By Stephen Bean | Jul 08, 2011
Wouldn’t it be awesome if you could develop a highly effective marketing plan and write incredibly powerful breakthrough advertising that worked each and every time? After all, that’s the end we all have in mind when we promote our businesses.
It’s indeed an admirable goal. But do we perhaps, despite our best intentions, have a flawed premise right from the get-go? The error I’m referring to is the fact that – because we often don’t truly understand how our target audiences actually perceive stimuli and hence don’t exactly know what motivates them – our marketing and advertising methodologies are often ineffective and technically (psychologically) inept.
“Shotgun advertising” approaches simply don’t work anymore in today’s culturally and generationally diverse America. Marketing (that is, effective marketing) is far more complex these days.
In prior articles, I’ve suggested that there is a natural disconnect between people, because we all perceive input differently and are motivated by different things. We are all different in terms of genetics, upbringing, cultural background, generationally and other descriptive variables. Therefore, our high degree of natural occurring diversity needs to be seriously considered.
I’ve heard it said that when humans are free to behave as they wish they most often just imitate others. I think that’s largely true when it comes to advertising our laundries. Most laundry owners use relatively the same advertising messages because it’s easier to do so and doesn’t require much creativity. It’s the path of least resistance, which is highly appealing to the human species.
For example, all laundries advertise their vend prices, their hours of operation, their types of machines and the various services they offer. These are mainly features of their business. What is typically missing from these laundromat ads are the perceived benefits of these features from the standpoint of the customers’ perceptions and motivations.
Despite my earlier claims that all people are uniquely different, the one thing they all definitely have in common is that each and every laundry customer and prospective customer actually listen to the same radio station. It’s a fact.
That station is WII-FM, and it stands for “What’s In It For Me.” So, the presentation of perceived benefits will serve to motivate the customer to proceed from awareness to purchasing preference. Therefore, the essence of your message must be clear, constant and absolutely psychologically valid.
The formula is: Fundamentally Valid Psychology + Highly Effective Message Delivery = Highly Effective Salesmanship.
The subjects of perception and motivation are the two most important ingredients in the field of marketing psychology. Perception is essentially a “private process” in that we all perceive and process information differently. And we are all motivated by exactly how we interpret what we perceive, which then affects and becomes intimately involved with motivation.
In addition, motivation can actually come first in the process and influence exactly how advertising is perceived. For example, if you were extremely hungry and there was nowhere else to buy food because you happened to be at an airport, you might tend to ignore the totally prices and pay big bucks for a simple sandwich and a drink. Many businesses, such as hotel and theaters, take advantage of this perceptual/motivational reversal.
To help illustrate how perception works, let me paraphrase a funny take on the concept that I heard a while ago: Three beggars were begging in New York City. The first one wrote “beg” on his broken steel cup, and he took in a total of $10 after one day.
The second beggar wrote “beg.com” on his cup, and after one day, he received thousands of dollars over his website. Someone even suggested he go public and wanted to get him listed on the NASDAQ stock exchange.
The third beggar wrote “e-beg” on his cup. Both IBM and HP sent vice presidents to talk to him about forming a strategic alliance and offered him total technical support, while Larry Ellison claimed on CNBC that “e-beg” would use only Oracle technology, and another high-tech firm announced an “e-beg” matrix, which is a business-to-business industry portal to offer supply chain integration within the begging industry. Lastly, Cisco announced that virtually all “e-beg” traffic would run over only their equipment.
While amusing, this serves to illustrate in an exaggerated manner that perception truly is reality.
There are numerous theories of perception and motivation. The technical details go past the scope of this article. However, what’s important is that you, as a coin laundry operator, factor these disciplines into all of your marketing and specifically your advertising both in-store and external so that it gives you the edge.
I’m going to present a distilled version here to serve your practical purposes so that you can then have better tools to use in your advertising decision making.
In general, perception refers to how and why humans see things the way they do. It’s “private” in the sense that all humans are unique in many ways, and this uniqueness filters and interprets stimuli in self-serving and specific ways. In short, people see the same things differently for the reasons previously mentioned.
When you design advertising messages, factor in the recipient’s frame of reference. Consider cultural, generational, ethnic, geographic and other differences.
It’s been said, “To see a thing uncolored by one’s own personal preferences and desires is to see it in its pristine simplicity.” In other words, it does not matter what you think of the message, only what they – your target audience – think of it.
We all perceive things through our senses, and technically there are 10 of them:
6. Balance and acceleration
8. Kinesthetic sense
10. Other internal senses
Not all of them are relevant to marketing, including advertising, but it’s good to be familiar with them anyway. The most important ones for our purposes are sight (how your laundry looks), hearing (the noise level in your laundry), smell (the freshness of the air in your laundry), touch (the cleanliness of your machines, chairs and folding tables), taste (the appropriateness of the snacks and drinks you offer) and temperature (air conditioning and heating levels).
Motivation, like perception, also is a very interesting subject and is influenced by perception and one’s general states of needs. For example, if we’re hungry, we are motivated to eat. If we’re cold or hot, we are motivated to find more comfortable surroundings. If we are in need of money, we are motivated to work. And, if our clothes are dirty, we are motivated to wash them. The list of human motivation sources goes on and on, consisting of self-actualization needs, self-esteem needs, social needs, safety and security needs, needs for shelter and physiological needs, such as air, food and water.
The question is what are the primary motivators that must be incorporated into coin laundry advertising? Although people have many needs that – when frustrated or lacking – with provide motivation, it’s my general belief that the following five are most significant motivation sources within coin laundry customers:
• Those motivated by fear
• Those motivated by greed
• Those motivated by exclusivity
• Those motivated by guilt
• Those motivated by the need for approval
I’ve mentioned these in previous articles, but they are worthy of reexamination in the present context. Customers can be motivated by the fear of having no clean clothes, by attempting to get the very best price, by using an upscale laundry, by guilt of not washing their clothes often enough and by needing approval from their other household members as to how and how often they do the laundry.
All of the aforementioned motivations should be woven into all of your advertising copy. If so, your message will not fall on deaf ears.
Perception and motivation hot buttons are your key ingredients when you are advertising to customers and prospective customers. So make yourself as knowledgeable on these subjects as possible. Remember, if your customers like your advertising, they will like you. And, if they like you, they will buy what you have to sell.
You’ve no doubt heard of Bruce Lee. He achieved huge international fame in the areas of martial arts and movies. Aside from his fighting prowess, Lee was an intellectual heavyweight as well. He created a world-renowned hybrid combination martial arts system and life philosophy and named it Jeet-Kune-Do.
The principles of his system apply to martial arts and also, I believe, to the art of developing effective marketing. If you learn them and use them, you will greatly improve your advertising messages and achieve a greater market share, because they will help you to develop a respect for human individuality and, therefore, an understanding of perception and motivation.
Some of Bruce Lee’s intrinsic principles are:
• Avoid the superficial
• Penetrate the complex
• Go to the heart of the problem
• Pinpoint key factors
• Use different tools for different situations
• Be like water and move fluidly without hesitation
But Lee’s most penetrating principal is, as he put it: “The perfect way is only difficult for those who pick and choose. Do not like, do not dislike. All then will be clear.” The message here for you is that it’s all about objectively viewing customer perception and motivation.
Just in case you were wondering, Jeet-Kune-Do translates to “way of the intercepting fist.”
The more you understand about how the brain functions the more successful you will be in your business. The human brain is responsible for the paintings of Picasso, the creation of our democratic system of government, the design of advanced jet aircraft, the memory of your first automobile, the way that bag of peanuts tasted to you at the recent ball game you attended… and your customers’ detailed recollections of their last visit to your laundry.
It’s an amazingly diverse organ. Get to know it.