Many small business owners know that it’s important to build trust in their business partnerships. Some businesses even use it in their marketing or as a point of difference. But why is trust important in the various business partnerships we have, clients, staff, online, actual partners, and how do we actually achieve it?
What is trust in a business relationship?
The definition of Trust is: a firm belief in the reliability, truth, or ability of someone or something. What we can forget in business is that it is while we may want it:
It’s given by the other person
we have no control over when it’s given but
we can influence when it’s taken away.
The secret to building trust with customers
The true secret is understanding that you have no control over making your customers trust you, but you do control what you do to use it. The keys to building a trusting relationship with your clients is:
be vulnerable & show your human side (it’s endearing)
I keep saying that building a trusting partnership with a client is like building a friendship. You start with your commonalities, and that’s not your business/service/product, and then grow from there. Show empathy for their drivers & tell your customer how you solve or meet them.
TIP: You have no control if a customer trusts you, but control over if they stop trusting you.
The steps to build trusting business partnerships in the workplace
Whenever I’ve needed to build trusted relationships at work the one key has been listening. The key is then to act but in a particular way.
Set clear boundaries & expectations for all (including yourself)
When I have done these things, I have turned businesses around in 3 months; I have had happier staff; I have had happier clients; I have had increased demand from clients. It is possible and I want you to achieve this too.
How do you build trust in an online business?
Some people might think that it’s harder to build trust in an online brand. I tend to disagree, especially if you remember that the people online are people and you use the tips I shared earlier about building trust with customers. There are some bonus tips which only apply online & make building an online business relationship easier:
TIP: Video shortens the time it takes to build trust online.
Why is building trust important to small business?
Real trust, not just some marketing ploy, is key to building lasting relationships. Trust builds brand loyalty. Brand loyal people are advocates & ambassadors and the best form of free marketing you could ask for as a business. Why? Because people buy from people that they know, like, & trust.
I have a question for you though; do you trust yourself?
I’d love to hear your thoughts in a comment below & don’t forget that I can help you understand what drives you, your staff, & your clients to trust your small business.
Propaganda on social media hit the news in 2018 when an essential security flaw was leaked between Facebook and Cambridge Analytica. The public and governments were in uproar. People deleted Facebook, most came back.
It was also in early 2018 when I had my first speaking engagement on the psychology of Facebook at Big Digital Adelaide. I was teaching digital marketers the new area of the psychology of Facebook users. It wasn’t until late in 2019 that I was in tears when researching the extent of propaganda on social media, its use as psychological warfare on the public, and the impact it has.
What is propaganda?
Propaganda dates back to Ancient Rome & Greece and is commonly understood as the spreading of ideas, information, or rumour for the purpose of helping or injuring an institution, a cause, or a person.
What is the role of propaganda on social media as psychological warfare?
The role of propaganda on social media is to persuade an individual or group of people to a particular way of thinking so they change their behaviour.
This can range from targeting swinging voters with misinformation through to the use of repeated imagery in image filters to change their voter preference. It can go all the way through to the production of videos to target at people likely to become radicalised and fight for enemy states.
What are some examples of propaganda on social media?
There are five main methods of posting propaganda on social media:
Targeting of Individuals
You can imagine that with the different methods that it is easy to weave propaganda through what most people see every day.
Research out of NATO STRATCOM COE goes further into what that might look like.
Commenting: positive, negative, neutral, including using the term “fake news” Targeting of individuals: via reputation or deliberate attacks on their accounts Government-sponsored accounts: (Ecuador Somos + identifies individuals going against their government so that others can target them) Fake accounts: bots & astrosurfing. Flood SM with fake news or bolster reactions to information. In Serbia, Vietnam, Mexico, and North Korea humans are used, called ‘cyborgs’, to undertake this role. Content Creation: In the UK the government has created content, including youtube, with persuasive information to deradicalize under fake accounts. Russia is the most commonly known one as is Cambridge Analytica.
What is the aim of propaganda on social media as psychological warfare?
Other than to change a person’s opinion and behaviour, it can also:
Push up the ranking of content in the social media algorithm, so more people see it
Discredit people and sources
Target profiles so that they are discredited to the point of closure
What can people do to combat the effects of propaganda on social media?
There is only one tool we have to stop being swayed by the propaganda and psychological warfare and that’s critical thinking. To use critical thinking we need to look at the intent, the source, do our own research from reputable sources.
The best thing we can do when we recognize propaganda is to report it to the social media platform and not share it. Platforms are improving their ability to identify psychological warfare online but users are improving their ability to profile and so the platforms are playing catch up and need our help.
How effective is online psychological warfare?
It sways voters and wins elections to change the shape of nations. It saves people from radicalization. These are some of the extreme effects it has.
How business can use propaganda on social media?
There are four key areas that businesses need to appeal to and all must be from the user perspective:
Content which appeals to and creates one of these four responses as they are key outcomes for all propaganda online.
You might notice that fear is not a focus of propaganda online.
Fear gives compliance not a change in beliefs and behaviour. Our aim as business owners is to convert buyers and these four points are key to converting their thinking and behaviour: for the long term.
Most of my clients understand that psychology is important to their business online but how is it important to your business every day? The following article outlines the main areas where understanding psychology will help your business, it also contains a number of links to helpful articles and resources so you can have a deeper understanding of specific tactics.
The psychology of online business
So let’s start with the one thing most people come to me with: The psychology of business online. There are three main issues I see. The first people talk to me about is engaging their audience online, the second is the fear of posting, and finally it’s FOMO or the fear of missing out.
The psychology of Engaging content
Businesses keep hearing that content is king and that they need to engage their audience. They try a number of different things, some realise that they have some success by just being themselves but wonder how they are going to repeat it AND sell.
This is where the psychology of engaging a business audience comes in. Platforms want us to produce content which is engaging and relevant. Businesses are realizing that their content may be neither of these and they have no idea what it means. They can take a best guess approach but really what do their clients’ think is engaging or relevant.
The fomo is real! People hate to be left out and when we spend time online, we see all that others are doing and when we’re not – we feel left out.
I’m writing this as Australia is in the grips of the COVID-19 pandemic and I feel like every other person is adopting a kitten or a puppy. Oh how I wish I could adopt one, but I can’t. My kids see photos their friends are sharing of their new pets and they ask for one. The FOMO is real in our house.
If only selling were as easy as salesmen make it out to be. To be honest, it’s not a skill I excel at. One day.
I have found that there are three main arms to sales & they are the fear of selling (it’s hard to do something you’re afraid of), the psychology of pricing (we know that we all have a maximum price we will pay), and storytelling (because no one honestly likes a hard sales pitch)
So let’s get into it.
Fear of selling
They don’t want to seem pushy
Perhaps this is a particularly Australian issue, but I doubt it. We really don’t like tooting our own horn and telling people to do things. We’re more subtle with these CTAs and to be honest they come off as weak at best and ambiguous at worst.
Hate asking for the sale
Following on from not wanting to be pushy is not wanting to be salesy. In Australia there’s nothing more loathed than a slimey salesperson.
Fear of rejection
Many business owners say that they don’t use a call to action or ask for the sale because they’re afraid to be told, “no”. We want to be liked. We want to be helpful. We don’t like rejection.
There are four main ways to overcome these issues: JFDI, use courage, use psychology, outsource.
Back in 2016, I reviewed the research around the psychology of businesses choosing a particular price for their product or services. The most interesting discovery I had was how 9-ending prices came about and what were the psychological benefits of using 9-ending prices for business.
The psychology of 9-ending prices
We all believe that if we market our products with a 9-ending, the customers will believe it’s cheaper and will flock to buy it. Right? Well, in reality it’s more like a ‘yes & no’ or a ‘depends’.
The psychology quoted on why it works is 3 pronged:
– we read left to right and drop off the numbers on the right, being the 9
– perceived gain
– price image compared to those of a competitor
if an odd number (9 for example) followed a round number (0) then consumers believed that they were receiving a bigger discount. They also found that the perceived discount increased as the price increased. However, the effect stopped once the price reached FF 100. (This study was done in France prior to the introduction of the Euro) Similarly, Bizer & Schindler (2005) found that 9-ending prices meant that consumers estimated that they could buy more of an item than was actually possible.
if a consumer is not motivated to pay much attention to the price, then they are more likely to drop off the end numbers. So this is more likely when we really don’t have to think too much about the purchase.
when the store’s message fits with the consumer’s focus then the consumer sees it as being relevant and will remember more of the price. So, if a consumer is motivated by quality and presented with a low-price 9-ending item, they won’t remember the price as well as if they were originally looking for a cheap item.
for the drop off effect to be profitable, only 3% of items actually needed to use the principle. So to some degree it seems that businesses are actually overusing the 9-ending pricing to attract appropriately motivated clients. (Though I seriously doubt that they are properly considering the motivation of their customers)
However, Anderson & Simester offered the following practical advice:
If a product had a 9-ending price and was paired with a ‘Sale’ & a ‘New’ merchandising prompt, sales increased by 3.9%.
If a product had a 9-ending price and was paired with a ‘New’ merchandising prompt, sales increased by 8.5%.
The biggest thing to consider is how good your audience is at maths. In all instances, the easiest thing is to have your price ending in a 0 or a 5, otherwise you risk confusing and losing.
Here are some of the other key points from my larger article on odd and even pricing:
– Even priced products and services are perceived as being of higher quality than odd and that intention to purchase based on quality is set by what motivates the buyer.
– If you value and promote the quality of your offer, you are better off using an even price.
– The pricing of a bundle of items requires that the items be even priced but the total bundle price be odd.
– If setting suggested prices for a Pay What You Want promotion, you should only use whole dollar amounts and preferably prices that end in 5 or 0.
– Debts are more likely to be paid in full if they end in a 5 or a 0 and to consider this when looking to recover debts.
It’s funny when you read the two psychology of pricing articles together, how it becomes clear when 9 works and why you should or shouldn’t use it.
Storytelling in your business
Sales is no longer the straight forward “buy my shit because it’s awesome & I said so”, the vast majority of us research our purchase before they’re even made & with a whole internet full of information (and mis-information) – the last thing we need and want is hard old school ram it down your throat sales. It just isn’t working.
If you’ve been reading my blog for a while you would know that I like to know the deeper ‘why’ & if it can go back to something about human psychology even better. (Look you don’t study the stuff for 3 years and then spend another 5 where it’s the main focus of your day job without it being a part of your ‘why’) So it won’t come as a surprise to know that I found this article by Lou Carlozo outlining the psychology of storytelling for sales & the keys to making it work. So what are they?
Oxytocin – the love drug or one that bonds mother to baby is switched on when we read stories
Metaphors matter – the use of metaphors are important in telling stories, they’re the Vegemite to the buttery toast. (Just don’t mix your metaphors or it can get messy)
Relevance – there’s no point telling a great story if it’s not relevant to the product/service or your customer.
In February 2011, I started working from home in a side business. In April 2012, I quit my day job and made working from home, for myself, a fulltime gig. Over that time I’ve learnt some hard lessons, made mistakes, and I’ve grown a lot. So I thought it was time I shared with you some of the key lessons I’ve learnt from my time as a sole trader who works from home.
Get the right support
In the beginning there were a lot of long hours working from home. My husband tried very hard to be supportive but having only briefly run his own business about 15 years earlier, he really didn’t understand the current environment. In the end, we both got very frustrated. It was then I felt incredibly alone and started to look for support.
You need the right support.
I honestly don’t mean business coaching, though this is what I did eventually need. What I really needed was someone who truly understood what it was like to work from home. Hubby has a regular office job. With regular office job distractions.
When you work from home, suddenly people think that you are available for a chat. Suddenly the housework seems more appealing than the “work” work. You can get sick of seeing the same four walls. The silence becomes deafening. And while I will go through some of the strategies I use to stay on track and get stuff done, nothing is quite like having someone who just ‘gets it’.
If you’re part of a remote team, there are a number of different tools you can use to stay in touch. Slack, Whats App, Facebook Messenger, and Zoom are all great ways to keep in touch.
Join a networking group, be it virtual or live, to make sure you get out and socialize. We humans are social beings. There are some great groups out there that are industry specific.
Having someone to call upon when things get too much, when you need to talk to someone, when you’re feeling alone. Reach out to someone you know and trust. Who gets what it’s like to work remotely, I did that for a while in my office job. Someone who will be there to just listen to you when it’s all a bit too much.
Time management when working from home
Remember that housework I mentioned earlier? Yeah, I’m a sucker for doing a load of laundry, the grocery shopping, or unpacking the dishwasher. Not! I am when there are other things I’m meant to be doing but don’t particularly want to do. Especially when the list is long, and getting longer. There’s nothing more disheartening when that list you’ve been working so hard on is getting longer.
I have to be honest, I did procrastinate a lot when I felt overwhelmed by a growing task list. It seemed like a useless folly to try and work my way through. Then I realized that something had to change. Two things did.
How you think about time
The first thing I changed was how I thought about time. When it comes to tackling a never ending to-do list and there never seems to be enough time, I had to work out how to get more time out of my day. First, I worked later and later. I just ended up burnt out with migraines and missing out on time with my family. Something had to change.
I remembered that there are instances where time seems to stand still and others it races by. I had to make it stand still more often. When I thought about it, when I believed that there wasn’t enough time – there wasn’t. When I believed I had all the time in the world – there was. And now, if I feel rushed or like I am going to be late, I remind myself that I have all the time in the world and I’m always on time and have enough time. You can read more here.
Organise your time
Having one long to do list and looking at it through the day made me anxious. It was overwhelming looking at this long laundry list of things I had to make happen. So I changed.
I tried having a number of notebooks for different tasks. I felt like I was juggling things and then tasks fell through the cracks and were missed. Not on!
I ended up setting up a bullet journal with my core business mission, strategies, client avatar and all the other items I need to steer my work. Then I have a set of calendar views; 12-month, monthly, and weekly. These allow me to have various levels of oversight into what I’m doing and when.
For those of you who have to produce social media content, I set up a 12-month content plan which ties monthly activities and promotions to content.
Then, I have my Google Calendar & my phone. These are the ones that are time-sensitive, like appointments. Sadly a hardbacked diary will only ensure that I’m on time if someone throws it at me at intervals and tells me when it’s due.
Getting structured with my time has meant that I can be flexible with how I spend it but also allows me to account for it. Just like my money!
When I’m working from home, I fall into the trap of getting in the zone and working continuously without taking a break. Don’t get me wrong, I just love it when it all flows but to be honest, it’s not always healthy.
I try to make sure that I at least eat my lunch outside, preferably in the sun. Stepping away from the desk is healthy for our minds and body and sunshine helps us stay healthy.
I also have a drink bottle which is under 1L. This is a cunning move to make sure I get up and walk to refill it. It’s all too easy to sit still for ages and drink, but I can find the motivation to get up and move harder. A smaller drink bottle helps.
Rewards when working from home
Congratulations, you met a milestone. How are you planning on celebrating it? Or did you not even consider that? Employees still need rewards and recognition for hard work, regardless if they are inhouse or remote. Targets are targets regardless of where staff are.
Self-employed? Well, I hope you set milestones and rewards already. You should! You’re just as deserving.
Have a think and a chat with your team to see how you can work it into the corporate structure.
I want to remind you that rewards don’t have to be big or costly. It can be grabbing a coffee for getting that difficult email written. It can be putting aside some of your pay for a massage.
It took me a long time to do this. I didn’t think that I could. Then I realized that the biggest thing I valued was time alone, ironic huh! My favourite reward isn’t a massage or pedicure, even though they are 2 of my rewards, it’s actually a day off. I value time alone where I don’t have to work. I enjoy the solitude. It needs to be a priority though. Don’t let your rewards slip.
Set reasonable expectations
There’s a saying that goes, “we overestimate what we can do in a year and underestimate what we can do in a decade”. Part of what had me working until all hours was unrealistic expectations. I had set them on myself and then allowed my clients to control them with the deadlines I said were reasonable. Sure there is no travel time and often fewer distractions, meaning that we can be more productive. But that doesn’t make the expectations realistic just because you’re at home. You still have conflicting priorities and urgent deadlines.
Go easy on yourself. Some people will think that being at home is easy and if you’re like me you won’t want to let them down and will work harder. Go easy on yourself. You don’t always have to prove that you can work better than someone inhouse just because you’re at home. If you, for some reasons, don’t meet the expectations. Realise that you too are allowed to get the amount of time it would have taken wrong as much as someone inhouse.
Also realise that those people who drop in, call, or chat are taking up your time and you also have to set boundaries and expectations for them around your time when you are working from home. Just because you’re home, doesn’t mean you are available.
Working from home has given me incredible flexibility. I first did it when I was studying my Masters, working fulltime, and set up my first business. Yes, I could do that load of washing. Yes, I could pick the kids up from school or attend their functions. Yes, I had to be more mindful of my time. Yes, I got more work done than I would have if I were in the office. I suppose what I want to let you know is that the ability to work from home is a privilege which comes with responsibilities but the rewards are amazing.
Watch and learn how to drive your clients to do the behaviours you need for your business to succeed.
I’m often asked the best way to connect with clients. How to drive the client behaviour you need to succeed. You know, how to build that know, like and trust. How to get them onboard so they’ll buy. How to engage clients. I find business owners make one common error and that they’re missing the one secret I see, from a psychology point of view and as a business coach
What do I mean by what drives clients’ behaviour?
Let’s go back to basics and look at some scenarios. By breaking the communication with the client down into 3 parts:
I/the business (Person A) need
Insert person doing the thing I need and in this case it’s the client (Person B)
To do (insert thing X that I need).
It looks kind of like this:
For my business (Person A) to succeed I need more clients (Person B) to opt in to my funnel (thing X).
For my business (Person A) to succeed I need my clients (Person B) to buy (thing X).
For my business (Person A) to succeed I need my clients (Person B) need to click on my ad (thing x).
So where do business owners go wrong when they are trying to connect with and drive their client to do the thing that the business needs to succeed. Well, I find business owners focus on two things…
It’s all about them “I, I, I” or
It’s all about the thing they want “sales, leads, sign ups, opt ins…”
So where is driving the results going wrong?
I mean, what is wrong with focusing on what you need, either it being all about your business or all about the thing you need to succeed? Surely that’s what makes a business successful – focus, drive, determination. Right?
What tends to happen is that businesses then fall in to two camps –
they are focused all on themselves/the business and their success – Person A (Kind of like Daffy Duck hoarding stuff in cartoons)
They are focused all on thing X that they want to happen.
And then they feel like a failure, I didn’t make enough sales or conversions or blame and point fingers when they don’t get what they want.
It was the wrong target market, it was the wrong targeting, ads don’t work, video doesn’t work. All may be quite valid points but…
Thing is they’ve skipped over the key element to making thing X actually occur.
You see, without Person B doing thing X it was never going to succeed.
Without clients opting in, you won’t get them in the funnel.
With out your clients clicking to buy, you don’t make the sale.
Without your clients clicking on the ad, the ad doesn’t work.
It’s the actions of Person B which make x happen. It doesn’t matter that thing x exists or that Person A wants it to occur. Without Person B taking action, X never happens.
So what makes Person B do what the business needs to succeed?
What gets person B to do what you need them to do. You need to understand what drives them.
Let’s get inside their head – but first, I want to bust a business myth.
If you believe that offering discounts, special offers or giving them funky gifts or fantastic entitlements is key to capturing a sale, you’re mistaken and at a hiding to discounting yourself out of business. It’s commonly known and understood by psychologists that these things are really poor drivers of behavior. These external drivers are really poor at getting us to do things, over time they become expected and just aren’t enough and to be honest, any business can buy your clients off of you – for the right price. And that costs your business handsomely. Do you know how much it costs your business to acquire a new customer?
So it’s cheaper to keep them happy and keep them coming back and doing thing x for you.
So how do you do that in business?
We humans are social beings. We like to feel part of something bigger than ourselves. We love to be part of a tribe. We love to feel heard and understood. The thing is that we are generally time poor and if we have fill in the gaps or blanks in your marketing, we will use our memory bank of solutions or options to fill them.
What does that look like between a business and a client?
Regardless of who Person B is– we all have these key drivers which which drive our behavior.
Understanding these will allow you to include them in any communication you have, address any concerns, and grow trust.
So what are these drivers of client behaviour?
I have identified 5 key drivers of our behavior (and yes these apply equally to Person A and Person B). They are:
But you can’t cherry pick and start at the top. You have to address Person B’s fears and needs first before appealing to their values, beliefs or goals.
The benefit of using these drivers is that Person B will feel heard, understood, and valued. By telling them you understand their fears and needs, they don’t have to guess how your product or service will address these – they already know! No gaps or guesswork here.
So what you have is a client who is happier because they feel valued, a client who has some questions or concerns answered, and a client who is closer to buying from you.
What did you have to do?
Understand what drives them and tell them that you’ve been listening and that’s how you help.
So how do you work this out?
While you could survey your clients, the quickest and easiest way to work this out is to go to your testimonials and use exactly what they tell you. How you solved their problems, what they were, and how they felt afterwards. Use their words too, they understand those better than any spin doctoring you could do.
Leave a comment below with which one drives your clients more: fears, needs, beliefs, values, or goals
Why your social media marketing shouldn’t be like a Christmas present… Christmas has come and gone, the tree is away, and businesses are getting back into it. But customers are seeing the same old same old marketing. It’s like the businesses they follow are like some elderly Aunt who, with their heart in the right place, gives you the crappiest Christmas present that only they could possibly like.
What is Christmas Marketing?
You know the story. You’ve not since Aunt Mabel since last Christmas and once again you’ve got the same present and it’s precisely what Aunt Mabel would love to receive or would choose for herself. In fact, if you listened to the self-talk it would go something like this:
“If I were little Johnny I’d love to receive a present like this”.
Here’s the thing, most business social media markeitng is written with the same talk:
“If I were little Johnny, I’d love to see/know about this.”
Truth be told, little Johnny or Jenny, actually doesn’t like it because Aunt Mabel actually doesn’t take the time to listen to little Johnny and find out what they like and need. Aunt Mabel is so stuck in Aunt Mabel that she can’t see the needs of others around her.
Sound about right?
What’s wrong with Christmas Marketing?
Too often business social media marketing focuses on the message that the business wants to convey rather than what the client wants to hear. They assume that because they think it’s brilliant news that everyone else will think the same too.
But like Johnny & Aunt Mabel, clients and businesses are at different stages in their life and have different pressures, needs, and expectations. Telling them what you want them to hear or what you’d like to know doesn’t help them. (And therefore doesn’t help you)
Some businesses will tell you that so long as you know your avatar you are fine. Sure, but it’s more than knowing their “vital statistics” or demographics. If you actually want them to do something with your posts, to interact, engage, or click through and buy/book (all technically called engagement). Then you need to understand what makes them engage.
How to fix your Christmas Marketing!
A few years ago I wrote this blog and developed this handout on how to engage your audience online. I took some hard core research by psychologists and turned it into plain English steps. What it came down to, other than what businesses currently do of “giving them an incentive” and “telling them to do something”, the big tip for engaging online was to “appeal to their self-image”.
So don’t be an Aunt Mabel and appeal to your own self-image in your marketing. Appeal to what your audience actually tells you what they want for Christmas (or any time of year). You’ll find out how in the download.
So what are the latest tales of woe you have heard about social media and business? I usually hear, “Facebook Reach is dead”. I’ve heard, “They’ve changed the way posts appear on Facebook”. I’ve heard, “Twitter wants to allow us to edit tweets”. I’ve heard tales of woe about IGTV and stories. I’ve heard grumbles about the increased use of video on LinkedIn. They all complain of the same thing, social media isn’t working for us any more – it’s the technology’s fault.
Hang on just one minute! Have you heard the saying, ‘A bad tradesman always blames his tools’? Sure these platforms are free and we get what we are given. But did you ever stop to think that it’s also a matter of we get what we give?
Here are some other things I’ve heard non-business owners say about social media lately. “I went to restaurant XYZ’s Facebook page, they hadn’t posted in 18 months. I wonder if they’re still around?” “Why am I just seeing ads, I can’t see my friends?” “I always feel like they’re after my money” “I know I saw it here somewhere *scrolls endlessly* but I can’t seem to find it, it was really good but I’ve forgotten where it was from” Think about your time on social media personally, what do you think and say?
Now think again.
Why is your business on social media?
Is it to sell to a person? Yes
Is it to gain new customers (people)? Yes
Is it to educate people about your business so they will either buy from or recommend you? I’d hope so
When you look at these three questions the central theme is PEOPLE. This is ‘why’ businesses get on social media.
Somewhere we’ve lost track of this and focused on the ‘how’. The how being the social media platform.
But there are so many “hows” out there and they change. The why remains the constant.
Simon Sinek tells us to start with why.
Why not focus your social media efforts there first.
Why does the person you want to buy what you’re selling use one social media platform over another?
Why do they use social media at all?
Why would they choose you over any other business and not just your competitors? Why should they spend $20 with you rather than spending $20 on their pet/child/partner?
To reduce customers to numbers, even social media ones, is to turn them into conquests on a bedhead. We are not numbers nor are we conquests. We are people. Just like you.
The skill in this is realising this has nothing to do with you and your business and everything to do with the customer and their “why”. Do not make this about you, remember that you do not have to convince you to buy from you. So make it about them.
Over the past six months I’ve attended a few social media conferences and there’s one consistent trend – human-centered social media. Now, if you’ve been following me for a while, you will know that this is actually nothing new to me. In fact, I first wrote about this back in 2014. I have to be honest, I didn’t think I was that much of a ground-breaker and I hoped that it would take less time for the idea to filter through. Clearly I was wrong. Anyway, what is human-centred social media and why should we care?
Human-centred social media is more than benefits and WIIFM
Say what now? Ok, so some of you might be surprised and others will be scratching your head wondering what I mean and some will be high five-ing me. Let’s start with those scratching their heads.
WIIFM, or what’s in it for me, is the principle of perspective taking and looking at what the client gets out of the transaction. Benefits are a business looking at the features of their offer and telling clients what they will get out of it. It’s essentially two sides of the same coin. However there is no guarantee that they will match or align in any way.
I have to be honest there are two main flaws in this approach:
Who has time to assess benefits against needs as a customer?
It seems a little shallow.
The vast majority of the time I hear this, businesses will talk about outcomes and benefits. I really don’t believe that’s putting the client at the centre of their social media, I feel they are putting their offer at the centre. As clients, there is so much more that drives our decision making than outcomes and benefits and in fact, there are a lot of things which go into these alone.
As a customer, when presented with a list of benefits, I still have to match them with what I want to achieve or what I want. I’m still trying to work out if the offer is the right fit for me. I’m not at the centre of this transaction.
Personally, human-centred anything comes back to putting the following at the centre: what drives us to do what we do, know what we want, make a decision, spend money, like/comment/share. I believe that human-centred social media is more than what we are being told it is. In fact, I know that it’s more than what we are being told because there is a whole heap of psychology which drives what we define as a benefit or ‘what’s in it for me’.
I want human-centered business practices, not just social media, to be a strategic focus. I firmly believe that it’s good business practice and not just some fluffy feel good add on or differentiator. We rely so much on people, people power, and goodwill. The thing is, I believe that taking the approach I advocate is a strategic focus as it looks at people at their base level, their psychology and their motivators.
I believe it’s time to move social media marketing away from a focus on the platform and the tools, to the person you’re aiming for who is using the social media. This is human-centred social media. By focusing on the person, the platform becomes somewhat irrelevant. By focusing on the person, we can address them the same way across platforms. By focusing on the person, we can continue conversations more fluidly between platforms and off of them. By focusing on the person, we reduce the overwhelm felt by business owners trying to understand the platforms. By focusing on the person, our message becomes clear. By focusing on the person, they feel understood. By focusing on the person, they don’t have to guess how we serve them. By focusing on the person, they are more closely aligned with our brand. By focusing on the person, they are more engaged. By focusing on the person, they are happier with the service they receive. By focusing on the person, they are more likely to buy from us. By focusing on the person, we grow raving fans.
How do I define human-centred social media? I define it by looking at what motivates us. I believe that there are five key motivators of any and all human behaviour. I’ve put together this 30 minute training package which outlines precisely what these motivators are and from there you can use them in your human-centered marketing to align and motivate your clients to action. You can purchase access to the training through the online shop. If you have any questions or would like to interview me on this, please contact me via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For those familiar with the book “Blue Ocean Strategy” by Kim & Mauborgne, you will know what I’m talking about. For those who haven’t read the book, and I have and it’s a slog, a blue ocean is where you are out in a new marketplace/industry. Think of Uber vs taxis and when self-check in came in on flights vs heading to a counter. It’s revolutionising an industry with a new way of delivering the same outcome. I don’t want to regurgitate the book, what I want to chat about is what it’s like to be swimming in a blue ocean, because that’s where I am.
Back in 2014, or sometime before then, it became clear to me that Facebook had psychologists on staff and that they were using social psychology principles on their platform; and I wrote about it. I wasn’t working as a social media coach or consultant then, in fact I was working as a proof reader but I had my qualifications and I was managing 2 of my own Facebook pages. So the psychology of social media was a side interest. The following year I wrote about it more and by then I’d started coaching on some ideas around how to leveraging how psychology works on social media.
I was full of self-doubt about whether niching myself to the psychology of social media was the right thing to do. I turned to a business coach who told me not to speak about psychology because it would just confuse my followers. Try as I might, I just couldn’t. I had to be genuine and transparent to my audience that this was what sat behind it all. That this wasn’t just some other cock & bull, get rich quick scheme and that it was solid science. So I stayed true to me and told my truth my way.
By the middle of 2016 it was clear to me that I was alone in teaching Facebook this way and I got scared.
I was plagued by comparison-itis, where I constantly checked in with what my competitors were doing. It was awful. It filled me with such self-doubt! They were doing so much more. They had more clients. They were successful and I wasn’t. They were making money and I wasn’t. I sucked! Or so I believed.
I told myself that it was ok, I was a relatively new business and it was just the fact that people didn’t know me and that it takes 7 years for a business to really take off. But my competitors weren’t 7 yet either?! I looked at their messages and saw glaring holes in what they were teaching. I saw the same bad advice being passed around by various coaches. Heck, I even got on a webinar on how to be a social media coach to be told, “all you need to do is follow Social Media Examiner and you can do this”! I was a failure!
I have to be honest, up until 2016, I had a constant internal battle between the pull of having to teach people what I saw about psychological theories being manipulated and used on social media platforms and the need to get a J.O.B to help pay the bills. The pull to expose and teach the truth was too strong and the needs of my family came first. I kept treading water in my blue ocean.
Now I’ve told you that in 2017 I hired a business coach, not the one I mentioned earlier. Now one session I was in tears over this and she told me that I had to let go of the shore to cross the sea. I had to stop looking at competitors, stop worrying that what I was doing was different, stop trying to sell what I think my clients wanted but didn’t align with the path I needed to take in my blue ocean. So I let go and swam, not drifted, deep into my blue ocean.
It was lonely.
It was stormy.
Occasionally I saw a distant boat or shore (customer).
But I was living my blue ocean, true to myself and my message.
Here’s the thing. The blue ocean is exactly this. Nothing worth doing is ever easy! When you’re out sailing, all alone, no landmarks, out in the middle of the ocean, you’ve got to set your course and stick to it.
The other thing to remember and to research is diffusion of innovation theory by E.M. Rogers. The theory sits that until you have at least 16% reach into your marketplace, you will be in the blue ocean. That doesn’t mean that your idea or market isn’t worthwhile, it just means that they’re not ready for you.
You have to be patient and persevere. It pays off. The world will catch up to you or your market saturation will hit 17% and it will start to tip and like a boat with wind in its sails, you will take off.
You will take off, at first it might be a small breeze, but it will make those landmarks close in & that is good. I am taking off, unfortunately it has been as a result of some pretty shocking revelations around Facebook & Cambridge Analytica, all the same I am grateful that these things have opened people‘s eyes to the fact that psychology is part of social media. It has meant that I have needed to speak on how this can be done ethically and I worry that when the majority marketers catch on that there will be a flood of them teaching the psychology of social media without truly understanding the mechanism or more importantly that they are talking about people and not technology. I can see that this will become my new blue ocean, but that’s ok as I’ve now become accustomed to being alone & I’m ok with that.
To hear more about how businesses have succeeded, or failed, because of the law of diffusion of innovation, I suggest watching this video from Simon Sinek.
The other day I sat down with a group of business owners and a number of them said to me that they had an issue with marketing to their customers’ fears. They said that they had paid for marketing advice and been told to market to their ideal client’s fears. But they didn’t like it and in fact, they no longer used that advice. Sound familiar.
This is what annoys me. There is so much information out there which we throw by the wayside but believe it to be true because everyone says it. It’s like learning lemmings. (My Mum would say, if everyone jumped off a cliff would you too?) Ok, so that’s a little harsh but it seems like a big waste of money to pay for advice and not use it because you’re not comfortable with it.
Let’s consider a couple of scenarios.
My toaster broke and I am looking to replace it. Will fear help me in my decision? Generally not. It would be things around the colour, cost, shape, size, how many slices, and if it will toast the tops of my crumpets without burning the bottom. (Boy did I make a poor choice on my last toaster)
I’m looking for a business coach to grow my business. Will fear help my decision? Maybe. In the main though I want to know if our personalities match, if they have had past success, and if they coach how I like to learn. (I made a good choice here)
My kids need to see a physiotherapist. (True story and we found a great one) Will fear help my decision? As a parent, I have enough guilt and if someone tries to tap into my Mummy guilt I’m thinking it’s a low blow. I want to know that they can & will treat kids, they are the best in the area, that their expertise meets my child’s needs, and that my health fund will come to the party in some way.
It’s like saying the only way to motivate a donkey is with a stick and forgetting all about the carrot.
Where does fear sit in my stories? They don’t. I’m pretty confident that I’m not unique in these (especially the toaster one) reasons for making a particular choice. I have to be honest, even the fear of missing out (FOMO) is having less of an effect on people as it is more widely used and people realise that it’s generally fake.
So why fear? It is primordial. It drives our fight or flight reaction, triggering some strong neurochemicals (love that adrenaline kick). It’s what we’ve always done.
I want to crush this as I am tired of business owners being told that things are just one way (Ask me what I think about client avatars) and realising that it just doesn’t resonate personally, fit or work for their business. People are not two-dimensional. We are not motivated by our fears alone, just as what we are is not the only way to define us.
I believe, and teach, that there are five key motivators of human behaviour (on and off line). One of the motivators is fear. Looking into the research, fear is actually a poor motivator. If you use fear to motivate someone, they will comply and follow, they are not making a choice and they are not using their free will. It is also not the way to build trust or grow a relationship. Fear is not an incentive to take action, it’s an incentive not to. Fear is there to keep us safe.
So what I want, if you’ve been told to use fear in your marketing but just can’t seem to do it – I want to applaud you. You’ve made the right decision, to follow your instincts, to listen to your clients, to stick with your values, and to honour yourself. If you’re not there yet and are trying to make it work because you’ve paid for this advice and damn it you will make it work – I give you permission to stop using fear to motivate your clients. If you believe that fear is a great motivator for your clients, I want you to consider how much they trust you and to think about the carrot.
I teach five key motivators to human behaviour. People are multi-faceted and we need to honour that and to meet our clients where they are and not just beat them into submission. If you’d like to learn more, search ‘psychology’ here on the blog or email me at email@example.com .