Friday Forecast: The Marketing Tactic That Works Everywhere, Every Time

by Colleen Ferrier and Rick Petry on Mar 3, 2017 2:50:18 PM Great Ideas Summit, Digital Marketing, Brand Marketing

According to Dr. Robert Cialdini, author of the seminal marketing treatise, Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion, there is one weapon of influence that works in every culture and in every corner of the globe. What is it you may wonder? Reciprocity. 

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The Law of Reciprocation basically says that if you give something to someone, they feel indebted to you. It is basic human nature. This truism was on evident display at this year’s Great Ideas Summit 2017 in San Juan, Puerto Rico, which featured a triumvirate of online marketing gurus, Brendon Burchard, Dean Graziosi, and Frank Kern. These Three Tenors of digital commerce were all singing from the same hymnal: that marketers cannot just be self-serving. Instead, they must provide incentives to those prospects who don’t initially convert in order to build the goodwill and trust that persuades more of them to eventually buy. Here’s how this principal might work in the context of a campaign.

Once a prospect has touched your website, you obviously have the ability to remarket to them. Hardcore traditional direct response advertisers are used to asking for the order, so the gut instinct might be to simply follow that lead around the web, pound them with repeated advertising, and eventually wear down a percentage who did not purchase at first. However, using reciprocity mechanics, instead a marketer might offer information or some other incentive that the prospect can unlock by providing their email address. So, for example, a marketer of an anti-aging product could offer a video that features three sure fire tips to a better night’s sleep. The notion is that the advice will help a person feel better and look more youthful. Though the content might seem tangential to the actual product, it helps establish category authority, engenders goodwill, and helps build all-important community and trust. It is only after the benefits have been enjoyed by the prospect that an offer to buy anything is made. Now that the prospect has opted in to receive email, the marketer can use a series of communications that offer additional value add. A special offer can continue to be highlighted that has an expiration date aimed at creating a sense of scarcity and urgency.

Don’t think this sort of give and take works?

Consider this: have you ever gone to Costco in search of say, cheap chardonnay or a six-month’s supply of toilet paper? Suddenly you encounter a product demonstrator in a lunch lady getup who is offering you a free sample of some edible goodie and a limited time coupon and – Viola! You have a brick of processed food you had no anticipation of buying that day sitting on top of that case of soda in your shopping cart. Why? Because conscious of it or not, you feel an obligation; a pang. After all, that lady was so generous and who doesn’t want to see this nice senior citizen on a mostly fixed income succeed?

As direct marketing increasingly moves away from a transaction mindset into one that is focused on relationship building, this sort of tactic is critical. With so much money spent to feed the top end of the lead funnel, why would you walk away from people who have already raised their hands and are perhaps itching for more reasons to be convinced to buy your product? Admittedly this sort of longer sales cycle approach requires commitment, patience, and investment from a crowd that may still pine for the old days when media spends produced an immediate cause and effect. But as the keynote speakers repeatedly noted, this sort of exchange can produce not just a 2:1 media efficiency ratio, but exponential numbers over time – and not a long period of time.

According to Merriam-Webster, quid pro quo literally means “a favor or advantage granted or expected in return for something.” It’s high time all direct marketers embrace the term literally. Take it to heart, and you might just take it to the bank.


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Colleen Ferrier is a seasoned direct marketing expert who specializes in guiding integrated direct-to-consumer campaigns with an acute focus on ROI. Her broad experience has included management oversight of marketing, operations, media, and international distribution. The campaigns she has been instrumental in helping lead to success across her 15+ year career include Pillow Pets, Little Giant Ladder, Dream Lites, and Stompeez. Ferrier has a Bachelor of Arts in Communications from Augusta University, Georgia.

Rick Petry is a direct marketing veteran of over 25 years who has been involved with campaigns that have generated over $1 billion in sales. He provides creative services to both B2C and B2B marketing campaigns and recent projects have included Actegy/Revitive, Education Connection, GOLO, Joybird, and OYO/DoubleFlex. The author of over 200 articles on direct marketing best practices, Petry has a Bachelor of Arts in Cinema/Television from the University of Southern California and an MBA with an Emphasis in Sales and Marketing from Marylhurst University.

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