Archive for Buying Behavior

Marketing Happiness

Perhaps this is one of the reasons we love marketing. Jennifer L. Aaker, a marketing professor at Stanford University’s School of Business, Melanie Rudd, a Stanford MBA student, and Wharton marketing professor Cassie Mogilner, examined 60 academic studies looking at the way people spend their time and how that affects happiness. Their conclusions were recently summarized in a BNET post titled, “Scientifically Proven Ways to Be Happier”.

  • Spend time with the “right people.” Who are the right people? They’re generally not your office mates. The people that make you happiest will generally be friends, family, and romantic partners.
    • Avoid small talk. A related predictor of happiness is how much substantive discussion a person engages in, compared to small talk. Generally, small talk makes people unhappy. If you want to increase your happiness, it’s far better to find one or two people with whom you can have a real discussion than to engage in small talk.
  • Spend time on “socially connecting” activities, such as volunteering and spending time with friends.
    • Work doesn’t count. Work is not ’socially connecting’ and is generally one of the more unhappy parts of the day. Commuting is also gets high marks for making people unhappy.
    • Volunteering has been proven to be a good way to increase happiness.
    • Memory is important, because it helps us take an event that happened in the past and extend its ‘worth’ into the future. What are your happiest memories?
  • Day dream, or, enjoy the experience without spending the time. Research has shown that the part of the brain responsible for feeling pleasure can be activated just by thinking about something pleasurable. And we often enjoy the anticipation of something pleasurable more than the actual experience that we think is going to be so great. The most common example is vacation planning, which some find more pleasurable than the vacation itself.
  • Expand your time. Focusing on the “here and now” slows down the perceived passage of time, allowing people to feel less rushed and hurried.
    • Breathe slowly. Just for a few minutes. “In one study, subjects who were instructed to take long and slow breaths (vs. short and quick ones) for 5 minutes not only felt there was more time available to get things done, but also perceived their day to be longer.”
    • Volunteering makes it seem like you have more time. In general, spending time on someone else makes people feel like they have more spare time and that their future is more expansive.
    • Pay people to do the chores you hate. Activities that we choose to do generally make us happier than those that are obligatory.
  • Be aware that aging changes the way people experience happiness. Youths tend to equate happiness with excitement, but as people get older, happiness is associated with feeling peaceful. Young people get more happiness from spending time with interesting new acquaintances, while older people get more enjoyment from spending time with close friends and family.

Why Immediate Gratification Is So Powerful

There is more scientific explanation about how and why getting people to act right away can be so powerful. Harvard Business Review’s Daily Stat excerpted more findings about the way our brains work.

Harvard economist David I. Laibson explained that the “impatient” brain, which dominates when we think about immediate gratification, discounts at about 4% per minute, but the “patient” brain, which takes over when we consider much-later benefits, discounts at a slower rate — about 1% per minute.

An offer of a free massage right now might look a lot better than a free massage in an hour, but we’d see little difference in offers of massages at, say, 2pm or 3pm one week from now. This is interesting and surprising because “in theory” we should place the same value on the messages regardless of when they are scheduled.

Perhaps this helps to explain why direct mail has an immediate response spike and a very long term response.

Direct Mail and Marketing Response Numbers

We have shared many statistics the past year about response numbers. We think we should review some of them.

More than 70% of Gen Yers (born 1977-1994) and Gen Xers (born 1965-1976) sort their mail immediately.

76% of internet users were directly influenced to buy an item or service thanks to direct mail.

78% of email recipients do not open the message, so that means that 94.1% of email recipients are not clicking through to your landing page.

55% of survey respondents cannot effectively measure marketing ROI of mobile, social media and video.

65% of companies had not increased revenue or profited using social media.

79% of all households read or scan the advertising mail sent to their home.

Confidence Building Tips

Staying cool under performance pressure is a learnable skill. Psychology Today republished an article called, “Confidence: Stepping Out”.

Most socially confident people learn specific skills:

Understand Your Body’s Signals

Six studies compared two groups of people during a hair-raising event such as an impromptu speech: One group said that their bodies were freaking out and another group said they felt calm. In five of the six studies, there was no physiological difference between the two groups. Everyone showed similarly increased levels of autonomic activation, such as sweating and speeding heart rate. “People who are very socially anxious tend to pay attention to their bodies and magnify that response, perceiving it subjectively to be much greater than it actually is,” says James J. Gross, director of Stanford University’s Psychophysiology Laboratory.

You can calm yourself by reading the signals correctly. The irony of misreading your nervous system’s cues is that far from harming you, your natural excitement can enhance your performance. Increased activation is not a sign that you’re failing, but that you want to do well and your body is ready to help.

Focus on Others

When socially confident people start to feel anxious or awkward, they focus on putting their conversational partners at ease. Some people need to work at shedding their constant belief that they’re failing. Yet for most people, fluctuations in self-esteem provide information that’s useful in navigating social relationships. For example, if you’re talking and someone yawns, your self-esteem drops, signaling you to switch the topic. When you tell a joke and people laugh, your self-esteem rockets up. If we didn’t feel bad when we bore or offend—or gratified when we delight—we’d never be motivated to change course.

Mastering social skills requires tuning in to your self-esteem. But instead of being self-conscious and fixating on your anxiety, work on creating positive interactions that make the people around you feel engaged and happy. Focusing less on yourself and more on others will yield big payoffs in expanded social opportunities.

Immerse Yourself in Your Fears

The article told stories about how Conan O’Brien and Will Farrell forced themselves to do the things they feared the most. Then they figured out how to challenge and transform themselves. The lesson? Even exquisite discomfort has a silver lining.

Is It The End of the Marketing Funnel

Marketing has grown more complicated, media choices have exploded, and consumers have asserted themselves more visibly than ever before. So perhaps some of the classical ways to understand and visualize marketing concepts, need to change and evolve too. shared some information from Forrester that found that 53% of U.S. online consumers research products online that they’ll then purchase in the store. This process exposes consumers to brands they might not have previously considered, expanding their consideration set at exactly the point where, according to the traditional funnel, it should narrow.

The author, Forester analyst, Steve Noble proposes to bury the marketing funnel and introduce a new model–the customer life cycle.

Discover: Every customer must discover a brand, product category, or personal need–the initial trigger that leads to a new or repeat purchase.

Explore: In this phase, customers explore the brand–and their options. When visiting an online store or handling products in a well-crafted shop environment, customers are immersing themselves in the explore phase.

Buy: Customer experiences during this phase include product availability, inventory lookup, and satisfaction with the checkout process. It also includes the actual price paid, the perceived value, and the experience with the sales channel if there is a problem.

Engage: After buying a product or service, customers engage with brands in several ways.

We reported on the evolution of the way people make buying decisions based on some data from McKinsey. That study found that “traditional” marketing was still a very important part of the buying process, it just happened earlier. This latest information from Forrester Research also supports the important role that direct mail can play in the buying process, during the discovery and engagement phases.

Proof of Why Large Committees Don’t Work

In decision making groups, 7 people could be the optimal number.

The Harvard Business Review’s Daily Stat shared the findings of Decide & Deliver: 5 Steps to Breakthrough Performance in Your Organization. Once you’ve got 7 people in a decision-making group, each additional member reduces decision effectiveness by 10%. Thus, a group of 17 or more rarely makes any decisions.

What about your marketing? Do you have many people participating in the process?

Engagement and Motivation, Illustrated

The Harvard Business Review’s Peter Bregman told a story of cooking with farm fresh produce in a blog post titled, The Farm-to-Table Secret to Motivating People.

He told of how having the experience of a few days at a farm with his family connected him in unexpected ways to food and led to him feeling very inspired to create some complex food with the produce they brought home. The conclusion he reached was that the earlier and sooner people get involved in a process, the more they become connected to it.

You want to try a new sales process? Don’t figure it all out yourself and then tell your sales people about it. Let them figure it out with you.

Want customers to buy your service or product? Involve them in the creation of it. They feel something deeper than the success of a project gone well. They feel pride of ownership. They feel satisfied by the journey that brought them to their success.

Reasons For Facebook Unfriending

A University of Colorado Denver Business School student revealed the top reasons for Facebook unfriending, who is unfriended and how they react to being unfriended.

After surveying more than 1,500 Facebook users on Twitter, Christopher Sibona, a PhD student in the Computer Science and Information Systems program, found the number-one reason for unfriending is frequent, unimportant posts.

Is this information further confirmation that social media, email messaging and other electronic media are based on a very delicate balance? If you really want to maintain relationships or create meaningful connections why not use more than one medium? There is great power in something physical that can be touched and felt. Direct mail can be touched and felt and it can reach exactly who you want to reach.

Paper Beats Digital For Emotion

According to a study by branding agency Millward Brown retold in a Neuromarketing blog post, physical media left a “deeper footprint” in the brain, even after for controlling for the increase in sensory processing for tangible items.

Images comparing Brain Scans of Paper vs Digital

Images comparing Brain Scans of Paper vs Digital

The study concluded:

  • Material shown on cards generated more activity within the area of the brain associated with the integration of visual and spatial information.
  • Physical material is more “real” to the brain. It has a meaning, and a place. It is better connected to memory because it engages with its spatial memory networks.
  • More processing is taking place in the right retrosplenial cortex when physical material is presented. This is involved in the processing of emotionally powerful stimuli and memory, which would suggest that the physical presentation may be generating more emotionally vivid memories.
  • Physical activity generates increased activity in the cerebellum, which is associated with spatial and emotional processing (as well as motor activity) and is likely to be further evidence of enhanced emotional processing.

Paper has advantages over digital media. To maximize these concepts:

  • Think about the touch and feel of the piece. Heavier stock and a textured finish could emphasize the “tangibility” of the mailed item.
  • Seize the advantage of the brain’s emotional engagement with tangible media and craft a message that will make an emotional connection.
  • Find ways to maximize your brand imagery and perhaps feel, brand recall may be enhanced by the paper medium.

We talked about the power of touch and how that can increase how likely people are to purchase an item because of the increased connection.

A Tribute to the Underdog

As a tribute to cute costumes and a way to help you consider a possible branding message, we want to share some highlights from Harvard Business School professor, Anat Keinan.

The weaker party is often more attractive to many people. The reason might be due to consumers wanting to identify with the underdog. In today’s economically difficult times, it appears, underdog brands are gaining power in the marketplace.

Stories about underdogs overcoming great odds through passion and determination are resonant during difficult times. They inspire and give hope when the outlook is bleak. They promise that success is still possible. Throughout history Americans have embraced the American Dream, which proclaims that through hard work and perseverance anyone can be successful.

Underdog brand biographies (that highlight the companies’ humble beginnings, hopes and dreams, and noble struggles against adversaries) are being used by both large and small companies and across categories. Even large corporations, such as Apple and Google, are careful to retain their underdog roots in their brand biographies.

The common themes that link these brands’ underdog biographies are

  1. a disadvantaged position in the marketplace versus a “top dog,” a well-endowed competitor with superior resources or market dominance, and
  2. tremendous passion and determination to succeed despite the odds.

Marketers can use underdog narratives to positively affect consumers’ perceptions of and purchase of brands. “Underdog narratives are often delivered to consumers through the rhetorical device of a brand biography, an unfolding story that chronicles the brand’s origins, life experiences, and evolution over time in a selectively constructed story.”

Many contemporary brand biographies contain underdog narratives. Product packaging, corporate Web sites, direct mail advertising, blogs, and marketing communications tell the biographical stories of brands.

  • Avis’s classic slogan “we’re number 2” emphasized that it was playing second fiddle to a giant in the rental car business.
  • Brands such as Google, Clif Bar, and Apple celebrate their garage origins. Hewlett-Packard recently bought, and has a whole section on its Web site dedicated to, the garage in which it started. It is now a historical landmark.
  • Starbucks, in an effort to reverse declining sales, recently launched Pike Place Roast, which emphasizes the brand’s humble Seattle coffee culture beginnings.
  • Adidas’s “Impossible Is Nothing” campaign emphasized the underdog stories of famous athletes.