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December 10, 2012

Bad Science vs. Words that Work: Holiday News for Marketers

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Let’s take look at some recent headlines focused on the inner workings of the mind, and the need for proper analysis of data. There are some interesting things happening at the intersection of marketing and psychology.

Bad Words, Good Words

DSM IV

Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders

Congress voted to extract the word “lunatic” from federal law books last week.

In the new Diagnostic Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-V) Asberger Syndrome is being replaced by Autism Spectrum Disorder.

Sensitivities run high, especially around heavily charged words. What words are you using, marketer? Copyblogger’s got the five most powerful words for persuasion listed for us and they are:

1. You
2. Free
3. Because
4. Instantly
5. New

Some great additions in the comments include:

  • save
  • check
  • how
  • why
  • try
  • value
  • hurry
  • limited

Now, context can’t be overlooked, as Sonia points out. This dovetails nicely into…

Bad Science

There’s an interesting discussion is happening over at TED. It seems the TEDx conferences — those local chapters of the brain-bending preso society — needed a reminder to fact check and vet speakers.

It offers some relief to me that even team TED falls to the trappings of bad science sometimes. The other day I got caught misreading data.

We have a client who conducted a focus group of customers and potential customers. In reviewing the reported values and priorities of participants, low cost solutions was consistently reported most important factor in choosing a provider.

When we told our client we’d be pushing the price point in content, new information was provided that changed the reading of the data. It turns out that low cost / high value was a unique cultural feature of the city; the preference for price didn’t represent the many other cities our client served.

Hammering price can send the wrong message when an audience is more focused on quality of service. Messaging geared for “tightwads” when the bulk of your audience is made of “average spenders” can mis-position your brand. Quick note: there’s lots in that link about conversion optimization through neuromarketing you’ll want to check out.

Right Word, Right Science

One more headline to illustrate what interesting things happen when the mind meets the marketplace. Psychology Today looks at how the senses play into purchase decisions. While many of those ideas don’t easily transfer from brick and mortar to the Web, some have critical applications both offline and on:

xmas tree ornament

Using color and placement to evoke positive feelings and nostalgia takes place offline as well as online.

Holiday music evokes nostalgia. Nostalgia elevates positive moods. People are more likely to convert when they’re feeling positive. Are there ways you can foster feelings of nostalgia for your customers?

The scent of pine sparks feelings of nostalgia. The scent of peppermint creates arousal and sparks engagement. The olfactory sense is overlooked online, but what other ways can you incorporate arousal and engagement in your brand’s online experience?

Retailers place pricier merchandise on the center of displays since that’s where buyer attention goes first. Just to the right of center is where attention goes second. Are you eye-tracking your visitors to optimize the path of attention on your landing pages?

Holidays are a time of heightened emotions. Take advantage of opportunities like this.

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