Marketing Mind Games - What They Don’t Want You To Know
Marketers (and Copywriters) are not devious people. They are, however, not above allowing you, the customer, to draw your own conclusions based on nothing more than your own mind. These are the Marketing Mind Games they play.
The “trick”, if I can use that word, is not based on a lie, or even a small misrepresentation. The trick is in understanding how the human mind works. In understanding psychology.
It’s somewhat like if you’re in a restaurant and the table next to is served their food. One person takes a bite and audibly reacts with a “mmmmm-mmm”. Then says to their table mates, “OMG, is this ever deee-licious!”.
When the waiter comes around for your order, you say, “I’ll have what she’s having”.
The strong suggestion you took from the person at the other table influenced your decision. For good, or for not so good – only your first bite will tell.
Marketers understand “suggestion” better than most. With the two examples we’ll deal with in this installment of Marketing Mind Games, I believe you’ll come out understanding it too.
1. The A/B Ruse
2. The “Ahhh” That Refreshes
Do you believe the results of those comparison tests
where people choose between A and B?
You won’t after you read this.
"In A Blind, Head-To-Head Taste Test, People Chose Tweedledee Two To One Over Tweedledum."
Proving what? The advertising copy seems to say this 'proves' Tweedledee is better than Tweedledum. Therefore, you ought to buy Tweedledee. These comparison tests are inflicted on us by brands and their slippery marketing consultants so they can both sway Tweedledum users to consider buying Tweedledee and confirm to Tweedledee lovers that they made the right choice all along.
They're playing Marketing Mind Games on you.
Can’t argue with a scientific test, right? Not so fast. Let’s take a look at the typical consumer test…Pepsi vs Coke, Prego vs Ragu, Rocco's Gelato vs Fred's Gelato and so forth… from the perspective of an honest brand strategist and copywriter who detests sneaks, cheats, and liars.
The Methodology Of This Marketing Mind Game
In a double-blind test, one product is labeled “A” and the other is labeled “B”. Neither the consumer nor the tester knows which product is which. Sounds fair, no? No. Meet the A/B Ruse.
It’s the oldest trick in the book, a carnival game, a first-class deception, a marketing strategy used by charlatans. Here’s the bottom line: “A” ALWAYS WINS! Not only does “A” always win, but the percentages remain remarkably consistent. About
70% - 30%, give or take a couple of points (as long as you test at least 200 subjects).
Why? Simple. In our culture “A” has a better connotation than “B”. “A” is first class, highest quality. “B” is the also ran. If you get a B on your math test instead of an A, do you feel elated? You want to be included on the A-List. Second-rate films are referred to as “B” movies. Do you want to be part of the “A Team” or the “B Team”? In people’s minds “A” is always superior to “B”.
This has been proven over and over again by “testing” identical products with the A and B labels. The same soda in each cup, the same pasta sauce in each bowl, the same cookie on each plate… "A" always wins. When teaching a Consumer Economics and Marketing course, my class did a taste test with two brands of orange juice.
First, we labeled one juice "A", and it won. Then we tested a second group of subjects where we labeled the winning juice "B", and it lost. By almost the exact same margin. Then, for good measure, we tested a third group where both A and B were the same brand of juice. Guess what? Right you are. A won, being preferred by about 68%. Amazing!
Now I want to assure you, the A/B Ruse can be inflicted upon consumers of many things, not just food and drink. I’ve heard of “blind” tests comparing headache remedies, golf balls, and even seat cushions.
Here’s How To Do It The Right Way
If you truly want to do a scientific test, label the products 36GTD121 and 36SRN276. Now you have a great chance of coming up with a valid result. But why would companies spend good money on a test that isn’t totally rigged in their favor? They wouldn’t.
So, if you’re involved in marketing and you’re seeking a way to differentiate your product from that of your competitor, resist the temptation to “fake it” by reverting to the old A/B Ruse. It’s a game you don’t want to play.
When someone takes a drink and then goes “Ahhh!”
it means the drink is tasty, refreshing and satisfying, right?
Not so fast….read on.
One of the talents good copywriters bring to the table is the ability to add an emotional component to the sales pitch. By inventing some word or phrase that embodies an emotion, a copywriter adds that extra layer of persuasion that might make the difference between an average success and a rip-roaring, break out the champagne and give the copywriter a bonus success.
I’m getting older – and for a guy who offers professional copywriting services, that means many of my examples are from my days as a callow youth. You may, if you’ve reached your fifth decade, remember “Mmm Mmm Good!” (Campbell’s Soup)
What a grand idea. Describing soup as “Mmm Mmm Good!” is far better than any ordinary words the copywriter could have used, like tasty, delicious, satisfying, exciting or exhilarating. That one phrase got a generation or two of kids to like eating soup.
The Definition of “Ahhh”
Most everyone is familiar with the beverage commercial showing a person just after they’ve downed a healthy amount of whatever’s being advertised. He or she looks at the drink and goes “Ahhhh”. Don’t laugh. We all do it. And we all understand it. It means “this is good; this is refreshing; this hit the spot”. Now here’s the little secret. It’s almost impossible not to go “Ahhh!” after taking a big swig of your favorite beverage. Here’s why.
Ahhh Physical Reaction
When you prepare to take in a goodly amount of liquid (water, beer, coffee, soda, etc) you first take in a breath, then you hold that breath and drink. (Think about it…if you tried to breathe while you’re drinking you might just drown.)
When you’ve finished your swallow you, by necessity, release your breath and out comes… “Ahhh!”. You might even emulate commercials and look at the drink in your hand, satisfied.
So whatever great copywriter first thought of this as a way of showing their beverage is so refreshing, tasty, and wonderful, the drinker can’t help but express extreme satisfaction, kudos to him or her. Encourage people to associate your beverage with exactly the quality that moves them to buy. In other words – whatever you associate with “Ahhh” is what you get.
No middleman is necessary to tell you what you’re feeling, so the advertiser can’t be wrong. “Ahhh!”.
Is This Another Marketing Mind Game?
Not really. I want here to draw the distinction between a Marketing Mind Game – designed to deceive, and some very, very good psychological copywriting. In using the word “Ahhh!” to relate to good, satisfying, refreshing, warming, etc. is just the copywriter capturing what consumers actually do – but never really noticed.
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