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┬áLink to Nancy Harhut’s book: Using Behavioral Science in Marketing

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Show Transcript

You’ve heard about winning friends and influencing people?

Well, I can’t help you with the friends thing, but today we’re diving into the natural triggers that will make your customers want to buy from you on this week’s episode of the LinkedIn Ads Show.

Welcome to the LinkedIn Ads Show. Here’s your host, AJ Wilcox.

Hey there, LinkedIn ads fanatics. As he said, I’m AJ Wilcox. I’m host of this weekly podcast, the LinkedIn ads show, and I’m thrilled to welcome you to the show for advanced B2B marketers who want to evolve towards true LinkedIn ads pro status. I’m particularly excited about our episode today, because we get to learn from one of the top minds on influencing behavior, and that’s really our job as marketers, is to influence behavior in, of course, a responsible and helpful way. These principles aren’t just going to apply to your LinkedIn marketing, but all of your channels and your whole marketing approach.
Our guest is Nancy Harhut. She’s someone I’ve learned from now for years. She’s one of the most highly sought after speakers for digital marketing events, and I was a follower of hers long before I would have considered us friends. So I can’t wait to have her unleash all of her gold nuggets on you. But I have to because of the news section. So first off in the news, Inside of our LinkedIn Ads fanatics community, which I would highly recommend all of you come join, Jay Raffel, one of our super fanatics, he brought up the new conversions API on LinkedIn, which is something that I think is really, really exciting. This was in beta, but it looks like it’s now rolled out to all accounts now generally. And the gist is, if you’re just using normal conversion tracking, you’re relying on the presence of a cookie on your user’s machine, and then LinkedIn being able to, through the insight tag, Read the contents of that cookie and radio back home. But we know that because of all of the privacy concerns and especially the cookie apocalypse that we talked about in episode 70, go listen to that.
If you’re not sure what we’re talking about, and because of all of this, cookies are really under attack and they’re not going to be the bulletproof way of tracking an attribution that they once were . So what others have done, and I think Facebook was actually first to this one, is they created what’s called server side tracking. And what this does is it tracks based off of data that you get that is not relying on a cookie in the browser. And across all the digital marketing platforms, it’s called CAPI, C A P I, or the Conversions API. I’m about to go through the process of setting it up using Google Tag Manager, because it seems like it’s going to be the easiest. It doesn’t require a third party paid platforms, but it’s important to understand that the conversions API can sync with your CRM or marketing automation system, or really about anything else through Zapier.
In the show notes, I’ve linked to LinkedIn’s setup guide on how to set up CAPI, but I’ll let you know as I run through it, uh, if I have any snags, how performance looks, and all that. One thing I really like about the way that LinkedIn rolled out CAPI, If you have the same conversion set up inside of campaign manager, as you do through the conversions API, LinkedIn’s automatically going to de duplicate these, so it’s really nice, you can have multiple sources of truth, all feeding to really one source of truth. . Please let me know your results and successes, and I’d absolutely love to share them here on the show as well.
Another awesome piece of news, Ruaidhri Nolan from the Superfanatics, he also brought up a really exciting beta test that’s going on right now. I don’t know what LinkedIn’s calling it, but it’s where users of LinkedIn sales navigator can push audiences right from sales navigator into LinkedIn’s campaign manager as an audience. And we can advertise to that.
Now, if you’ve been listening for a long time, this may sound really familiar, and that’s because LinkedIn had a product like this that was in beta years ago. Internally, they called it Project Stereo, and it was really cool, I think they only had about 20 beta participants, but we happened to get two of our clients into it, and it was really cool, it was really successful, . But then in early 2020, LinkedIn decided to shut the whole Project Stereo down. And so all of us who were having success with it, we were all tossed out to the curb.
And then I was at the inbound conference when LinkedIn had a big presence, and they actually announced that this was a beta that was coming, and to signal to them if you wanted to be, uh, included in the beta. And there’s only a hundred companies included in this beta, is what it sounds like. This time around, my clients aren’t included in them, at least as far as I know, so I’m going to rely on you guys. Let me know if you’re part of the beta, how it works, how it’s set up, all of that good stuff.
I’ve got a request for you. I want you to send a voice recording of you sharing your experience with a feature of LinkedIn Ads that we’ve talked about here on the show, or a reaction to something that we’ve talked about, or even a review of the show. You can email me the audio file at Or you can message it to me on LinkedIn. Really, however you get this thing to me, I’d love to play it on the show and include you. And of course, I’m happy to keep you anonymous or shout you out.

All right, with that being said, let’s hit it. Let’s get right to the interview with Nancy Harhut.

Nancy Harhut, I’m so excited to have you here on the podcast. Thanks for joining us.

Oh my God. AJ, I am so excited to be here. Thank you so much for having me.

Well, like I talked about in the intro, the last four speaking engagements or conferences I’ve been at, I’ve gotten to hear you speak. You know, you and I, we go a ways back, like we’re, we’re already friends, but I get something out of it every single time I hear you talk. I, I feel like in marketing, we have this, you know, marketers were expected to be of multiple disciplines I think a really good marketer, you have to be equal parts creative and technical and analytical and, you know, and now like we also have to be psychologists and I don’t think most marketers are trained in a way that we know how to be all of these.

So what I’m really excited about is to have you on, to talk really about the psychology, the persuasion, the getting people to take action, that I just have taken pages and pages of notes hearing you speak.

Well, that’s very kind of you to say. And I, and I want to return the favor because when I sit in on your sessions, I take pages and pages of notes. And I mean, you, you are the guy. And, and speaking of, you know, like we’re kind of tracking at the different conferences, but I was out for my exercise walk yesterday and I was listening to a Michelle Raymond Podcast.

And does she not bring up your name? I’m like, Oh my God, I’m thinking to myself, that’s too funny because tomorrow I’m going to be talking to him. So we got this mutual admiration society going on here, but I think that your content is so incredibly valuable and I really appreciate everything you do.

And I love it whenever I see that you’re going to be at the same place I am so that, you know, we can catch up and, and, and share ideas. And I’m glad, thank you very much for saying that, you pick up little things when you hear me speak. That’s


Oh yeah, when I hear other people speak, I pick up little things, but when I hear you speak, I pick up big things. And of course, you mentioned Michelle J. Raymond. Her show is called the B2B for Growth Show.. She’s on like episode 100. So anyone who’s not listening to that, be sure to listen to her.

If you’re interested in LinkedIn marketing at all, she’s a great one to listen to. So thanks for bringing her up.

Oh my gosh, you said the exact same thing about you in the podcast episode I was listening to, so there you go.

It’s, it’s a nice little, little uncompensated partnership there. So first off, before we get started. I think this is helpful to, to understand about your background. Tell us how you got into this. Tell us about the book you wrote.

Sure. So how do I get into it? So I studied journalism, actually, in school, and decided I would never really be a good journalist, so I found my way into advertising and marketing, and that was great that I found a home there. And, as I continued to, you know, work in the career you know, I’d read this and that and the other thing, and one day I found this book by Dr. Robert Cialdini, and it was called Influence the Psychology of Persuasion. And I was like, oh my gosh, this is phenomenal, and as I’m reading it, I’m Taking margin notes and underlining things. And, I’m thinking about the, you know, the current client work that I was working on. You know, different campaigns that I was doing for my clients and the different challenges that they were facing and what they were trying to accomplish. And as I continue to read the book, I’m like, oh, this might work for this client, or that might work for that client or, ooh, I should try this. So I started to incorporate the behavioral science. Tactics and principles into the work that I was doing. So I would always have the, the best practices for the particular channel in mind, but then I would overlay the behavioral science and sure enough, I began to see better and better results and I thought, ah, we’re onto something here. So, I start to talk to my clients about it. I said, okay, this is why I’ve done what I’ve done, and I’d point to a particular piece of research that I read about or a study that I’d, seen. And I said, that’s why, you know, I’m doing it this way. That’s why I chose to phrase this this way, or write this this way, or I chose this particular image. And they were like, wow, this is really interesting because, you know, so often you hire, a creative person or a freelancer or an agency, and you always wonder, are they, you know, doing what they think is fun and beautiful and creative. Or do they have my best interest at heart? Are they thinking about my business? Are they thinking about what my goals are? And so when you have someone standing in front of you who doesn’t say, well, I like the color red, or doesn’t that sound like a, you know, a lovely turn of phrase and instead says, well, there was this Yale study, or there was this research that came out of Harvard.
It’s like, wow, they’re, you know, they’re really thinking about how to move my business forward. So I started to talk to my clients about that, and they were loving it, and they just wanted more and more of it. So that’s what I started doing. Ultimately got to the point where I, co-founded an agency, HPT Marketing, which is, you know where I am right now. And we do this work for our clients. We take the best practices in marketing, we overlay the behavioral science, and, we increase the likelihood that their clients will do what, the, what our client wants them to, or that their prospects will do what our client wants them to do. And somewhere along this line, maybe two, three years ago, I was scheduled to speak at South by Southwest, but the pandemic intervened.
There was no South by Southwest that year. But Kogan Page, which is a publisher that’s based in London with offices, you know, in, in many different places, including New York, reached out to me and said, Would you be interested in writing a book about this topic that you were going to cover at the conference, which is now canceled? I was like, Oh my God, I never really thought about writing a book, but now that you mention it, yes, I could very, very well be interested in writing one. So they had me write up a little proposal. Which I sent in and, they green lighted it and I wrote the book using behavioral science and marketing. Drive customer action and loyalty by prompting instinctive responses and, here we are today. So, this way I can share what I know, not with others. Just my clients that I’m working with, but anybody out there in the marketing world or anyone out there who has marketing on their to do list, they can tap into these proven tactics that I have found work for my clients. They can take these proven tactics and apply them to what they’re doing and see some of the same results. So, that’s how we got to the book and here we are

Perfect. So down in the show notes below, by the time we publish, we’ll have a link to the book. So anyone who is interested in diving a lot deeper than we’re able to go today. Please go, go purchase the book, and support Nancy. She’s amazing, obviously, which you’re about to find out how, So obviously it’s a no brainer.Like we’re, we know we’re LinkedIn marketers. We’re trying to get people to take the, the purchase decisions, the , the bait as it were for our marketing. So tell us about how you influence behavior. Are there certain things that we can say? Are there certain things we can show or highlight?

Absolutely. So, so I’m all about behavioral science. I probably step back a second and just say behavioral science is really the study of how people behave. It’s very simple, right? But, but more specifically, it’s, it’s why people do what they do and how they make the decisions they make. And what behavioral scientists have found is that very often humans aren’t making these well thought out, well considered decisions. You know, they’re, they’re not. Making decisions the way we marketers like to think they do, right? We put the information in front of them and we think that they’re making these really good decisions. They’re weighing the pros and cons. They’re, they’re taking in the data and they’re like, okay, this makes sense. And sometimes that happens, but very often it doesn’t. Very often people are cruising along on autopilot. There’s a lot going on and, and they’re. Not, you know, completely engaged. They’re, they’re, they’re just trying to get through life exerting as little mental energy as possible. And over the ages, humans have actually developed certain decision making shortcuts, certain automatic hardwired behaviors, and we just default to them. We cruise along on autopilot, we encounter a certain situation, and we just default to these hardwired behaviors, giving the particular decision little, if any, thought. And what it allows us to do is keep moving forward, expending as little mental energy as possible and still being, you know, functional. We’re still making, making if you will, decisions even though we’re really defaulting to them and so what behavioral scientists have found is not only do humans rely on these decision making shortcuts but they can be prompted or triggered and that’s the beauty for marketers because if we get out ahead of this.
If we know that if we use a certain word or a certain phrase or we show a certain image, that that is very likely to produce a particular response. Then all we have to do is think about, well, all right, what is the response I’m trying to produce? And then we start to work backward. Well, all right, if I want someone to do Y, and I know that if I show them X, they’ll do Y, or if I say X, they’ll more likely, you know, respond with Y, then I’m all over it. Let’s get that X in there, you know, let’s make sure I have that in my headliner. I have the right, image in, in my ad. So, you know, we talk about words and it’s funny, but what words mean a lot, you know, we, you know, if you play Scrabble, some words are worth more than others. It’s the same thing in marketing. You know, you might have two words that essentially mean the same thing that convey the same information, but There are different responses that people have to these words. For example, Jay Schwedelson, I, I don’t know if you’re familiar with Jay or not, he’s another one, whose, conference presentations I really enjoy, but he found that if you use the word free versus the word complimentary in a subject line, you get more opens. Now they both mean the same thing, free, complimentary. But, free is the thing that really people gravitate to, and there’s a behavioral scientist named Dan Ariely, and he wrote a book called Predictably Irrational. And in that book, he has an entire chapter that’s devoted to the pulling power of the word free. And what he found was when we see the word free, it produces such an emotional charge in us that we overvalue the thing that’s free. When we see complimentary, we understand what it means, but we don’t, we don’t have that emotional charge that we get when we see the word free. And what Ariely and other behavioral scientists have found through their research is that, you know, we’ll grab something for free.That maybe we wouldn’t bother with, even if it was only a couple of cents, right? If it was a very small cost, we still might not be interested, but if it’s free, we have to have it. So I would say to your listeners, when you can use the word free. Get that word in there because the, you know, the human eye goes to it.It’s one of those, what I call eye magnet words. It’s proven to jump off the screen and attract the eye like a magnet. And it produces this, this incredible emotional charge where we’re just drawn to things that are free. And, you know, sometimes marketers say, well, I don’t want to, I don’t want to devalue my product or service by making it free. And that’s, you know, that is legitimate. We don’t want to do that, but there are things that we can do. We can give free trials. We can give free upgrades. We can give free, you know, information that, you know, or free add ons that, that work in concert with the product that we’re offering so that, it doesn’t devalue the actual product, but it adds value to it. You know, it’s like, okay, I’m going to get the free trial and then I can upgrade. Or I’m going to get this free, add on that makes the particular thing that I’m about to buy that much more effective. Or I’m going to get this, you know, free information about it, but we’d never call it free information.
We would call it a Starter Kit, or a Cheat Sheet, or a Best Practices, you know, free information is like meh, but, you know, if we make it sound a little bit more valuable, it’s so much better, you know, so that the Starter Kit, the information packet, or the guide, just makes it seem a little bit more robust, but we want to use the word free. As we’re talking about words to use, can I give you another one?

Yeah, I’m fascinated by concept of eye magnet words. Like, lay it on me. Tell all the words that we should be using in our, headlines and intro text.

Sure. So, so free is definitely one of them. Another one is, the word new, or really any of the family of new words. New, now, introducing, announcing, finally, soon. And, and the reason for this is humans are hardwired to seek out novelty. We, we, we want novelty. Things that are new and novel because when we find something that we think is new, it releases dopamine and dopamine among other things as a feel-good chemical. So basically it activates the reward center in our brain when we’re. When we’re encountering something that we think is new, we get this rush of dopamine. It feels really good, and so as a result, we’re kind of constantly looking for that next new thing. We want that next hit of dopamine, so we’re always looking for the, the next new thing because when we find something that we think is new, we get that rush of dopamine.And so when we’re in a position as marketers to introduce something or announce something or to say it’s new or now, you know, available. Or if we can use the word finally, which suggests, you know, pent up demand or, you know, something new that wasn’t previously available, the word soon, because that kind of builds the anticipation, but it also means you’re not going to have to wait forever. It’s, it’s going to be, you know, shortly that you’re going to get something new. You’re going to be able to get your hands on something new. So new, now, introducing, announcing, finally, soon. And if you’re looking for a verb, AJ, I always say to my clients, a lot of times we say learn. We just default to it. Learn more. Learn about this. You know, click here to learn how you can, you know, and there’s nothing inherently wrong with that, except learning sounds like work and we want to make things as easy as possible for our prospects and for our clients, right? We want that, you know, we want there to be the path of least resistance. We want them to do what we want them to do, and we want there to be as little friction as possible. We want there to be as few roadblocks as possible. We want to make it really easy. And so when you use the word learn. It can kind of sound like work. Like, you’re back in, I don’t know, second grade math class, you really want to be outside at recess, but you’re stuck in the classroom, you know, learning, you know, your, your math work, you know, your equations or whatever you’re learning in second, second grade. I don’t recall, but it’s work. But if you say to someone, discover, here’s how you can discover more, discover why this would be good for you, discover why so many, you know, other marketers are using this particular software as a service. Suddenly, it’s like, news. Oh, I’m going to discover something. You know, discover, find out. You know, that sounds like fun. That sounds like you’re going to get that rush of dopamine. It doesn’t sound like learning, which sounds like work. So, I always say to my clients, if you have the opportunity to use the word discover, and you won’t always, but when you do have the opportunity, discover, find out. That’s what I do. You know, highlight that word, because that, it’s like, ooh, that’s going to be news, that’s going to be nice. So, we’ve talked about free, we’ve talked about words surrounding novelty, . Another great word is the word secret, or secrets. And the reason for this is Behavioral scientists have found that people are more persuaded by information they believe is not widely available.
So people are more persuaded by information they believe is not widely available. So if we have the secret to something, or if we can offer an inside peek, or a behind the scenes look, or information the industry doesn’t want you to know, information our competitors don’t want you to know, the real story of the truth behind, you know, how this is really done. Anything like that. That suggests you’ve got information that’s not widely available. People are going to be interested, right? And secret is just one way to do it, but I listed all of those others. They all get across that same idea that there’s something that people can get from you that they can’t get down the street, that they can’t get when they click to the next page, you know? It’s, it’s you that’s got it and that’s what pulls people in. We’re actually more, you know, more motivated to get the information and we’re more persuaded by it. When we think it’s not widely available. So we’ve talked about free and novelty, and we’ve talked about secrets. I give you one last one if you’re interested.

Please. Yeah. Very interested. This is amazing

So as we’re, as we’re talking about eye magnet words, another one that I like to emphasize to my clients is the word you. And the reason for that is, we’re all more interested in ourselves than in anyone else. So, if we see our own name, for example, our eyes go right to it. If we’re, you know, at a cocktail party and we’re chatting with somebody and behind us is nothing but background noise until someone back there mentions our name and then our ears perk right up. Right? That’s called the cocktail party effect where we’re totally focused on the person in front of us until we hear our name. And it’s the same thing with our eyes. As we’re skimming and scanning, if we see our names, our eye goes right to it. Sometimes we, we don’t have a, you know, an opportunity to use somebody’s name, so the best substitute is the word you. Because as we’re skimming and scanning, you is another one of those eye magnet words that will leap off the screen and attract the human eye like a magnet. Because again, we’re more interested in ourselves than in anyone else. So I say to my clients, Try to downplay your use of I, we, our, our product, our company, you know, product name, company name. You know, it’s a little hard because in marketing, you know, we believe in our companies, we believe in our products and services, we think they’re wonderful, we want to tell everyone about them.
So it comes from a good place when, when we have a tendency to use I, we, our, You know, product name, company name, but we have to remember that those are not words that are going to leap off the screen and attract the eye the way the word you will. So what we want to do is rephrase things. So instead of saying, you know, I think this is really good for you, you know, we could say something like, you’ll be really interested in this, you know, our company is the leader in, you know, maybe what we want to say is, You’ll be interested in products that come from a market tested leader, but always try to, you know, to get that word you in there, because as people are skimming and scanning, that’s the word that jumps out, and if you can lead with it, so much the better, because that’s a word, again, that, you know, that, that people focus on. They’re more interested in themselves, Then in anyone else, we’re more interested in and influenced by things that remind us of ourselves. So that word you is, is incredibly powerful. It’s three letters, but it, it packs a lot of punch.

Someone I greatly respect in the LinkedIn ad space. His name is JD Garcia. He talked about a little hack. He’s shared this a few times on his LinkedIn posts. Where if he has a large list of people that he’s uploaded into LinkedIn for targeting, he’ll take all of the common names, like, take everyone whose name is John and run them as a separate list so that he can use the name John in the ad. And of course, people are thinking like, Oh this is so creepy. Like, how do they, how do they know me? But it’s because it’s a large list. I haven’t had a chance to try that out, but I think that totally hearkens back to your point of people love their name.

It’s incredible.

Out of curiosity, how does novelty play in to these words? And what I mean by that is, so let’s say, all of our listeners go and immediately stop saying learn more and they start saying discover. When everyone is saying discover, when everyone is using an iMagnet word, does it become deleterious? Does, do people start to, ignore some of the things that used to be an eye magnet?

Sure. That’s, that’s a great question. And you know, I think the answer comes back to something we were talking about earlier, which is people are cruising along on autopilot and they don’t always make decisions the way we marketers think they do or would like them to. So we like to think that we ourselves are, you know, we’re smart and we’re in the moment and we’re. Making really wise, well thought out, well considered decisions, but the truth is science has shown that very often we’re not, you know, sometimes we are, sometimes we’re really, you know, doing that pros and cons list and, you know, weighing the, you know, the benefits and, you know. But very often we’re just cruising along because it helps us save mental energy. So, the short answer is, no, we can still, we can still use these words. They’re still very effective because people are cruising along on autopilot. They’re not really kind of stopping to think, oh, wait a minute. Everyone’s using that word. So I’m not gonna, I’m not gonna respond to this, you know.
Now, there will be times when people are totally focused. They’re in the moment. And so maybe they’ll be like, hmm, that’s interesting, you know. I just heard this from someone else. I just heard this from someone else. So, maybe I’m going to be a little bit more skeptical. And, and we do see that sometimes with certain behavioral science principles, you know, they’ll, kind of, rise in, you know, in use and then they’ll start to fall off a little bit and then they’ll come back up again, you know, just because if so many people start to use them, marketers maybe want to back off a little and say, oh, okay, I’m, I’m starting to sound a little too similar to the competition.
But, but the truth is very often, You know, we give our customers and prospects a little bit more credit than they deserve because they’re not paying that much attention. They’re, you know, they’re scattered. They’ve got a lot of things on their mind and they are cruising along on autopilot. So, I think the bigger risk, AJ, is to misuse some of these words.
So we know that discover works well. We know that new and introducing work well. You know, to call something new when it’s not new, that’s, you know, that we’re going to start to run into trouble with because we’re going to erode trust, right? Somebody’s like, Oh, wow, they’ve got, you know, they’ve got a new. ProductOuter, they’ve got a new way to use this particular service. You know, and they, you know, okay, great click here. And then they’re like, you know, it’s, that’s the same thing. They, they didn’t really change anything at all, or this isn’t really new. I, you know, I, I read about this last month or last year.

That’s where we run into trouble. So the temptation is like, okay, we know these words work. Let’s use them. You know, I’m going to tell you the secret to something. And all these people are going to say, great, let me find out. And then it turns out that you’re not really revealing something that nobody knows. You’re not really revealing anything that. That people can’t find everywhere else, that’s when people start to really have that reaction, and they’re like, this doesn’t feel right. I, you know, clickbait, or, or I was misled, or I was, you know, lied to, or I just don’t, you know, I don’t trust this marketer anymore. And that’s really the, the bigger thing we have to be careful about. It’s a little bit less about, you know, overuse because, you know, our, our brains are hardwired a certain way. We’re cruising along on autopilot. We’re just responding. But it, it’s more the idea of disappointing people or making them feel that, we’re a little less than, respectful and responsible when we’re communicating with them, when we’re marketing to them.That’s what can get us.

Oh, beautiful.

Okay, here’s a quick sponsor break, and then we’ll dive back into all that gold that Nancy Harhut’s dropping.

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Okay, let’s jump back into this behavioral science gold.

Okay, so I think we’ve hit the, the iMagnet words really nicely. One principle that we, and it’s quite honestly, it’s because of what I’ve heard from you in the past, we really push our clients heavily towards this concept of social proof. How do you view social proof in, in marketing and advertising?

So, yeah, so social proof is, is very powerful and I’m sure your listeners are, are familiar with it. It’s this idea that when we’re not entirely sure what to do, we look around, we see what other people are doing and we, we follow their lead. So it’s funny, you know, we just talked about the, the pulling power of the word you. And, and that stands. We, we know that that’s true, but now we’re going to be talking about what other people do. But the reason we want to look at what other people do is because it’s connected to me, right? If I am not certain of what to do, I’m like, all right, I don’t want to make a mistake. So I look around and I see what people similar to me are doing. And I’m like, all right, if they’re doing it, it’s probably a safe thing for me to do. And the interesting thing, AJ, is when we see a bunch of other people doing something, We assume they know what they’re doing, right? We don’t think they’re maybe as lost as I am and they’re just kind of giving this a whirl, you know?

When we see people doing something, we think they know something we don’t. And so two things happen. We think, all right, if I follow them, I’ll be safe. I won’t make a mistake. I won’t be disappointed. And also, if I don’t follow them, I’m going to feel left out. I’m going to, you know, maybe miss out on something that I really would be upset about missing out on, you know?
So when we see a bunch of people doing things, it both, you know, attracts us because we don’t want to lose out and it reassures us that we’re, we’re doing the right thing. So anytime that, You know, we can help people make decisions by using social proof by talking about the, you know, the number of customers that we’ve served, or what a popular product is, or what a, you know, recommended for people like you, service level is, or, you know, when we use testimonials, that’s another way of using social proof.
And, and in marketing, we know that testimonials are great. But there are a couple of things about testimonials that can take them from, you know, a good testimonial to a really good testimonial. And one of them is, you know, you want the testimonial giver to be as close to the testimonial receiver as possible.
So it kind of goes back to your thing about, you know, if everyone is, you know, we get all the people named John, it’s like, Oh my gosh, this guy named John likes this product and my name is John. That’s wow. What a coincidence. But. You know, we, we may think that the way I just expressed it, or it may happen almost, instantaneously and without that conscious thought, but, but anytime somebody is close to who we are, whether they, they have the same position that we have, or they live in the same geographic area, or they’re roughly the same age, or gender, or have some of the same interest, you know, that just makes the testimonial so much stronger.
You know, my name is Nancy, I’m a woman, I’m a marketing copywriter, and if, another, seasoned marketing copywriter who was female recommended something, I might be more likely to, to listen to that recommendation or to gravitate toward that testimonial than if, you know, you know, somebody who was very different than me made that, you know, it’s like, ah, you know, that person is so much younger, they, you know, they have different tastes than me, or, you know, they’re not in marketing, they’re in accounting, so they would have different needs than me.
But when the person is close to me, I have a tendency to, to just put more weight on that testimonial. And then the other one is, is even a little bit more counterintuitive, and it’s this idea that As marketers, we don’t always want to grab what we think is our best testimonial and use it. And the reason I say this is, you know, sometimes in marketing we’re looking for, you know, all right, who is saying nothing but glowing things about me?
It’s like, someone just said, Acme software is unbelievable. I highly recommend you buy it and you’re like, ah, that’s a gem. I’m gonna use that. That’s the one I wanna highlight. But we have to remember that when people are engaging with these testimonials, it’s usually because they’re not quite convinced.
They’re wondering, you know, is this as good as the marketer says it is? Will it perform the way the marketer says it will? Is it any better than this? competitor product I’m thinking about, is it worth the money? Do I even need it or can I handle this on my own? Are there, you know, any number of things that people are thinking about that are, you know, that are holding them back from committing, holding them back from making the purchase.
So what we want to do with our testimonials is we want to start where our prospects are. We want to start with a testimonial that expresses a little bit of that. Doubt or that question or that skepticism, and then moves people along. So, you know, if you can get someone who said, you know, I, I really thought that all of these products were pretty similar and it was just a question of which one I was gonna go with, but there wasn’t gonna be any substantial difference.
But I had the opportunity to try, you know, a couple of them. And boy, you know, Acme is head and shoulders above everyone else. There’s so much, you know. Better because of their, these features or this customer service or, or whatever. But, you know, if you start where somebody is or someone, you know, so that.
I really wondered if, purchasing this would make my life easier. For years I was doing it on my own. Oh my gosh. Once I installed this, my life got so much easier, you know, but if you can start where somebody is, where that skepticism or that question is and move them along to yes.
You know, that’s a fabulous product. That is a better, stronger, more effective testimonial, than just one that immediately starts with, with the glowing words and, and never gives you a little bit of the backstory. I mean, the glowing words are great, but if you can start with, with that little bit of backstory, that little bit of question or skepticism, so much stronger and a much better way to use social proof.

When you probably have to prompt your client to give you that kind of testimonial, because if I’m asking for it, the client’s going to feel like, Oh, you know, I’m dealing directly with AJ. I need to, give him as much praise as possible. So it sounds like you might need to prompt the client and say, Hey, I want you to start with a little bit of skepticism, like tell us legitimately, did you ever have concerns during the process that this wasn’t going to work or this wasn’t in your favor?

Yeah, you know, I think you can be very, you know, open with them and, you know, say, did you have any concerns or, you know, what, what were you worried might not work? Or, you know, did you, did you Consider other solutions in addition to ours, but just try to get a little of that, you know, and and you’d be surprised that, you know, once you, once you ask the question, then, then people will be a little bit more forthcoming.
Because I think you’re right. If you just say, Hey, so glad you bought my product. Can you give me a, an endorsement? They’re going to go right for the, Hey, it’s great. You know, it’s a wonderful endorsement, you know, it’s wonderful product. So go buy it. But if we can get them to just say, you know, talk a little bit about what went into the decision and what, you know, what you were worried about might not work or who else you considered or.
What held you back from buying until you did, you know, and you can start to kind of tease some of the information out that way.

And some of those things are so important to have, even for, your own customer research anyway, because I think if you could ask someone like, what was holding you back from the decision? Just that information you then take to sales and say, okay, here are some potential concerns that, that clients have, let’s make sure we handle these like during that sales process.

Absolutely. And when you have that information, you know, you can also start to craft your, your marketing messages to address it. You know, if, if, if we find that, you know, several people mentioned this one particular concern, it’s like, let’s get out ahead of it and, you know, tackle it in, in the marketing materials that we’re putting out there so that, it’s, it becomes less of a product, less of a problem or, or we can shorten the, the buying cycle, because we’re addressing it up front.
So, yeah, that’s, that’s a, there are, there are reasons in addition to social proof testimonials that we want to get that information. You’re absolutely right. And then speaking of social proof, sometimes with a new product, people aren’t sure which decision to make. And anytime you can say, You know, organizations like yours have a tendency to, to start here, makes people feel kind of comfortable.
It’s like, all right, you know, I’m, I’m going to be on safe ground because, you know, other people like me have, have done this. So whether it’s, you know, this is a bestseller or a popular product or, it’s back in stock. Or we expect this to sell out. Those are all, you know, ways to point to social proof.
Anytime you can say, you know, people in your position, people in organizations like yours, people, trying to accomplish your number one goal, choose this. That also, you know, is a good way to use social proof. It just makes people feel like, all right, I’m, I’m going to be in a good place here with these, with these people, with this company, with this product, because it seems like it’s going to address my need.
It seems like other people have done the same thing I’m about to do and it’s worked out well for them.

I do want to ask about, about ethicality here. So for instance, if, a lot of times in SAS software, we’ll see three different options that are being offered and you’ll see over the middle one, most choose this. I have a feeling that most are not actually choosing that option. They’re just, they’re trying to anchor people away from the cheapest option to, to try to get upgrades.
What’s your view on ethics and telling the truth with some of these elements of persuasion? How do you balance like, you know, something tends to influence behavior, but it may not always be telling the exact truth.

That, that’s a good point, AJ, we’re saying about, don’t say you’ve got a secret if you really don’t, you know, like when we’re talking about the iMagnet words, you know, these are really powerful persuasion tools that we’re talking about, and we know that they work, but as marketers, we want to use them ethically and responsibly, and we want to treat our, prospects and our, customers with respect, because when you start to lie to them, you know, you might get the short term win, But, you know, you’ll erode that trust, and you’ll almost, you know, never get it back, or it’s very hard to get it back, you know, it’s very hard to get it back, and you may never get it back, and word starts to get out, and then that starts to destroy your, reputation, and it’s just not worth it, and, and I understand what you’re saying, you know, you, if you have a, a basic and a deluxe, you want people to buy the deluxe, so it’s tempting to say, oh, most people buy this, but there are, you know, there are other things that we can do, for example, to nudge people in the direction that we want them to, that don’t require, fibbing or fudging the data.
One thing that behavioral scientists have found is very often people go for the middle option, right? So if, if you have a, a basic and a deluxe, what some companies do is they introduce kind of an ultra deluxe that has, you know, some more bells and whistles. And they do it with the expectation that they’ll sell very few, if any, of the ultra deluxe.
But, what it does is it has te it has a tendency to push people to that middle option. So there used to be basic and deluxe. More people would go with the basic. When there’s basic deluxe and ultra deluxe, more people end up going with the deluxe. So it’s, it’s a way to accomplish what you’re trying to accomplish without, misleading people or lying and saying this is a popular choice when it’s really not, you know, the other thing you can do is.
If you only have the basic and the deluxe, more people are buying the basic, but, and fewer people are buying the deluxe, you can talk about the trend, you know, maybe, you know, the trend is going up, even though more people are still buying the basic, the trend for the deluxe is starting to go up, just perhaps because sales themselves are going up, but you can say, you know, a growing number of people. 30 percent of our customers now are choosing, this particular, option, this particular, level, and it just makes it feel like there’s some momentum, and there’s some growth, and there’s a trend, and people love to jump on trends.
So that’s another way to do it in an honest, ethical way, you know, that this is the truth, you know, because if only 30 percent are, you know, you do the math, you realize that 70 percent is still at the basic, but if it’s, you know, a growing number or 30 percent now are, you’re like, well, maybe they know something that, that I want to tap into.
Maybe I should look into this, deluxe version. Maybe it is better for me. So, you raise a very good point. We, we need to balance our business needs and goals with, with being ethical and honest and responsible because. Just like, I don’t know, back in the early days of email, you could spray and pray, but it was a horrible thing to do, you know.
We don’t want to abuse these principles and tactics, you know, we also don’t want to abuse these the way we could abuse other things. And we’ve learned the hard ways, marketers, not to abuse certain other things. So let’s just not make that mistake on these.

I totally agree. I feel like consumers have a way of sniffing out BS and that’s, that’s great. Like it keeps us honest, I think. What are some of the other elements of social proof that we could be including in our ads, or using in our marketing?

So we can talk about, I think the, the number of customers, that we’ve, recently sold to or the number of customers that we have. We can talk about how fast growing, a category is. We can talk about, you know, I think I was saying popular products are recently sold out or expected to sell out.
We can, we can talk about how quickly a category is growing. We’ve got the testimonials.
I’m trying to think if there’s anything else that I haven’t touched on that, that we’d want to use for social proof. Anything that we can do that’s, that’s more anchored to where somebody is also is, is very helpful.
If you say, 10 people in, Boston, or 10 companies in Boston just signed up, that could even be more effective than saying , you know, that, 50 companies just recently sold up. 50 companies recently sold up. Okay. That’s a good bit of social proof. 10 companies, right? In Boston that just signed up feels a little bit stronger ’cause it’s so much closer. And so maybe you combine the two and say, you know, fifty new customers, including 10 right in your own, you know, area, just chose us. And that starts to feel like, wow, there’s, you know, there’s a powerful pull here for me to look into this.

Oh, I love that. Okay. So I think this works really well when you have what I would call an embarrassment of, of social proof riches, when your company is the top of the category and you get to claim it, and here’s all these amazing fortune 500s we’ve worked with. Here’s how, how many customers, all of that is great.
What if you are a brand new customer, new to market, trying to be a disruptor and you don’t have things like we’ve been featured on the news and we’ve been featured on all these big sites, how could smaller or, new up and coming brands leverage social proof.

Sure. So one way is the, the trend thing, you know, you may not have the majority of the market, but if you’ve got a growing trend, that’s good. But the other thing we can do is we can move into, kind of like a, a, an adjacent principle, which would be like authority. So, maybe you’re brand new, but there’s some authority that’s endorsed you, or that’s featured you, that’s written about you, that’s, or that’s maybe co authored a white paper with you or written one for you.
So anytime we can point to somebody who’s a subject matter expert, an outside authority, that’s a really good thing to do. So if something is brand new, if a product is brand new, if you’ve got a startup situation, you know, people might be a little wary, of course, you know, I haven’t heard of them before, or gee, they’re new, I don’t know.
So if we can say that, the American Marketing Association just endorsed us, or if the, you know, the president of the, ADA, just said something complimentary, or if we were featured in, Fast Company Magazine, you know, those are all good ways to kind of point to authority and say, all right, you don’t need to worry about us because these outside experts that are basically, it’s their job to know these things, they’re saying, you know, this would be a safe company to work with.
This would be a good product choice to go with. The other thing you can do is you can look at, who’s sitting at the, you know, at the top of the company. And if it’s somebody who’s a big name person, that’s a good way to kind of wield authority. If it’s somebody who’s not a big name, but they used to work for somebody who’s a big name, or used to work for a, a well known company, you know, that’s a good way to wield authority.
So it’s like, oh, okay, they spun off from such and such a company, or these guys used to work, or these women used to work at such and such a company, and now they’ve formed their own. You know, it kind of brings that halo effect with it, and you’re like, all right, they must know what they’re talking about, they must know what they’re doing, because, you know, they used to work for, I don’t know, Microsoft or whoever, you know, big company.
It’s like, oh, wow, all right, now they’re doing their own thing. So that’s, that’s kind of an adjacent way, if you don’t have a lot of social proof to leverage, because you don’t have all of these customers yet, and you don’t have, all of these testimonials yet. You know, you look for those like bits of authority that you can point to and say, Okay, you know, this is what’s going to help me grow.
And in turn, that’s going to start to fuel the social proof, because the more people that see that such and such a authority endorsed us, the more people are going to come and use us. And then that’s going to start to build up our customer base and and that’s social proof that we can tap into.

I love that One thing. So long time listeners of the podcast will know that I frequently cite your content and especially as we’re talking about imagery and visuals, the one that, And I don’t want to spoil anything you’re saying, but one of the things that I took away from one of your talks very early on was when you have someone who is, you know, a picture of a person.
You want them either making contact or looking at your call to action, and I have seen this. We’ve done very strict AB tests of like looking towards the call to action versus looking away, a person making eye contact, . We found that that won over an illustrated person making eye contact.. Can you give me some, some background as to, like, , what I’m talking about here.

Sure! You’re nailing it actually! Humans are drawn to other human faces. We just are. Particularly to other people eyes. Behavioral scientists think it goes way back to our early ancestors. You’d encounter a stranger and you’d have to quickly decide is, is this a friend or a foe? Right? So how would you do that? Well, you’d, you’d look them in the eye, right? You, you’d look at their face.
You’d look them in the eye. And all these years later, we’re still hardwired to be drawn to other people’s faces when we see. Human faces, we look at them, and we’re, we’re drawn to their eyes, so in our, in our ads, we want to have that eye looking out and making eye contact, because it’s going to draw somebody in, or we want to use eye gaze, because humans are hardwired to follow the gaze of another person’s eyes.
You know, if you and I are chatting at the conference, for example, and, you know, we’re face to face, we’re talking, but something catches your eye and you look off to the left, I’m immediately going to follow your eyes, you know? Even if the, whatever caught your eye, if it didn’t initially catch my eye, it doesn’t make a difference.
Your eyes moved, I’m going to follow your eyes. We’re hardwired to follow eye gaze, so what we want to do is we want to strategically use that in our ads, so we want to have, the eyes gazing down at the call to action or at the offer or, if you’re on a landing page, maybe at the form field that you want someone to, to fill out, but we want to strategically direct people’s attention and, you know, we want to make it a deliberate decision because otherwise we can inadvertently take somebody’s eyes off the page or off the screen.
Or direct them to some, you know, element of the ad that’s, not important, not as important, right? Not, you know, not something that we necessarily want someone to be looking at. So, we really want to be very deliberate about choosing, you know, human faces, pictures of people, and having that eye contact or directing that gaze so that we’re strategically, stepping people through our messaging.
It’s almost like we’re taking their hand and saying, Here, look over here, AJ. This is what I want you to focus on now, you know? But using the eyes and the eye gaze is great. And then it’s interesting that, I mean, you know, we’re obviously we’re, we’re drawn to human faces. There’s some research that shows that if you have a, a mascot, you can make and use it like a kind of a cartoony mascot versus more of a realistic one.
You can make certain products more appealing, certain products that maybe seem a little bit more daunting or a little bit more, I guess daunting is a good word or scary or off putting or, you know, but the, but the animated kind of cartoony mascot pulls you in. It’s, it’s a little bit different than talking about people and human faces, but, just you brought up the point about, you know, an, an illustrated version versus a, an actual picture.
And I thought, oh, that’s, you know, that’s interesting. There’s, but speaking of actual pictures, there’s some research that shows that, If you include a photo with your text, it makes the text more believable.
Just simply, you know, like you can make a statement or you can make that exact same statement, but have a photo accompanying it.
And if the photo accompanies it, people would just have a tendency to believe the statement more. And I think they’ve, the, there are a couple of studies that were done. One was, the statement was, turtles are deaf. And, you know, if you, if you look at a turtle, you can’t really tell if it’s deaf or not, you know, I mean, there’s nothing obvious where you’re like, that one is deaf or those, you know, that species is deaf.
Like there’s no. I don’t know, you know, you don’t know. But when they tested the statement alone versus the statement with a photograph of a turtle, more people thought that it was true. So then they pushed it out and they tried other things. And, one thing they started to do was, celebrities. And they would say, you know, such and such a celebrity is alive or such and such a celebrity is dead.
And they would, you know, test these different statements accompanied with a photo of the celebrity. And regardless of whether, you know, they were saying the person was alive or dead. When the photo was present, people had a tendency to believe the statement more. So simply having like photographic proof, I guess you could call it, but having that photo just lends a certain amount of credibility and believability and as a result persuasiveness to the marketing message that you’re putting out there.

Oh, that’s very cool. Would that suggest to us that we should use more photo realistic imagery in our ads for any statement that we’re using, versus using maybe more illustrated or cartoony, or does that not really matter?

So it, what I think, what it does suggest is that we should test that, that, you know, that it would be a very strong testable proposition because it could very well work. Based on that research, it was like having the photo, you know. Made people think that it was more credible. Maybe there are certain things where, you know, like I said, if you’ve got this.
More daunting, product and you have the animated character that makes you seem more friendly, you know, so, you know, there might be certain, use cases where you don’t want the photograph, but I would say at a baseline we should start by testing that. And then the other thing that we can look into. If we’re, not going to use pictures of people or, or, or pictures of our product, maybe because, you know, it, it doesn’t seem appropriate.
The other thing we can do is we can turn to charts and graphs. And there was a study that came out of Cornell and, they had people read about, in this case it was, I think a new medicine that was coming out. And they had people read about this new medicine and then they said what do you think? Do you think it’s going to be effective or, or not? And I think, you know, 67 percent of the people said, yeah, I think it, you know, based on what I’ve read, I think it’s going to be effective. Then they repeated the study, you know, different people, same description of the new medicine, but this time they included a, chart that, you know, went along with it.
And then they, they asked the same question, the 67 percent number went up to 97%. So now 97 percent of the people said, yeah, I think this is going to be effective. And what the researchers found, AJ, was it wasn’t that the chart Just for once, for the people who are watching, we thank these three people personally.
It sounds like you have to go and start looking at the SIMs. We did hear a little bit about the name, B2Linked. com, and 69 accounted for 700, 000, thousand accounts for the data that’s available on the We have lots of customers coming already about their So I think it’s going to be a good cocoon for research.
They’ll come to age. Contact me, find my website and I’ll meet with you right away. Customer or prospect’s perspective, it was kind of like, oh, there’s a chart. You know, I, I have a tendency to believe this. It’s not that they were gonna spend time pouring over the chart or analyzing it, or it was just that it was there.
It’s, very similar to what we’re saying about the, the photographic proof, like having the picture. Just made people feel like, oh, this is, this is truer. This is more believable. This is more accurate. Having the chart, you know, we see the chart, we just kind of make that, hardwired shortcut decision that this must be true because there’s a chart that supports it, right?
And of course I wouldn’t suggest that we make up, you know, charts and graphs, but so often we are in a position where we can include them. So that’s, you know, that’s a good thing to do. And then as we’re talking about pictures, you know, sometimes we have product photos and what we want to think about there is the proximity of a before and after shot and the closer the before and after shot Is to each other or the closer, the before and after shots are to each other, I should say, from proper English closer.
The two shots are to each other. The greater the connection people believe there is, and as a result, the stronger they think the product is. So if you’re showing a before and after shot, I dunno. You know, here’s my messy closet, here’s my closet. With the new organizer, the closer the two of them are. The better it is.
If you’re selling something that’s less tangible, you know, here is our client before they used our new software. Here is our client now that they’re our client and using our new software. First shot, the person looks stressed and unhappy. Second shot, they’re looking, you know, very pleased and relaxed. The closer those two shots are to each other, again, the stronger the relationship people think there is and as a result The more believable the claim becomes, the more they think, Oh, this product, this service really works.
This is going to be really good. So an interesting, you know, interesting tactic, because sometimes we don’t think we kind of put the photos where they fit or maybe where the copy is or, you know, but it’s like, no, the closer they are, the better off you’re going to be.

That’s so golden. I absolutely love these tips. This is something I’m finding way more and more often is that cold audiences do not buy, it’s warm audiences that buy, it’s warm audiences that become demos and talk to sales.
And so we’re putting so much emphasis on retargeting, having repeat exposure to our perfect audiences as I’d call them. Can you talk to us a little bit about maybe consistency in our advertising, whether we need consistency to, help give the right feel for the brand, or if we need to stand out or, you know, anything else that you’ve got on, like, how we can think about consistency in advertising?

So I think there’s a couple of things we can, we can say about consistency. One is it’s good for our messages to have a certain amount of consistency just so, people, need to be exposed very often, um, several times to a message before they’re ready to make the buying decision.
And several is actually on the low end of the scale. I think some of the numbers are saying you have seven or eight exposures before you’re You know, you’re actually ready to consider making a purchase. And so we want to, you know, we want to keep building on, on what we’ve previously shown people. So, you know, so having the same, you know, same logo, the same typeface, the same color scheme, the same graphic standards, that helps build that consistency.
So, there’s a consistency of messaging that, that we want because, you know, it’s going to make sense. We want to build on each previous, exposure, but then there’s, there’s something that behavioral scientists talk about called commitment and consistency. And what they found is. Once you get somebody to make a decision, they’re more likely to remain consistent with that decision when future opportunities arise.
What that means is if we can get someone to say yes once, we’re much more likely to get them to say yes a second time, a third time, a fourth time. And the way we do that is by starting out small. So, you know, you’re right, it’s really hard to, to sell somebody right away, but maybe what we can do is get them to do something small.
And once they take that first small action, then we ask them to do something else and we start to increase our asks. Just a little bit each time, and it becomes a lot easier to get a yes, because people aren’t vetting us the same way. That initial time, they haven’t done anything with us, no business with us.
So they’re, you know, they’re really thinking it through, and maybe they finally, they say yes. And maybe it’s a small thing. Maybe we get them to like us on, on Facebook. Maybe we get them to request a cheat sheet. Maybe we get them to, I don’t know, download a guide or something. But, you know, it’s a relatively small ask compared to making a purchase.
But now that we’ve got that first small ask, they’re not going to be, you know, weighing, you know, the decision as much the next time we come along, it just becomes kind of an automatic response. It’s like, Oh yeah, those people I already said yes to them before. It’s easy enough to say yes again. So maybe I like them.
Maybe the next thing I’m going to do is download that white paper. Maybe the next thing I’m going to do is say yes. When you say, Hey, there’s a webinar that we’re running, you know, why don’t you take a look at that? You know, and, and it just becomes easier to get that Yes. Those subsequent yeses when you get that first small.
Yes. So that’s the idea of, of commitment and consistency. There was actually a, there was a researcher, a couple of researchers that went out to a neighborhood in la. And they asked people how they felt about safe driving. And of course, you know, everyone’s in favor of safe driving, right? It’s kind of hard to say you’re not in favor of it.
But the researchers were like, great, we’re so glad you’re in, you know, you’re in favor of safe driving. Would you put up a, A billboard on your front lawn saying that you support safe driving. And you know, and then people were kinda like, Hey, look, I, I support safe driving, but a, a billboard, I mean, you know, what are my neighbors gonna think?
What’s it gonna do to my property value? You know, what’s it gonna do to my view, like only 17% of the people agreed to the, to the billboard. But in that 17% there was a, a small subsegment. And in that subsegment. 76% of the people had agreed. So we have to say to ourselves, wow. Like what would make 76% of a particular population agree to such a, you know, outlandish request.
But it turned out that a couple of weeks previously, researchers had come through that same neighborhood and asked people about safe driving and the ones who said that they were in support of it, which was basically, you know, I mean, how do you not say you’re sport in support of it. But they asked the people if they would display a, a small three inch by three inch sign.
Saying they supported safe driving and they could put it in their, in their car, or they could put it on their home, but a three inch by three inch sign. So when those people were asked, again, 76% of them said yes to the billboard. And that’s a big jump, AJ from a three inch by three inch sign to a to a billboard.
But what happened was that, uh, decision making shortcut had kicked in, right? The idea of commitment and consistency. They had, you know, committed to displaying the small sign, so that basically was telling them something about themselves. You know, they’re the kind of person who stands up for safe driving.
They’re the kind of person who, you know, takes a stand. They’re the kind of person who said yes before to this organization, so they don’t have to really think it through again. They’re, this is someone that they’re already working with. And so all of these things just contributed to 76 percent of those people saying yes to the billboard.
It goes back to what we’re doing. If we can get that first small yes, it could be a like, it could be a cheat sheet download, whatever it is, it just paves the way for us when we’re retargeting, when we’re repeating our message to these people to increase our yeses along the way. It’s pretty powerful

Oh yeah, Are there any other, messaging differences that you would give when you know that this is a repeat exposure? , Any way that we could prompt those yeses or, or get them thinking that direction?

Yeah, I, I think there’s, there are a few things we can do. If we’re in a retargeting, situation, you know, obviously we’re, we’re going to use this commitment and consistency principle, which is great, but there are a couple of other, principles that could come into play. One of them is the idea of, of scarcity or urgency.
If we know that we’ve got somebody, you know, who’s indicated interest, we might want to make a special offer, but have a time limit on it, right? Or have a, a person limit on it, you know, for the, you know, we’ve been getting a lot of interest in the, in, in our particular, So, the first, you know, 50 people that sign up are going to get this, or, for the next, you know, 10 days, or the next 3 days, you know, we’re offering this, but, you know, we know that they’re interested, so now we’re trying to kind of get them off the dime, and one way to do that is the idea of scarcity or urgency, because what behavioral scientists have found is we’re more motivated to get things we feel we can’t have, right?
We want what we can’t have. And if only Certain people can have something, then I wanna make sure I’m one of those people. Or if something’s only gonna be around for a limited amount of time, I wanna make sure I get mine before it disappears. Right? So this whole idea of scarcity or or urgency can be very, very powerful.
So if, you know, it might not be an offer that we wanna make to the whole world. But if we’ve got our, our smaller group of people that have demonstrated some kind of interest, and they’re at a certain point in the, sales continuum, right? The purchase continuum. Maybe that’s when we say, okay, now we’re going to deploy this idea of a, of a special offer, a limited time offer.
I think another thing that we can do is we can leverage the idea of the reason why. And what behavioral scientists have found is people are more likely to do what we ask them to do when we give them a reason why. And it doesn’t even have to be this ironclad, bulletproof reason. Like, it would be great if we said, Hey, if, you know, if you buy our software as a service, you are going to become a millionaire next week.
Like, people will be flocking to us, right? It’s all right. I want to become a millionaire next week. But we can’t say that. It’s, it’s not, it’s not honest. It’s not true. You know, we just would never say that. We don’t have to have this incredible reason. Behavioral scientists have found we just have to have a reason.
There was some research that came out of Harvard where, people were allowed to use a photocopier and somebody went to the head of the line and said, you know, can I cut in front of you? And 60 percent of the time they were allowed to cut. So that was the baseline. But when they went up to the head of the line and said, excuse me, can I cut in front of you?
Because I’m in a hurry and I have some copies to make, you know, that, that number went up to 94%, but when they changed it and said, can I cut in front of you because, I have some copies to make, and they left out the, but I’m, you know, I’m in a hurry and just said because I have some copies to make, the 94 percent number only dropped to 93%.
And if you think about it, everybody standing in that line was standing in that line because they had some copies to make, right? It’s like one thing to say, okay, I’ll let you get in front of me because you’re in a hurry and you’ve got these copies, but it’s just a whole other thing to say, oh yeah, I’ll let you get in front of me because you have some copies to make.
Wait a minute, I have some copies to make and I’ve been standing in line, you know? But, uh, what the researchers found was just providing that reason why, particularly if you teed up with the word because, which is another one of those power words, uh, it just gets people to, to automatically comply. Because is known as an automatic compliance trigger.
We, we see it or hear it, and we just, we assume whatever is coming next is a good, legitimate reason. And before we’ve even processed what comes next, we’re already nodding our head. We’re already agreeing. So if we’ve got somebody in this pool of prospective customers who’s demonstrated some interest, now we want to start to tell them why they should take the next step, or why they should make the purchase, or why they should meet with the salesperson.
And again, it doesn’t have to be that they’re going to become a millionaire, it can just be, you know, because, the longer you, the, the longer you wait, the, the farther ahead your competition will get, or, because the, the, the ease and the time savings are going to blow you away, or.
Because you’ll find it hard to believe you ever did things differently, you know, but any of the, I mean, it’s like, okay, you know, it’s not, I’m going to make you a millionaire, but you just, because, you know, because, because, because it just makes people more likely to do what we’re asking them to do. And then the final thing I would suggest for this particular phase of our marketing is tapping into something called input bias and input bias is a decision making shortcut that people use.
When they’re not really sure what to do, they’re not really sure how to evaluate something. And so what they do is they take the amount of time or effort that goes into it as a proxy for the quality. So there was some research that was done where people were asked to identify, I’m sorry, to evaluate, two different research papers.
One was on electronic ink and one was on. Optical switches. So two subjects that people really don’t have a, a lot of firsthand knowledge about, and they were told to read the paper and then, you know, tell the researcher how good the paper was. But there was only one difference. Sometimes people were told that the electronic ink paper took eight hours and 34 minutes to create.
And the optical switches paper took 37 minutes to create. Other times it was the exact opposite. People were told the electronic ink paper took 37 minutes to create and the optical switches paper took eight hours and 34 minutes to create. And you can probably guess where I’m going with this. Any time people were told a particular paper took the 8 hours and 34 minutes, that was the one they said was the high quality paper.
Because they didn’t know how to evaluate optical switches or electronic ink, but they used the time and effort that went into developing the paper as a proxy for its quality. So, when we’ve got somebody who’s interested in what it is we’re selling, That’s a good place for us to start to say, you know, we tested this across a thousand user groups and, you know, on two different continents, or, you know, we spent, three years working on our prototype before we brought this to market.
Anytime we can point to the time or effort that went into the particular product that we’re offering, is a good, you know, it’s, it’s a good time, anytime we can do that. It’s smart, because at this stage of the game, people are trying to decide, should I move forward, and they’re going to use as a, you know, proxy for the quality of our product, the amount of time or effort that went into it, and that’s going to make them feel like, oh, this seems like a, you know, a good product for me to move forward with.
This seems like a safe bet. There’s been a lot that’s gone into it. You know, they may not know how to evaluate it just in and of itself. So, you That might be a little beyond them at this point, but the time or effort that went into it becomes a proxy or an indicator of how good it’s going to be.

That actually lends itself really well to another point that I’ve, I’ve pulled out of a lot of what you’ve talked about, which is this principle of reciprocity. It feels like if you’re offering someone something and you’re saying, we put a lot of effort into this, they’re going to value it more and they’re going to feel like they now owe you something.But talk to us a little bit about reciprocity.

Yeah, reciprocity is really interesting. It’s this idea that, people feel obliged to answer in kind what someone has done for them. We’re just, we’re hardwired as individuals, as people, to cooperate and to be civil and to be nice because, you know, many, many, many, many years ago, that’s how we survived.
If we got cast out of the, the, the social circle we were in, we were on our own, you know, I mean, you had to hunt, you know, and gather collectively back in the day. And if you were on your own, you know, it wasn’t like you could just go to the McDonald’s drive-through for, for some lunch, you know, like you were in trouble.
And so we, we’ve been hardwired as humans to, to really. Cooperate and to get along and, so part of that is this idea of reciprocity. If somebody does something for us, we, we want to return the favor. And what behavioral scientists have found is when somebody does something for us, even if we didn’t ask for it, we still feel obliged to return the favor.
So if we’re in a position as marketers to give somebody something, even if they didn’t ask for it, if they requested it, great. But even if they didn’t, even if we’re, you know, just out of the, you know, the goodness of our heart, if we’re being proactive in giving something. What ends up happening is, people then feel indebted to us, and they want to return the favor, they want to even the score, they want to somehow feel like they’re no longer in debt, and one way to do that is to, you know, give us some business, or to agree to take the sales meeting, or to, agree to talk to a representative, you know, it’s like, you did something for me, I’m going to do something for you.
And even if we say, hey, this is no strings attached, this is, you know, this is a free gift, no strings attached, people are like, great, you know, no obligation. What But yet, we still end up feeling that obligation, and we still feel like, you know what, those were the people that helped me. I want to give them a shot.
And so reciprocity can be, can be really, really powerful. There was a researcher named, Phil Kuntz, and he went through a, a phone book back in the day and just sent random people Christmas cards. And what ended up happening was over 20 percent of the people sent him a card back, even though they had no idea who he was.
But, they were like, Oh, we got a card from the Phil Koontz family. You know, honey, do you know them? Yeah, no, I don’t know them either, but well, we better send them a card back. And, the researcher reported that he continued to receive cards year after year after year. You know, like once they put them on the list, they didn’t take them off, you know?
But, we feel like we want to, be polite. We want to be considerate. We want to do for people, if they’ve done something for us. And that gives us as marketers a real big opportunity.

So the Phil Coons example, he is actually from BYU, which is my alma mater. So I, I especially love that example. One thought I have, so if we’re saying we’re trying to build reciprocity by giving people free content, let’s say it’s a, a checklist or a cheat sheet or a guide, we found increasingly that this doesn’t work in getting someone onto a call. There’s not enough reciprocity involved. And I’m wondering if this has anything to do with whether the offer is gated or ungated. My hypothesis is that, you know, you say, Hey, I’m going to give you something for free. But then you throw a form up in front of them, and they’re immediately going, Oh, now you’re asking something from me. I don’t know. And 80 percent of your audience just immediately bounces and maybe they leave with a bad taste in their mouth. Do you have any feeling on like gating versus ungating content?

Yeah, that is the, ongoing controversy, I know, but, but I think you’re absolutely right. If you’re going to position this as, hey, we’re giving you something, and then, and then it’s gated, you know, then they’re giving you something back in return by, giving you the information.
And they might feel like, well, wait a minute, you told me this was a gift, you told me this was free, and now you’ve turned it into an exchange, you know, it’s one thing if you give me something for free, and then I’m going to feel like I want to give you something. That’s a different kind of a, a transaction than, you know, I will give you this if you give me that.
If you give me this information I’m asking for. If you fill out this form, you know, and it’s, it’s just two different ways of doing things. But, but, but the second way that, you know, I will give you this if you give me that is, it’s not really tapping into reciprocity because it’s, it’s putting constraints around this transaction, you know, which here’s, here’s how it’s going to work.
Whereas I’m giving you something freely. And then I, you know, later ask for, you know, for you to download a white paper or to take a sales call. It’s almost like the two are not necessarily connected, but I, as the recipient of your gift earlier, feels this obligation to now do something for you. And I think that’s the, nuance between those two things.
I think that’s perfect. I love that.

We’re, we’re talking about reciprocity and I think that what’s, what’s really underlying the idea of reciprocity, AJ, is guilt, right? Somebody’s done something for me and, now they’re, now they’re asking me for something and I feel guilty if I don’t say yes because they did something for me.
They gave me something. You know, maybe I asked for it, maybe I didn’t, but the, the truth is they gave it to me and, you know, and now a little time passes and now they’ve reached out. And this time they’re not reaching out with a, you know, a free gift, they’re reaching out asking me if, you know, if I would, I don’t know, like to do a sales call, like to do a demo, like to attend a webinar, whatever it is, and I kind of feel like, oh man, you know, like they, they did something for me, I’ll feel bad, I’ll feel guilty if if I don’t reciprocate, if I don’t return the favor, and, and emotions are incredibly powerful. We make decisions for emotional reasons, and then we later justify them with the rational reason.
So, you know, I might feel guilty not taking the sales call, but I’ll tell my boss or my team that I took the sales call because, you know, I’ve done some research and the product looks really good and I think it would be beneficial for us and it makes sense for us to look into it. And I’ll point to all the rational reasons, all of which are good, But the truth is, the one thing I’m not saying that I might not even be aware of is I was more inclined to say yes to the sales call because earlier you gave me something and I would feel guilty if I didn’t say yes.
I feel like I want to reciprocate. And that’s very interesting though, you know, we think in B2B that emotion isn’t really a big player, but it absolutely is, you know, whether it’s feeling, like we want to be, we want to pay somebody back, we want to use the, you know, reciprocity, or whether it’s feeling like I want to look good in the boss’s eyes, or I want to look good to the board, or if it’s feeling like I just want to, I want to do something that’s going to be easy so I can get home to my wife and kids, or my husband and kids, you know, but there’s, there’s always some personal emotion that’s in there.
That’s in addition to the feeds and the speeds and the facts of the figures and the price and the timing, you know, that all the rational stuff matters, but there’s there is always some emotion in there. There’s a researcher named Antonio Damasio, and he studied humans who had sustained injury to the part of their brain that controls emotion.
And he found they were virtually incapable of making a decision. Even when the decision at hand was something simple, like what would you like for lunch today? They couldn’t land. They’d go back and forth and back and forth and around and around. And he proved that we need to access the emotional parts of our brain in order to make decisions.
And that’s true in B2C and it’s true in B2B and it’s true for men and women and old people and young people and highly educated people and less educated people. It just is how humans are wired.

Oh, that’s fascinating. Probably like most, I tend to minimize the value of emotion in the B2B process, but it really is true. Like no matter, maybe it’s even more important to have emotion in the B2B decision because more people are involved in that person’s decision and it’s happening over a longer period of time.
And you, if you know that those decisions are driven by emotion.. That’s amazing. How do you feel like we can inject more emotion into our business to business ads when business to business is just always seems so boring and buttoned up?

It is true. I can talk to you about a campaign that I worked on. It was for business intelligence software and This particular business intelligence software operated by unlocking the data that was in disparate databases so that the, you know, the user, the executive would have a full 360 view, which is a good thing, right?
You want a 360 degree view if you’re making decisions, but at this point, they didn’t have it. And so what that meant is they were making decisions based on limited data. And so sometimes They’d make the right call, but there was always the possibility that it would be the wrong call. And something like that, that kind of knowledge can haunt you.
You could, you know, you find yourself thinking, Oh my gosh, what if I was wrong? What if, you know, another piece of information that I didn’t have would have changed my decision? And it’s the kind of thing that can, you know, make you second guess yourself, or, or keep you up at night, or, or give you agita, right?
You get that awful feeling in the pit of your stomach, like, Ah, I hope I made the right call, I don’t know, you know? We did a series of, of ads for this particular company and we, we led with emotion. We said it’s the antacid for the diet of tough decisions or it’s the delete button for that voice in your head.
And then, you know, after that, after we pulled people in, we, you know, we talked about the rational reasons why this particular business intelligence software would be good for them, but they got a 13 percent increase in purchase intent with this very emotional, empathetic approach. And I believe the reason was that when people saw it, they were like, these people understand me.
They’re, they’ve walked a mile in my shoes, right? They, they know the world I’m living in. They know what I’m facing every day. And if they understand me that well. Then, you know, they might actually have something that I could benefit from, but by, by connecting initially up front on that very emotional level, it was like, yes, they feel my pain, they know that, you know, what my day to day life is like, and, you know, when you make that emotional connection, you engender trust, right?
If you, if you connect emotionally with somebody, you have a tendency to trust them more, and if somebody trusts you, Now, you know, you’re in a better position to persuade them because their defenses are going to come down. They’re going to listen to what you have to say. They’re just going to be more open to your, to your sales message.
So, you know, emotion can, can have cascading effects, right? It can be the thing that motivates someone to make a decision. It could also be the thing that gets people to trust you, which puts you in a better position to persuade them ultimately anyway. So emotion can be a very good thing.

Oh, I love that. Great examples. I especially love the delete button. It kind of harkens back to the Staples easy button. And, that’s already got my mind racing on ways that we could, you know, use that for our clients. Transitioning. These were the points I wanted to go over and you’ve expounded on them wonderfully.
I kind of want to transition here to you. What are you most excited about professionally right now?

I just won the, Keynote spot for the email summit in Denmark. So I’ve been invited to deliver a keynote at the, email marketing summit. So I’m going to go to Copenhagen for the first time. I’m going to see Copenhagen and then I’m going to go from Copenhagen to Odense, which is where the actual conference is being held.
And Odense is where, Hans Christian Andersen, used to do a lot of his writing. So it’s going to be, I don’t know, in my mind it’s going to be this beautiful you know, fairytale like, kind of a city, but, I’m really, really excited about this. The woman who runs the conference said she’d been following me for a while and she had wanted to get me and this was the time.
So I was like, all right. So, so professionally speaking, I’m very excited to be keynoting the, the email summit in Denmark.

Okay, perfect. I love that. Definitely exciting to, to get those kinds of accolades. What about personally? Do you have anything personally in your life or really excited about?

So, I just got back from Miami. I went down to the, Miami Book Fair International because coinciding with the book fair was a, an event called the Reader’s Favorite Awards, and I picked up a gold medal for using behavioral science in marketing. And in writing the book, it’s, it’s my first book, and I say first book like there might be a second, and I have no idea if there’s ever going to be a second, but I was a first time author, never really thought I would write a book until I started to get, you know, people saying, hey, you should write this book, would you like to submit a proposal?
And to have won a, a gold for it is like a personal best for me. I, just cannot believe, the, the reception that the book has received and, you know, people will, will write to me and tell me they enjoy it and that it’s been very helpful , and picking up a gold when I’ve never, you know, picked up a pen to write a book before in my life, if you will, was very, personally, as well as professionally, rewarding, but, but it was, it was a personal best for me.

Oh, that’s so cool. All right. So last question for you. The LinkedIn ads fanatics community absolutely loves you by this point. You’ve dropped so much gold. How can we follow you? How can we, do business with you? What, what are all the, the places that we can go to get in touch with you? To follow you for more.

Well, thank you so much, and thank you again for this opportunity. Love your listeners. Would love to have them connect with me. They can obviously find me on LinkedIn, so, so check me out there. I’m on Facebook. I’m on Twitter slash X. You can also go to my agency’s website, It’s
Of thought leadership there and, interviews and things like that. So you can find out more about behavioral science, but, would, you know, would love to, connect with any of your listeners and, and hear from them. And you can certainly, email me too.
You can find my, email on my LinkedIn account and, would just love to hear from anyone.

Wonderful. Nancy, thank you so much for dropping so much gold. We’ll look forward to probably having you back a second time as well, as, as this stirs and we get more questions and ideas. But you are absolutely wonderful. Thank you for joining us.

Thank you, AJ. The pleasure has been mine for sure.

All right, I’ve got the episode resources for you coming right up, so stick around.

Thank you for listening to the LinkedIn Ads Show. Hungry for more? AJ Wilcox. Take it away.

All right, if you look down in the show notes, you’ll see links to Nancy Harhut on LinkedIn, on X or Twitter, a link to her website, . And a link to her book, Using Behavioral Science in Marketing. You’ll also see a link to episode 70 that was all about the cookiepocalypse. This is going to help a lot when you start thinking about why do we want to use this new conversions API or CAPI. You’ll also see the LinkedIn article on how to get conversions API set up. Plus, you’ll see the link to join the LinkedIn ads fanatics community. This is one for a very low cost. You get access to all of the top minds in LinkedIn advertising. Plus, you get access to all four of our courses that will take you from absolute beginner to total expert. Wherever you are on that spectrum, you’re going to be well taken care of. This makes a great Christmas gift for the Ads fanatic in your life. Now, if this is your first time listening, welcome. We’re excited to have you here. Make sure to hit that subscribe button. So you don’t miss a future episode. If this is not your first time listening, if you are a loyal listener, I would love it if you would go and review the podcast on Apple podcasts. That is by far the best way that you can say thank you for us putting together this content every week. It takes us six plus hours. With any questions, suggestions, or corrections of anything we’ve discussed here on the show, reach out to us at And with that being said, we’ll see you back here next week. I’m cheering you on in your LinkedIn Ads initiatives.