?” Specifically, he is trying to find out whether or not Mitch smokes pot, but he phrases it in a very commonly understood teenage question, “Are you cool?”

are you cool man

This question is really asking will you salute and adopt our customs, traditions, beliefs, and appearance in order to be initiated as a member of the group?

Cool, in this context – as a judgment of appropriate inclusion, is pretty stupid and adolescent because it allows the user to pass judgment without naming the criteria on which the judgment is based – very convenient.

Stupid or not, it is powerful for the person who uses it, because it carries the power include or exclude. Moreover it is always undefined (I know it when I see it).

Now this matter of inclusion and exclusion is also involved in the managing of social media communities, but I’ll talk about that in a future post.

What is Cool?

The cool I am referring to is the characteristic we identify in fictional heroes.

James Bond, John Wayne, The Marlboro Man, Bruce Lee, Superman, Batman, Rocky, Conor McGregor, Muhammad Ali, Paul Walker, La Femme Nikita, Thelma & Louise, The Fonz, The Most Interesting Man in the World, etc.


These are all examples of characters who are/were considered cool by someone, or a caricature of cool, in the case of The Fonz or The Most Insteresting Man in the World.

The award winning ad man and author of The Advertising Effect, Adam Ferrier produced a graduate level thesis on the definition of cool and here are the common qualities he discovered:

  • They have self-belief and confidence – self awareness and more importantly self-acceptance are seen as cool.
  • They defy convention – having the conviction to follow their own path.
  • They are successful achievers, but understated – they don’t have to tell you that they’re good.
  • They care for others, humanistic – … listening to others … broadminded … non-judgmental … they are have a caring respect for others.
  • High connectivity, great with people – … magnetism … a strong personality that attracts others.

So finally we have a set of criteria for cool! Thank you Mr. Ferrier!

Using these let’s revisit my assertions.

1) To maximize the effect of social media marketing, you must be “cool”… at least to some part of the market.

Let’s use proof by reductio ad absurdum, which is a form of proof in math and logic where you assume the exact opposite and look for an impossible consequence.

So let’s imagine the social media presence of a fictional entity, the ACME Corporation.

The social media presence of the ACME Corporation has none… zilch… nada… of the qualities of “cool” mentioned above.

This means they…

  • They have NO self-belief and NO confidence – They are constantly communicating uncertainty and insecurity.
  • They are completely conventional – They are as plain jane as they come. If it hasn’t been done before, they don’t do it. Their ideal response from audience members is, “Of course I’ve seen it before, but it doesn’t offend me.”
  • They have little genuine evidence of success, but they embellish and boast about what little they’ve done – they DO have to tell you that they’re good, because no one else will.
  • They do not care for others, their engagement is robotic and mechanistic – … They don’t really listen to others… smallminded… judgmental … they display blatant disrespect for others.
  • They don’t connect – people feel repelled … they have a weak personality that turns people off.

Now after reading this description (and I’m sure you recognize a few accounts like this… ha ha), does the ACME Corporation have any chance growing their business on social media?

Clearly no…


2) Regardless of the niche any brand can be cool.

Consciously cultivate these 5 qualities in your social media presence:

  1. Self-belief and confidence – have self awareness and be self-accepting.
  2. Defy convention – be a trailblazer!
  3. Don’t hide success, but don’t boast – let your customers communicate that you’re good. (Casey Neistat does this well)
  4. Care for others and be human – listening to your audience… be broadminded … non-judgmental … have a caring respect for others.
  5. High connectivity, be great with people – accept your magnetism… display your true self, a strong personality that attracts others. The key to this is being vulnerable – see this TED Talk.

Any brand, personal or corporate, can cultivate these qualities.

Here are some niches where I’ve engineered cool…

  • Tire Stores
  • Auto Repair Shops
  • Medical Skin Care
  • Window Washers
  • Janitorial Firms
  • Spiritual Self-help Authors
  • Business Consultants

Trust me, most of these were challenging, but if I can do with these, it can be done anywhere!

Don’t let anyone tell you Paper Crafts can’t be cool… I have a proof for that!

Go out and be the James Bond of your corner of the interwebs.

There you have it…

Engineering Cool for Social Media Fun and Profit in 5 Easy Steps!

If you enjoyed this post or otherwise found it useful, I’d be much obliged if you’d share it with your audiences on social media. Look at all those cool buttons below… 🙂

Authenticity: The Challenge of Personal Branding

Authenticity: The Challenge of Personal Branding

Content Challenges

It takes work to produce any kind of content… period. It takes a lot of work to create good content.

This is why there is such a profitable divide between content producers and content consumers.

Keeping content looking and sounding consistent requires effort.

Producing it at regular intervals requires discipline.

If you’re managing your own personal brand, it’s somewhat easier because you get to pick the stuff you like, but when you’re managing a brand for someone else, it’s not so easy.

You have to use your imagination and take on the role of an author. You have to ask, what would my client’s brand like/choose in this situation?

Authenticity Challenges

Despite the challenges involved in creating branded content, the biggest issue I see is authenticity.

Social media audiences are as sensitive to authenticity as bloodhounds are to blood. If they don’t smell it, they’re off the scent and will stop following.

So the job is really simple.

Just tell a perfectly authentic, never-ending story.

Easy, right?


For a personal brand this should be easy… in theory.

Just Do You!… Be Real!… whatever cliche you want to use for “be yourself.”

The people who like your rap, STAY.

And the people who don’t, LEAVE – the perfect recipe for market segmentation.

The thing is, a personal brand is still a manufactured contrivance.

It’s specifically designed to look like it’s not artificial… sort of like a Bonsai Tree or a Zen garden.

It has to be maintained and manicured. How much info do we leave in? How much do we take away?

In real life I suspect most people’s authentic selves are “complex” and full of contradictory impulses.

These can cause cognitive dissonance for an audience following the “story-line” of a personal brand’s output on social media, where it’s rapid fire message after message.

Close friends and family understand our contradictory qualities (or at least forgive them) in the context of a larger story… our life-story. They have had the chance to learn our story over a long period of time… years usually.

Whereas a social media audience is catching the story somewhere in the middle and giving it only the briefest attention. I think this is why traditional branding works.

It immediately allows people to connect the next piece of content with the last piece.

This is often accomplished by maintaining colors, fonts, logos, themes, etc.

But it can also be accomplished by divulging personal details – telling a story.

For example “I had a flat tire on the way to taking the kids to school today. I had to call AAA and wait 45 minutes to get a tow. It caused me to miss an important meeting with a potential client. Damn am I pissed!”

In these (completely fictional) details there are all sorts of hooks for people’s attention/memory to latch onto.

A reader could think, he has kids, so do I. I know how that feels. And on and on with every detail.

That’s why personal storytelling so powerful when you’re building a personal brand.

Colin Theriot, founder of the Cult of Copy has an excellent video on “exformation“, which is directly related to this issue of being an authentic personal brand. Definitely worth the watch.

For me, I struggle to decide how much personal info to include in my personal “business” brand.

Arguably, I could be including more of my personal story in my brand. I’m seriously considering this option, but it doesn’t come naturally to me in any way.

I’m watching several folks who do this extraordinarily well including the likes of @garyvee, @suebzimmerman, and @mollymarshallmarketing.

I think these three in particular do a good job of finding the right balance between being personal and staying on message.

This concept of a personal brand brings up another issue for me.

This is all about business!

No one (at least not many) likes it when someone starts off all friendly and then turns around and wants to tell you about their “great opportunity.” (Sorry, Mlmer’s)

I think a lot of personal brands are faking it to the extreme. I feel icky when I follow them. And that is the exact feeling we want to avoid creating at all costs.

The best path I see is to be very open about your business.

When you go to a store, the store owner behind the counter isn’t trying to pretend he’s not in business. In fact, he most likely loves his business and loves what he sells. So do I!

4 Copywriting Tips to Improve Your Website’s Marketing Power

4 Copywriting Tips to Improve Your Website’s Marketing Power

Good copywriting is all about using words to sell. That means creating clear, compelling content that captures attention.  It’s the best way to keep visitors interested in your site once they get there.

Writing content that is relevant and engaging is vital to improving conversion rates, and creating solid business relationships.  Well-written copy will improve the effectiveness of your marketing campaign.

Below are a few copywriting tips to help improve your marketing power:

1.   Keep Content Current

If you want to come up with better content, there are tools like Google Alerts that can be a big help.  Google alerts allows you to monitor the web for new, interesting content, as it sends you emails of the latest Google results.  You can create as many alerts as you wish, just make sure that they relate to the topics in your niche market.

This makes writing a lot easier, as Google Alerts ensures that you receive a constant stream of news and information about relevant topics.  Not only does it save you having to spend an enormous amount of time doing research, but it ensures that you never run out of things to write about.

2.   Make Content Easy to Read

Write from the perspective of your reader, chances are when they get to your website they won’t have a lot of time to spare.  As a result, they are going to quickly scan through to find out if there is anything that interests them.

You can make it easy for them to find that out, by having easy to read content.  Remember that short sentences and simple words are easier to read.

3.   Include Sound Bites

These will stay with the user long after they have left your blog or website.  Sound bites should be appealing, simple, and tightly written.  Come up with a one liner that inspires.

Sound bites should consist of only a few words.  The key is to make them memorable, so that users will desire to return to the site for more ‘nuggets of wisdom.’

4.   Write Engaging Content

When content is engaging, you are able to get a reaction out of users, encourage sharing, and get a ‘dialogue’ going.  You can do this by posing questions, offering tips, using words packed with meaning, as well as being specific and including technical details when possible.

You can get motivation from well-known experts in the field, and of course do your own research with the help of tools like Google Alerts.

If you follow these simple tips, then your content will be appealing and engaging.  This will ensure that you have a low ‘bounce rate.’ 

In internet terms, the ‘bounce rate’ represents the number of persons that visit the site and then ‘bounce,’  that is, they leave rather than stay on to view other pages on the site.  If your site or blog has a low bounce rate then that will improve your SEO ranking.