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Did you feel the Earth move?


Yesterday, news spread quickly about an earthquake felt up and down the entire eastern seaboard of the United States, and even as far north as Canada. The quake measured “only” a 5.8 magnitude, but was the strongest on the east coast since World War II and immediately caused millions of people to feel nervous and flustered.

Among other things, cell phone coverage was temporarily interrupted. But social media websites Twitter and Facebook lit up with posts from panicked and excited people who experienced the rare jolt, becoming a source of information and even entertainment for curious people outside of the quake’s area.

Many of those who felt the tremors initially relayed feelings of fear and uncertainty. Basically, the ground wasn’t the only thing that was upset and stressed. Some said they were scared, stunned, shaken, startled or surprised. You could even say they were “shocked” (sorry about that – couldn’t resist).

Even though there was little physical damage or personal injury outside of the very center of the earthquake, making this a relatively minor event, it quickly became the top news story of the day all around the country simply because so many people in some of the largest population centers of the nation were anxious, uneasy and confused.

But once it became obvious that there was really nothing to worry about, the tension was relieved. Millions of people relayed the news in a calm fashion, even adding amusing quips and jokes, including David Letterman’s “That was the scariest two seconds of my life!”

Okay, so what has all this got to do with marketing? Two things:

1. Robert Collier, arguably the greatest copywriter who ever lived, repeatedly taught that for best results, all marketers should “always enter the conversation already taking place in your customer’s mind.”

One of the ways small business owners can use this principle is by weaving current events and news into our marketing, thereby capitalizing on the reader’s already-established interest in that event or news to get them interested in our marketing messages.

For example, as early as yesterday afternoon, only hours after the quake, I received several emails from smart marketers which included “Earthquake Specials” and other similar offers. I predict that more of those emails than usual got opened and read, thanks to subject lines referencing the major news story of the day.

There’s no doubt that it’s easier to get people to pay attention to whatever they’re already thinking about than to attempt to simply interrupt their predominant thoughts and re-direct them to your product or service – a mistake nearly all small business owners constantly make.

While it takes some thought and fast action to use this strategy in your marketing, it can be extremely fun to do. Not to mention that the improved results are well worth the additional time and effort, and hopefully you’re results-oriented when it comes to your business and especially your marketing.

2. You must recognize the importance of emotion in all your sales and marketing efforts, and in fact in all your communication with prospects and customers. All successful marketers and salespeople capitalize on the fact that selling decisions are based on emotion, then backed up by logic – and not the other way around.

Again, an all-too-common mistake made by almost every small business owner is to try to sell their products or services based purely on logic. Open a yellow pages directory, coupon mailer, newspaper or direct mail piece you receive, and take notice of how many ads and marketing messages simply spout facts and figures about the product or service being sold, without any appeal at all to the prospect’s feelings.

Smart marketers and salespeople know that logic makes people think, but only emotion moves people to action. And we all want more people to take action on our offers, and not just think about them, right?

Go back and re-read the first few paragraphs of this article, where I wrote about yesterday’s earthquake. How many emotional words did I use to describe people’s reactions to the quake, compared to how few mere facts I stated?

Here’s the lesson to be learned: If we want our marketing to be effective, we must make our prospects “feel the Earth move” – and not simply overload them with facts, figures and features that we think are so vitally important about our product or service. Only if we appeal to their emotions can we consistently and effectively motivate people to take the actions we want. We need to focus on how our product or service will solve a problem, fill a need and make our prospects feel better.

If this article has shaken you out of your ineffective sales and marketing routine, please let me know in a comment below.

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