Archive for 'group'

Small gestures can yield lasting results

A few months ago, Guy Kawasaki tweeted (made a short announcement on Twitter, the micro-blogging site) that he was done with his next book’s manuscript and was looking for a few people to proofread it and give him feedback.

I was what I assume was a pretty large group of people who raised their hands.  Who doesn’t want to read Guy’s book before it gets published?  Anyway…read it, proofed it, critiqued it and sent it back.

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Fast forward to a couple weeks ago.  I got a package and voila, it was Guy’s new book, Reality Check (released October 30th).  I thought sending it ahead of the release was a nice gesture.  But when I opened it, Guy had also taken the time to write a personal note to me inside.

Class act.

You have to figure quite a few people (like Valeria Maltoni who mentioned she got one too, although for the life of me, I can’t find her reference now.) offered to proof his book.  So it was probably no small task to get handwritten notes into each copy before sending them off.  A very nice gesture but even more than that….smart marketing.

Guy knows how few handwritten notes and cards are used today.  He knows it feels personal and that it makes a connection.

The book is a great read – very irreverent and practical. And the author – a great marketer.

P.S.  If you find any typos….I swear, I told him about it! ūüôā

How about you?  What small gesture could you make to create a connection with your prospect, customer or employee?

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Today’s vote is historic. And I assure you that no matter who you voted for,your guy in some way manipulated you. Once you found yourself making your choice, most people will defend their choice logically. Although as we know in sales 101, we buy for emotional reasons and justify with logic. .

Some interesting lessons for us online marketers have been revealed of late by political experts.

Mark Nagaitis, CEO of 7 Billion People, said “This analysis demonstrates how
the design of a website and the use of language can influence the effectiveness
of that site in communicating the desired message. Too many web designers
underestimate the power of language in reaching the complete audience, not just
their base.
‚ÄĚ Key findings from the analysis include:

  • The McCain website uses language that emphasizes risk and problem avoidance
    – such as the section on the Homeownership Resurgence Plan featured prominently
    on the home page during mid-October 2008 in the final weeks before the
    presidential election.
  • By comparison, the Obama website offers voters key language on hope and
    opportunity as the primary focus, with risk items still present but secondary in
    nature.
  • Democratic candidate Barack Obama‚Äôs website is designed to appeal to people
    that use peer opinions and other references in their decision-making process.
    Obama’s website speaks to those that see themselves as part of a group. (For
    example, the Obama Everywhere section on the home page includes links to popular
    social networking sites).
  • Conversely, rival John McCain‚Äôs website appeals to those people who make
    decisions based on gut-feeling, information and personal choice. McCain’s
    website primarily speaks to the individual, not the group.
  • Senator McCain‚Äôs website presents information in a procedural, step-by-step
    fashion that appeals to analytical voters that feel comfortable with process and
    order ‚Äď there is a clear path from the initial landing page that features Vice
    Presidential candidate Sarah Palin to the center panel of the website home page
    presenting topical videos denouncing his competitor. McCain’s website may feel
    constrictive to some voters.
  • By contrast, Senator Obama‚Äôs website appeals to voters that prefer choice
    and exploration of all of the options available to them. The website contains a
    wide array of menu items and clickable section headings representing numerous
    choices for visitors that need to feel that they have explored all the options –
    including a Learn menu section providing backgrounds on the wives of Senators
    Obama and Biden, texting for campaign updates, Obama Mobile for ringtones and an
    official iPhone application for the Obama campaign. Obama may be missing the
    opportunity to talk to voters that prefer order and process on the site.

The Gopac knows this and as such shows us some interesting language patterns that  politicos should use:

Use the list below to help define your campaign and your vision of public service. These words can help give extra power to your message. In addition, these words help develop the positive side of the contrast you should create with your opponent, giving your community something to vote for!:

Optimistic Governing Words

share, change,
opportunity, legacy, challenge, control, truth, moral, courage, reform,
prosperity, crusade, movement, children, family, debate, compete,
active(ly), we/us/our, candid(ly), humane, pristine, provide, liberty,
commitment, principle(d), unique, duty, precious, premise, care(ing),
tough, listen, learn, help, lead, vision, success, empower(ment),
citizen, activist, mobilize, conflict, light, dream, freedom, peace,
rights, pioneer, proud/pride, building, preserve, pro-(issue): flag,
children, environment; reform, workfare, eliminate good-time in prison,
strength, choice/choose, fair, protect, confident, incentive, hard
work, initiative, common sense, passionate

Contrasting Words

Often we search hard for words to define our opponents. Sometimes we
are hesitant to use contrast. Remember that creating a difference helps
you. These are powerful words that can create a clear and easily
understood contrast. Apply these to the opponent, their record,
proposals and their party.

decay, failure (fail)
collapse(ing) deeper, crisis, urgent(cy), destructive, destroy, sick,
pathetic, lie, liberal, they/them, unionized bureaucracy, "compassion"
is not enough, betray, consequences, limit(s), shallow, traitors,
sensationalists, endanger, coercion, hypocrisy, radical, threaten,
devour, waste, corruption, incompetent, permissive attitude,
destructive, impose, self-serving, greed, ideological, insecure,
anti-(issue): flag, family, child, jobs; pessimistic, excuses,
intolerant, stagnation, welfare, corrupt, selfish, insensitive, status
quo, mandate(s) taxes, spend (ing) shame, disgrace, punish (poor…)
bizarre, cynicism, cheat, steal, abuse of power, machine, bosses,
obsolete, criminal rights, red tape, patronage.

How can you use these lessons to better your online marketing?

David Bullock has interviewed the Obama Social Media team and says:

..the key is to look beyond what the world is evaluating
(politics) to ferret out what this campaign can teach us as we grow and
expand the reach of our businesses.

Build your brand: First Day rituals

Leap
There are many stress filled days on the job.  But for many people, their first day at the new gig ranks right up there.  Why not take the opportunity to really seed your company’s brand with the new employee from day one?

Sure, they need to fill out the paperwork and do all the normal HR stuff.  But that doesn’t mean you can’t communicate your brand loud and clear, above the din of payroll forms!

At McLellan Marketing Group, we’ve created an entire system for welcoming a new employee.  But my favorite part of the process is that every new employee receives a copy of Steve Farber’s book Radical Leap – with a personal note from me inside.

The book is about Extreme Leadership – a leadership fable that celebrates love, energy and being audacious in the workplace.  It is about how we try to live at MMG.

I can’t think of a better way to accent that first day and to communicate – this is a different sort of place.  We’re glad you’re going to be a part of it.

How about you?  What on boarding ritual could you weave into your new employee’s experience?  What message would you want to send?

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The Winner’s Curse is a term used to describe auctions whereby the winner will overpay because he/she¬†overestimates the¬†item’s actual market value. This tendency to overbid is due to factors like incomplete information or other market¬†participants. Recent research show that¬†people also overbid because¬†of the fear of losing in a social competition.¬†

A team of NYU¬†neuroscientists and economists¬†conducted brain imaging studies and discovered that the striatum, a part of the brain’s reward circuitry showed an exaggerated response to losses during an auction game. When a group¬†was told that they would lose $15 if they failed to win an auction, they consistently bid higher than others who were told they would win $15.

The difference lies in way the auction was framed. When simply reminded of what they had to lose instead of what they stand to gain, participants responded with higher bids.

While there have been investigations of overbidding which have attributed the phenomenon to either risk aversion or the ‘joy of winning,’ it was the use of imaging data which allowed us to distinguish between these conflicting explanations and actually arrive at a new and different one, the ‘fear of losing.’…We were able to use neuroimaging results to highlight the importance of framing, and specifically the contemplated loss, as an explanation for overbidding during experimental auctions.”

This ‘fear of losing’ seems to be triggered by competition with others and perhaps, attachment to the value of the item.¬†A interesting takeaway point: instead of only highlighting the benefits or promise for a product/service, it would be beneficial to¬†indicate what the buyer might potentially lose by not making a purchase or taking action.

People implicitly understand that they’re¬†¬†dealing¬†with other consumers because of factors like exclusivity and scarcity. The one who acts swiftly will get to purchase and enjoy the benefits of the product, while others may not. The call-to-action is much intense in an auction, because the actions of others occur in noticeable real-time. Competition is in the forefront of¬†the mind.

This study reminds me of how much competition is almost intrinsic to human society. You see competition between individuals, groups and countries in business or sports. It is perhaps, both an evolutionary necessity and a learned behavior that one develops in order to survive or thrive within a social environment.

We are all familiar with the pleasure of competition. Many of you have bought items from Ebay, an online auction marketplace.  Often, your decision to make or abandon a purchase is rushed along on a subtle but tangible undercurrent of excitement during the process and a feeling of minor elation for having won an item at a favorable price.

Could there be a way to transplant the fear of losing and the pleasure of winning¬†into a non-auction scenario? Perhaps¬†the use of a¬†competition as¬†a backdrop where¬†each consumer’s¬†individual drive¬†can play out against others.¬†Make them¬†interact and challenge¬†one another¬†within a superstructure that¬†helps¬†YOU¬†fulfill specific end goals.

Let the Competitive Instinct Flourish Within a Social Environment

CompetitionImage Credit: Swamibu

Businesses or marketers should think about how to create a social environment which encourages the natural competitive instincts of their audience. Interaction within this sphere motivates each individual consumer/participant. This helps to increase the level of audience engagement and automatically enhances the value of the product/service/site.

Social news sites like Mixx.com proudly highlight their top users by displaying them on a leaderboard or giving them specific awards/badges. This symbolic segregation of a group of users from others and the conferring of exclusive emblems of acknowledgment enhances the visibility/reputation of these individuals. This becomes something others can strive towards.

Not everyone will¬†lust after¬†awards or a¬†higher user ranking. In fact, most casual users won’t care or bother to go after greater recognition. But owners of these communities know that there will always be a¬†segment of hardcore users (the more competitive or goal-oriented ones) that will work extra hard so they can improve their score or rank higher on the leaderboard.

This addicted 1% of users enjoy a sense of achievement and are often enough to generate enough activity to make your site grow. This effect is even more prominent when the community itself is the main attraction. Take the example of video games with online features: players will gladly pay for a monthly Xbox Live subscription or WOW account so they virtually cooperate or compete with other individuals. Inter-user competition becomes an value add-on.

Such a social environment is not very difficult to create: there are¬†a few fundamental elements involved. For starters,¬†users¬†should be able to¬†interact freely with one another, through the site’s main features or separately in an standalone environment.¬†Also, bind user profiles and on-site activity to awards, rankings, points, recognition, rewards¬†and achievements.

Allow people to form sub-groups to pursue a diverse level of interests. Facilitate inter-user contact and interaction by organizing open competitions or one-off events that everyone can join. These special events can be plotted on an established calendar of regular activities which involve the community or its sub-groups.

The general theory is simple enough: Think about creating social environments that are conducive for your overall business objectives. Apart from simply marketing your site, we should look at giving our audience the ability to connect (and compete) with each other.

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Fear of Losing: Using Competitive Instincts to Your Advantage

Social Bookmark

This is a bonus sixth step in the continuing series on how new agents can successfully break into the real estate market. (FYI disclosure: I use a few affiliate links throughout this article.)

I’ll close this series by going back to Mike’s original question. As a new agent, if I had $2500, how would I spend it?

  1. I’d negotiate with the most successful agent in my office (or who I know) to mentor me for my first few weeks. If I had to pay them, I would probably budget 20-30 percent of my budget. I would also look for an agent to partner with so I could market our services as a “team” and thus boost my credibility and reduce risk in the eyes of prospects.
  2. I’d spend considerable time talking to my target audience and learning the geographical area I chose to get the basics down. I’d then spend about 20 percent of my marketing budget creating marketing materials including:
    • Getting free/cheap business cards printed – maybe at VistaPrint or another online printing company.
    • Creating a quick web presence. – I’d spend $10 at GoDaddy for a domain name and would sign up for the Plus Package on Typepad ($8.95/month – or for more technical people, I’d recommend getting their own web host and setting up a WordPress blog, which would be about the same price) to create a few informational pages about myself and my services. I’d blog each day about what I learn about my target audience, my geographical area, and the key problems and concerns they’re having. I’d use my blog to organize my thoughts while starting to communicate with the blogosphere.
    • Writing a free report (or recording a free CD) directed at buyers in my target audience who were looking for a home in my geographical area. – I’d then spend $200-400 on Elance for an editor to proofread my report (that’s how I found my current copy editor, Monica, who I highly recommend!) and a graphic designer to format it so it looks nice and has an attractive cover (but I’d realize I couldn’t be too picky because I’m not paying for perfection).
    • Creating an e-newsletter. – I’d spend $20/month on Aweber so I could start building a list of newsletter subscribers. I’d place the Aweber subscription box on my Typepad blog and set up an Aweber autoresponder to deliver my free report whenever someone subscribed to my newsletter. I’d then start publishing a newsletter each week once I got at least one subscriber.
  3. I’d spend 40-50 percent of my budget to advertise my free report. Keep in mind that $1000-1250 is a tiny ad budget, so I’d need to be extremely strategic. I’d research all local publications: real estate circulars, classifieds, local newspapers, etc., for their audience’s demographics (does my target audience read this?), ad rates, and what competitors are offering.
    • I’d first start testing my ad’s headline, offer, and landing page (the page people “land on” when they click my ad where I offer my free report if they sign up for my newsletter) on Google Adwords (If I knew nothing about Adwords, I’d buy one book – so not to overwhelm myself or waste my money – on Google Adwords to help me understand how it works. This free Stompernet video is also pretty good.)
    • Once I got my headline, offer and landing page down, I’d start advertising my report in local publications, again testing the results!
  4. I’d then spend considerable time trying to get free advertising:
    • I’d send press releases about my free report and pitch articles to the press.
    • I’d go to organizations (Chamber of Commerce, churches, women’s groups, etc.) where my target audience participates and offer to give a talk or provide them free copies of my report for members. If I felt the organization was worthwhile, I might attend a few networking events. (I’d sign up for a free Highrise account to keep track of my contacts.)
    • I’d participate heavily in the blogosphere and on social media sites – both on real estate blogs and on blogs focused on my geographical area.
    • I’d consider podcasting (If I didn’t have the equipment, I might subscribe to AudioAcrobat for $20/month so I could record my talks by phone and then embed the code they give me into my TypePad blog.)
    • I’d talk with as many people as possible – preferably people in my target audience – but also people I know – to help me get those first few clients.
  5. I’d spend the remainder of my budget on follow-up techniques: such as any offline correspondence, printing charges (for instance, if I need to print and mail my free report), postage and mailing supplies, etc.

As you can see, I’m taking an extremely thrifty guerilla marketing approach to this. What I don’t want to do is spend money frivolously, and I accept that if I don’t have the marketing budget to advertise heavily, I’m going to need to put in the work to make initial connections and build my prospecting list.

My primary goal is sales – not a fancy website or clever ad or cutesy postcard or slick letterhead – and it’s my job to stay focused on that goal above all else. That takes discipline and putting in a lot of long hours up front. As I figure out what works, start taking on more clients and build momentum, I can worry about upgrading the look of my marketing materials, but at the beginning that shouldn’t be my focus.

So, that’s what I would do. (This, of course, is only one of many, many ways to market a new business. You should choose the marketing tactics that work for you – and always be testing!) Agents, feel free to chime in – what other marketing tactics would you recommend to a new agent on the cheap?

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