Tag Archives: Marketing

5 Sales and Writing Secrets That Could Save Your Marriage (and Make Your Relationships Thrive)

telling a secret

(Image/We Share Pics)

Couples struggle in relationships because they don’t know how to talk to each other.

There are other reasons. But that’s the biggest.

Maybe I’m the only one, but nuanced, intangible things like “feelings” and “communication” and “psychology” never pulled much weight with me growing up, or even in my 20s.

Feelings?! Those are for girls!

Communication?! What’s there to talk about?! Everyone is basically the same!

Psychology?! That’s pseudo-science! Can’t we talk about something that matters, like football or movies?!

Yes, I was/am an idiot.

Those very accurate (if ignorant) thoughts and internal monologues explain why I’m divorced.

It’s worth repeating: If your marriage is miserable and broken, the reason is because you don’t know how to talk to each other.

Sure, you both have personal and collective problems outside of the communication spectrum, but two people pulling in the same direction who understand how to exchange healthy and productive dialogue about them will actually grow closer while overcoming the hardships together.

The future of our closest and most-treasured, most-meaningful relationships depends on us figuring this out. I say “us,” because I’m totally in the boat, too. A lifetime of bad habits and emotional triggers can only be broken and reprogrammed with new, better habits and thoughtful situational response.

Maybe my professional life can be a source of inspiration.

If Words and Sales Techniques Influence People to Buy Things, Could They Also Affect Behavior in Relationships? 

“They may forget what you said — but they will never forget how you made them feel.” — Carl W. Buehner

From dating through our divorce, my wife and I were together for 12 years.

Maybe it’s because we’re creeping up on four years since our separation and my memory isn’t what it used to be, but I can’t remember the specific words, tone of voice, timing and circumstances of any of our verbal spats.

I can only remember how it felt.

I was angry. Confused. Frustrated. Arrogant. Defensive. Ashamed.

Like most couples, we mostly had the same fight over and over again. A few details change, but it’s always The Same Fight®, with the same themes and argument patterns.

The Same Fight doesn’t always scare you when it’s happening because you’re used to having it. But The Same Fight is what infects hearts, breaks couples and destroys families.

People pay attention to, and try to change or fix things that scare them. Have you heard or lived the story of the husband who seems disengaged from his wife and marriage, but has a complete meltdown and goes into desperate Super-Husband Mode after his wife says she wants a divorce, causing “WTF???” reactions from a wife who felt ignored, unwanted and unloved for years?

That’s what I’m talking about.

Those men fighting for their marriages and families when it’s too little, too late are guys who would have made different choices all along had they only FELT what they now feel in their frightened desperation.

It’s the marketing and advertising industry’s most potent weapon — human emotion.

Coca-Cola is the world’s most recognized brand and, I believe, the top-selling beverage in every country on Earth where it’s sold except Scotland (where I believe it’s #2). Coke is last on the list of companies that need more brand awareness. Yet they spend a kajillion dollars every year on people-oriented or “feely” marketing campaigns and advertisements because they want people to feel good when they think about, or drink, Coke.

And this is a company selling a product that’s not particularly good for us.

I think maybe we should try to be more like Coke in our relationships, except what we are offering IS actually good for people. With due respect to the fine people at Coca-Cola, strong relationships and stable, cohesive families actually will change the world.

“But, Matt!!! Advertising and marketing stuff doesn’t work on me!!!”

Right. I used to believe that, too.

And maybe it’s true. I can’t prove nor promise that certain word choices will influence an individual person to take a desired action. But I CAN prove and promise that certain word choices influence people.

When I’m not blogging about what a shitty husband I was, I’m writing marketing content designed to influence people to buy or sign up for something. I see a lot of data. I read a lot about strategy for improving results.

And yesterday, for the first time, I asked myself the question: Couldn’t these ideas just as easily apply to our interpersonal relationships?

5 Sales and Marketing Tricks You Can Use to Improve Communication with Relationship Partners (and Everyone Else)

1. Pay Attention to Timing

It’s hard to sell Christmas gifts in April. It’s hard to sell swimwear to cold-weather residents during winter. It’s often impossible to sell things during a crisis.

For example, Sept. 12, 2001 was probably a bad day to launch a new mattress and bedding sale in New York City.

But more subtle than that in the marketing world is time-of-day engagement metrics for things like email open rates or social media posts and ads.

MANY more people will open an email at 9 a.m. Monday than at 4:30 p.m. on Friday, just as many more people will see and engage with a Facebook post or advertisement at lunchtime or 7 p.m. on a weeknight than most other times (though it varies by demographic – young people stay up longer, for example).

All that to say: Maybe dumping criticisms or complaints on people during their busy workdays, or making requests or demands of others right when they walk in the door from a long day at work or at home with small children (and we have no idea what they’ve been through) isn’t the most effective timing nor best idea.

2. Chemistry is NOT Pseudo-Science. Smile and Hug More.

I’m not a biologist or any other kind of doctor, but I’ve read about dopamine enough to know it’s one of, if not the, most influential chemical our body produces to give us feelings of happiness.

Smiling is measurably the highest positive emotional gesture we make. It makes others AND ourselves feel better. And it’s a non-verbal cue which connects us to others and signals that we mean them no harm.

Additionally, HUG. For at least SIX SECONDS. Not strangers, necessarily because that might be weird. But your spouse, for sure. After six seconds, the body releases all of these excellent chemicals, including dopamine, which makes everyone’s lives better.

You might not feel like smiling or hugging. You also might not feel like brushing your teeth, or going to the doctor, or replacing your vehicle’s tires. But you do it because it’s important.

Smiling and hugging (and the chemicals they release) are IMPORTANT.

Side note: When you are text-messaging, non-verbal cues AND tone of voice are absent. Stop discussing important things via text. Pick up the phone, or save the important stuff for later.

3. Use the Right Words

Effective marketing and sales copy is customer-focused. It either educates or entertains. Customers DO NOT care about companies. Customers care about how companies’ products and services can solve their problems or otherwise improve their lives.

A thoughtful copywriter always asks: “How does this make you feel?” rather than “Which message do you want to send?”

Specific word choice matters.

You, Because, Free, Instantly and New are the five most-persuasive words in the English language, according to data analysis of advertising and marketing copy. Using those words has a measureable impact on the number of people who will open an email or click something online.

What words have a positive impact on your partner?

What words have a negative impact on them?

Don’t know? Ask. Or pay attention to what words (and actions) soothe them or make them happy, as well as those that upset them. Keep track! Talk about them!

How is it that I know which words will help me improve my email marketing campaigns, but don’t know which specific words made my wife hurt or feel good?

No need to overthink that one. I was an asshole.

4. Talk No Longer Than 30 Seconds at a Time During Conversation

Brevity is critical in marketing. And while I’m decent executing it as a marketer, I’m fairly horrible in conversation (and writing blog posts, *ahem*).

I am the KING of the never-ending monologue because of the way my brain processes new ideas and keeps triggering new thoughts while I’m talking, but also because my dad used to monologue-lecture me. I can remember ALL of the things I did which earned the lectures, but none of the lessons dad tried to teach me.

I used to use a lot of words while trying to convince my wife she was wrong to be mad at me or on the wrong side of an argument.

Pro Tip: That shit doesn’t work.

“Sometimes we speak beyond what someone is able to listen to. What the research shows is that the human brain can really only hold on to four things at a time, so if you go on and on for five or 10 minutes trying to argue a point, the person will only remember a very small part of that,” said neurologist Andrew Newberg, co-author of “Words Can Change Your Brain.” “We developed compassionate communication with the idea of having several goals, and one of them is to speak briefly, meaning that you speak one or two sentences, maybe 30 seconds worth or so, because that’s really what the human brain can take in and absorb.”

5. Make three positive comments for every negative statement

Newberg’s research also suggests that negative arguments have a very detrimental effect to our brain. We need to pay particular attention to not let them take over and work against them by using the 3-to-1 ratio:

“When you get into a dialogue with somebody to discuss any particular issue, a three-to-one ratio is a relatively good benchmark to think about; you wind up creating the opportunity for a more constructive dialogue and hopefully a better resolution,” Newberg said.

In marketing, positive messages work better when consumers have time to ponder purchase decisions. (Your partner totally has time to ponder.)

And negative marketing messages work better when there are deadlines because people generally demonstrate a fear of missing out and want to avoid negative outcomes.

Both positive AND negative statements should be used in our personal relationships to communicate thoughts and feelings.

But, for best results, we must counterbalance the fear- and anxiety-producing ones by using much more positive and hope-inspiring words.

Less hate. More love.

Less anger. More forgiveness.

Less stress and anxiety. More peace.

No tricks or scams. No lies or deception. Just authentic, thoughtful word choice and message delivery.

What we say, where we say it, when we say it, why we say it, and how we say it all dictates whether our messages are heard, understood, and properly digested.

Though our behavior often suggests otherwise, our closest relationships are the most precious and important things in life.

Sales and marketing people. Writers. They’re not for everyone.

But in the realm of HOW to communicate effectively — maybe doing things as they do would go a long way toward inspiring change in the feelings and behaviors of the people we live and work with.

Of the people we love.

Only one way to find out.

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A Quick Note About Stuff and Things 5-31-2016

stuff and things

(Image/samantharosling.tumblr.com)

Hey guys.

I had an unusually busy and not-super-fun weekend at a car dealership. I’ve decided that buying cars is one of my least favorite things.

I wanted to write a post today, but Time is being an inconsiderate jerkface, so I’m unable to. I’m writing this fake post instead just to say hi, and tell you random things you might not care about.

1. Read ‘Why You Will Marry the Wrong Person’

Alain de Botton wrote this extremely thought-provoking piece which ran in the New York Times Sunday, and I thought it was really interesting. Also, several people I know in real life or through the blog shared it with me, so it clearly has appeal with the kinds of people who read things here.

British author de Botton is the founder of the London-based School of Life which is dedicated to All The Things we discuss here, and is geared toward helping people “Develop Emotional Intelligence.” Frankly, I’m embarrassed I didn’t know about The School of Life before this past weekend, because it only took watching the 90-second intro video for me to realize their mission to help people with all the life stuff we don’t learn formally or informally as children is something easy for me to get behind.

2. Reader Lynda asks: ‘What Are You Going to Say to Your Son?’

What we teach our children about healthy relationships is THE key to changing the world RE: How to stop having crappy, dysfunctional relationships, and keep couples and families together.

Her specific question was this: “My question for you is what are you going to say to your son to teach him how to have a healthy relationship as he grows up? What seeds are you going to plant to help break the cycle? I have only a few years left with my boys under my roof to teach them what they need to know, and I don’t want to feel like they are doomed, given the family history. What are your thoughts?”

It’s a great question, and will be a post in the near future.

3. How Do We Rank Living Things?

You probably heard about the gorilla that was shot and killed by zoo workers this past weekend at the Cincinnati Zoo while rescuing a 4-year-old boy who crawled under a fence and fell into the gorilla exhibit while his mother’s back was turned.

The internet lost its mind, and after watching a minute or two of video on Facebook, everyone suddenly became experts on gorilla behavior with small human children.

Harambe, a 17-year-old, 419-pound male western lowland silverback gorilla died tragically having done no wrong. You’ll read no heartless commentary from me on his passing.

Animal lovers globally were weighing in on whether the gorilla should have been shot or tranquilized, and questioned whether the life of one human of which there are 7.4 billion should be valued over the life of a rare and endangered silverback gorilla.

I have a variety of thoughts on the matter, but there’s really just ONE question I’m most interested in exploring: How do we rank the value of life?

Are we wrong to automatically rank humans over animals? What about certain animals over others? What about certain people over others?

We must, and will, discuss.

4. Do Women Complain More Than Men?

I might be misremembering, but I think I read MBTTTR commenter Linbo ask this over the weekend, in the spirit of: “Are wives sometimes too demanding of their husbands? Are women more likely to complain about something than men? If so, why?”

I think that’s another post and discussion to be had.

5. Try Brain Surfing. It’s Fun.

This month, I had the good fortune to cross digital paths with author and brand strategist Heather LeFevre. She wrote a kick-ass marketing strategy-travelogue hybrid book called Brain Surfing The Top Marketing Strategy Minds in the World” which I’m in the middle of and liking very much. If you’re in the marketing world and/or are passionate about international travel, you’ll like it because it’s exceptionally creative and offers crucial insight to business owners and marketers about brand empathy, community building and storytelling. 

6. Please Root for the Cleveland Cavaliers to Win the NBA Finals

Pretty please, and thank you.

7. Watch ‘Bloodline’ if You Have Netflix

I’m serious. Season 2 just recently released. That’s just a good life tip you can thank me for later. Check it out here.

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We Only Need 5% To Say Yes

power-of-5percent

I work in a cubicle and I’m 35 and my life is always going to feel a little crappy and disappointing unless I do something about it.

Going to bed every night and doing the same thing each day is NOT a viable strategy for improving your life. We wait for things to change. But they rarely do.

Before you know it, it’s too late and you’re old and you can’t afford to live until you’re 85 anyway, so maybe it would be better to just die because at least that would be affordable.

Or.

Just maybe there’s an opportunity to play a leading role in making our lives what we want them to be.

Being 35 sometimes scares me because I feel like I’ve lost so much time, but it’s also not without its perks.

Remember Bill Murray’s Phil Connors character in Groundhog Day?

“Maybe the real God uses tricks, you know? Maybe he’s not omnipotent. He’s just been around so long, he knows everything.”

There’s an important truth there about life experience that you can’t fully appreciate until you feel it.

I don’t know when it happened. And it had nothing to do with my chronological age.

But at some point, I recently concluded: I’m not a kid anymore. I’m good at a few things. I’m capable, and I need to do something.

When I lost my job on Jan. 1, 2010, I knew my newspaper career was over.

The recession had slaughtered newsrooms everywhere. When no one’s making money, no one’s advertising. When no one’s advertising, news organizations are making less money.

That, combined with the breakneck speed with which the internet has grown as everyone’s primary news source, sealed print journalism’s fate.

The news business will never be what it used to be.

I needed to reinvent myself.

And I’ve never done particularly well with change.

Because of people I knew through my wife, I got some seed projects to get started as a freelance writer. And just like that, I became a guy who wrote marketing copy for websites and stuff.

I’m not shitty.

But there are limitations to what you can do when your primary discipline is writing. I was never going to be able to provide the comprehensive services people need from their internet marketing agencies, consultants, or in-house departments.

And frankly? I’m just not responsible and disciplined enough to handle all of the administrative aspects of business operation on my own. It’s because I’m a large child.

My business was never going to blossom into something more on the merits of my writing projects.

Damn. I need to get a job, I realized.

And I did.

I was offered a pretty good job writing website copy and blog content for two top-1% (by global traffic) sites. I also write email copy. The kind you get from Kohl’s or Groupon or Walmart or Victoria’s Secret.

We send lots and lots of email to customers.

We get an enormous amount of traffic from Google and other search engines and social media networks.

And you know how many of those people buy something? Single-digit percentages.

Sometimes less than 1%. Sometimes closer to 10%.

Let’s split the difference and call it 5%.

That means that for every 100 people that interacts with something I write—a blog post or retail email or an individual part page on a website where something is for sale, only a super-small fraction (maybe 5, at most!) ever buy anything.

We call it the “conversion rate.”

And guess what? In my line of work, a 5% conversion rate is fairly awesome.

Is There a Point?

A couple friends and I are talking about taking the skills we’ve developed in marketing and trying to build something from it.

A business of our own.

There are a virtually infinite amount of small businesses out there who do a subpar job marketing themselves on the web. We can make them more money. We know it. And better yet? We can prove it. Because almost everything is measurable on the web.

It will be a side project at first.

And God-willing, it will grow into something meaningful. Only time will tell.

But here’s the mindset I want to have, and I think it applies to most facets of my life.

In business, as in life, we’re going to hear “No” a lot. It’s probably going to feel too often.

Rejection hurts. And we get discouraged.

Based on the math I see, 95% of everyone who sees my stuff doesn’t do what I want them to.

That’s 95% rejection!!!

And without context that might feel like a lot.

But I do have context. You can change the world with a 5% response rate.

If 5% are going to do what we want to, then we only need to increase the amount of people we’re communicating with to grow. If 5% out of every hundred businesses we pitch say yes, we have five new clients.

Work twice as hard, we’ll have 10. And so on.

The conclusion? Success is a virtual certainty IF only you’re brave enough to ask enough people to let you help them, and then deliver good work.

We can hear “No” and feel the pains and discouragement of rejection 95 out of 100 times, and still win.

It may end up nothing. Or it may change everything.

No matter what, it’s another opportunity to choose ourselves and control our own destinies.

And there aren’t many things in life better than that.

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Advertising and Kids

seen on tv

I know how to stimulate the economy.

Not create job growth, necessarily. This plan would almost certainly not address the United States’ breathtaking national deficit.

And it probably won’t increase the nation’s Gross Domestic Product because I’m pretty sure most of the money would be spent on products manufactured in foreign countries.

But here it is: Give a stimulus check—say, $1,500—to every kindergartner in the country and let them spend it however they want.

I didn’t say it was brilliant. I just said it would stimulate the economy.

Would you believe my only economics class was my junior year of high school and that I was smoking a lot of pot during that period of my life?

Highly implausible, I know.

As Seen on TV

My five-year-old son is officially the most-impressionable person I have ever met.

Because I don’t like television commercials, I tend to record things I want to watch on my DVR and view the programs delayed so I can fast-forward them.

It has gotten so bad with my son, that he chastises me when I fast-forward commercials during children’s programming, which is always some really colorful ad showing a bunch of kids having an amazing time with some toy or bad-for-your-health snack food.

He loves commercials. And he believes every single thing he sees in them.

Last night, he saw a commercial for Snackeez! They are colorful dual-compartment cups which the TV advertisement claims will reduce messes in vehicles and living rooms.

The advertisement wasn’t on screen for 10 seconds when…

“Hey dad! Can I get some Snackeez!?”

“You seriously want one of those?”

“Yes.”

“Why?”

“Because they’re cool.”

“You think Snackeez! look cool?”

“Yes.”

“Dude. There’s no way I’m ordering those.”

“Awwww!”

There’s no way that’s true. The eliminate-messes part. I could attach a vacuum hose to my son’s chin, and I guarantee he could still get crumbs and pieces of food on any floor space within a four-foot radius. He almost never spills drinks. But he almost ALWAYS gets crumbs and shit everywhere. It’s uncanny.

The commercial shows a bunch of kids just spilling stuff everywhere. On light carpet, of course. Just four idiot kids spilling all of their stuff while playing video games or watching TV on the living room floor with grape juice and chocolate milk and other dark liquids I’m certain every responsible parent would put in the hands of kids in such a spot. *shakes head*

Snackeez! cups will save the day. Don’t worry. Order now, and you can have a second $9.95 cup (plus shipping and handling) absolutely free! Act fast before your kids spill stuff all over the floor!

It dawned on me just how serious the problem was this morning while getting him ready for school.

“Hey dad! Can we get an I spy bird feeder?”

“What’s an I spy bird feeder?”

(He meant the My Spy Birdhouse, it turns out. I was previously unaware of this thing.)

“You stick it to the window outside, then you watch the birds from inside your house.”

“Do you want to get every single thing you see on TV?”

“Yes.”

“As a general rule, it’s a bad idea to order things you see on TV. Most of that stuff isn’t very nice, kiddo. Do you get a second bird feeder for free if you order in the next 10 minutes?”

“No! You get it in a package at the end of the day!”

“Nevermind. We’ll talk about this later.”

Get Rich Quick

Some people do get rich quick. They win the lottery. They start a business that takes off. They accept Facebook shares of stock instead of $60,000, and seven years later are worth $500 million.

Everyone wants to get rich without putting in the time.

As I’ve aged, I’ve learned to believe strongly in the get-rich-slowly method. That way is GUARANTEED to succeed. We’re all going to be older someday. And we’re all going to have regrets about things we did and did not do. I hope I’m disciplined enough to at least ponder those regrets with a large bank account because I slowly and systematically put money away for Future Old Matt.

One night in college, I was sitting alone in my apartment really late, high from smoking a bowl. (That’s marijuana for all you responsible types.)

It must have been 2001 or 2002. I saw an ad for the get-rich-quick scheme: The Internet Treasure Chest. They promised to refund your money if you weren’t satisfied and rich within 60 days.

I can’t lose!

I ordered it for $100 (which was a lot of money for me when I was in college.)

A few days later, it showed up. I left all the boxes of crap just laying by my computer and never did anything with it.

And that’s the entire story.

I gave the Internet Treasure Chest people $100.

*shakes head*

My Son in the Future

Is this something that’s universal to all kids?

And are these impressionable tendencies I’m seeing now something I’ll have to worry about as the years advance?

I don’t want to wake up in 10 years to find my son on the cover of USA Today because he tried to rob something:

btf usa today “Why would you do that?!”

“Austin called me a chicken!”

“Oh. Right. Do you have any idea how much it’s going to cost to get you out of this?”

“Don’t worry, I’ve got it covered.”

“How’s that?”

“I ordered the Internet Treasure Chest 2.0 last night! It’s guaranteed to make you rich in 60 days or they give you your money back!”

“… ”

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Adopt the Rhythm of Change

change ahead

Don’t get too comfortable.

I don’t mean that in an inner-peace kind of way. It’s hard to even get out of bed in the morning without that.

Just don’t get too comfortable with the status quo in your personal life—even if you like it.

This is particularly hard for men. We crave routine and stability. And our bodies don’t respond well to harsh or drastic change.

But our entire lives involve change. Hell, it might be the only real earthly constant we have.

Like it or not, change is coming.

This manifests itself in the form of social, political, economic and seasonal weather changes.

But even more importantly, it happens in our personal lives.

I have to believe all of you—while experiencing very different realities than me—must have felt the weight of all the changes in your life as we’ve collectively flipped the pages on our calendars.

Everyone’s life stages are going to look and feel different depending on our individual set of circumstances.

But for many of us, it starts with being a very young child at home. We go to elementary school. Then eventually high school. Some of us head off to college, or the workforce, or join the military.

We experience life on our own for the first time. Some of us get married. Some of us have children.

We change jobs. We gain friends. We lose others. People you know get divorced. People you know start to die.

The only constant is change. Sometimes radical change.

And it’s hard. Even when it’s good—like getting your first job out of college in a gorgeous beach community 1,000 miles from everyone you know and love—it’s hard.

One of the world’s best modern thinkers is a man named Seth Godin. Anyone working in sales and marketing has almost certainly heard of him. The great thing about Godin’s work is that many of his lessons aren’t just about maximizing profits. They’re about maximizing the human experience.

Godin is a great marketer because he understands people. I sometimes think he knows us better than we do.

He’s a magnificent thinker and writer. Please read him.

He wrote recently about professional change. About staying flexible and nimble. About staying ahead professionally by adapting to the new culture of change.

And it got me thinking: Can we adopt the rhythm of change in our personal lives? And could doing so somehow save us from some of the stress and heartache we feel?

I’m not sure. But it feels worth exploring.

Maybe you’ve heard this before: Chance favors the prepared mind. Louis Pasteur, a French scientist, said that in 1854.

We don’t get lucky. We don’t find luck. Luck finds us.

Because we make good choices that put us in a position to capitalize on the opportunities life grants us.

So, let’s be mindful of this.

Mentally. Physically. Spiritually.

To be strong and courageous in the face of hardships.

And perhaps more importantly, so we’re in a position to seize good fortune when it finds us.

Because you and me? We’re on a collision course with something life-changing and beautiful.

Let’s be prepared for it.

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