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      ARCHIVE: Web Marketing Psychology Report

    February/March 2001
      JENNIFER AND PETER have a cleaning service. Their employees do a good job, but they've been losing business.
      "What are we doing wrong, Jen?" asked Peter. "Customers say we aren't doing anything wrong, but they're switching."
      "I don't think it is price," said Jennifer. "We're not the lowest, but we aren't the highest either."
      "I'll ask over at Western International University, see if their marketing profs have any ideas," said Peter.
      A week later Peter said to Jennifer, "Maybe this is the problem. One of the profs said buyer research shows that customers switch most services based on a couple of factors. The first is how good the service is, and the other is how good the 'quality of care' is."
      "What's 'quality of care?' asked Jennifer.
      "It means the way the service is provided. You know, like smiling and going that extra mile," said Peter.
      "So we may be falling down on our 'quality of care'?"
      "Right," said Peter. "The research found if either rating drops, customers are ripe to switch. But switching is more likely when the 'quality of care' drops than when the quality of service drops."
      "That makes sense when you think about it. Remember that boutique I used to love? After that woman was rude to me, I'd never go in there again."
      "So what do we do?" asked Peter.
      "Let's beef up our service with quality care extras. We could offer some special cleaning services free to good customers, send regular Thank You notes with little gifts . . ."
      "And we could do a quarterly written evaluation of the places we clean, pointing out developing problems we see with the carpet, bathrooms, and disposal areas."
      "How about birthday cards? And holiday cards?"
      "Wow. When you start throwing out ideas, there are a lot of cheap things we can do to make our customers feel special!"
      LESSON: No matter what you sell, you sell to people. They're just like you. They want to feel special and appreciated for giving you the business. Little things go a long way to creating those emotions, and they pay off in greater brand loyalty. Start brainstorming. You'll be amazed at the good ideas you'll think of.
      BRAND LOYALTY is influenced by more than Quality of Care. Research shows that customers make buying decisions on brands they've bought before based on &ldots;
      (1) Performance Evaluation - how well does that kitchen cleaner or burger place do what you expect it to do? These are the Needs, Wants and Reduction of Fears motivations we've often discussed. If you aren't getting what you expect, you won't be loyal.
      (2) Social and Emotional satisfaction -- Does buying the product or service make you feel good about yourself, and make you feel that others would feel good about you, too? A t-shirt may be well made, but if it says "K-Mart" in big letters on the front, chances are you won't buy it. On the other hand, a cheap t-shirt that says "Saks Fifth Avenue" will fly off the shelf at twice the price. Remember, we don't buy products or services. We buy satisfactions, including emotional nourishment and self-image.
      (3) Habit -- the longer you've been buying a product, the greater the odds you'll buy it again, all things being equal. That's why it is important to do everything you can to make the buying experience for newer customers special (smiles, Thank You letters, little extras -- 'Here's a nice bone for your dog, Mrs. Jones'), and encourage them to buy again (coupons, good customer discounts, customer-only specials, etc.)
      OLGA AND BEN have an alterations shop. They do fine work, but they aren't building referral customers as fast as they want.
      "We ask our customers to tell their friends," said Ben. "What else can we do?"
    Olga did some reading and found that creating customer satisfaction isn't as straight-forward as they thought.
        "Aren't customers just satisfied when we do a good job?" asked Ben.
      "No," said Olga. "Satisfaction is really a matter of comparison between expectations and reality."
      "Like what?"
      "Say that we promise a suit alteration on Thursday. The customer comes in on Thursday, and there it is," said Olga.
      "Right. We did what we promised. What's wrong with that?" asked Ben.
      "Nothing. We set a level of customer expectation by promising the suit on Thursday, and met that expectation by having it ready. The customer is satisfied," said Olga. "But customers are MORE satisfied when their expectations are exceeded."
      "What should we do?" asked Ben.
      "We could promise the suit would be ready on Saturday, then call on Thursday and tell them it is ready."
      "That's makes them think we're fast."
      "Right. And we say that we did it early because they are a good customer, or a first-time customer, whatever."
      "That makes them feel special." said Ben.
      "Right. And it isn't just time. If our store looks high class and our prices are moderate, then people are more satisfied because they were expecting higher prices based on how our store looked to them. There are several ways we can influence a customer's psychological satisfaction without spending a lot of money or changing our scheduling."
      "And the better they're satisfied, the more they'll tell their friends about us."
      LESSON: Your marketing messages are promises of performance. Promise enough to get the business, then exceed those promises to get the repeat business. Try to create that 'pleasant surprise' in every customer.

      Back to Top

    April 2001

      SELMA AND BOB have a small automobile insurance agency that
      writes policies for multiple insurance companies. They aren't doing
      so well, and need a boost in both inquiries and sales.
      "We advertise and send postcards to people in our area," said
      Bob. "What else should be do?"
      Selma talked to a marketing psychologist who told her, "Here's
      one idea to increase both inquiries and sales. The bond of trust
      between parents and children in their 20s is stronger than most
      retailers suspect. In auto insurance, for example, 35-40% of young
      men have the same insurance company as their fathers. For some
      products, especially those young adults readily identify with, such
      as music and films, the parental influence is minimal. But for many
      others, from insurance to brand name toilet tissue, it really does
      seem like 'father--or mother--knows best.'"
      Bob smiled when Selma related this information. "Targeted
      mail," he said. "We can get a list of all young men . . .
      "And women," said Selma.
      "And women living in our area, crossmatch them with customers of
      insurance companies we write, and send each of them an invitation to
      join the same insurance company as their parents."
      "We can also send a letter to their parents giving them 10
      Reasons Good Insurance Is Important For Young People, and suggest
      they talk to their kids about it," said Selma.
      "Yeah, like when Johnny brings home his laundry for mom to do,"
      said Bob.
      Their ideas worked. They received more inquiries from young
      adults in the area, and even a couple of thank you notes from parents.
      LESSON: Everyone is influenced by the opinions of others. Be
      careful in assuming that just because kids have left the nest that
      they are only influenced by peers. Eighteen years at home creates a
      lot of trust and brand equity for many products and services.
      Parent - Children influence is a two-way street. Behavioral
      research shows that children influence the purchasing decisions of
      parents, too. We're all familiar with the crying child in the
      supermarket who demands a cereal with a favorite cartoon character on
      the box.
      Smart marketers who sell children's products always do a dual
      analysis of their target market -- one to identify the underlying
      buying motivations (needs, wants, fears, desires) of the child who
      consumes, and a separate one for the mother who pays. Dual
      motivation analysis allows marketers to focus on the most persuasive
      logical and emotional advertising messages for both the buyer and the user.
      When both will see the same message, such as on packaging, dual
      motivation analysis allows the marketer to combine messages, often
      using visuals for children (such as Go-Gurt's cool kids on
      skateboards) and text for moms (the text on Go-Gurt's box emphasizes
      its nutritional value and portability.)
      But children have greater buying influences on parents. For
      example, if parents believe their teens have more knowledge about a
      product, such as a computer or MP3 player, the teen's influence on
      the buying decision increases.
      If parents believe the productcategory has more relative importance to their children, such as the
      choice of a college or prom dress, their influence is greater.
      Children also play a larger role in the initiation stage ("Let's
      consider buying this") of new purchases than in the decision stage.
      When children see an ad for a new toy or food on a Saturday morning
      show, for example, they can initiate an awareness and consideration
      process that would otherwise not have happened.
      LESSON: If you sell something used by children or teens,
      consider a two-pronged marketing strategy which targets the specific,
      separate, buying motivations of users and purchasers. This is
      especially true for new products or services where the influence of
      children on initial consideration is especially strong.

      JOSE AND ROBERTO have an office equipment business. Sales were
      strong when they focused on selling low cost copiers and fax machines
      to small business owners. Now they've expanded into higher-priced
      equipment, and that forces them to target larger companies. So far
      results have been poor.
      "We offer name-brand equipment at really low prices," said Jose.
      "What are we doing wrong?"
      Roberto talked to a business friend who gave him some articles
      on psychological marketing.
      "It says here," Roberto reported, "that we have to overcome a
      lot more stress in bigger companies to make the sale."
      "Stress?" said Jose. "From what?"
      "Bigger companies buying more expensive equipment bring more
      people into the decision-making process. They're from different
      departments, and maybe some are more senior than others," said
      Roberto. "We're used to a store owner and a secretary making the
      decision. More people mean more stress in the whole process."
      "What does that mean?" asked Jose.
      "It means that everyone is sweating making a bad decision
      because these machines cost a lot of money. They're worried that a
      bad decision will make them look bad to their boss and to the people
      in other departments who maybe didn't agree with them."
      "Sure. And everyone probably has a little different take on the
      purchase depending on their department, like finance versus
      marketing," said Jose.
      "Decisions also get made a higher levels, so one set of people
      make recommendations, but others decide what to buy," said Roberto.
      "That means more conflict among the recommenders, who all want
      to look good, and more fear among the deciders, who have to figure
      out which recommendation to trust," said Jose.
      "Right. And the higher the decider's position, the more can be
      at stake in his or her career," added Roberto, "just like the
      questions on that 'Who Wants To Be a Millionaire' show."
      "So price is not the key issue here. It's confidence. And that
      means an emphasis on brand names, track record, testimonials,
      after-sales service, and a strong guarantee," said Jose."
      "These marketing psychology articles say we've got to have a
      good idea of all the hidden buying motivations at work, especially
      the emotional ones like fears and desires," offered Roberto.
      "Research," said Jose. "We know some of the people in the
      companies we want to sell. Others we can ask about, or just make an
      educated estimate of their key motivations, based on their department
      and job responsibility."
      "Right, like increasing sales, boosting efficiency ratings, or
      finding ways to trim costs. And always 'job protection.'"
      Roberto and Jose revised their marketing materials and sales
      pitch to address the various buying motivations (needs, wants,
      fear and desires) at play in each company, and tried to provide
      information that would reduce stress, such as testimonials and a
      strong guarantee for performance and service.
      It is still an uphill struggle for them, but they've been
      receiving some positive feedback, so Roberto and Jose know they're on
      the right track with their psychological marketing approach.
      LESSON: You don't sell to companies. You sell to people.
      Every person in the decision chain wears two hats -- corporate and
      Their final decision is a balancing act between "What's good for
      the company" and "What's good for my career?" For the best results,
      identify and use both sets of motivations in your marketing messages
      and sales pitch. Never forget the importance of 'fear' in any
      buyer's decision.


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