The healthy way to market, so people listen, take action, and buy more.
We all know about unhealthy marketing. It focuses on pushing the product or service being sold rather than putting the consumer’s well-being at the heart of marketing thinking.
That’s uncomfortable for consumers but equally so for the marketer. Why? Because it doesn’t return long-term sustainable results for either party.
Unhealthy marketing focuses on words like targeting, reaching, converting. But language like that has little or nothing to do with the needs of our customers… the human beings at the end of any communication.
But just as in human-to-human connections, a healthy marketing system builds relationships, and helps customers feel understood, nurtured and heard.
It focuses on how we communicate with, not market to, the people we exist to serve… because the truth is that profits will follow when we put people first.
Using the analogy of the body, the human marketing system will show you how to do just that. We’ll start by appealing to the heart.
Emotional connection is real reason customers become loyal to brands
Humans are emotional beings driven by feelings. Our hearts rule our heads.
According to Psychology Today, 80% of the decision-making process is emotional. Our feelings come first; our thoughts follow.
Understanding this is the first step to making a difference to your bottom line.
Customer satisfaction is vital for brand loyalty. Right? Wrong! Harvard Business Review reports that buyers who feel emotionally connected to a brand spend twice as much as those who are highly satisfied.
What’s more, customers who feel emotionally connected to a brand buy more, visit more often, are less price-sensitive and pay more attention to your communications. They’re also more inclined to follow your advice and to recommend you more.
So, emotion is good for business.
And not just B2C business either.
The same holds true for B2B. Why? Because companies don’t make decisions – people do.
That means that no matter which industry you’re in, as a marketer, it’s your job to identify your user’s emotional wants and needs and sell them that.
So, before offering your solution (your product or service), you must first diagnose the problem your customer is suffering and then identify the pain it causes them.
And this empathy is important because feeling understood is a basic human need. It’s the key to building connections with other human beings, and it’s how we grow affinity with the brands we love too.
In short, it’s how we start to earn a place in our customers’ hearts.
But it’s more than that, it’s about building trust too.
As Jay Abraham, author of Getting Everything You Can Out of all You’ve Got pointed out: the more accurately you describe your customers’ problem in terms they relate to, the more instinctively they feel that you MUST have the answer to their problem.
Here’s an example:
"You've tried every dating app imaginable. You’ve been introduced to friends of friends. Perhaps you've even been on the odd blind date. You’ve trawled your phone contacts for past loves that may once again be searching for romance. But, no matter how hard you’ve tried, you’re still frustratingly single, lonely and looking for love.”
The first step in creating a marketing system that works is to appeal to the heart by talking about your customers’ problems and then empathising with the pain it causes.
You’ve appealed to your customers’ hearts; it’s time to appeal to their heads.
Spark the imagination and appeal to logic
We associate rational thought with the head… and we’ll get to that in a moment. We mustn’t forget that it’s also associated with dreaming and imagination. Let’s talk about this first.
a. The imagination
Before we can understand what we need to spark in the imaginations of our customers, it’s important to understand people’s motivations to buy… and when we break it down to its most basic form. There are only two:
a) To escape something bad.
b) To gain something good.
As marketers, these are two opposing sides of the imagination we need to stimulate.
The first is the element that marketers commonly miss… helping your prospects recognise the discomfort they’ll suffer if they don’t buy from you. To help them imagine the cost of their indecision.
How does highlighting this serve our customers well? Because your customers need to feel in their bones that they want or need what you sell.
But that’s only one side of the coin. You should also help customers imagine the good… your customers’ dreams and desires.
Remember, you’re not selling “stuff”. That’s an unhealthy way to market anything.
It’s the transformation in their emotional state you want to sell. That’s what they really dream about.
So here are some questions to ask yourself:
- How will customers feel after they use your product or service?
- How much better their lives will be?
- How will they be viewed by others?
Think of it this way…
If your customer can’t visualise what good will happen when they buy from you, then what reason do they have to make that all-important purchase?
Spark their imagination, nurture their dreams and ignite their desires. Do so as vividly as you can. The more clearly customers can visualise the nirvana you’re leading them towards the better.
But the head is responsible for more than the imagination, it’s also the source of more logical thought, and that’s what I’m going to cover next.
b. The role of the rational brain in the buying decision
80% of human decision-making is based on emotion, so the remaining 20% is based on rational thought. Humans make emotional decisions first, then validate these decisions with logic.
The logical questions your customers will likely be asking may include:
- What do I get from this purchase?
- Can I trust this business/brand?
- How much does it cost?
- Does this offer good value for money?
- … other product-related questions
Let’s look at each of these questions in turn:
- What do I get from this purchase?
Warning: Don't get carried away here.
This is one of those areas where the heart and head combine. So remember – features tell: emotions sell.
So focus only about 20% of your message on the actual deliverables. Give the remaining 80% of your attention to the success your product brings.
That being said, you still need to be very clear about what you offer. There’s no room for ambiguity or confusion. State clearly what you’re selling but focus only on the details that matter to your customer.
Your customers need to know the length of the course you’re offering. But no matter how proud you are of the 3.56mm thingamajig deep inside the workings of the state-of-the-art engine you’ve developed. If your customers don’t care about it, it’s not worth mentioning. Sorry.
Stick to the 80:20 rule, and remember to focus on the features your customers care about, and you won’t go far wrong.
- Can I trust this brand?
Humans fear making a decision they may later regret. So before making a purchase, it’s natural to question whether or not we’re choosing to buy from a business we trust. It’s our job as marketers to put peoples’ minds at ease and allow them to buy with confidence.
You’ve got a couple of ways to do this.…
Now, we’re going to cover testimonials in more detail when we look at encouraging word-of-mouth, so for now, just know that they are a vital way of building trust so your clientele can move forward with their purchases.
The other way is by writing client-getting, trust-building guarantees… and that requires some thought.
Don’t skip past the importance of this.
To stand out, your customer promise needs to clearly demonstrate your confidence (as the seller) that your solution will work. AND it needs to show how it is you, not the buyer, who is taking the risk.
Now I’ve spoken to many a client who is nervous about this. I am frequently asked, “What if someone buys my product, uses it and then sends it back – what if customers try to rip me off?”
There’s a chance that they may. But in my experience, most people are honest.
In this case, the uplift you get in sales due to your client-getting guarantee is very unlikely to be offset by an increase in refunds which is likely to be small… therefore, the net result is profitable and, in most cases, very much so.
So let’s see how to craft them.
How to write client-getting guarantees
- Make your guarantee over as long a timescale as possible. The longer it is, the more trust you’ll gain.
- Give your guarantee a name that makes it stand out and capture the attention. For example, the Grassroots Love Your Lawn or Your Money Back guarantee.
- Demonstrate that returns are quick, easy AND hassle-free. Most buyers fear hassle and stress more than losing their money, so make it clear that your refund process is fast and simple to inject extra trust into your promise.
- Sell your benefits in the guarantee itself: e.g. if within a month your lawn isn’t green enough to make your neighbours green with envy….
- Of course, there are hundreds of ways to write guarantees that stand out… and it doesn’t necessarily have to be a written guarantee either. Who wouldn’t want to buy a pair of shades from Sunski with a musical guarantee like this?
How much does it cost?
As Marcus Sheridan points out in his book They Ask, You Answer…. one of customers’ key questions is: how much will it cost? Yet, the vast majority (some believe 90%) of businesses outside of e-commerce still don’t show the price of buying from them.
Yet this leaves a question mark in the minds of your customers.
But, it goes further than that. It leads to frustration.
Before they contact you, customers want to know if they can afford you. Let’s face it. There’s nothing worse than making an effort to get in touch with a company only to be embarrassed to find you don’t have the budget to take things further… the fear of that will stop you from making contact in the first place.
What that means is: if you don’t display your prices and your product or service is in your customers’ budget range, the chances are they’ll never know.
Where will they go instead? To find a site that makes buying easier. The one that earns trust by giving them the answers they need.
Showing your prices has a benefit to your customer:
- It shows if they can afford you
- It lets them know if you don’t offer the level of product/service they are looking for.
… And both these have benefits for you too. The enquiries and leads you get know the cost of doing business with you. This means you’ll likely waste less time dealing with those you were never going to do business with anyway.
If you want to demonstrate trust and transparency, showing your prices, or at least explaining how they are calculated, could be a great way to start.
And all the other rational stuff…
Depending on what you’re selling, your customer will likely have lots of other questions about your product. What questions do your customers often ask you? These are the things on their mind that you will also need to cover in your copy (most probably in your FAQs section).
FAQs increase trust by:
- Addressing your customers questions
- Overcoming objections
- Establishing your business as an expert
- Boosting search engine optimisation (making it easier for your customers to find you AND increases your credibility.)
“What is your return policy?”
“How environmentally friendly is this?”
“How much do I need to order?”
“What are the ongoing costs?”
“How does this compare to other solutions on the market?”
Resources to help you know your clients’ questions include your sales teams, customer service, or online resources such as alsoasked.com and answerthepublic.com.
Remember, unanswered questions are equal to confusion. And as Donald Miller, author of New York Bestseller Building a StoryBrand teaches, “the confused mind doesn’t buy”. So give your customers all the information they need to be confident in their purchase.
Now you’ve worked out how to appeal to your customers’ hearts and heads, but that isn’t enough. You now need them to move forwards, and as humans, we do that with our feet.
You can boost your conversion rate by up to 80% with this one easy step.
Feelings inspire thoughts, and thoughts inspire actions.
With bricks and mortar stores customers use their feet to take action and walk through the door. For other businesses, think of it more as getting your customers to make a move by putting their best foot forward.
This is where we need a strong call to action.
Arguably, after your headline, this is the most critical part of your website or other marketing material. Lest we forget, moving our customers onwards is the goal of every piece of marketing we produce.
Yet, marketers often give the least attention to this area of copy. And they do this at their peril.
Because, unless as ask people to buy, they won’t. So, make it easy for customers to do business with you by being direct about it.
Businesses are often shy about this. I hear two common reasons: asking directly for the business feels pushy or uncomfortable, or it’s so obvious what to do next that a prominent call-to-action button isn’t needed.
The problem is, neither of those is true.
Let’s reframe that thinking:
- Customers want any purchase to be easy. There’s nothing more frustrating than wanting to buy something, but finding the next step to do it is confusing. No one wants to waste time and effort hunting for that all-important “buy” button.
So, make it easy for people to do what you want them to… it’s good for customers, and it’s good business.
- It’s your duty to help customers on their way. As Ray Edwards points out in his book, How to write copy that sells, if you truly believe you have a solution to a customers’ problem and know what you do helps make peoples’ lives better, why on earth wouldn’t you be direct in telling them how to get that solution?
So now we know why a strong call to action is essential. So how do we write one? These five tips will help you on your way.
1. Start with a verb
When you want your audience to do something, it makes sense to start your call to action with a verb:
Make it clear what customers need to do next.
2. Be specific
Don’t let your call to action be vague or passive – e.g., “learn more”. Learn more about what?
3. Keep it short
This isn’t the time for wordiness. Say what you need to say, and then stop. Five words or less is considered best practice.
4. Get it seen
Make your primary call to action the obvious button to press. Use colour to make it stand out and ensure it doesn’t have to compete with too many other CTA’s on the page. This can be confusing for customers. And confused customers is not what we’re looking for.
5. Give them a reason
Try focussing on the outcome rather than just the action.
What will they get?
Are you offering a free report? Then don’t simply say “Download”. “Get your free report” is far more likely to get that all-important click.
Make sure your call-to-action is included in every piece of marketing collateral you create. It may well not be a “buy now” button (although it could be). But what is essential is that you signpost your customer to the next obvious step they need to take in their journey.
Remember, your job as a marketer is to help your customers move forward. And you can’t expect your customers to do that without guidance from you.
Forget this vital step, and all your other efforts will fall flat. I’m guessing that, like most businesses, that’s a fate you can ill-afford.
Yes, your call to action is likely just a few words long. But don’t underestimate its power. Give these words the attention they deserve, and people will start running towards you to buy.
Now’s the time to think about reaching new customers with your message. Right? Well, actually, in most cases, no.
This could be a mistake. Find out why next…
How to double your profits from your existing customer base without raising your prices.
The role of the marketer is not to make the sale. It’s to nurture healthy relationships so that customers choose to reach out or raise their hands to buy, time and time again.
Now I know this sounds obvious. But too often, marketers totally overlook this in the mad rush to be seen and heard by a new audience. Shiny new object syndrome grabs us all sometimes.
But take note:
Existing customers buy more than those who are strangers to your brand.
If you already have a customer base, no matter how small, you would be well-advised to think first about how to nourish your relationships with existing or past clients. How do you encourage them to raise their hand to ask for more?
… and what about those who have shown an interest but never bought?
You’ve earned their attention once, and just because they didn’t buy, it doesn’t mean they never will. It may just be that they weren’t ready at the time. How do you get these people to reach out again and buy from you?
We have to recognise that customers have busy lives. So you can’t expect them to remember you. It’s your role to show that you won’t forget them.
By showing up. Consistently.
Consistency builds trust, and trust leads to loyalty.
How do you do that? Well, the answer usually lies with email. (Yes, the money still really is in the list.)
Emails land directly in the inbox of the people who have already raised a hand to show they’re interested in what you sell (they gave you their email address, didn’t they?).
No wonder then that according to Hubspot, in 2021, the return for every $1 spent on email was $42. A return of 4,200% out-performs just about every other marketing channel there is.
Treat your email list like your friends. Give them things that interest them, show them you care, offer them value. Turn up consistently. Build trust.
Sooner or later, they’ll raise their hand again and buy… and they’ll do it because when they needed you, You showed up. You showed you care. You built trust and made yourself impossible to forget.
Want customers to raise their hand and ask for more?
Focus on building your email list…. And this is where your product ladder comes in.
A product ladder reduces the risk for customers wanting to buy – and then helps them raise their hand to ask for more.
We’ve already discovered that buying from you the first time will mean some form of risk for your customer.
Customers tend to want to start with small, low-risk purchases. They then buy at increasing price points as their trust in you grows. This range of products is your product ladder (sometimes also referred to as a value ladder).
This doesn’t need to be complicated, and you could include any number of steps.
However, for illustration, yours may look something like this:
1. Initial offer: Customers who are just getting to know you are offered a free offer. These represent no or low-risk ways for the customer to move forward, but they are an opportunity for the customer to get some value from you and start building that all-important trust.
Examples of these could be a free downloadable pdf or entry to a free webinar. The only thing that it costs them to get it is (you’ve guessed it) their email address.
2. Low-cost offer: Now offer something that either costs a little bit of either time or money, but not too much. This could be a low-cost coaching session or e-book. All it asks for is a bit of commitment from your customer – but not so much that they feel like any risk is at stake.
3. Mid-range products: These products cost more, but the risk for the customer is not much higher as they already know, like, and trust you.
Building in the first two steps makes a purchase decision at this stage much more likely than if you were expecting to jump right in at this level, which would represent a risky proposition for them.
4. Premium range products: These are the products or services that only your best customers will buy from you. It is where you put your flagship products and services.
Not everyone will buy these, but the ones that do will be loyal customers who love what you do and will likely be your best advocates too.
If you don’t already have a product ladder, now is the time to develop one. It will help your customers on their journey to knowing, liking and trusting you. It’s the reason they’ll reach out and ask for more … and for you, that means profit.
But we’re not through yet. Now you need to get your message seen and heard by new customers who’ve not met you yet.
5. Eyes and ears
The eyes and ears are the parts of the body we need to attract attention and cut through the noise so that your message is seen and heard. How do you make yours stand out?
But before we start, listen up. Here’s a warning…
All too often, marketers focus on this part of the body first. They see attention as the first priority so that they can build awareness – the first stage in your customers’ journey to the sale. And, at first glance, this seems to make sense.
But don’t fall into this trap.
Why? Because if your message doesn’t appeal to the heart, head, feet and hands, your efforts will fall on deaf ears.
Work out your message first – and then how to deliver it. Anything else is back-to-front thinking.
So, if you haven’t completed the first four stages, go back and do that before you continue.
Meet your customers where they are
With so many channels available, it’s easy to get overwhelmed knowing how to get new eyeballs on your message. But it needn’t be complicated. The simple rule is to use the channels that your customers use. Are your clients primarily B2B? LinkedIn could be the place for you. B2C? Maybe you look to Instagram, Facebook, and Tik Tok.
And you don’t need to try them all either – in fact, if you do, you’ll dilute your efforts (and your results). Focus on getting great results on a couple of channels, and then work your way from there.
Now you’ve chosen your channels, think about how you display your copy.
Let’s start by understanding how people consume information online. The truth is, people don’t read – not at first anyway.
They skim, scan and scroll. So our job is to help them find the information they need quickly and easily without having to digest the full text.
Simple tips to get your copy seen:
- Break information into small bits:
No one wants to read massive chunks of text. Make your copy easy to read by using short paragraphs – 3 lines max.
Less intimidating to read? Yes. Easier to scan. You bet.
And this doesn’t just apply to your web pages either. Your social media posts and email copy should follow the same rules. Write small and manageable chunks of text, and your customers are more likely to consume it.
- Use headings and subheadings.
If customers are intent on scanning text (which they are), then helping them by breaking up text into prominent sections broken up with headings and subheading is the way to go.
Aim to enable your customer to understand what your page is about even if they get no further than reading the titles.
- Make friends with the ellipsis…
Love it or hate it, the ellipsis should be your friend. It’s a visual cue that something interesting is coming and helps to guide your reader’s eye down the page.
- Get creative with bullet points.
Bullet points are vital for stimulating your customers’ desire to buy. Why?
Well, remember that people skim and scan copy? When they’ve read the headers and subheadings, the next thing people focus their attention on is the bullet points. They’re vital to the success of your online sales copy.
Why? Because they are quick for your customers to read and signpost the easily digestible benefits of buying from you.
Now the key here is to make your bullet points vivid. Use them to feed the imagination. And if you can spark curiosity at the same time, you get bonus points for that too!
- Use visuals that help to tell your story
Now I’m a copywriter, so much of my focus is on the words. But consider your images as part of your copy too. Show images that help people imagine how it will feel when they buy from you.
And the same goes for images as it does for words… Be interesting and quirky if you like – but not at the expense of clarity. Give as much thought to your images as you do to your words. The two work hand in hand.
Now you’ve had eyes and ears on your message, it’s time to encourage word of mouth… and that’s what we’ll cover next.
Word of mouth is the original “social” media. We’ve been using our voices to help spread messages and ideas since the beginning of time. In today’s world, of course, it’s a way of spreading experiences and information both offline and online.
But why does word of mouth matter so much? As Jay Baer, author of Talk Triggers says, “Trust matters more than truth, and the truth is customers don’t trust you as much as they trust each other.”
So how do you encourage customers to talk about you?
If you’ve followed all the advice in this blog, you’re already partway there. Encouraging word of mouth is one of the benefits of appealing to the heart. Consumers who are more emotionally connected will both buy and recommend you more.
But what else can you do?
1. Communicate like a human
This is the human marketing system. But that doesn’t mean simply treating your customers like humans. It means behaving like a one too.
Humans (the good ones anyway) communicate with others and not simply to them. Relationships are not based on one-way communication.
Yet marketers are so often focused on how often they place an ad or post on social media that they forget what’s essential: two-way conversations.
Because if you want people to talk about you, the more you talk to them, the better.
So don’t just focus on how often you communicate. Become a part of your customers’ conversations. Think about (and set targets for) how often you engage and interact instead. Social media was, after all, designed to be social – and so are people.
2. Have a process for getting trust-winning testimonials
Used well, testimonials are crucial for building trust and credibility, with 88% of consumers trusting online reviews as much as personal recommendations. (Search Engine Land) . They are a vital element of any marketing system that works.
We might imagine that if someone likes what we do, they’ll naturally pop over to our website or a review site and say nice things about us. That does happen, but not as often as you’d like. So leaving testimonials to chance is not a good strategy.
You need to ask.
If your customer is happy (and I hope they will be), remind them that your business relies upon testimonials and ask them if they’d mind leaving you one. It might feel uncomfortable to do so at first, but you’ll soon realise there’s nothing to fear.
In my experience, happy customers want to help, and they’ll feel good about doing it too. That’s a win for everyone.
But not all testimonials are created equal. A testimonial that simply says “Great work” really doesn’t’ help your cause much. You can do so much better if only you ask the right questions.
That’s right. When you ask for a testimonial, ask some specific questions to help your customer on their way. Depending on your business, here’s a list you may consider asking:
- What was your biggest challenge before you found us?
- How did that make you feel?
- Are you able to share the results of buying from us?
- What surprised you about working with us?
- What does life look like now that we have solved your problem?
The key is to focus on the journey you’ve taken your customer through. Both in rational and emotional ways (head and heart).
What were they dealing with before buying from you, what did you do, and how did they benefit?
So instead of “Great work”, you could get something like this:
"I've been embarrassed about my lawn for years but cutting it was a chore I just hated. But then I found Grassroots lawn care, and they transformed my garden within days. My grass is now lusciously green, and my flower borders are magazine-worthy. Finally, I have the garden I've always dreamt of.”
Testimonials that are written with an authentic tone of voice can be equally as powerful. Quick confession time… I once bought an epilator based on this one review:
Almost every business on earth can benefit from positive word-of-mouth. But very few have a process or strategy to generate it.
Yet it’s one of the most powerful and cost-effective forms of marketing. How much could your business benefit from more effort devoted to this most traditional form of media?
Human Marketing System In Summary:
Remember, at the end of every piece of marketing communication is a human. We’re humans, marketing to humans. Pure and simple.
The 6 parts of the human body you should appeal to if you want your marketing to grow sales:
- Heart: Humans are emotional beings. Our feelings rule our thoughts, so appeal to your customer’s hearts and earn their loyalty forever.
- Head: People justify their emotional decisions with logic. So rational marketing messaging is needed to push customers over the line to buy.
- Feet: To move forwards, people use their feet. But customers won’t move forward with a purchase until you show them the way with a clear call to action.
- Eyes and ears: Your business needs to be seen and heard. Attract your customers’ attention with compelling messages and visuals that encourage them to stop, read or listen.
- Hands: It’s normal to put a hand in the air when we want to ask something. For businesses, a core strategy should encourage existing customers to do just that. Raise a hand and ask for more.
- Mouth: For thousands of years, word of mouth has been used to share thoughts, ideas, knowledge and experiences. It is the ultimate form of media, so don’t leave word of mouth to chance.
The human marketing system will break you out of the habit of focussing on a faceless target audience.
It is a holistic view of the customer designed to diagnose marketing weaknesses, and prescribe the path to a healthy marketing system that puts people at the heart of your thinking.
Now it’s your turn.
If you found this post useful, I hope you’ll put what you’ve learnt into action.
What ideas from this post will you implement?
Want help with marketing that grows sales? Book a free 45-minute consultation and I’ll show you how.