Learn how to implant an associative memory with a recall cue and your product and/or company will dominate the minds of your customers.
Where were you and what were you doing when you first heard about the September 11, 2001 attack on the World Trade Center towers?
More than nine years later, you still remember that moment vividly.
That’s a stark example of procedural memory, the deepest of three levels of memory in the brain.
Procedural memory holds the key to the treasure chest of branding and website persuasion. Unlock that chest and your business will be swimming in booty.
Branding isn’t simple name recognition. It’s much more than the color scheme of your logo and website.
It is the complex mental imagery and emotional associations triggered when a prospect or customer hears your name or sees your logo.
- Harley-Davidson: Rugged individualism, freedom, confidence, toughness.
- Apple: Innovation, imagination, energy, art.
- Coca-Cola: Joy, good times with friends and family, refreshment.
So how can you consciously implant mental images and deep emotional associations into the minds and hearts of your customers to increase your website persuasion?
It starts with understanding the three levels of memory.
Working memory is the most shallow level of memory.
Working memory is short-term and electrical. It is imagination, conscious awareness, the thought you are thinking now. It can roughly be compared to computer RAM.
Working memory has three components, or functions:
Imagine a pink elephant with white stripes running in a field of wheat.
That image was projected onto your visuospatial sketchpad, which is responsible for the manipulation and temporary storage of visual and spatial information, thus allowing you to “see” things in your mind.
Ever had a song stuck in your head? That’s the articulatory loop at work, a phonological memory store which holds acoustic or speech-based material and rehearses sounds in the mind.
The central executive is a messenger that determines which sensory information is important enough to be relayed to the prefrontal cortex, which is responsible for planning, decision-making, and judgment.
In other words, it is the brain’s screen for relevance.
When you go to sleep, working memory is erased.
The intermediate level of memory, declarative memory, stores memories which can be consciously recalled, such as facts and events. It’s what you remember from the day before when you wake in the morning.
Declarative memory is divided into two categories: semantic memory, or factual information, and episodic memory, which stores specific personal experiences.
Procedural memory is the third and deepest level of memory. Long-term, chemical, involuntary, and automatic, procedural memory consists of three categories:
- Conditioned reflexes (swerving when a car encroaches onto your lane on the highway)
- Skills and habits (playing the piano, tying your shoes)
- Emotional associations
Procedural memory is the product of salience, or relevance, multiplied by repetition.
Information of extremely high salience can be implanted into procedural memory with a repetition factor of only one (think 9/11/01).
Implant Your Brand
Here’s where the rubber hits the road for website persuasion. Roy H. Williams explains:
“Branding is the implantation of an associative memory with a recall cue. It occurs in procedural memory, and causes the public to immediately think of your name at precisely their moment of need.
“Having successfully created an associative memory through your ads [or website copywriting], the recall cue of ‘need’ triggers a chemical, involuntary reaction and your name will pop into their minds unbidden.”
Remember that information enters procedural memory through salience and repetition — increase one and the other is less important.
The challenge for advertisers and website copywriters is that repetition costs money. Want to save money and accelerate your branding and increase your website persuasion? Increase your salience. In other words, say something people actually care about.
Roy Williams calls this the “Impact Quotient.”
“The average message needs to be heard about three times a week, every week, to have a shot at being transferred from short-term, electrical memory to long-term, chemical memory. But that’s the average message. The higher the impact quotient (saliency), the less repetition is required to store it.”
Add the Secret Sauce
Want to turbo-charge your salience for even greater website persuasion? Add a spark of adrenaline.
Adrenaline is the bio-chemical adhesive that switches electrical, short-term memory to chemical, long-term memory.
- Sexual stimulation (Can you say “Hello ladies”?)
(Remember: In your creative attempts to induce adrenaline, relevance and credibility trump creativity. You can make someone laugh, but if the humor isn’t relevant to your product and their felt need, it won’t increase your website persuasion or sales and strengthen your brand in their minds.)
And now you have the key to branding and long-term website persuasion. Ready to cure your gold fever?
As an entrepreneur, persuasive website copywriter and architect, and co-creator of Hub Mentality, I’m adamantly opposed to churn-and-burn, transactional sales mentality for website lead generation.
Thing is, it actually works.
That is, it works in the short term. It does make immediate sales.
The problem is that it doesn’t work over the long term. It doesn’t build brand loyalty. It doesn’t create raving fans that come back again and again.
It doesn’t posture you as a thought leader, nor does it create an educational hub that consistently draws and keeps new customers.
Rather, it makes people feel manipulated and drives them away over time.
It attracts price-centric bargain hunters who leave you as soon as they find a cheaper, albeit less valuable, alternative.
It makes people increasingly immune to your pitches, forcing you into a hamster-wheel business where you always have to find new customers, rather than keeping customers for life through honest and open website lead generation.
The following are four specific sales tactics often used by these types of businesses for website lead generation that always backfire.
Below each you’ll find appropriate ways to use the tactic.
1. Scarcity (Limited Supply)
“The way to love anything is to realize that it might be lost.” -G.K. Chesterton
Generally speaking, the perceived value of an item is proportional to its abundance or rarity.
By manufacturing scarcity–using the “limited-number” tactic–businesses can generate quick sales.
The problem is that sales-mentality businesses use this principle to manipulate.
In Influence: The Science of Persuasion, Robert Cialdini describes his observance of this tactic in an appliance store, where 30 to 50 percent of the stock was regularly listed as on sale.
When a prospect would show interest in a particular sale item, a salesperson would approach and say “I see you’re interested in this model here, and I can understand why; it’s a great machine at a great price. But, unfortunately, I sold it to another couple not more than twenty minutes ago. And, if I’m not mistaken, it was the last one we had.”
Disappointment would register on the prospects’ faces, and typically they would ask if there was a chance that there would be an unsold model in the back room or warehouse.
“Well,” the salesperson would respond, “that is possible, and I’d be willing to check. But do I understand that this is the model you want and if I can get it for you at this price, you’ll take it?”
“Therein lies the beauty of the technique. In accord with the scarcity principle, the customers are asked to commit to buying the appliance when it looks least available–and therefore most desirable.
“Many customers do agree to a purchase…Thus, when the salesperson (invariably) returns with the news that an additional supply of the appliance has been found, it is also with a pen and sales contract in hand.”
Sure, they could sell a few appliances this way. But how likely do you think people would be to buy from them again?
The Right Way to Use Scarcity
Credibility is the key to using scarcity appropriately.
People will see through manufactured, manipulative scarcity over time. But if you legitimately have a scarce offering, you absolutely should highlight that in your website lead generation efforts.
For example, I once helped to market an online event for Williamsburg Academy. Their webinar software has a limit of 500 participants. I highlighted that in an email and registrations shot up immediately.
Every time Wizard Academy markets an event, they highlight that they only have 14 rooms in their student mansion. The first 14 people to register get to stay there for free, and other registrants must pay for a hotel.
When I wrote an email to Atlantic Seafood Market’s database telling them that they only had 31.7 pounds of blackfish available, that was precisely accurate and therefore credible.
I didn’t manufacture scarcity to manipulate; it’s a commonly-understood reality of the industry that blackfish is hard to come by.
Their scarcity of bay scallops was another effective tactic, particularly since the scarcity was created by their fierce adherence to quality.
2. Urgency (Limited Time)
This tactic is usually accompanied by a low-price, “once-in-a-lifetime” offer.
When overused or used without credibility, this tactic quickly loses its efficacy. It trains prospects to only buy when things are on sale.
Prospects also suspect that these low prices are simply evidence that the business’s regular prices are too high.
And as prospects become immune to urgency, it takes increasingly cheaper (as in less profitable for the business owner) offers to interest them.
The Right Way to Use Urgency
Again, the key is credibility — the offer must be trusted as authentic, not fabricated or manipulative.
For example, on this website look for the 50% off ad that says “Take advantage of this limited time offer.”
Does anyone actually believe that it’s a limited time? It’s glaringly obvious that that always stays up on their website.
No credibility. While that may be a good deal, it’s not an urgent deal; you know you can get it at any time, so the effect of urgency is lost.
Credibility can be strengthened when scarce and/or urgent offers are predicated on things outside of the company’s control.
Simply put, reciprocity is the psychological principle that we feel obligated to repay gifts and favors.
And, once again, the abuse of this potentially powerful persuasion principle is rampant among short-term manipulators in website lead generation.
As is scarcity, reciprocity is covered in detail in Cialdini’s Influence.
He tells of his study of the Hare Krishna Society, an Eastern religious sect. Their early fundraising efforts were to simply send devotees out into the streets to ask for donations.
It didn’t work well, so they switched tactics. They solicit in public places with a lot of pedestrian traffic, such as airports and train stations.
Now, before a donation is requested, the target person is given a “gift,” such as a book, a magazine, or a flower. Only after invoking the reciprocity rule does the solicitor ask for a donation.
It worked phenomenally well — for a short time.
As Cialdini writes:
“…the reciprocation rule has begun to outlive its usefulness for the Krishnas, not because the rule itself is any less potent societally, but because we have found ways to prevent the Krishnas from using it on us.
“After once falling victim to their tactic, many travelers are now alert to the presence of robed Krishna Society solicitors in airports and train stations, adjusting their paths to avoid an encounter and preparing beforehand to ward off a solicitor’s ‘gift.'”
The Right Way to Use Reciprocity
Two Hub Mentality principles are used for appropriate reciprocity with website lead generation: permission and free content.
You give away valuable and relevant content in exchange for the permission to market to those wanting your content. Then, you continue giving them free content over time.
And implicit to the permission is their ability to opt-out of your database at any time — there is no manipulative chain of obligation hanging around their necks.
Not only does this engage reciprocity, but it also demonstrates your expertise, creates trust over time, and builds authentic relationships.
Free samples of physical products is an excellent way to engage this principle as well, as Atlantic Seafood Market did with their holiday open house.
Like scarcity and reciprocity, these related tactics are the counterfeit, transactional sales version of the principle of “Liking” found in Cialdini’s Influence.
The abuse here is to rely on smooth talk, rather than genuine, consistent action. We’ve all been taken by slick talkers who didn’t deliver what they promised.
It’s sad but true that these types have given legitimate salespersons a bad name.
This is why we’ve all learned to be suspicious of salespeople, and to put up defensive barriers when we encounter them.
The Right Form of “Liking”
This principle states simply that we prefer to do business with people we know and like.
But to use this principle for long-term customer retention requires much more than personality and being facile with words.
The key here is to let your actions speak louder than your words. In other words, earn your likability through integrity.
Be what you say you are. Do what you say you’ll do. Ensure that your backstage systems support your front stage claims.
Switch to Hub Mentality for Long-Term Persuasion & Retention
Charles H. Sandage said:
“Advertising is criticized on the ground that it can manipulate consumers to follow the will of the advertiser. The weight of evidence denies this ability. Instead, evidence supports the position that advertising, to be successful, must understand or anticipate basic human needs and wants and interpret available goods and services in terms of their want-satisfying abilities. This is the very opposite of manipulation.”
People can be persuaded through misguided and manipulative advertising and website lead generation tactics, but those only work in the short term.
If you want to increase trust and sales, improve your website lead generation, make your marketing dollars more efficient, retain more customers, and build a sustainable business, you must be authentic, trustworthy, and credible.
You must solve people’s needs, deliver what you promise, and be transparent in your offerings.
It’s the difference between a brochure and a salesman interacting with your prospects.
Implement these three secrets for better website persuasion:
1. Know Who You’re Trying to Persuade
Most people think in terms of demographics.
For example: “My customer is a 30-year-old male earning at least $150,000.”
But for a truly persuasive website, you have to go deeper into psychographics.
You have to get inside your prospects’ minds and hearts and understand their buying motives and preferences.
And the only way to find this out is to flesh out website personas.
For our clients, we create website personas based on the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, “the world’s most widely used personality assessment,” which measures psychological preferences in how people perceive the world and make decisions.
But our thorough questionnaire helps us go even deeper. We create personas based on real customers so we know exactly whom we’re trying to persuade.
This allows us to anticipate their questions and answer them intuitively and strategically.
It creates the effect of an effective salesman sitting with them, guiding them through the buying process.
2. Tell Them What to Do
It’s astounding how many small business websites lack a clear, compelling, and persistent call to action.
Once you’ve created and written to your personas and created a desire to buy, you have to tell them exactly how to satisfy that desire.
How should they engage with you? Free demo/quote/consultation/download?
Whatever it is, you have to tell them clearly. All roads on your persuasion website must lead to your call to action.
This is achieved through:
- Highly-visual, clickable buttons.
- Contextual hyperlinks throughout your copy. For example: “Want a persuasive website? Get your free website quote now.”
- Web forms on strategic pages and on your content sidebar.
3. Give Them Confidence to Take Action
Anticipate and address their concerns strategically.
Tell them exactly what they can expect once they’ve taken action. Explain the process they’ll go through.
Highlight your credibility and credentials. Showcase your work through a portfolio, case studies, and customer testimonials.
Publish your methodology and research. Demonstrate your competitive advantages. Vividly describe the benefits they’ll receive by taking action.
Offer a bold guarantee. Explain how they can customize your product or service.
Again, all of these tactics should be revealed by fleshing out your personas. When you’re inside their head, you’ll know what they need to feel confident taking action.
To build a persuasive website, understand the psychographics of your prospects, give them a clear and compelling call to action, and give them the confidence they need to take that action.
Want to see how you can improve your website persuasion? Request your free website analysis now.