The Power of Framing

In The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, Tom convinces some boys to pay him for the privilege of painting a fence for him. Tom reframed the job from a tedious task to a fun activity. This story supports the incredible influence that framing has on our perceptions and behavior.

Psychologists Kahneman and Tversky conducted a famous study that demonstrates the power of framing. They asked respondents to choose the best outcome to the following scenario. A disease outbreak is expected to kill 600 people. Option A would save 200 people while Option B had a 33.3% chance of saving everyone and 66.6% chance of saving no one. Although the options are mathematically identical, participants overwhelmingly chose option A.

They then reframed the options with a different group. Option A would kill 400 people while Option B had a 33.3% probability of killing no one but 66.6% probability of killing everyone. Participants overwhelmingly chose Option B. (Source

I think Apple is a great example of framing in marketing. When you walk into the store you are surrounded by great minimal design from the transparent glass doors to the clean wooden tables. The store presents the products like they are pieces of art on display in a modern art museum. Everything in the store frames the products to communicate tremendous value. Compare this to a clothing surplus store where items are put on racks with limited organization and the dressing rooms are piled high with unwanted garments. This store communicates cheapness in everything from the customer service to its strip mall location, which is exactly what these shoppers want. They want to get a great deal and perceive the items as less valuable.

A great example of framing is if you ask a Disney park cast member (janitor), what time the park closes. They will allegedly respond “the park is open until 10!”

Additional Resources:

Ad Framing Effects For Consumption Products: An Affect Priming Process Chingching Chang

The Framing Effect: Influence Your Audience By Setting The Context vanseodesign

Key takeaways: Familiarly can can increase likability. Too much familiarity can breed contempt which can lead to diminishing returns on repeat exposures to an advertisement.

Why Negative Ads Work: Framing, Emotions, and Irrational Decisions Nueromarketing

The Price of Framing & Anchoring Why We Reason

Predictably Irrational Framing the Dialogue

Dan Ariely asks, Are we in control of our own decisions? (video)

Flickr Creative Commons photo courtesy of Mark Sabastian

Charles Sipe is a Freelance SEO Specialist. You can reach him at csipe84(at) and follow him on Twitter at @charlessipe.

How Local Reviews Can Save the Mom and Pop Business

One could argue that a negative aspect of the growth of corporations is that when you travel across the country you will likely see the same stores and restaurants. While this does provide a great service for people who prefer safe choices when dining or shopping in a foreign place, it means that there is less variety in the marketplace. We all know exactly what we will get when we visit an Applebees or Starbucks in a different town, but we may be adverse to taking a risk with a restaurant we have never heard of.

That is where online reviews can save the day. Online reviews provide transparency of information and you can instantly make an accurate estimation of an establishment’s quality because you can see how satisfied other people have been in the past. This can significantly mitigate the risk of trying an unknown restaurant and if there are enough reviews you can have a high level of certainty about what you should expect. This information makes people less reliant on brands like Applebees which they have come to like and trust, and puts power back in the hands of mom and pops. You can contribute to saving the mom and pop business by writing local reviews to share your experience whenever you can.

New Marketing Show: This Week in Marketing

I recently learned about the relatively new marketing show This Week in Marketing from the ThisWeekIn network. This episode’s guest is Rand Fishkin from Seattle’s SEOMoz. I’m looking forward to checking out some more episodes.

Interesting stat from the conversation: There are over a billion searches per day on Google and about 85% of search result clicks are for organic results.

How Important Is Knowing Social Media ROI

There is a battle brewing between the sociajasonfallsl media “purists” and the social media realists as to how important measurement of social media ROI is.

This was brought up at the recent Social Media Club Seattle event when social media legend Jason Falls took the stage to argue for social media pragmatism. He made a lot of good points like how at the end of the day business success depends on whether you sell more stuff (or services). He quoted an apartment building owner who says that if a social media tactic is not resulting in new customers then he stops doing it. Falls argues that there is nothing wrong with putting call to actions in your social media, like a big call to action banner on your blog that says “Now Accepting New Clients” or a Twitter link to your product page or landing page.

But is this short-sighted thinking when it comes to a marketing medium that revolves around relationships and being social?

On the other side of the fence are thought-leaders like David Meerman Scott who argues that no one ever asks what the ROI is of a front desk receptionist or the people who do lawn maintenance in front of your office.

Ian Lurie, from Seattle-based Portent Interactive writes the following in the book Age of Conversation 3: “Did you consider ROI before you decided to be courteous to customers?…Ponder the ROI of answering the phone?…You did it because you just knew it made sense.”

Albert Einstein makes a good point when he said “Not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted.”

If Zappos based all decisions on ROI, they might not offer free return shipping, or surprise overnight shipping, or superior 24/7 customer service. These are all expensive activities that are extremely difficult to measure in their direct relationship to sales. However, Zappos has a long term approach and CEO Tony Hsieh knew that having the very best service and wowing your customers was a competitive advantage. An advantage that led to their company surpassing $1 billion in sales.

I think that it makes good sense that talking to your customers, listening to their feedback, and other benefits of social media will help your business in the long run. However, if you need to support your marketing activities with data, there are definitely ways to do this like measuring sales from a call to action like Jason Falls recommends.

Here is Jason Falls’ great presentation at SMC Seattle:

Photo credit: Paul Gillin

This post has been republished from Sparkplug Digital.

Marketing Ideas from Delivering Happiness

In Delivering Happiness, Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh describes his journey in building Link Exchange which sold for about $200 million and Zappos which was recently acquired by Amazon for about $1 billion. The book is written like an autobiography and is very honest and open. You learn some interesting things about him like how he quit his first job at Oracle basically because he was bored and walked away from 20% of his $40 million share of Link Exchange because he didn’t want to stay at the company for another year. He also shares the lessons he learned and insights into his successful approach. Here are some of the marketing lessons I took away from reading Delivering Happiness:

Focus on existing customers
Early in Zappos history, the company struggled to survive and did not have money for a marketing budget. So out of necessity they focused on existing customers. This strategy worked very well as the company grew to over a billion dollars on sales, mostly from repeat purchases. According to the book Flip the Funnel by Joseph Jaffe, 75% of Zappos’ sales comes from repeat customers.

Get PR by continuously wowing your customer

Zappos gets a tremendous amount of good PR, but Hsieh says that they did not actively try to push their messages into the news. Often someone would report on something that Zappos had been doing for years and it would spread like wildfire. By doing remarkable things for their customers, employees and even vendors they received a ton of attention, even though some members of board sometimes referred to Zappos’ unique approaches as “Tony’s social experiments”.

Surprise your customer by overdelivering

One way that Zappos provides exceptional service is by providing customers with surprise overnight shipping. Some customers’ orders are delivered to their doorstep the very next morning which provides a remarkable experience worth sharing.

Create a great customer experience
Early on, Zappos made most of its profits from drop shipping products to customers, however this could result is dissatisfaction if an item on the website was not available from the manufacturer at a given time. So Zappos made the decision to halt its profitable drop shipping segment and only sell items that are held in their warehouse.

Create a great culture

Working at a call center is not typically a glamorous job and as a result many companies have disengaged employees who are directly interacting with customers. Zappos created a great culture that focuses on the people of the company, which has helped create highly engaged customer service agents that provide superior service to customers. Employees are encouraged to take company sponsored courses so that they can grow and get promoted, and Zappos consistently demonstrates that they care about their employees by paying for a funeral reception or giving every employee a Kindle when they sold to Amazon.

Ultimately people want to be happy

Tony is interested in the science of happiness and integrates findings from the field of positive psychology into his business. By providing employees with a greater purpose and opportunities for growth rather than focus on monetary rewards, Zappos employees are highly motivated. He also understands that experiences contribute to happiness more than material possession, thus the focus on customer experience. Towards the end of the book he asks the simple but often overlooked question “what is your goal in life?”. If you follow up that question with a lot of “whys”, you will eventually get to the answer that is essentially “because I want to be happy”. This revelation has lead to the latest iteration of Zappos’ brand promise, “delivering happiness”.

This article has been republished from Cool Marketing Stuff.

Just Received A Copy of Age of Conversation 3


Just received a copy of Age of Conversation 3: It’s Time to Get Busy. I wrote a page from the last 2 editions of Age of Conversation. This year my chapter is titled “How to Convince Your Boss on the Importance of Blogs”.

Check out Age of Conversation 3 at Amazon. There are about 200 authors and business leaders who contributed including Joseph Jaffe, Drew McLellan, Beth Harte, Becky Carroll (from, Joe Pulizzi, Dan Schawbel, and many more.

Proceeds from the book are donated to charity.

Top 9 Marketing Books of 2009

inbound marketing bookHere are the best marketing books for 2009 listed in order of awesomeness:

1. Inbound Marketing: Get Found Using Google, Social Media, and Blogs (The New Rules of Social Media) by Brian Halligan and Dharmesh Shah

Why and how to market your business online through inbound marketing rather than outbound marketing.

2.Free: The Future of a Radical Price by Chris Anderson

Can free be an effective marketing strategy? Anderson explores the history of free and how companies are using free as a winning strategy.

3. World Wide Rave: Creating Triggers that Get Millions of People to Spread Your Ideas and Share Your Stories by David Meerman Scott

Makes a good argument for using social media and online marketing to market your business more effectively. Tons of excellent case studies to support the new methods of marketing.

4. The Next Evolution of Marketing: Connect with Your Customers by Marketing with Meaning by Bob Gilbreath

Bob describes a new approach to marketing in which the marketing itself is valuable. Lots of great examples of companies doing meaningful marketing.

5. Trust Agents: Using the Web to Build Influence, Improve Reputation, and Earn Trust by Chris Brogan and Julien Smith

Excellent book about how to use social media to build relationships with your customers and colleagues. Has been called the “How to Win Friends and Influence People” of social media.

6. Web Analytics 2.0: The Art of Online Accountability and Science of Customer Centricity by Avinash Kaushik

The followup to the hit Web Analytics An Hour A Day. Kaushik is the thought leader on measuring online marketing and donates all of his proceeds from the books to charity.

7. Crush It!: Why NOW Is the Time to Cash In on Your Passion by Gary Vaynerchuk

Gary Vee is one of the most successful personal brands on the web and is one of the best success stories for social media marketing. His book is more motivational than tactical but there are a lot of great ideas too.

8. Linchpin: Are You Indispensable? by Seth Godin

Linchpin describes how to thrive in the new economy that has replaced the broken factory-work model. It is more of a success book, but there are great takeaways that can help you in your marketing or business career.

9. Yes!: 50 Scientifically Proven Ways to Be Persuasive by Noah J. Goldstein, Steve J. Martin, and Robert B. Cialdini

Lots of interesting studies and examples that describe ways to be more persuasive while providing insights into the way we think.

Other books of note:

Twitter Power: How to Dominate Your Market One Tweet at a Time

Marketing 2.0: Bridging the Gap between Seller and Buyer through Social Media Marketing

The Whuffie Factor: Using the Power of Social Networks to Build Your Business

The Social Media Marketing Book

Six Pixels of Separation: Everyone Is Connected. Connect Your Business to Everyone.

Twitterville: How Businesses Can Thrive in the New Global Neighborhoods

Have any book recommendations to add to the list? Leave a comment!

Also see: Top 10 Marketing Books of 2008

This article has been republished from Cool Marketing Stuff

How To Attend A Conference Virtually

I attended the Twitter 140 conference in Seattle today…well sort of. I wasn’t physically at the conference but I watched most of the speakers’ presentations via UStream.

How to Attend A Conference Virtually

If a conference broadcasts a live stream via UStream, it’s almost as good as being at the conference (or even better). You can comment on what the speakers are talking about and see what others are saying via Twitter in real time (which UStream integrates really well). If you want to network, you can interact with others on Twitter who are using the conference Twitter tag (#140tc) or you can attend the networking event after the conference or the after party which are often free.

I wonder if there is a website that tells you about all the upcoming conferences that will be broadcasting on UStream.

You can also view past presentations at conferences by searching UStream as well as YouTube and Vimeo or Google Video. These presentations are a great source for learning although it can be hard to sort through lots of content to find the cream at the top. I have a set of marketing talks at and Marketing Over Coffee has a great resource called Conference in a Box which is a set of good marketing presentations.

Ted is another great conference that puts up videos of most – if not all – of their presentations.

Photo by / CC BY 2.0

Marketing Lessons From Crush It! by Gary Vaynerchuk

Crush ItCrush It! by Gary Vaynerchuk is a business book about how to be successful from Gary’s perspective. Gary Vaynerchuk has built one of the strongest personal brands on the internet with his successful Wine Library TV video show and a Twitter following of over 800,000 (@garyvee). If you haven’t heard Gary Vaynerchuk speak, prepare to be taken aback by his unmatched enthusiasm and passion. Primarily through social media he has been able to build the Wine Library brand from about a 5 million dollar business to a 50 million dollar business and is one of the truly amazing social media success stories.

Gary Vee’s 3 Secrets to Success

So what can marketers learn from reading Crush It? Well firstly, you will probably be motivated to work harder at achieving your goals in life. His “secrets” to success that he shares are to love your family, work super hard, and follow your passion. This seems to go against some of the thinking behind previous best seller The 4 Hour Work Week, because Gary suggests that you should find what your passion is and then work until “your eyes bleed”. While this may not work for everyone, he does make a good point that working super hard and following your passion complement each other because if you are doing what you love, it shouldn’t feel like work and you will be able to easily work 80 hours a week. However, this somewhat contradicts his first secret of loving your family first because it may be hard to spend time with them if you are spending 80 hours a week working. He also says that the number one business strategy is to care. He basically says that if you care, everything else will work out.

How to Build Community

Gary explains that building community is the most important part and takes a lot of work. Gary has built a tremendous community around Wine Library TV which has a Facebook fanpage with over 27,000 fans. He suggests that you should work really hard to have conversations with as many people as possible. He says that he answers every email and he seems to reply to most comments on Twitter (I know this to be true because he answered my email here). Could the CEO of a company like Ford or Microsoft do this? I’m not sure, but I think they should try. If you have a smaller business there is no reason that you shouldn’t be deeply engaged with people on Twitter or Facebook. Part of Gary’s success I think is also his character. He’s so energetic that I think people are drawn to him, although this type of energy is pretty hard to replicate. He also takes the approach of “What can I do for you?”. I think this is a great approach for building community because people will appreciate your willingness to give.

New Opportunities on the Web

When Gary Vee was on the This Week in Startups podcast with Jason Calicanis, he discussed the incredible opportunity that the web presents, saying that it’s not even the first inning of the game. In the book he describes the opportunities for people to cash in on their passion by creating a blog or podcast and building an audience around it. He suggests that in the future, advertisers will want to follow the audiences to these niche sites or podcasts that are focused on a specific vertical like gardening or poker. If you don’t like your current job, why not build a media business around something you love. A good piece of advice that I like is “It is never a bad time to start a business unless it is a mediocre business”.

I recommend reading Crush It! The audio version is even better because it is read by Gary V. and he adds additional side comments while reading it. (If you go to you can get 2 free audio books for free).

This article has been republished from Cool Marketing Stuff

Top 7 Things Marketers Can Learn from Apple

Whether you love them or hate them, Apple has been one of the greatest business success stories of our time and it can be argued that most of their success is attributed to their marketing. Here are the top 7 things marketers can learn from Apple.

Create suspense around new products

Apple is known for its obsessive secrecy of new products which helps build anticipation and excitement for new releases. There is such a strong thirst for information about what’s next that fans of the brand will create and visit rumor sites. Creating a sense of scarcity around your new product’s information can increase demand for that information.

Draw a crowd

Apple clearly communicates a release date for new products so that it draws long lines of fans eager to be first to get the new product. Apple takes advantage of the popularity effect that influences people to mirror the behavior of the crowd. There is also a full restaurant effect which implicitly communicates that if people are lining up to buy – then it must be good.

Create something remarkable

Apple’s remarkable products encourage people to tell their friends and family about why they are excited about their purchase. Excited friends will influence others who will want to also feel the same excitement themselves.

Simplify the marketing message

When portable MP3 players first came out it was a revolutionary technology that was completely different from prior technology. So a clever person from Apple came up with the tagline “1,000 songs in your pocket” to explain the value proposition in an extremely simple way.

Compare yourself to the competition

By directly comparing itself with the competition in its advertising, Apple was able to effectively communicate the main differences between a Mac and a PC. Before their Mac vs PC ads, the average consumer probably couldn’t explain why a Mac was different. Now many more consumers could probably name some key differences.

Take Advantage of the Halo Effect
Apple’s great success in selling iPods created a halo around its other products like laptops and desktops, helping Apple gain significant market share.
See Creating The Brand Halo Effect by Branding Strategy Insider

Create a great experience around a product

From the time a customer walks into an Apple retail store to opening the product packaging to Genius Bar support, every step is a planned experience that aligns closely with the brand of elegant design and simplicity.

What other lessons can marketers learn from Apple?

Also see the Marketing Apple blog by Steve Chazin

Article republished from Cool Marketing Stuff.