Training Tactics as Marketing Strategy

A number of reports show dot-com ad revenue falling. New York-based Jupiter Communications Analyst Michele Slack says we should be trimming traditional media ad budgets not Internet ad budgets. Why? “The Internet is really an efficient medium in that advertisers can target ads in ways that they may not be able to do with television.”

If you’re trimming your ad budget, you need to get the most value from each Internet ad you place, but that’s getting harder to do. People are getting jaded about rich media enticements to bogus prizes and rewards. Have you stumbled across the “Punch the Monkey” ad? Makes you want to punch somebody other than that monkey.

Your own rich media ad, however, can take a higher road. For example, it can pose a question you know is burning in your target customer’s mind. The customer’s first click on the ad can take him or her directly to the answer on your site, where you can then draw them in with further valuable information. Or that first click can display the answer to the question within the ad, demonstrating your possession of valuable info and pose a further question whose answer is on your site. The approach you choose depends on how fast you think you have to prove your integrity.

There are many ways beyond banner ads to reach your customers with helpful training. You’re familiar with multimedia marketing. Well, you can take the same approach with training.

The goal here is to get your site visitors and customers to get some skin in the game. Vest some interest in your success because you’ve become a vendor they want to continue to rely upon. To get them to the point where you want them to be, you have to start by reaching them where they are… by whatever media will reach them there.

AOL’s ubiquitous CDs in the mail every week are no accident. If they didn’t work, they’d stop appearing. Boring old snail mail for Net marketing who knew?!

Recently, we’ve considered web-based training to give simulated experiences with various kinds of products (like software) and services (like online utilities). You thought I was gonna mention adult entertainment sites, didn’t you? Tsk, tsk.

But many kinds of products and services just don’t lend themselves to online simulation. What if you sell a tangible thing, and you know people would crave it if they could just get their hands on it, try it out?

Maybe all they need to try out is one feature of it. Find a way to let them do that. It might be an online simulation, or it might be something tangible in the mail.

If you offer stellar customer service, give them a special toll-free number to call to get preliminary questions answered instead of having to scroll through an FAQ that doesn’t contain their exact question anyway. Yeah, yeah we know their answer is in there. But if it’s not Potential Customer #3729’s own personal words, he won’t recognize it, and he won’t become Regular Customer #3729.

Forget logic. Remember their egos, their fears, their demands. Their perception is your reality. Speaking of reality…

Near-reality experience is as useful for marketing as it is for training. Mail customers a miniature of the product, a “toy” version that does one totally cool thing the grown-up version does on a grander scale. They don’t need all the hologram development equipment to enjoy the little projection of Princess Leia, particularly if it’s on a paperweight or magnet they use every day near their workstation and is within their peripheral vision.

How about a concept model of the ordering process that they can put together in a puzzle and that puzzle creates something they can use every day, like a foam coaster or a mousepad. With your branding and URL on it, of course. Then, when they do buy something on your site, their crib sheet for the process is right there in front of them.

There’s a training tactic at work through the useful toys that people take for granted. Items that you use or see repeatedly beneath the radar of conscious choice become ingrained in your brain. The subconscious mind is always doing background processing, just as you breathe whether or not you’re focusing on it consciously for your yoga class.

How does this subliminal reinforcement work for you? The brain usually selects consciously the item it is most familiar with, which is why habits are so hard to break. You can use that fact of wetware configuration to influence your targets’ conscious choices.

I know you’re going to lead these sheep to your own nice green pasture and shear them gently once you’ve got them. It’s for their own good. They’ll be happier, smarter sheep for having met you. And next time, they’ll head for your pasture on their own.

Homework: What interesting and useful information can you provide your site visitors to make them feel smarter right away so they will want to come back regularly for more brain candy? Next week we’ll think about tactics for delivering those goodies. Meanwhile, if you need coaching, you know where to find me.

Recess: If it’s later than 10 a.m., you need to take a break. Deskercise of the day: your legs. Can’t kick? Yes, you can!

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