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Psychological Marketing Tips from those “One Weird Trick” Ads

You’ve probably seen them – they’re all over the Internet:  Crude, often hand-drawn ads promising “One Weird Trick” to help you lose weight, cure diabetes, learn a new language, etc.

Slate.com offered a lengthy expose on these ubiquitous ads recently.  The lengthy but fascinating article surfaced a number of marketing tips useful for all of us Click Millionaires, mostly  courtesy of Harvard Business School Professor Michael Norton:

  • “People tend to think something is important if it’s “secret.””
  • Why such long sales videos?  “Research on persuasion shows the more arguments you list in favor of something, regardless of the quality of those arguments, the more that people tend to believe it.”
  • Why only one tip?  Just one tip maybe better than many because “People want a simple solution that has a ton of support.”
  • Why one “weird” tip and not a more positive sounding adjective like “amazing” or “wonderful”?   “A word like ‘weird’ is not so negative, and kind of intriguing.   If you lead with a strong, unbelievable claim it may turn people off. But if you start with ‘isn’t this kind of weird?’ it lowers the stakes,” adds Oleg Urminsky of the University of Chicago Booth School of Business.
  • Why the ugly graphics?  “This might hurt the brand of established companies, but the companies here have non-existent or negative brand associations, so it may be worth it for the extra attention,” Urminsky says.  Plus, “if the ad were too professional, it might undermine the illusion that it’s one man against the system,” Norton says. Slick ads suggest profit-hungry companies, not stay-at-home moms or rogue truth-tellers trying to help the little guy.
  • An amateur appearance may be deliberate to help qualify the customers:  “The point is not always to get the customer to buy the product,” Urminsky says. “It may be to vet the customer. Long videos can act as a sorting mechanism, a way to ‘qualify your prospects.’ Once you’ve established this is a person who’ll sit through anything, you can contact them by email later and sell them other products.”

See more tips and insights about these more-clever-than-you-thought advertisements in the rest of the article here.

Thanks to Slate for investigating these marketing strategies, and to Daily Blog Tips for bringing it to the research to my attention.

I especially like the second bullet point above.  Doesn’t that seem to support the endlessly debated super-long sales page approach?

What do you think of these tips revealed by what look like very simple ads?

Any surprises for you or tactics you might adopt yourself for your own online marketing?

Best,

Scott

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