It’s always fun to look at examples of successful campaigns and to learn from great persuaders. With Easter behind us a few days I thought we could look at one of the most successful speeches of all time: Peter’s address at Pentecost. He transformed the lives of thousands of people with one speech, amid extremely adverse conditions. Let’s take a look at how it happened.
First, a little background on the environment where this event took place. After Jesus was crucified, he rose and appeared to hundreds of people over at least a few weeks time. But the large majority of the population thought of Jesus as simply a wise teacher and a failed Messiah. They were probably aware of rumors of his ressurection but there was no real support of Christ as savior and there was certainly no ‘Christianity’ as a religion. In fact, Jesus himself instructed his followers to await the Holy Spirit before setting out to evangelize.
During the Feast of Weeks, Jews from dozens of countries gathered in Jerusalem to celebrate the harvest. It was during this time that the apostles received the Holy Spirit and began speaking in tongues to the crowds. The audience was amazed that they were hear the message in their own language. But rather than embracing this phenomenon as proof of the Lord’s involvement, they were confused and skeptical. Some were openly adverse to what was happening, heckling the speakers and accusing them of being drunk. It was in this environment that Peter delivered his presentation.
But Peter, standing with the eleven, lifted up his voice and addressed them: “Men of Judea and all who dwell in Jerusalem, let this be known to you, and give ear to my words. For these people are not drunk, as you suppose, since it is only the third hour of the day. But this is what was uttered through the prophet Joel:
“‘And in the last days it shall be, God declares,
that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh,
and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy,
and your young men shall see visions,
and your old men shall dream dreams;
even on my male servants and female servants
in those days I will pour out my Spirit, and they shall prophesy.
And I will show wonders in the heavens above
and signs on the earth below,
blood, and fire, and vapor of smoke;
the sun shall be turned to darkness
and the moon to blood,
before the day of the Lord comes, the great and magnificent day.
And it shall come to pass that everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.’
“Men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a man attested to you by God with mighty works and wonders and signs that God did through him in your midst, as you yourselves know— this Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men. God raised him up, loosing the pangs of death, because it was not possible for him to be held by it. For David says concerning him,
“‘I saw the Lord always before me,
for he is at my right hand that I may not be shaken;
therefore my heart was glad, and my tongue rejoiced;
my flesh also will dwell in hope.
For you will not abandon my soul to Hades,
or let your Holy One see corruption.
You have made known to me the paths of life;
you will make me full of gladness with your presence.’
Brothers, I may say to you with confidence about the patriarch David that he both died and was buried, and his tomb is with us to this day. Being therefore a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him that he would set one of his descendants on his throne, he foresaw and spoke about the resurrection of the Christ, that he was not abandoned to Hades, nor did his flesh see corruption. This Jesus God raised up, and of that we all are witnesses. Being therefore exalted at the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, he has poured out this that you yourselves are seeing and hearing. For David did not ascend into the heavens, but he himself says,
“‘The Lord said to my Lord,
Sit at my right hand,
until I make your enemies your footstool.’
Let all the house of Israel therefore know for certain that God has made him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you crucified.”
Entering a chaotic situation, Peter took charge by quickly connecting to the audience, establishing an authority and by challenging them with an extremely confrontational style. By laying into his audience he ultimately won them over.
1. Finding common ground
Peter starts off by addressing his crowd as Jews, both native and foreign. Then he goes on to refer to Joel and David’s writings, both Jewish prophets that the audience would be well aware of. In a sense he’s getting the crowd around to his side by saying ‘we’re all Jews here, let’s talk plainly.”
2. Appealing to authority
The first task for a persuasive speaker is to establish why the audience should care. Appealing to authority, what Aristotle called out as ethos, is a classic mode of persuasion. But since Peter lacked the recognition he needed to stand on his own credentials, he held up Jewish authorities of the past and the audience’s own experiences. He quotes passages that concern the last days, judgement and God’s promise to send a Messiah. These are topics that men not were not only aware of but anticipated intently. He then connects those familiar passages with current events. The men in that generation were witnesses to Jesus’s life and ministry. Peter is saying ‘don’t take my word for it, listen to Joel and David. And if that’s not enough, just think about what you’ve seen with your own eyes!’
3. Issuing a challenge
Rather than laying out a logical path for them to follow or presenting facts and letting the audience draw their own conclusions, Peter hits them over the head with their failure. The most difficult part of creating change is pushing through simple agreement, where the audience is smiling and nodding in their seats, but won’t wind up actually doing anything. Peter pulled it off by essentially calling his audience out. ‘The miracles and wonders that surrounded Jesus’s ministry should have made it plain that he was sent by God. But instead of receiving that gift, you put him to death.’ That kind of accusation would make indifference impossible.
The result of Peter’s arguments were just what he needed to create change. The audience recognized the problem and were ashamed enough to be open to a new direction. The last thing he had to do was to offer a tangible action that they could take right then. This part is not as tough as all the convincing, but it’s critical to sealing the deal. Peter is ready when they ask ‘what must we do?’ He tells them simply ‘repent and be baptized’ and ‘receive the Holy Spirit.’ He also offers the help and support they need to take that action. With such a simple way to get started, the audience responds in a big way.
Acts 2:37 says when they heard this, they were cut to the heart. I love that line. According to Luke’s account, over 3,000 men went from being confused skeptics that doubted Jesus’s ministry to committed believers willing to stick their necks out in front of their families and culture to follow Christ. It’s an amazing turnaround.
The other part of that process that I’ve left out, but that can’t be overstated, is the work of the Holy Spirit in working on hearts. No doubt Peter’s words alone would not have had the same effect. Being obedient to the Spirit’s leading, Peter was used in a dramatic way on Pentecost and provided a great blueprint for using persuasive rhetoric in a positive way: connect with the audience, establish why they should listen, make action urgent and have a simple way to get started.
When it’s your job to decide how to spend marketing dollars and your budget is not unlimited, options that are easily trackable to revenue tend to win out. That’s easy to understand; it feels safer to choose channels that you can prove were effective, or that at least didn’t lose any money.
When you can show that A caused B, the picture is simple and simple feels good. That’s one of the reasons why Google spends so much on reporting tools for its cash cow self-service ad platform. They want you to see the connection to revenue and feel content with your ad spend. It works too – Google pulled in nearly $10 billion last quarter.
Simple methods for lead acquisition are great, especially for products with a short sales cycle, but they’re not the whole picture. Just because an effort is not easily tracked doesn’t mean it can’t be extremely effective.
When attempting to break through the noise into a consumer’s consciousness, the deck is stacked against brands. Because of the onslaught of messages that we all get pounded with every day, defenses are up. Simply asking for a sale is not enough.
Long term efforts around awareness offer a way. They have gotten a bad name lately because they don’t always show up well on a dashboard. But planting seeds of recognition early in a buying process can get around ad-blindness and deliver big returns. It’s well known that word of mouth is the most persuasive form of endorsement and trust is usually credited as the reason why. And while it’s trust that enables a Five Guys fan to make an effective lunch recommendation to a coworker, one of the reasons why he’ll go along with it is this:
He doesn’t feel that he’s being sold anything.
Persuasion is most effective when it’s invisible. The marketer’s goal should be to arrive two steps before the discussion of products starts, shaping their methods for evaluation and scoring points before the overt game even starts. If done well, the audience draws their own conclusion based on subtle hints whose influence they weren’t even aware of.
As a bonus, many brands don’t have the resources or the guts to market this way, preferring to stick to methods that deliver a tidy ROI number within a short time span. The competition will be much lighter here. Plus, if you are fortunate enough to register a message within the brain of your target customer weeks or months before she needs to consider a purchase, you will benefit from the positive connotations of recognition when the memory pops back up in her mind.
Like the Bene Gesserit, your generous, friendly content will be subtly influencing under the surface. It doesn’t have to be as sneaky or manipulative either. One example from my kitchen happened at dinner the other day. My wife brought out a new marinade from Frontera Grill for our fajitas. When I saw his picture on the bottle, my mind jumped back to years before when I had seen some of Rick Bayless’s cooking shows on PBS. I never really loved that show in the first place but part of me was proud that I connected the dots and I was able to throw out a few things that I remembered from the show in conversation while we made dinner. The marinade’s quality bumped up a couple of notches before we even sat down to dinner and I would be more inclined to buy it again in the future.
Longer term campaigns are especially useful when:
- There is a long time delay between purchases
- It’s difficult to select a product without technical knowledge
- Purchases aren’t planned ahead of time but are urgent (e.g. furnace repair)
- There’s little to differentiate between products based on features
I’m all for accountability and love to eliminate efforts that aren’t defendable. Buzz building awareness campaigns have been derided lately for being fluffy and often for good reason. But to ignore long term messaging for lack of reporting is to miss out on a proven method of influence, even if it is a little harder to recognize.
I recently attended the Exact Target’s Connections 2011 event, a user conference on interactive marketing. One of the takeaways from their education sessions came from the speakers – although they weren’t speaking at all.
Social proof is a tried and true tool of persuasion. We know that consumers are much more likely to listen to what their peers think than to be swayed by messages coming from brands. That is the reason why customer testimonials and product reviews are so effective for websites looking to make a sale of some kind.
Besides the overt types of social proof we see online, there are plenty of ways to convey how you feel about a company in a more subtle way. It’s been said that over half
of communication is delivered non-verbally through body language. That’s unfortunate for some of the speakers I witnessed trying to present at the show.
Many of the sessions I was in featured a panel, with each speaker taking a turn at the podium while the others waited. Take a look at the view from the audience.
The poor speaker (who is out of the frame here) is trying to make a point that he thinks is important while sharing the floor with these guys.
They even work for the same company! They are basically telling the room full of people listening “don’t bother tuning in at this point, there’s nothing exciting here. You might as well check your phone for new email.”
This wasn’t the only session either. I wish I would have snapped a picture of the first class of the day when the panel was still waking up. They were literally yawning on stage, totally undercutting the presenter.
The panels weren’t all this way. Contrast the scene above with this one taken a little later in the day. (Sorry for the phone picture but it’s hard to snap a photo when the speakers are actually alert.)
These panelists are actually giving their speaker some eye contact and following along. Much more respectful and helpful to the audience too.
Just an observation that little signals can communicate a lot to the audience, either online or offline. And a note to self – next time I’m speaking on a panel I’ll have to remember to buy some coffees for the group on stage!
I came across data visualization tool Tableau yesterday and am impressed, especially for what it could mean for link building.
Data In, Brilliance Out
Tableau offers user friendly tools for building interactive interfaces to data. For large data sets and for storytelling involving multiple dimensions, their visualizations are very effective and easy to put together. They even offer a free version for bloggers and other digital publishers.
It may be easy to think of Excel graphs when looking at Tableau’s case studies but these visualizations are different than what comes out of the box from Microsoft. They are built to be interactive. Instead of asking users to stare at lines and numbers to try to make sense of them, Tableau’s product invites people to start clicking and discovering.
We all know that infographics can be a great way to tell the story behind a spreadsheet of dull numbers and as a result, can be great content for link building. With so many infographics out there it can be difficult to make one that stands out. Tableau helps by adding the draw of interaction and movement.
For link builders, these interactive graphics are especially helpful. Because the graphic isn’t just a flat image, it’s more likely that publishers will link to your page rather than simply swiping the .jpg file. Plus because it’s interactive, you’re allowing users to discover their own conclusions. If the blogger you’re pitching uncovers a nugget that’s interesting, they’ll have more ownership of the tool than if you simply handed the insight to them.
But the best reason that Tableau is worth checking out is that it’s easy and free. If you’ve hired a designer to work on infographics before, you know that it can be time consuming and expensive. One firm that I talked to recently wanted to charge double to make a graphic interactive. With the simple desktop software that Tableau offers, you can set up your own graphics with all the control that you like, produce more of them and spend less money to do it.
If you have interesting data that you want to bring to life quickly, Tableau is a nice option.
Wed Dash Combo
We talked a while back about how the moment the customer opens their shipment is the climax of the customer experience and the ultimate single make or break point for brand delivery. By that time, the results are beyond our control as marketers. Once the product leaves the warehouse, the die is cast.
Before we get to that point though, we do have chances to influence the final impression. It’s our job to tip the scales in our favor as much as we can. To do that, we must build anticipation for the solution that our customer is waiting for until they can’t wait to tear open the package when it finally does arrive.
The only real caution here is to avoid setting expectations beyond what your product or service can deliver. The product has to come first and I’m assuming that we’ve already got something that does its job. And it’s always wise to save a few surprises for the very end. In the meantime though, there are plenty of ways to whet the appetite.
- Make estimated delivery updates available at each phase of completion
- Offer a photo or PDF of your customer’s custom product before it’s boxed up and email it
- Display happy testimonials on your order confirmation emails
- Send an email with tips and suggestions on how to use their product in the days before it arrives
- Mail a handwritten thank you note on the purchase date or email a short comment that is unique to them
I’m sure you can think up many others. These are not cheap marketing tricks though. Anticipation is part of the customer experience. And it’s an opportunity for us to increase customer satisfaction because people want it.
The process surrounding a product is part of the product. Once you’ve created a pleasant expectation in your customer’s mind, they’re very likely to have a positive ultimate experience (unless you completely botch the job.) Think of how good a bakery smells in the morning. Once you’ve got idea of a warm, tasty bagel in your mind, and spend 5 minutes waiting to get a fresh one, chances are you’re going to be happy when you get it.
Most of the time the reason behind this dynamic of persuasion is cognitive dissonance – people don’t want to disagree with themselves. When you buy shoes online, you’re placing your trust in that shoe retailer. You’ve paid your money and, in a sense, placed a bet that you’ve picked out the right company. You want your decision to be affirmed as a good one and will tend to lean toward that conclusion when the shoes arrive.
One of the old sales tricks that salespeople employ is to get the prospect saying yes, even if it’s not directly related to a sale. Once they start saying yes to the small things, they’ll be more likely to keep saying yes. In our case, they’ve already said yes to the big question; they’ve made a purchase. We’re trying to keep the momentum going past the sale and into the product unboxing.
By maintaining contact with customer pre-delivery, you’re making that pull toward a happy conclusion a little stronger. In various ways, you’re telling them ‘you made a good decision, you’re going to be happy when your product arrives, you are a smart shopper…’
Once the customers internalize those messages, they’ll start repeating them to themselves and others, expanding your branding statements even further.What are some ways that you can create positive anticipation that can add to your customer’s experience?
Velaro and Site Tuners scheduled a webinar yesterday titled Improving Online Conversions By Building Trust and Personalizing Messages. Tim Ash was supposed to present but unfortunately the event was grounded because of technical issues and they wound up canceling the webinar.
There was a chat client within the presentation viewer and it didn’t take long for audience members to start cracking jokes. Watch as the audience turns on the presenters – here’s the chat transcript as it happened.
Monica T: Good evening
Matt S: hello!
Glenn M: or good morning depending on where you are calling in from.
Bob H: hello
Sam H: hello
Monika S: Hello
Chris R: Hi from Calif
danna c: hello from Dallas
Jim R: Hello from Texas
Bas S: Netherlands
Y A: Hello from TN
Tom C: Los Angeles
Glenn M: SF Bay Area
Mark J: Hi from Las Vegas
Steve W: Hello from PA
Monika S: San Diego
LIndsey K: Oakland, CA
Chris W: hello from Utah
Bridget S: Hello from Minneapolis
Per H: hello from stockholm
Justin M: Hi from San Diego
flo b: hu from montreal
Michelle K: Panama City, Panama
Solon C: Hello from Irvine, CA
Bob K: Hello from Atlanta
rowe m: Santa Monica
Renee B: Hello from Wisconsin
Matt A: Hello from Optimizely in San Francisco!
Richard A: Richard Ft. Lauderdale, FL
Mike C: Hi from the moon
M A: Hello from Roseville, CA.
Wendy H: hello from Brentwood, TN
Gerald B: Hello from Irving, TX
Glenn M: Hey Matt Atlhauser. We love Optimizely.
tal h: hi from Silicon valley, CA (san mateo)
Matt A: Thanks Glenn!
Bob H: I do not see a picture. has this started yet?
James K: helloo from Chicagoland!
David N: Unable to select Connect for internet audio
M A: I keep being invited to choose a different audio device even though I can hear the elevator music.
ROBERTO A: Hello to everyone from Italy!
Wayne A: Helooo from Philly!
Cindy T: Hello from sunny San Diego!
Nell K: Hello all!
Glenn M: @Matt – Tell Dan Prosper says hi.
Joshua L: Hell from USA
Michelle K: The system keeps telling me my passcode is invalid.
Nicole v: Hi form Holland!
Morgan S: Hello from very hot Atlanta.
Alex K: HI from Canada
Bas S: hi from holland as wel
Bas S: Very bad sound here
Alan M: Audio not working
Marcos T: Hello from Sao Paulo/Brasil!
Cindy T: nobody really talking yet i think
danna c: audio not working
Claudio C: hello from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Chris R: i hear breathing / typing?
Cindy T: i hear background sounds
Joshua L: can not hear on the phone
Chuck B: Hello from North Dakota
Brian F: Hello from Massachusetts, USA
ALICE S: Hello from Connecticut.
Alan M: NO AUDIO
Alex K: guys, be patient
Nicole v: Something goes wrong there
tal h: no sound , no picture .. is that what should be now ?
Bas S: any video streaming or just audio ?
Chris R: chillax
N S: no audio won’t connect
corey s: is anyone speaking yet
Solon C: this isn’t working…..just hear background noises
Alan M: any plans to fix the audio
Tim B: Are we supposed to be hearing anything yet?
Monica T: no audio, no video
t r: i hear crickets in chicago
Matt S: can’t hear anything either
Chris R: same crickets in LA
Dan A: My trust is waning
Wayne A: whoa, this is soo informative!
Glenn M: I am seeing session dtails and how to listen. sound is nothing but it seems to be working as I am hearing person breathing and now talking in background.
Suzanne G: i can hear Clare
Bil G: I just heard, “Can you go find out if Michael can hear me?”
Claudio C: We can hear someone speaking
Joshua L: same in Baltimore
Chris R: Tim rocks… he’ll make it happen
Tim B: We can hear you, mysterious lady.
adina t: I think I can hear Clare too
LIndsey K: no audio
Michael S: I was able to hear also
Joshua L: no audio
M A: I’m not hearing anything anymore.
Chris R: we have audio, no one is talking…
Monika S: no audio
t r: I hear nothing
danna c: no audio here
Michael S: I am on the phone
Michelle K: Hellloooo, can’t get into the teleconference, it keeps telling me I have the wrong passcode.
corey s: patience fellow listeners
luis h: Can’t hear anything
ROBERTO A: Sorry, I heard the music before but I don’t hear nothing since music stopped
tal h: somethings happening
Jelena U: wow, here it is
Chris R: let there be slides
Tim B: Michelle Korn, can you stream it online?
Claudio C: I can see a black screen now
Lynn G: is there audio through the computer or do you need to call in?
Glenn M: So a priest, a minister and a rabbi walk into a bar . . .
ALICE S: isn’t this fun!
Sultan G: no audio here in Canada
Suzanne G: ditto
Chris R: lol Glenn
Nicole v: whoohooo!!
Michelle K: I’d have to try w/ my laptop as I don’t have my speakers hooked into my desktop.
Krissy M: way better than working
t r: I have a picture of the presentation but it sounds like some one is talking underwater.
Margaret M: i agree
ROBERTO A: Apollo 13, can you hear me?
Monica T: no audio
Claudio C: This webmeeting was sscheduled to start at 3:00pM EST…
Joshua L: I can not hear
Alan M: just background noise
M A: I have video and background noise but no speaking.
Jim R: Houston we have a problem
N S: still no audio only visual
flo b: no audio
Jim D: No one is talking yet!
Joshua L: same
Brian P: say something so I know if I have audio or not….
Wendy H: just background noise
luis h: I hear some heavy breathing
Alan M: so much for velaro
adina t: did you start the presentation?
Casey M: Hello everyone and welcome to the webinar. We are having some difficulty but hope you will hang in for a couple minutes while we work things out.
Glenn M: @Roberto. Houston, we have a problem.
Claudio C: It’s already 3:07 PM E.ST
chris m: Speaker:can you speak. I think it is working.. say few words
Jo G: hoping for a replay with all the trimmings
Tim B: Luis, luck you.
Nell K: Fix the audio.
Alan M: signing off soon
Joshua L: I can hear in the backround
Chris W: No sound!
Jared S: alot of energetic fingers for this point in the afternoon
Jim D: I can definitely hear people moving around in the background.
luis h: Yep, bkgnd noise
Claudio C: Good luck
Krissy M: writing notes for my boss is going to be epic
Jo G: yay for followup!
Cindy T: is somebody supposed to be talking?
Pat T: I cannot hear anything…
Wendy H: the slides are moving but no one is talking
Alan M: Is any one reading this
Chris W: I hope they do a recording of this that works
M A: Just heard phone tones
adina t: I can not hear you too
Lynn G: is there audio through the computer?
Sultan G: chocking sound!
Florence A: I can not hear anything
Kevin C: heard you
Chris R: yes, now
Suzanne G: yes
Claudio C: Tim Ash rocks!
Bil G: no one can hear anything
M A: Heard her
Brian P: I hear you!
Sultan G: we can hear you
Matt S: heard that
Debra C: yes now
luis h: yes
Robert P: we have sound
Molly T: I heard you.
adina t: yes now I heard you
Flavia C: yes
Jo G: heard something
Krissy M: we hear you
Glenn M: heard that
Chris R: heard woman…
Solon C: i heard you
Justin M: yes
Nicole v: no we do
Tim B: Let’s all just be patient. =)
James K: Audio works via phone here..
Joshua L: i heard that
Alan M: Can not hear – lots of background noise
t r: Just heard clare
danna c: heard you
M A: No more talking?
Em L: i just heard something
Mike C: heard it now
Debra C: now nothing….
Jared S: we have a caffeine pandemic on our hands in the chat room
Chris R: mysterious woman, say something
Alan M: are you planning to reschedule
Vladmir D: Greetings from mother Russia
Brian P: its gone now
adina t: But I think you should start from the begining
Edna C: greatings from MEXICO
ML O: Just heard, “Q”, you can’t hear me at all on the phone line but not my computer speakers.
Joshua L: same
luis h: Can you hear me now? haha
Sam W: Please speak again
chris m: Clare. we can hear U ..
Kristen W: We have no audio either!
Jo G: lol luis
Florence A: I hear a droning sound
Nina D: I see about our presenters but can’t hear anyone, hear something though
ML O: No, can’t hear luis.
Mike C: Clare? U there?
John M: I think they need some audio optimization
ROBERTO A: I heard a voice! The voice told me to go through the desert and save the people of Las Vegas from perdition…
chris m: say something in French
Vladmir D: I hear nothing
Monica T: No audio. Sorry guys, I’m off to watch CSI.
Tim B: ML, you need to have things turned WAY UP on the comp speakers.
Gert C: Greetings from Dallas! No audio…
Chet F: #technology
Joshua L: i herd clare
Jason S: i hear some typing
Michelle K: Hello
luis h: Merde! That’s French for “I can’t hear anything”
Jim D: It’s like somone’s laptop is the live mic, not the one they think is live
Chris R: i’m not trusting the “building trust” webinar…
Dan L: WUK?
Viki B: lol
luis h: hahaha
Michelle K: I can’t use my laptop, b/c it knows I’m in session on the desktop.
Jane D: no audio via internet connection and just called in to the dial in number as well, still no audio. 10 minutes later………
Michelle K: Why won’t your teleconference work???
John M: The audio may need some “tuning”
John H: Hi from Oklahoma
Vladmir D: Time to hit the bottle again
Dan L: This is my favorite webinar ever!!
ML O: Again, just faint background noises of people working…
Jared S: #office_space baseball bat to computer screen
Michelle K: And I don’t want to shut it down on my desktop b/c who knows if I’ll even get back.
Alan M: This is not “Humanizing the Online exsperience”
Michelle K: LOL
Brian P: Hellllooooo? Bueler….Bueler….
Chris R: i have audio running on pc and phone, neither is working
Jason W: wonder if this is cheaper than go2meeting
ML O: with the person typing the loudest/closest.
M A: @Vladimir, are you still in Odessa?
Vladmir D: In Russia, webniars come to you
Chet F: haha
ALICE S: I am learning so much.
Carolyn R: Not building much trust here
Gert C: I truly understand mechanical errors from all my own presentation goof-ups. LOL
I guess that’s what you get for trying to offer some free content! I’m hoping they reschedule so we can hear what they had to say but had to share the comments from the peanut gallery.
Carfax instills fear and manipulates consumers into doing its will. If Carfax were a political candidate, watchdog groups would be crying ‘smear campaign’ for its advertisements.Thankfully, the presidential candidate hype machine and the inevitable campaign commentary won’t start in earnest until the February so I’ll call it what it is: strong arming. And successful at that.
Carfax’s target market in this case is used car dealerships. They could have run ads in industry publications extolling the virtues of carrying Carfax reports and the benefits to conversion rates (and they may for all I know.) Rather than take the kind and gentle approach though, they are bullying customers with TV ads.
Instead of entering into a debate with dealers, they reach out to the dealers’ customers and play to the oldest and most political motivator around. They use fear. They describe all of the awful things that could be lurking in a car’s history and how a Carfax report can protect consumers from dealers. Then the muscle comes in when they tell you what to do about it. Just ask your used car dealer for a Carfax report. “Show me the Carfax” is their simple call to action and it really puts their dealer customers in a bind. After all, any reputable dealership with nothing to hide would surely offer prospective customers a vehicle history report, free of charge. Right?
The unspoken implication is that if you don’t ask them to ‘show me the Carfax,’ they’re going to take advantage of you. By raising the expectations of consumers, Carfax is putting the squeeze on dealers and having the dirty work done for them by concerned car shoppers.
This is the kind of half truth tactic that makes political campaigns so unbearable. In this case, there’s no denying that it works. Just don’t expect a lot of a lot of ‘across the aisle’ collaboration from dealers if an alternative service becomes available.
In a follow up to yesterday’s post on evaluating potential linking sites in bulk, here’s one more way to use your new lists of links
Once you’ve pulled down all of the links from a round up page like social-media.alltop.com, you’ve got a list of authoritative sources on a niche topic. If it’s a subject that you’re interested in keeping up on, you can create a Google Custom Search Engine based on your list.
Then, when you’re interested in what the social media pundits have to say about a news item, or if you’re interested in finding posts that combine a specific idea (say coffee for example) with your niche’s point of view, instead of doing a general Google search and getting all kinds of results, you can restrict your queries to your handpicked list of experts in that niche.
And don’t forget that you can add advanced search operators such as date range to your CSE search by appending the results URL
When link building, it’s often necessary to gather a large list of targets for a campaign. Here’s one way to quickly get some good URLs, with basic metrics attached, without pulling them one by one.
Let’s say you’ve got a new infographic about coffee and you’re trying to find a list of blogs that would potentially be interested in posting about it. The first step is to find some pages that list the kind of blogs that we’re after. Lists like these are popular on the web so we shouldn’t have too much trouble. Google is a good place to start, either by searching for round up posts or by using the SERPs themselves as a list. Also try Technorati, DMOZ and Alltop.
Once you’ve got a page with a bunch of links listed, copy the URLs. It’s often easiest to use a tool like SEO for Firefox for this. Right click the page and select SEO XRay.
The SEO for Firefox plugin overlays some data on top of the page you’re on. Select external links and export them as a CSV file.
If you need to clean up your list to filter out duplicates, ads and other irrelevant links, pull open your CSV with Excel. Then copy them to your clipboard for the next step.
To add some quick evaluation metrics, try backlinks.in. It’s a tool built on SEOMoz’s Linkscape data and allows you to evaluate up to 1000 URLs per day in bulk. You get page MozRank and the number of backlinks for each URL, which can help you prioritize your potential link targets.
Paste back into Excel and you’re set to start pitching!
*Update – see a bonus use for batch link lists here
LinkedIn.com is as close to a comprehensive business directory as there is and usually reveals a lot about a company’s make up. But if you’ve ever tried to track down business leads, site owners or potential partners, you’ve probably had trouble locating the right person to contact at some point. Try this trick to get more names out of LinkedIn and locate that key person.
Let’s say you’re trying to get in touch with Pixar to show them your new promotional product. You start by searching for “marketing pixar” in LinkedIn’s search box.After browsing the results, you think the person with the title “Marketing and Promotions at Pixar Animation Studios” would be the perfect one to contact. By clicking through you can see work, education and connection details but the name of the contact is listed as private.
Bummer. Without a name it’s difficult to go much further. Here’s what you do.
Scroll down the mystery contact’s profile until you see the section labeled “Viewers of this profile also viewed…” You’ll see the names of other people that are closely associated with your contact.
Try clicking on a few of them. If you find one that’s in your network (even a 3rd degree contact) you’ll see their profile page.
Going back to our Pixar example, viewers of our target’s profile also viewed the Director of Worldwide Publicity. Since we apparently have some friends in common, I’m able to click through to her profile.
Once I’ve got Robin’s profile page open, I can scroll down to her “Viewers of this profile also viewed…” section. Because she’s closely associated with our “Marketing and Promotions” target, chances are that person will appear in her list. And she does! Using the title that we saw on the private profile page, along with background info that is available on private pages like education, we can confidently match the two and identify the mystery contact.
Depending on her privacy settings, you can now click through to her detail profile or just note the name and do some additional research on Google.
And that’s it. It’s one of those tips that doesn’t work every time but it may help in your research. Happy hunting!