Harhut's 'Brainy' and Actionable Tips Will Surely Lift Your Marketing

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Nancy Harhut was right—they got me with the clock. I had deliberated on becoming a member of Lincoln Center Theater in New York but then that last email yesterday: "Time is running out... LCT Membership will only remain open for a few more days... Once closed, it won't reopen for years." And then the alarm clock in the email! Argghhh! The credit card's out!

"When they put a countdown clock in the email, there's a 17% increase in click-thru rates," said Harhut, chief creative officer for Wilde Agency, at a BIMS session in November titled Brain Science in Business: Using Psychology to Increase Response. "It underscores urgency."

Make that 18%.

The good news, besides the fact that I can go see The Flying Nun in The Glass Menagerie on Broadway this spring, is that Harhut will make a return appearance Wednesday at 11 am Eastern time to deliver that session in a SIPA webinar. Please sign up now if you haven't already. You'll come away with so many actionable ideas.

Here are just a few that stood out for me.

Get people in the right frame of mind to make a purchase. "We think about what's readily available to us, what's relevant," Harhut (pictured) said. "You want to get people to think of a time in their past where they could have used your product or service or think of a time in the future when it would it fit into their lifestyle." Boston Globe.com offered gift subscriptions and listed the different types of people who would benefit from them—political junkie, sports fan, travel buff... We all know at least one of those.

Make it seem like they're missing out. "Let people know it will only be available to a certain group for a certain amount of time," Harhut said. "If other people want this, I want it too." Deadlines are good. Clocks. Testimonials, and she had two ways they work:

  • when the testimonial giver is very similar to the testimonial receiver;
  • and that it starts where the reader is, generally speaking at a place of skepticism.

Add urgency to your message. I got this email from my heating/air conditioning company yesterday: "IMPORTANT public service info – Production of Freon (R-22) is being phased out by the federal government – call us, we would like to help with some options." "Urgency provides a 34-36% lift in open rates," Harhut said. She also said that flash sales now are doing well in B2B. "If I don't move quickly I will lose out."

Speaking of options, they were smart to offer some. "Options help in making a purchase decision," she said. "With one option we may not be quite sure." 2, 3 or 4 options are best; 5 or more are a bit much and could give analysis paralysis.

Use numbers in marketing—not spelled out—when possible. We skim and scan, Harhut said. Numbers promise ease and order. Odd numbers are more credible, show that we may have given it a little more thought. But any denomination of 10 is also good—it gives cognitive fluency and is easy for us to process.

Allow people to be consistent. "When people make a commitment or take a stand, they like to stay consistent," Harhut said. So give them a soft question first—register for an Amtrak promotion, take a free week of Boston Globe digital—and then follow up with bigger commitments. She mentioned one website that helps you break habits. They'll ask you to pledge maybe $100 to a cause you despise if you fail to quit smoking, lose weight, whatever you sign up to do.

Align your choices. An email with a set appointment that people can—in small type—change is better than an open-ended one asking what time might be convenient. "They didn't have to take action to schedule," Harhut said. "They had to take action to get out of it." It's true. I recently signed up for 2 free tickets to a concert. When I found out that I couldn't go, I felt much better about finding a friend who could go than calling and having to tell the organizer that I didn't want the tickets.

You will hear much more on Wednesday. Again, here's the link to sign up. It's just for you. It has been 11 years in the making, but uses 20 years of experience. "It's great!" said another member just like you who saw her at BIMS. And the clock is ticking! (I should probably save all that for something that isn't free.)

You can also view her recent presentation - as with many of the others from BIMS - on the members only section of our site. 

Ronn Are you subscribed to the SIPAlert Daily?
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Ronn Levine began his career as a reporter for The Washington Post and has won numerous writing and publications awards since. Most recently, he spent 12 years at the Newspaper Association of America covering a variety of topics before joining SIPA in 2009 and SIIA in 2013 as editorial director…