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The Mind Games Of Marketing

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SINCE the dawn of commercialism, marketers have been trying to influence customers to choose their products or services. The challenge is that a customer’s decision making process is based on a vast number of factors. It is virtually impossible to influence them all. The smart marketer usually aims to establish a balance by appealing to the emotional as well as the rational side.

If you’re interested in the field of psychology and the role it plays in marketing, consider reading Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion by Dr. Robert B. Cialdini. With more than two million copies sold and available in 26 languages, the book was named one of the ‘Smartest Business Books ‘by Fortune Magazine. Often on the required reading list of marketing students, the book has been on the New York Times Business Best Seller List. The reason for the book’s phenomenal success is the concept of the six pillars. These pillars govern our social behaviors. So whether you eat noodles with a fork and call it spaghetti, or like your noodles in a soup bowl and call it ramen, the concept works across multiple cultural terrains.

Pillar One: Reciprocity
A common application of reciprocity is when brands give away free product samples. From the consumer’s point of view, they are assessing how much they like the product. At the same time, the invisible social force of reciprocity is taking place. In the subconscious mind, the free sample is a form of favor. Naturally, the recipient wants to reciprocate and return the favor by purchasing the actual product.

In our interconnected world today, engagement and great customer service worksin the same way. Many companies give away white papers, research reports, free prizes, and tips to solve problems. These types of actions often set reciprocity into motion.

Pillar Two: Commitment and Consistency
Most of us want to be seen as “walking the talk,” essentially being consistent with our beliefs and actions. When we promise to do something, verbally or in writing, we are likely to follow through. Some sales people use this to their advantage and add extras after the sales process has been completed. They know that many customers will not cancel the order despite the changes. A subscription-based opt-in that requires the user to register on a website is a way to leverage commitment and consistency. Free trials are an effective way to get users to commit to your product for a certain period of time. Once the period is up, the customer feels obliged to pay to continue.

Pillar Three: Social Proof
Cialdini, the prominent social psychologist, says that human beings regularly make choices about what to do and think based on the ideas and actions of others. Simply put: We like to follow the group. This is called social proof.

In the past, all a company had to do was to show models and actors using their products to establish social proof. Nowadays, consumers are less susceptible to pandering. With the growing usage of social media, brands are now expected to step up and provide a unique customer experience and engagement. The ultimate goal is to gain brand evangelists. These advocates or fans will freely tell their network of family, friends and the world how much they just love the product.

Pillar Four: Authority
Socially, most of us have been conditioned to trust and follow the instruction of an authoritative figure. Marketers have put this to use by using CEOs and other trusted authority figures as the spokesperson for the brand. Endorsements from men and women perceived to be experts in their fields often have a greater impact than any sales slogan and it also adds more depth.

There are authority figures in nearly every field. The key is to find the ones that matter to your brand and seek their sponsorship or review. If you sell an energy saving product, a positive testimonial from a prominent green association creates the authority effect.

Pillar Five: Liking
It’s no surprise to know that people emulate those they look up to and like. Many fans buy products simply because their favourite celebrity uses them. Behind every commercial featuring Choompoo Areeya or Aum Patcharapa telling you to buy a particular product, there is a savvy marketer. However, not all brands canvass fans adoration in the same way. Some leverage it via product placement and social media. Consider getting connected with the social celebrities and icons of your industry. Find who your target market follows and pursue their social sponsorship. The effect of reaching your audience in this way can be staggering.

Pillar Six: Scarcity
Have you ever seen a banner advert saying “last condo unit for sale at a special price”? Perhaps you have seen, in a newspaper or a friend’s Facebook, a photo of a shop with a massive queue. Perceived shortage of something almost always generates demand. This is the reason why mega sales only happen over a weekend, coupons have expiration dates, and websites put a countdown on their discounted offers.

You don’t need to go as far as having a countdown clock on your website to create the scarcity effect. For your next event, let the potential customers know that seats are limited and only a few would be available within a short time frame. Those who are sitting on the fence will spring into action and book their ticket!

Entrepreneurship

Women on Top in Tech – Tara Velis, Growth Hacker and Digital Innovation Strategist

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(Women on Top in Tech is a series about Women Founders, CEOs, and Leaders in technology. It aims to amplify and bring to the fore diversity in leadership in technology.)

I am talking to Tara Velis, Growth Hacker and freelance Digital Innovation Strategist. Tara was selected and recognized by TheNextWeb.com as one of the 500 most talented young people in the Dutch digital scene during the 2017 TNW edition. Tara is known for her creative, entrepreneurial spirit, which she is using to her advantage in leading the change in SMEs and corporates around the globe.

What makes you do what you do?

I tend to see life as a big, complex puzzle. Because of my curious nature, I am in constant development, looking for new angles and new approaches to business problems. Innovation through technology is exploring ideas and pushing boundaries. The most radical technological advances have not come from linear improvements within one area of expertise. Instead, they arise from the combination of seemingly disparate inventions. This is, in fact, the core of innovation. I love going beyond conventional thinking practices. Mashing up different thoughts and components, connecting the dots, and transforming that into something useful to businesses.

How did you rise in the industry you are in?

I consistently chose to follow my curiosity, which has led me to where I am today. If you want to succeed in the digital industry, you need to have a growth mindset. Seen the fact that the industry is evolving in an astoundingly quick rate, it’s crucial to stay current with the trends and forces in order to spot business opportunities. I believe taking responsibility for your own learning and development is key to success.

Why did you take on the role of Digital Innovation Strategist?

The reason for this is twofold. On the one hand, I got frustrated with businesses operating in the exact same way they did a couple of decades ago. Right now we are in the midst of a technology revolution, and the latest possibilities and limitations of cutting-edge technologies are evolving every single day. This means that companies need to stay current and act lean if they want to survive. On a more personal level, I noticed that I felt the need to use my creativity and problem-solving skills to their maximum capacity. In transforming businesses at scale, I change the rules of the game. I love breaking out of traditional, old-fashioned patterns by nurturing innovative ideas. This involves design thinking, extensive collaboration and feedback, the implementation of various strategies and tactics, validated learning, and so on. I get a lot of energy from my work because it is aligned with my personal interests.

Do you have a mentor that you look up to in your industries?

Yes, I look up to Drew Boyd. He is a global leader in creativity and innovation. He taught me how to evaluate ideas in order to select the best ones to proceed with. This is crucial because otherwise,you run the risk of ideas creating the criteria for you because of various biases and unrelated factors. He also taught me a great deal on facilitation of creativity workshops.

How would you describe your leadership style?

I tend to have the characteristics of a transformational leader. People have told me that my enthusiasm and positive energy is motivating and even inspiring to them. Even though I take these comments as a huge compliment, I am not sure how I feel about referring to myself as a leader. To me, it still has a somewhat negative connotation. I guess I associate the concept with being a boss who’s throwing around commands. But if a leader means listening to others and igniting intrinsic motivation in people, then yes, I guess I’m a charismatic leader.

Do you consciously or unconsciously support diversity and why?

Yes, one hundred percent. I believe that creativity and innovation flourish when a highly diverse group of people bounces ideas off each other. Diversity in terms of function, gender,and culture is extremely valuable, especially in the ideation phase of a project, as it can help to see more possibilities and come up with better ideas.

Do you have any advice for others?

Yes, I have some pieces of advice I’d like to share.
First of all: Develop self-awareness. You can do so by actively seeking feedback from the people around you. This will help you understand how others see you, align your intentions with your actions, and eventually enhance your communication- and leadership skills.

Surround yourself with knowledgeable and inspiring people. They might be able to support you in reaching your goals, and help you grow both personally and professionally.

Ask “why?” a couple of times. This simple and powerful method is useful for getting to the core of a problem or challenge. Make sure to often remind yourself and your team of the outcome of this exercise to have a clear sense of direction and focus.

Data is your friend. Whether it’s extensive quantitative market research or a sufficient amount of in-depth consumer interviews (or both!), your data levels all arguments. However, always be aware of biases and limitations of research.

Say “Yes, and…” instead of “No”. Don’t be an idea killer. Forget about the feasibility and budget, at least in the ideation phase. Instead, encourage your team to generate ideas without restrictions. You can compromise certain aspects later.

Prioritization is key. There is just no way you can execute all your ideas, and, quite frankly, there is no point in trying to do so. Identify the high potential ideas and start executing those first.

Encourage rapid prototyping. Don’t wait too long to experiment, launch, and iterate your product or service. Fail fast and fail often. Adopt an Agile mindset.

If you’d like to get in touch with Tara Velis, please feel free to reach out to her on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/taravelis/

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Callum Connects

Marek Danyluk, CEO of Space Ventures

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Marek Danyluk has a talent for assessing the competencies of management teams for other businesses and pulling together exceptional teams for his own businesses!

What’s your story?
I am the CEO of a venture capital business, Space Ventures, which invests in seed and pre-series A businesses. I also own and run Space Executive, a recruitment business focused on senior to executive hires across sales, marketing, finance, legal and change.

My career started as a trainee underwriter in the Lloyds market but quickly moved into recruitment where I set-up my first business in 2002. The business grew to around 100 people. I moved to Asia in 2009 as a board member of a multinational recruitment business with the mandate to help them scale their Asian entities, which helped contribute to their sale this year, in 2017.

My main talent is assessing the competencies of management teams as well as building high performing recruitment boutiques and putting together exceptional management teams for my own businesses.

What excites you most about your industry?
Building the business is very much about attracting the best talent and being able to build a culture which people find invigorating and unique. It’s an exciting proposition to be able to define a culture in that regard and salespeople are a fun bunch, so when you get it right it’s tremendous.

From a VC point of view there is just so much happening. South East Asia is a melting pot of innovation so the ideas and quality of people you have exposure to, is truly phenomenal. The exposure in the VC has taken me away from a career in recruitment. Doing something completely different has given me a new level of focus.

What’s your connection to Asia?
Whilst I came here with work, both my boys were born in Singapore and to them this very much is home. That said, my father in law spent many years in the East so coming and settling here was met with a good degree of support and familiarity.


Favourite city in Asia for business and why?
Possibly Hong Kong. It’s the closest I’ve been to working in London. Whilst there are massive Asian influences people will work with you on the basis you are good at what you do and work hard. I find that approach very honest and straightforward.

What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
“Always treat people well on the way up!”

Who inspires you?
I like reading about people who have excelled in business such as Jack Ma, James Kahn, Phil Knight, Sir Richard Branson, Elon Musk, all have great stories to tell and they are all inspirational. No-one has inspired me more than my parents and they are well aware as to why…

What have you just learnt recently that blew you away?
Pretty much any technology innovation blows me away.

If you had your time again, what would you do differently?
Whilst it is important not to have regrets I do continually wake up thinking I’m still doing my A’ Levels. So, I’d have probably tried a little harder in 6th form.

How do you unwind?
I like the odd glass of red wine and watching sport

Favourite Asian destination for relaxation? Why?
Japan skiing. I love skiing and Japanese food and it’s a time when I can really enjoy time with the wife and kids. I recently tried the Margaret River which was divine, although not technically Asia.

Everyone in business should read this book:
Barbarians at the Gate

Shameless plug for your business:
Space Executive is the fastest growing recruitment business in Singapore focused on the mid to senior market across legal, compliance, finance, sales and marketing and change and transformation. Multi-award winning with exceptional growth plans into Hong Kong and London this year, and the US, Japan and Europe by the end of 2022. We are building a truly global brand.

Space Ventures is interested in any businesses that require capital or management and financial guidance or any or all of the above. We have, to date, invested in on-line training, food and beverages, peer to peer lending platforms, credit scoring as well as other tech and fintech start-ups. We are always interested in hearing about potential deals.

How can people connect with you?
[email protected]

Twitter handle?
@Spaceexecutive

This interview is part of the ‘Callum Connect’ series of more than 500 interviews

Callum Laing is an entrepreneur and investor based in Singapore. He has previously started, built and sold half a dozen businesses and is now a Partner at Unity-Group Private Equity and Co-Founder of The Marketing Group PLC. He is the author two best selling books ‘Progressive Partnerships’ and ‘Agglomerate’.

Connect with Callum here:
twitter.com/laingcallum
linkedin.com/in/callumlaing
Download free copies of his books here: www.callumlaing.com

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