Web Marketing As Psychological Programming

People love to learn secrets

I think that everyone has come across one of those web pages written up in the style of long sales copy. The page scrolls down for a long way and every few paragraphs it tantalizes you by saying that you will be told the secret to success, but first it needs to tease you some more and so the long sales copy continues without ever revealing the promised secret.

All the way to the bottom of the page and after much scrolling you get to the final big button to sign up. This big button is no different from the smaller ones closer to the top of the sales copy, but it acts like the grand finale now that you are properly programmed and ready to buy.

Programmed to act accordingly

In the long sales copy the only thing being offered is information that is for sale and the reason for the long sales copy is so that it can write a little program in your head. To do the programming the sales copy need to repeat itself at least 3 times on every major point being made. If you are aware of this then you can see what is happening as you read the long sales copy.

Short sales copy doesn’t work the same way because the short version relies on a certain amount of programming already being in place. We all have a certain amount of programing in place because we live in a marketing environment where we are bombarded with advertising.

Programming comes in threes

In the same way that if we use a new word 3 times it helps us to retain the use of the new word. Programming works in the same way. Television ads repeat the message and the musical jingle to penetrate both our consciousness and our sub-consciousness. The objective is to lodge the product name deep in our thought processes. We may get up when a commercial comes on and go make a cup of tea, but we are still being programmed if we are in earshot of the TV.

We program our young children not to run out onto the road. We repeat the message over and over with emotional emphasis. It’s for their own safety. We hope the programming takes a firm hold and will stop them at the edge of the sidewalk. Then it has done its job.

When a young adult joins the military they will undergo a period of deprogramming to strip away their old habits of thinking and then receive new instructions. Learning something new is not so difficult as getting rid of the old thought patterns. This is what marketing professionals are up against and they use whatever tools that are on hand.

Psychological programming or re-programming

If we want to change our old habits then new programming needs to be repeated often over a period of time. In sales and marketing it is the advertising that attempts to program us, and it is the long sales copy that has the best chance of doing this if people will read the whole page.

The programming is only partially in the repeated message. Some messages are crafted with skill and are more successful. There is a whole rack of positive and negative buttons to push for creating a sale. So we can say that programming is not just repetition but also emotional stimulation.

It is the thought that counts the most but it is the emotional emphasis that captures our attention. Just bringing up logical reasons for switching brands doesn’t always get the attention it deserves. Nor does instilling a little fear sway us to buy a new brand. It is when emotional buttons are pushed and strong logic is presented together that we see a persuasive advertisement.

What happens when you are aware of the programming?

Seldom do we see the programming coming at us because of our own preoccupation with life. This is the same preoccupation that advertising is designed to break through and grab our attention. And when the ad does get our attention we are not looking at the ad itself because we are focused on the message.

However, when we look at what the ad is doing this is when our thinking shifts dramatically. Now that we are aware of the advertising itself we start to see the repeated points and the emotional emphasis. In this way we are able to see the value, if any, being offered and be conscious of the manipulation taking place.

The rule is “Buyer beware”, but a better rule is “Buyer be aware.”

Is programming the only way to market a product?

We are not children about to run out into the street and in the market place we may feel insulted to be treated with the invalidation that advertising carries. Anytime an advertisement does our thinking for us it is nothing short of invalidation. The ad is telling us that we cannot make a good decision on our own.

We can feel the invalidation even if we don’t understand it and we can safely assume that our own market is as sensitive as we are.

In a competitive market place we may be inclined to push with programming and get the job done, and there is always an argument in favor of doing just this. However, the web provides a different option and instead of pushing our market to make a purchase there is the more powerful method of pulling. Call it attraction or magnetic marketing but it works over greater distances and for longer durations of time.

Marketing by attraction was not usually a preferred choice in the brick & mortar world because there was no practical means of marketing a small or medium business over great distance. The cost was too high and the logistics of business growth was a big risk to take.

The web has turned this around

Our web page can scroll down for miles, although this is not a recommended strategy for providing the best and most complete information for our market. There are better ways for navigation to provide the desired information. But what it means is that our web site can attract a market by offering a complete service to our market beginning with information and education.

When is the last time you’ve been in a big box store and had to look for service? What about not finding the information you need on a web site? It’s the same poor service, except there is no excuse for a web site to not be a full service 24/7 outlet. You can put everything you’ve got at the moment into the site just once and never have to repeat the effort. You just add more info as it comes along.

Eliminate the cost of time & space

Space on our web site is not costly. Distance is not a problem. Time has no meaning. The real challenge for us is to be in the top 10 for our preferred search terms. And it turns out that this is not much of a problem either if we provide the quantity and quality of content that our market wants from us because it is the same thing the search engines look for.

With quality information and education we do not need to program our market. We have plenty of time and space to attract our market without pushing them into a purchase. Such a web site has depth and will attract those portions of a market early in the buying cycle. They want and need our assistance as we build a mutual relationship.

The web and its ability to pull, or attract, a market was never possible in the brick and mortar world where every word had a cost and every mile ate up resources. When we look at web marketing as information then we have to wonder why there are so many small business web sites pushing with the high cost of advertising and consumption of resources when pulling reaches further t a lower cost.

Have we been programmed to market our web site a certain way?

Seeing Your Web Market As A Resource

Is your market like an iceberg?
I see a picture of my web market and it looks like an iceberg. The small portion above the water line is a group of individuals that are ready to purchase. This is the portion of the market that advertising is aimed at because these people are ready to purchase. It is this ‘ready market’ that consumer advertising feeds on. And because this ready market is constantly renewed as decisions to purchase are made it is like a feeding frenzy for all business owners.

As business owners we want to harvest our share of this ready market, but some companies take the lion share because they have deep pockets. Small business owners mostly get the scraps, or they find a better way to reach their market.

The greater resource
Like an iceberg the greater portion of our whole market is undecided and not ready to be scooped up. We tend to ignore them until they become a ready and mature market. Even our financial resources dictate that we focus on the ready market.

When we are hunting or trapping our markets and attempting to capture that market then this is how we think. And we are all hunting or trapping. Our marketing language tells us that much when we say things like “our TARGET market” and “CAPTURING our market.”

It is in this way that we define our marketing and it says a lot about our own business and the nature of our business. Hunters and trappers have an aggressive mind set, but not all business owners want to be aggressive and spear or trap their markets. But we all want more business.

Are there alternatives to hunting and trapping?
A history of civilizations shows us that cultivation works better in many instances that either hunting or trapping.

It is a wonder that marketing people do not think much about cultivating the greater market share instead of hunting down the smaller market portion that is the ready market.

Your whole market as a resource
It is a simple and practical matter for a web page to cultivate the whole market. There is no limit on the space and content of a web page, but there are necessary considerations on how to deliver information to the whole of the market.

People, which make up your market, simply do not read volumes of information. We cannot know just what stage of the buying cycle a single visitor is at, yet we need to cultivate that member of our market.

From the very beginning of the buying cycle, where members of our market are becoming aware that they have a problem, all the way through research and then comparison shopping until finally they are close to making a decision, takes in the whole of the market our web site needs to cultivate.

No other marketing medium can provide the tools and the affordable means of cultivating a market. In the past it was always the material store and sales people that cultivated the walk-in customer. It was even possible for a talented salesperson to walk a potential customer all of the way through the buying cycle and finally make a sale.

No one does that for a pack of gum
Even in a material reality there are limitations to resources and time spent. Salespeople do not really want to talk to a potential customer that doesn’t see their own problem, let alone talking them through research. Only if the sale represented enough profit is it worth the effort.

Your web site has a onetime effort, for the most part. It is as simple as writing up the content to include every step of the buying cycle. A single page may seem like a mile long and no one is going to scroll down through a wall of text, but the web offers tools for hiding information until it is wanted. A much shorter page without sacrificing needed information is the result.

Farming your web page
Instead of writing content to spear customers in the small ready portion of your market you can farm the much larger portion of that same market. And in doing so you are also including that ready market.

From top to bottom your web page can attract your whole market wherever they are at. And while those that are ready to purchase put an item in the shopping cart others are being fed the information they need take their next step.

When you feed your market and raise them up to be knowledgeable shoppers you have also built a relationship based on honesty and trust. Your web site has helped them and nurture them and in turn most will reward you with their business.

No longer strangers
Marketing people know that the toughest sale is always the first sale. Once that barrier has been broken more sales can be made. Sharing and being helpful builds relationships and in this way you and your market are no longer stranger – even before the first sale.

A web page designed to help your market with useful information is like the farmer fertilizing his farmland. First you put in and then you take out.

Helping and supporting is not a marketing strategy when it comes to skimming off the surface where you bump into all of your competition. Web marketers, for the most part, teach you how to get your elbows out and muscle your way past your competition just to get a line in the water.

And once more you are fooled
Even before we think about marketing we need to think about search engines. The picture of a feeding frenzy on ready buyers doesn’t apply when it comes to search engines. That place where every business is hunting or trapping the ready market is diluted with traffic from search engines.

Your web designer said they would send you tones of web traffic and – even though this is faulty thinking – if they do meet their promise it won’t be what you were expecting.

Search engines are not just available to the ready buyers in your market, they are available to the whole length and breadth of your market. Right off the bat the ready buyer traffic you receive is going to be dwarfed by about 9 to 1 where 1 is the tip of the iceberg.

Your whole market is searching for your solutions, but only a small portion are ready to purchase. This is good and bad.

It’s bad because you need a good portion of the ready buyers. It’s good because you can cultivate all the rest and turn many of them into your own resource.

If you want all of your market you must cultivate that market and make it your own. If you want to know how to cultivate that market look for my article titled, “Farming Your Web Market.”