Tag Archives: persuasion

A “Felt Need” Is What Makes Us Buy

A “felt need” is what dif­fer­en­ti­ates a vit­am­in from an aspir­in: when we crave some­thing (relief from pain), a product that sat­is­fies that desire becomes a must-have rather than a nice-to-have. Real­ising this and re-fram­ing a product in terms of this crav­ing is an import­ant step in ensur­ing a product’s suc­cess, say Dan and Chip Heath, authors of the excel­lent Switch and Made to Stick.

Becom­ing aware of this idea is what led to the suc­cess of Net­flix and NetApp… as well as the demise of count­less oth­er com­pan­ies. In a brief art­icle describ­ing how re-fram­ing a nice-to-have product as a must-have is all about dis­cov­er­ing and exploit­ing a spe­cif­ic “felt need”, the Heaths look at Ray Bards failed attempt at get­ting his “vit­am­in” book pub­lished and how real­iz­ing this idea of a felt need led him to become a suc­cess­ful pub­lish­er.

If entre­pren­eurs want to suc­ceed […] they’d bet­ter be selling aspir­in rather than vit­am­ins. Vit­am­ins are nice; they’re healthy. But aspir­in cures your pain; it’s not a nice-to-have, it’s a must-have. […]

That aspir­in qual­ity is what Bard now looks for in a book. He says that suc­cess­ful books address a deep “felt need” – that is, read­ers hun­ger for the answers the book provides. Clas­sic examples would be diet books, per­son­al-fin­ance books, and books that prom­ise you mega suc­cess if you’ll just radi­ate pos­it­ive energy to the uni­verse, indic­at­ing your receptiv­ity to mega suc­cess. Bard has become a tal­en­ted diviner of felt need. Fully half of the books that he pub­lishes become best sellers. […]

You’ve heard the old say­ing “If you invent a bet­ter mousetrap, the world will beat a path to your door.” Don’t bet on it. The world’s felt need isn’t for a bet­ter mousetrap. It’s for a dead mouse. […]

When engin­eers or mar­keters or entre­pren­eurs get too close to their products, it’s easy to mis­take a vit­am­in for an aspir­in. If your team is flirt­ing with delu­sion, a little love might point you in the right dir­ec­tion.

Persuasive Infomercial Sales Techniques

I don’t take infomer­cials very ser­i­ously, mainly due to how hil­ari­ous and absurd they are. How­ever I’ve now been won over and can see their poten­tial for cer­tain product–market com­bin­a­tions. How did this mira­cu­lous change come about? Through a sur­pris­ingly enjoy­able inter­view between Andrew Warner and the mas­ter of the infomer­cial, Tim Hawthorne.

From his many years of exper­i­ence (he cre­ated the fourth ever infomer­cial, devel­op­ing over 300 since then; has worked with some well-respec­ted com­pan­ies such as Apple, Nikon, 3M and Braun; and is respons­ible for about a bil­lion dol­lars in cli­ent sales), Hawthorne talks extens­ively and insight­fuly on the many infomer­cial sales tech­niques that his data show are the most per­suas­ive. Two items that I par­tic­u­larly liked:

The most per­suas­ive deal types:

Buy one get one free, or get the second one at half price. So you’re get­ting an imme­di­ate dis­count. Buy one and get a second one super size, so you’re actu­ally doub­ling or trip­ling the order. Buy one and the second is actu­ally going to be double the size. Drop a pay­ment. Let’s say that your offer is three pay­ments of $19.95, that’s your ini­tial offer. But wait, if you call now, if you order now, we’ll actu­ally make one pay­ment for you. So it’s only two pay­ments of $19.95. So that’s drop a pay­ment. […]

I think one of the most power­ful bonuses or premi­ums that you can offer is free ship­ping. A lot of people don’t under­stand the power of this. For some reas­on, if I’m going to pay $99.95 and there’s an addi­tion­al $9.95 or $14.95 or $19.95 for ship­ping, that addi­tion­al amount which is very import­ant to many vendors, if you can sac­ri­fice that, it has an amaz­ing impact on people.

Words and phrases that trig­ger action:

“Free” is still, I think, and will always be con­sidered the most power­ful word in selling. After that we would prob­ably think of words such as now, you or your, easy, eas­ily, guar­an­tee, break-through, revolu­tion­ary, fast, quick, instant, magic, new, spe­cial, exclus­ive, lim­ited time, risk free, only, save, money back, money back guar­an­tee, call now, and in terms of a clas­sic phrase, “but wait, there’s more”.

Every­body kinds of kicks around that par­tic­u­lar phrase and it’s used often. One of the reas­ons it’s used so often is that it’s so effect­ive.

When Uncertainty Increases Persuasiveness

Com­mon wis­dom would sug­gest that the more cer­tain a per­son is on a sub­ject, the more per­suas­ive and cred­ible we per­ceive them to be. How­ever a study look­ing look­ing at how cer­tainty affects per­suas­ive­ness and per­ceived cred­ib­il­ity found that the oppos­ite is true:

Experts are more per­suas­ive when they seem tent­at­ive about their con­clu­sions […] but the oppos­ite is true of novices, who grow more per­suas­ive with increas­ing cer­tainty.

This res­ult held across the three exper­i­ments described in the paper (pdf, doi), but it’s worth not­ing that this only applies in situ­ations where there is no object­ive truth – such as in con­sumer situ­ations (the exper­i­ments used res­taur­ant reviews, and I ima­gine product reviews would give sim­il­ar res­ults):

Earli­er research […] had made the case that express­ing cer­tainty gen­er­ally increases people’s per­suas­ive power, because it boosts their per­ceived cred­ib­il­ity. [How­ever] those stud­ies con­cerned top­ics such as wit­nesses testi­fy­ing in court or stock mar­ket advisers giv­ing stock recom­mend­a­tions where there is an object­ive truth or cor­rect answer. In those instances […] people might rely on a person’s cer­tainty as an indic­at­or of his or her cred­ib­il­ity. “In more sub­ject­ive domains like con­sumer con­texts, though, […] express­ing cer­tainty appears to have a more dynam­ic effect, giv­ing a mes­sage more or less impact depend­ing on who is express­ing it.”

via Mar­gin­al Revolu­tion / NYT

A Primer on Behaviour Change

Three neces­sary ele­ments must be present for a beha­viour to occur: Motiv­a­tion, Abil­ity, Trig­ger – and under­stand­ing this is fun­da­ment­al to under­stand­ing how to change beha­viour. That’s accord­ing to B.J. Fogg and his team at the Stan­ford Per­suas­ive Tech Lab, as described by their Beha­viour Mod­el.

To make beha­viour change easi­er the team iden­ti­fied the fif­teen ways that beha­viour can be changed, described each with pre­ci­sion, and related them to a spe­cif­ic “psy­cho­logy”. Togeth­er this inform­a­tion became the Beha­viour Grid:

Behaviour Grid

To use the beha­viour grid and to see the detailed inform­a­tion and advice for each beha­viour type, fol­low the neces­sary steps in the use­ful Beha­viour Wiz­ard tool or view the grid dir­ectly.

The Statistics of Wikipedia’s Fundraising Campaign

Yes­ter­day, 15th Janu­ary 2011, Wiki­pe­dia cel­eb­rated its tenth birth­day. Just over two weeks before, Wiki­pe­dia was also cel­eb­rat­ing the close of its 2010 fun­drais­ing cam­paign where over six­teen mil­lion dol­lars was raised from over half a mil­lion donors in just fifty days.

The 2010 cam­paign was billed as being data-driv­en, with the Wiki­pe­dia volun­teers “test­ing mes­sages, ban­ners, and land­ing pages & doing it all with an eye on integ­rity in data ana­lys­is”.

Nat­ur­ally, all of the test data, ana­lyses and find­ings are avail­able, provid­ing a fas­cin­at­ing over­view of Wikipedia’s large-scale and effect­ive cam­paign. Of par­tic­u­lar interest:

If you’re ever involved in any form of fun­drais­ing (online or off), this data­set is essen­tial reading–as will the planned “Fun­drais­ing Style Guide” that I hope will be released soon.

My favour­ite ban­ner, which got elim­in­ated toward the begin­ning of the cam­paign has to be:

One day people will look back and won­der what it was like not to know.

And if you’re inter­ested in what Jimmy Wales had to say about his face been fea­tured on almost every Wiki­pe­dia page for the dur­a­tion of the cam­paign, BBC’s recent pro­file on the Wiki­pe­dia founder will sat­is­fy your interest.

via @zambonini