Sales and Psychology: We're All Automatons. Plus, Don't Bark at Your Customers

Saw a fantastic piece of automatic psychology happen the other day.

It reminded me of how easy it is to persuade people.

You push a button, you get a reaction.

You tell someone a certain thing; they react in a predictable way.

It’s part of our ancient lizard brain, the part that reacts instinctively, before you even have time to think.

 

I’d been shopping for groceries and was walking up into the old town.

Some 50 metres ahead of me there was a young black guy. Probably no more than 18 years old.

He’s from Senegal, from some dusty village where there’s only one phone, and he came here across from Africa, looking for a better life.

Continue Reading

You Too Can Get Lots of Sales, Despite the Recession. Here's How

I have a pretty odd collection of friends.

One of them is Dick (his real name – it’s short for Richard).

Dick is a real estate agent in England.

Now, we all know the terrible reputation that most real estate agents have.

Dick is different though, as you’ll see in a minute. He doesn’t have a bad reputation at all – in fact he’s got a 5-star reputation.

He and his wife are over on holidays at the moment, and while chatting he told me that in the seven days he had been away, 3 properties had been sold.

Big ones too. And, two more sales are lined up to close.

Continue Reading

Of Course You Wouldn't Say "I Wrote a Newspaper"

So then why do so many people say ‘I wrote a blog’?

It makes no sense – and what’s worse, incorrect usage of words is devastating for your sales.

I’m a wordguy.

I just love languages, especially English.

And as you would expect, I’m a bit of a puritan.

Still, language is a living thing, which means it evolves.Continue Reading

5 Simple Copywriting Principles That Help You Land Your Ideal Customer

People like to make a big spiel out of copywriting.

Truth is, it ain’t all that hard.

What’s hard is figuring out why people want what you do, make or sell.

That goes back to that old fave of mine: psychology.

In other words: you need to know who your customer is. You need to know them to a T.

Their problem, their worries, their struggles, everything.

Start here: If you make something valuable, there are people who want it.

Continue Reading

Cialdini, Marketing, Persuasion and… the Strange Power of Belief?

Last week I mentioned the new fad: touting psychology as a new thing in sales and marketing.

In reality, there is quite some research available – mostly not online but in print instead.

One of the most famous books on the topic is Robert Cialdini’s Influence – The Psychology of Persuasion (recommended read!).

In one section, he describes how our psyche works when we believe things.

Specifically, how we can be persuaded to perform specific actions, if only we believe that those actions are natural for us.Continue Reading

Why Sending Daily Emails Gets Me High Open Rates, Traffic, and Fanmail

If you’ve been a subscriber here for any length of time, you’ve probably been surprised at the nearly daily emails I’m sending lately.

And before anything else: I do hope it’s not too much for you.

If you do feel that it’s too often, or if you don’t feel my thoughts are worth your time, feel free to opt out at the bottom of the page. (Hope you don’t though).

Today on my Mastermind call I was asked why I mail so often these days.

Am I not worried that people will find it too much? Shouldn’t I schedule them and spread them out over several weeks, so my writing gets me more mileage?

Reasonable questions, but I decided to take this approach for a specific reason.

Continue Reading

Build It. They Won't Come. Plus, the Solution

Isn’t sad when you see good people make bad decisions?

I can’t stand it: Someone comes up with a good idea, and then they just murder it off.

Point in case: Back in April, a friendly couple here in town decided to start selling soft-ice on the beachfront.

By all standards, a great idea: Tropical coast, summer, tourists, soft-ice. Spells profit, doesn’t it?

Sadly, it didn’t.

When I first heard of their plans and was introduced to them, I had serious doubts.

I asked – of course – my favourite question: How are you going to sell that stuff?

The owner blinked at me. Was I stupid?

Continue Reading

Why My First Ever Client Will Never Go Anywhere

Recently I worked on a client project with an incredibly smart User Experience (UX) expert.

We fell in love with each other’s work, and a few weeks later she ordered some copy from me.

During the briefing process, she told me one of THE most important notions in business:

To the end user or customer, the user experience IS the product

There is so much truth in it, it’s staggering.

You can apply the principle to every aspect of your business, from your website all the way to the fountain pen your client signs a contract with.

You’ll have heard about the difference between features and benefits, but user experience is probably even more important.

Now, people don’t consciously make purchase decisions based on user experience.

Having said that, you can bet your bottom dollar (literally) that a broken user experience is a fantastically effective sales killer.

Continue Reading

Falling Down, Getting Up, and Why You’ll Never EVER Manage to Embarrass Yourself As Much As I Did

Last year I spent a few months playing in a band. My job was to sing and to play the bass.

Now, I’m not a musician by any stretch of the imagination, but I can carry a tune when I sing, and I have a steady rhythm on the bass.

After a few weeks of rehearsal, we had a few songs under our belt and we decided to give the trio a test drive.

We went to a jamsession, which is simply a stage where random musicians can go up and do their best.

Usually, a lot of fun. You end up playing with people you’ve never met, and quite often it turns into an enjoyable show for the musicians and the audience alike.

Obviously, I was nervous. I had not been on a stage for 15 years or more.

But fear is no use until you confront it, so I went up to the stage and slung a bass around my neck.

Duncan, our guitar player, was already on the stage. But just as I got ready to start our first song, he decided to take a break and a beer.

He put down his guitar and left the scene.

I suddenly found myself on stage, grossly inexperienced and largely untrained, with a bunch of total strangers.

Not too bad – I mean most songs are pretty simple. Three to four chords, a steady rhythm – I would sweat a bit but I thought I could handle it.

And then they said: “Let’s play some Bob Marley!”

My heart sank.

I do like me some reggae, but I’ve never played it, not on guitar nor on bass. And reggae is tricky, it has these intricate punctuated rhythms that you have to get just right.

Which I didn’t.

In fact, I think during the entire song I played probably three notes right. For the rest, I was hopelessly and ridiculously inept. I broke the entire song, all by myself.

It was a thoroughly embarrassing experience.

Obviously, Duncan had done this intentionally: he’s a pro player with over 35 years of stage experience and he wanted to see how well I hold out on a stage.

In at the deep end.

Ridiculously embarrassing. Still makes me shudder when I think of it.

Normally, you’d expect that after the experience I would be too embarrassed to get back on stage.

But as I said: Fear is only useful if you confront it.

So when Duncan came up to me a while later and said we should do one of our own songs, I took a massively deep breath and went back on stage.

This time, I knew the song by heart, and I played and sang it acceptably well. Actually, I sang rather well that night, probably quite to the surprise of the audience, who had seen me fail miserably just half an hour early.

In business, you’ll get the same thing happen to you. Maybe your guest post gets no retweets and no comments, or maybe your product launch bombs dramatically.

Perhaps you write a kickass sales page that no one buys from (in which case you’d do well to have me provide a custom critique report for you – details here: http://martinstellar.com/convert-your-site-into-a-conversion-machine/.  (Sorry, I no longer offer this service)

Maybe you get interviewed and spend 20 minutes rambling like an idiot.

Sure has happened to me, all of those.

What matters is the awareness that such experiences are part of life, the good and the bad ones.

In fact, we need things like these to happen to us.

It makes us stronger, it teaches us where to improve. Failures are a part of life, they are not bad.

A failure is only bad if you let it paralyze you. That guy who fell of his horse? He’ll get back on instantly, or he knows he might never ride again.

Whatever experience you have, no matter how badly it hurts or how much it makes you blush: get back in the saddle, carry on, try again, improve, and never ever back down.

You fell on your face, you got slammed, you lost money or reputation?

You just got that much stronger, wiser, and resilient because of it.

We're All Making a Ding in the Universe

I live by smiles. For me a smile is a means to an end, because it makes me feel better and it makes me more pleasant to be around.

It’s also a result. Notably, smiles are the result of what I consider healthy thinking.

Imagine an empty, white room. It may be beautiful, but it’s empty and it’s white.

Continue Reading

Menu Title